Getting Started With Winter Photography Pt 1

Winter is a special time for photographers who enjoy the challenges and the rewards that come with winter photography. Dedication comes to mind, when we think of photographers that enjoy adventures in subzero temperatures, to capture images that other photographers would not be willing to even consider. A trip to the park in summer means hot weather, overcrowding, and congestion. On the other hand, winter is the perfect time to try shooting some unique perspectives of your favorite places. The solitude and peacefulness of a winter scene takes on a new persona and allows the photographer to see it in a whole new light. What really makes winter special for the photographer is the chance to be out in nature on a more intimate level. This time alone in nature makes one really think about what it is they are to trying to capture, and how they are going to relate this to their audience. Winter photography can be very rewarding if one prepares themselves for the challenges of colder temperature. There are a few simple tips that will make your winter adventures more enjoyable. The following three concepts are equally important to the enjoyment and longevity of winter photography: clothing, camera equipment, and the picture making process. Common among these elements is the notion of preparation for any kind of winter conditions. An absence of planning in winter can deter any photographer from further experiencing the true beauty of winter. When it comes to shooting in the winter, weather can be unpredictable. The best way to prepare for weather is to expect anything in the winter. Therefore, dressing appropriate for the situation can be fundamental in winter photography. When it comes to dressing, it is necessary to plan ahead for situations of changing weather. Preparing the body for winter includes wearing something light and loose, so the body can regulate the escape of body heat. Shooting in colder temperatures, the body temperature changes dramatically between hot and cold depending on the activity. As photographers are well aware of, photography can vary in terms of activity levels. Anticipating this level of activity means wearing clothing that can be easily opened with zippers in specific areas of the body for fresh ventilation and not wearing multiple layers that cause the body to overheat. For a photographer who already carries heavy camera equipment, dressing in layers is not ideal. The kind of clothing recommended is some form of loose fitting, breathable jacket that has zippers, allowing the photographer to quickly open and close depending on the level of activity. Also, it is important to wear clothes that leave no area of the body exposed to the colder temperatures. Always wear a warm hat to avoid excessive heat loss through the head. Research shows that seventy percent of one’s body heat can be lost by not wearing a hat in colder climates. In addition to a warm hat, wear pants that are fully waterproof, yet comfortable so that different types of shooting can occur. For example, photographers sometimes like to kneel in the snow to get closer to the subject. The ability for a photographer to move around comfortably and stay dry is critical. In terms of footgear, boots need to be waterproof, insulated, and high enough around the ankles to prevent leakage of snow. Recommended are gators, which are water resistant equipment that goes around footgear from the ankle to the knee, and keeps the snow from getting inside the boots.

The one piece of equipment that most photographers wear incorrectly is gloves. Although most photographers wear some form of warm lining or gloves, most will wear gloves that do not have fingertips. They believe that fingerless gloves can help the photographer manipulate easier the camera controls. The truth is, most winter conditions are cold enough that exposed fingertips will hinder any finer control movements of the camera, thus being unable to operate the camera properly. The better option is to wear gloves that have removable fingertips that are held by strings from the body of the glove to the fingertips. Depending on the activity the fingertips can be easily removed or put back on. When it comes to enjoying your time in winter, the right type of clothing can make all the difference between a good and bad day. The most neglected area of winter shooting is winterizing camera equipment. They are a few important considerations to be aware of when preparing camera equipment for winter. Depending on how cold the temperature is, one common problem prevalent among photographers is short-term battery life on cameras. Results vary on temperature and camera model, but it is safe to assume that batteries might only last a few minutes in cold weather. Therefore, always carry extra batteries in the winter. Carry the extra set in a warm area like a pocket close to the body. Hence, this keeps the spare batteries warm and ready to switch out when the current batteries lose their power. Throughout the day continue to switch out the cold batteries with the warm ones for longer shooting. Make sure to come back or be notified in a few days when I post Part 2.


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~ by photocascadia on March 3, 2010.

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