Protecting Your Camera Gear
Extreme weather shooting can result in equipment breakdown and other unexpected problems with camera gear. So be sure to bring plenty of backups, including extra batteries and memory cards, as well as an extra camera body or compact camera, and a backup charger. If you can, test your equipment in similar low temperatures before actually heading out on location.
Here are some other suggestions that will enhance the use of your equipment in extreme conditions.
Moving your camera from warm to cold, such as from your heated room or vehicle to the chilly outdoors, is likely to cause condensation in the viewfinder, the lens, and even on the sensor. And unfortunately, putting your cold camera under your coat, especially if you’ve been sweating and the air in there is humid, just contributes to the problem.
To prevent or minimize condensation, put your camera in a sealed plastic bag along with a couple of silica gel packets, and let it naturally cool to the ambient temperature. The air inside the bag will make the temperature change more gradual, and the silica will absorb excess moisture.
Because most higher end cameras aren’t warrantied against water damage, consider camera and lens covers when shooting in rain or snow. A variety of covers to protect your DSLR body and lens are available, and we like the OP/Tech Rainsleeve for under $7 for two. Also, with or without a raincover, always use your lens hood to protect the lens from stray water droplets.
Maximize Battery Life
Batteries discharge more quickly in low temperatures – as much as half of battery life is lost with every drop of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be sure to bring multiple batteries on your shoot. Keep the one(s) that are not in use in the warmest place possible, such as an inner pocket close to your body. Swap batteries regularly whenever you see one start to become sluggish. If your budget allows, consider getting an external battery pack that can be connected with a cable while the unit is kept in the warmth of your pocket.
Wrap Your Tripod
Metal tripod legs, especially aluminum ones, can become painful to touch in the extreme cold. Consider getting a tripod wrap for one or all of the legs of your tripod. This also adds a layer of protection for carbon fiber tripods, which can get brittle and prone to damage in severe cold.
Keep Your Lens Clean
Your camera and lens are more likely to collect snow, rain, and other particles in severe weather conditions than in normal shooting conditions. So be sure to carry multiple microfiber lens cleaning cloths as well as a brush or blower. Use these to clean off your lens front and your viewfinder, as well as to wipe away snow and rain from your gear.
No matter how well you’ve prepared your equipment, you’ll also need the right clothing and gear to help you tolerate the harsh conditions so that you can stay out on location to complete your shoot.
Before heading out, be sure to take some basic safety precautions including checking the weather forecast for your shoot locations, and notifying someone of your plans.
As with any outdoor shoot, be sure to bring plenty of water, food, first-aid, flashlight, and a cell phone.
Keep Your Body Warm and Dry
Of course you want to dress warmly and in layers. This means cold weather gloves, ear protection, and topping it off with a Gore-Tex jacket, pants, and boots for breathable waterproof cover.
Extra Warmth with Hand (and Foot) Warmers
Hands and feet can get so cold that even the heaviest of gloves may leave your fingers (and toes) aching and unable to function. Single-use hand-warmers are a quick and easy solution. They’re easy to pack along, and last up to 10 hours once activated. You can slip them into gloves or boots, or have them handy in your pockets.
My hands and feet are extra sensitive to the cold., and even in 40-50 degree weather my fingers ache and can hardly function even with the heaviest gloves. So these hand warmers have become a standard item in my gear bag all year round.
Keep Your Bearings With a GPS Unit
It’s easy to get lost or disoriented when you’re trudging through snow or in unfamiliar environments. And you don’t want to just rely on your cell phone when you’re out on location. It’s smart and safe practice to bring along a standalone GPS unit so you can track your course, and always know where you are and be able to determine the quickest route to safety.
There are plenty of models out there to choose from with different features and prices range. We really like the highly rated waterproof Garmin eTrex series (affiliate link).
Stay In Touch With Walkie Talkies
When heading out into harsh environments, you don’t want to head out alone. And in order to stay in contact with one another, especially if you’re out of cell phone range, two-way radios (walkie-talkies) are a must. These Motorola Two-Way Radios (affiliate link) are water resistant, have a long battery life, and include access to weather channels.
Being prepared with the right gear will enhance your outdoor experience, and help lead to a successful photo shoot. Please visit us regularly at www.everythingmicrostock.com for more photography and videography tips for microstockers.
Do you have a favorite item you recommend for extreme cold weather shooting?