Advice please on shooting in extreme cold

Started Jan 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
jedinstvo Senior Member • Posts: 1,914
Forget film

Film is a problem from about minus 10 Celsius on down. I'd stick with digital.

Your problems will be, in order:

1 Battery life. Keep a couple of spare batteries in an inside pocket. Easy to switch and that means no problems.

2 Be careful not to breathe on the eyepiece or the lens. A guy above mentioned that. Once you get snow or ice on a glass surface you'll have to go indoors and wait for the camera to warm up to clean it.

3 Houses and buildings are warm and humid. Condensation will form on all surfaces. To avoid this you cover the camera and let it warm up to close to room temperature before you expose it. I don't like plastic bags but that's what most people use. I prefer a chamois skin as it is soft and absorbent. Sometimes I wrap my entire camera bag in my parka, since I'm going to take that off when I go inside. In rural Alaska I can set my gear down outside and it will still be there the next morning. That may also be true in Iceland.

4 Because it's cold you'll be wearing bulky, awkward clothing. Keep your gear really simple. Don't take anything you don't need. If it's minus 10 and the wind is blowing you don't want to take your gloves off. I use polypropylene glove liners which are good for operating the camera. Patagonia sells them for about 20 bucks, but I get exactly the same glove from an Army surplus store for two dollars. I wear heavier gloves over the liners. If you drop something in the snow it may be impossible to find, depending on the snow conditions. Operating the camera can be a real problem because of the gloves.

That's all I can think of. I was a reporter north of the Arctic circle in Alaska for eight years. Minus ten celsius is not particularly cold. But if you're not used to it, or if the wind is blowing, it can be tough to function. Any Eskimo will tell you "it's not the cold, it's the wind."

You're more likely to discover you've got the wrong boots than to have trouble with your camera gear.

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