Tip #2 – Winter Photography

Winter Photography Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Photo Tips #2


I received an email after last week’s tip. And with the freezing temperatures that we’ve been experiencing, I thought I should include it in this week’s tip.  “How do you know when you put your camera in your camera bag without putting the camera and lenses in Ziploc bags that condensation isn’t forming on everything?” Well, that is sort of like asking, does the light stay on in the refrigerator when the door is closed? You don’t really know for sure!

Basically condensation forms when warm moist air meets any cold surface. If your equipment is in the camera bag, the only possible place that warm air can enter is through the zipper. If you think that the zipper is letting too much warm air through and you don’t want to put all of your equipment in individual Ziploc bags there is still an easy way to insulate your equipment from the warmer air. Simply put your entire camera bag with all of your equipment in a large garbage bag and tie it up. Just make sure that everyone in the house, particularly the person who takes the garbage out knows that your equipment is in that garbage bag!

When I get back home I don’t want to wait several hours for the entire camera bag to warm up so I can get to the memory cards to download my pictures. So what I do is, before packing up my equipment outside, I will take the card out of the camera and any other cards that I’ve shot and put them inside a small Ziploc bag.  The card(s) will warm up within half an hour, so I can get working on my pictures as soon as I’ve thawed out too!

Have you ever tried using your tripod in deep snow? If you try using the same method that you use for the rest of the year, of spreading the legs as far as they can go and then putting it down, you’ll find that it only will go into the snow a few inches deep (several centimetres) and it won’t go any further. If you try pushing it any further into the snow, you will bend and warp the legs – ruining your tripod. Also with your tripod sitting on top of the snow and isn’t very stable or sturdy. The trick to using your tripod in these conditions is the spread legs a couple of inches short of being fully extended. Then as you put the legs into the snow the snow will “push” the legs open and the tripod will go deeper into the snow and will be very sturdy.

If you have been using your tripod in or around water or in wet snow, don’t collapse the legs until they are completely dry. If the temperature drops you might not be able to get them open again in below freezing temperatures. (Think about kids sticking their tongues to metal posts) Normally while I’m shooting I leave the legs fully extended to avoid this problem. If I am going to be in and out of the car shooting at different locations I dry off the legs with a small towel that I keep in the car for that purpose. That way when I get to the next shooting location the legs don’t freeze up.

The last tip about tripods is to wrap the first section with foam pipe insulation or specially designed tripod leg wraps. This isn’t to keep them warm but to act as insulation between your hands and the cold metal and keeping you warm(er).

And finally, if you are out shooting in extreme cold weather, the LCD on your camera might stop working. Don’t panic, as soon as your camera warms up it will come back to life!

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