Tips And Tricks

Shooting in the Winter Part 2

In Part 1 of Shooting in the Winter, we covered the most problematic situation you will encounter when shooting in the snow: How your camera gets confused when metering white snow. In this segment, lets talk about the right ways to care for your gear and some innovative tricks that may help you out in the cold.

Your camera:

When it gets cold your camera can start behaving in ways that may drive you crazy. Firstly, all batteries, whether they are alkaline, lithium ion (Li-ion) or Nickel metal Hydride (NiMH), don't last as long in the cold. Why? Batteries are not designed to operate at peak performance once it gets below freezing. There is a really easy solution to this that is used by photographers the world over. Take a spare battery and keep it in a pocket that will stay warm with heat from your body, so when your camera says the first battery is running low, you'll have another to swap out. When you do swap the batteries, put the discharged battery into your pocket to heat up and once the other battery dies, put the old one back in and repeat. Since the first battery will have been warmed back up, the camera will say it has a lot more charge than when you took it out. Please note that if you use this trick make sure that you don't have change or keys in your pocket with the battery because you'll end up discharging your battery by accident!

Another problem commonly encountered with winter shooting is that your camera and your lens does not respond well to extreme temperature changes. When you subject glass to rapid temperature changes condensation will form on it, which makes for very foggy pictures. If you are driving to your shooting location, try and keep your camera as close to the outside temperature as possible. Or, at very least when you get out of the car, let some air circulate in your camera bag to let your gear acclimatize, so when you see an awesome shot you don't have to stand around for 5 minutes waiting for your lens and viewfinder to un-fog.

Other Outdoor Tips:

It's a great idea to invest in two kinds of gloves for shooting in the cold. First, get a pair of thin gloves that have some grip on them so you don't drop your camera but still allow you to press all of the buttons on your camera. Then have a second pair of very warm gloves to put on over top of the thin gloves. Toasty hands makes for much better pictures.

Almost every camera these days has a mode that allows you to press your shutter and keep taking pictures in rapid succession. You can use this to your advantage to help you ensure you get a sharp picture if you don't have a tripod with you. The trick is to take 3 to 6 shots of the same scene very quickly. Generally speaking, if you do this the first picture will be a bit blurry and so will the last one, but one of the pictures in between should be nice a sharp. By the way, all you compact camera users that hold your camera at arms length to take a shot by using the screen on the back, you need to stop doing that. Keep your elbows tight to your chest which will help you stay much more steady. The further your camera is from your body, the more you will shake.

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