The Magic in Winter Series: Gear Considerations: Part 1 of 4

Dec 10, 2019

Winter is magical! Even though it’s cold outside, I cannot resist the opportunity to photograph the beauty that is in winter. Winter lasts a very long time where I live in, here in Canada, so I know a few things about shooting within winter and how to capture all that beautiful magic. Over the next four weeks, I will be sharing my very best winter photography tips with you so that you can take gorgeous winter images too.

This week I want to talk about preparation! Being prepared for the outdoors is essential. It’ll help you photograph winter efficiently and successfully!

1. Protect your gear from winter elements

Shooting outdoors during the winter can be wet and cold.  If it’s snowing, I suggest using a rain sleeve, a plastic bag, or even a towel secured by an elastic band over the top of your gear. This will keep snow and water off your camera. I also like to keep a lens cleaning or soft cloth in my pocket so I can wipe off any snow or water droplets that form on my lens. A lens hood is convenient too. It helps keep falling moisture from hitting my glass.

ISO 400, 130mm, f3.2, 1/1250SS

2. Choose your lens wisely

Lens choice is important during questionable winter weather because changing lenses is not a good idea if it’s snowing or when there’s the potential for moisture to hit the interior of your camera. I suggest choosing a zoom lens or your favourite fixed focal and shooting with just that one lens for each outing.  

ISO 250, 140mm, f4, 1/1600SS

3. Keep batteries warm

One of the most common concerns I hear about from other photographers shooting out in the cold is that their gear stops working. I’ve photographed in extreme cold. Some of my favourite landscape images were taken in -30C temperatures. The problem in such conditions is not the camera itself; it’s the batteries. Battery life can be an issue in cold weather. Camera batteries can and do drain very quickly when cold. To help remedy this issue, as much as possible, I keep my batteries inside an inner coat pocket, very close to my body, to help keep them warm. I only take my battery out of my pocket when I want to use it. I also tend to head outdoors with an extra battery or two.

ISO 400, 105mm, f3, 1/1600SS

4. Acclimatization

Acclimatizing my gear is weather dependant, but if it’s freezing outdoors, I like to condition my camera to the temperature. When I’m acclimating my gear, I place my camera bag outside in my garage or vehicle where it’s cooler, so the temperature change is not so drastic. More importantly, when I return home, I allow my camera to warm up indoors before removing it from my camera bag.

ISO 200, 200mm, f3.2, 1/1600SS

5. Bundle up

I hate being cold. Yet here I am living in a winter wonderland for at least six months of the year! It’s crucial to me that I and my little subjects, if I’m photographing my children, are very warm. Layers are a must, and I have a lot of fun putting together cute winter outfits with colourful toques and mittens during the winter season. Remember that both you and your subjects need to be warm to have fun and capture magical winter images. So bundle up!

ISO 1000, 35mm, f8, 1/3200

Be sure to pop in next week as I’ll be sharing some technical considerations you’ll want to know about before you capture a single magical winter image!

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