Cold weather photography is obviously something we have to deal with up here in North Dakota! Here are some things I avoid and some tips while outdoors in the elements…
My examples I will be referring to will be when I photographed the AMSOIL Snocross Championship Series in -5* for 3+ hours and then also a recent photoshoot I did while out in the falling snow (a bit warmer out which causes different issues)
First and foremost… take care of yourself!!! Make sure you know what the weather will be like. Most of the weather sites out there can give you a “hourly” forecast so you can have a guideline to go by…so research the temps and windchill so you can dress appropriately. My biggest tip is Wear gloves. They make “photographer” gloves that are thinner and just the tips of the pointer and middle finger come off for better feel and grip. Even using regular gloves/mittens and taking them off when you need to shoot will help.
Gear… For the most part… Camera gear is completely fine once its out in the cold. Depending on what kind of gear you have and how well its made and if its weather proofing is decent it will do just fine in cold temperatures. If you are out in the cold for a good amount of time… Bring extra batteries. During the snocross I had 5 extra Nikon batteries and I kept them close to my body to keep them warm. Batteries die fast in cold weather. Also make sure the gear you aren’t using at the moment is protected! I use a ThinkTank Photo (use the link and get a free bag w/ Purchase) bag that keeps everything safe! Here is something I learned from a couple of photographers but some say it really isn’t necessary. I do it because because its better to be safe than sorry. When you are done shooting and its time to pack up… Remove memory cards, I detach lenses and put the body and lens caps on, Then I place everything in separate ziplock bags and remove as much air inside as I can. You do not want condensation building up on the insides of your gear. If you choose to do this or not… either way… Once you bring that camera gear inside after being outside… leave it alone for at least 30min-1hr. It needs to be brought back to room temp.
Cold weather presents different challenges… During the snocross it was very cold out and the snow around and falling was “dry”. For the most part you could brush the snow off of the camera and it wouldn’t melt. Just keep an eye on it.
During my out in the snow engagement session it was warmer out and the snow that fell was very wet! As soon as it touched the camera body it melted and it was water all over the camera! This is bad! Although my personal camera body is weather proofed quite well if you know you will be out in this type of snowfall… Get a rain cover or something to protect the camera and lens from the moisture.
Cold weather and snow is something we photographers deal with… work through it and protect yourself and your gear and you will have no problem in getting the images you need and the images your client wants!
***Disclaimer*** The information and tips I post are suggestions and by posting hopefully it will save your gear and yourself… but it might not. So I am not responsible for any damage to your gear.