Living in Minnesota, we tend to look at and talk about the weather a lot. This morning I was looking at the 10-day forecast, and seven of the ten days will be below zero. Everything becomes more challenging at those temperatures, and photography too when it's that cold. The upside is the cold usually is accompanied by frost, snow, and sometimes a sparkling snow-globe winter wonderland that creates beautiful results. I've put together some tips to help you photograph in cold weather. I've provided links for your convenience and am not paid to endorse or link out to these.
- Batteries - Extreme cold weather degrades battery performance. Carry extras with you and keep them close to your body in a warm pocket.
- Lens Hood/Shade - When you're shooting images in the snow, use your lens hood to keep snow off the front element of your lens.
- Water Resistant Backpack - Admittedly, I'm still acclimating to my backpack after transitioning from my 1980s camera bag, but I like the water-resistant backpack. Carry your photo gear in a water-resistant backpack even if it's not snowing. It seems like I'm always setting the backpack down in the snow at some point during a shoot.
- Add Light - You'll probably want to add exposure to your snowy winter scenes to help you avoid severely underexposing your images. Underexposure may also make your snow appear gray. If you're shooting animal portraits, use a gray card or invest in an ExpoDisc Professional White Balance Filter. I shoot Canon and have found that I usually need to up my exposure about +1 with the ExpoDisc.
- Hand and Foot Warmers - Carry chemical hand and foot warmers and keep them in your pockets. Don't be tempted by the battery-operated warmers because cold is not conducive for battery life. Use the warmers for your hands, feet, and your extra batteries too.
- Bring Warm Clothes - Minnesota is the land of layering for good reason. We can, and do, have multiple seasons in a single day. Suppose you haven't worked in harsh winter conditions. (Lucky you!) In that case, you should consider wearing (or having access to) essentials like insulated snow pants, wool socks, parka, hat, gloves, etc. Still, warm boots may be the most critical. Consult the boot temperature rating and compare it to the weather you'll be encountering.
- Gloves - How do you keep your hands warm and still have the ability to push buttons? I usually do pretty well with the Head running gloves I find at Costco in the cold but not below zero out. They have non-slip material for gripping and work well to handle the camera and push buttons. There are gloves with removable fingertips (we called them choppers); they work well for many people, but in less than 10-degrees Fahrenheit, my fingers get too cold. You could add glove liners under your heavier gloves to keep your hands warmer. Vallerret Markhof V3 Gloves are outstanding if you're looking for this type of photography glove.
Do you have questions you would like answered? Let me know!