In practice

Photographing in cold weather

Winter is coming ! In any case in the northern hemisphere. However, no question of storing his camera equipment. Winter offers wonderful lights.

To capture the magic of winter with foggy mornings, snowy twilights or Christmas lights, just get organized.

Protect yourself from the cold

The first impact of the cold, you will feel it quickly; you will be cold! And this cold may distract you and prevent you from taking the right pictures.

The body

For the body, no secret, we cover ourselves using the technique of onion peeling, that is by stacking thin layers to obtain the necessary coverage and remove if necessary to adapt to variations in temperature. For example, I often wear a t-shirt, a fleece, a sleeveless jacket, a denim jacket, a light coat and a waterproof parka in case of extreme cold. This stack prevents body heat from escaping, protects against wind and moisture.

The feet

For the feet, do not skimp on the quality of your shoes, as my grandmother said: one catches cold by the feet! In addition to the comfort of walking if you work outdoors for a long time, think about the insulating power of your shoes and ask yourself the question of impermeability. It may be interesting to have a pair of [amazon text=gaiters&asin=B07VMW6VXJ in your bag if you are in the snow.

The hands

For the hands, there are several solutions, three in this case.

  • First, you consider that you will not be cold hands and you work without gloves.
  • Secondly, and this is my favorite, you want to keep all your fingers available and you invest in a good pair of woolen mitts.
  • Third, you can invest in a pair of gloves with removable fingers. Practical but more fragile than gloves or mittens, these gloves make it possible to keep the fingers warm when one does not photograph and to leave one or several where necessary.

Protect your equipment

For the material there are three points of attention to consider:

  • The batteries
  • The camera
  • The condensation (on lenses and cameras)

The batteries

The batteries in your camera do not like the cold, they even hate it. When they are cold they refuse to deliver electricity. As soon as they find an acceptable temperature, they refit. So you have to keep them warm. Do not imagine high-tech devices for this, just put your battery or batteries in a pocket as close to your body as possible and as far away from the outside as possible. So avoid trouser pockets and favor the inside pockets of a fleece or jacket.

There is no problem in taking the battery out of your camera between shots to keep it warm.

The camera

In the case of digital cameras, it is the electronics of the case that could suffer from the cold. As an example for the Canon 1D-X Mk II, the manufacturer announces a range of operation: 0°C – 45°C

Below 0 ° C, the electronics may malfunction. So try to keep the case “hot”. But not too much to avoid condensation. Your friend, in this case, is the thermal inertia of the materials. If it is -10 ° C outside, the time that your case reaches this temperature is relatively long if you keep it at a temperature of 10 ° C. So just leave your device in your bag when you’re not using it. Depending on the outside temperature, you can surround your device with an extra layer such as a cotton or micro-fiber t-shirt.

The condensation

Condensation appears when moving from a cold environment to a warm environment. So in winter, when you come back from a shooting session.

Simplified physics

Condensation is related to the amount of water (in the form of water vapor) that may contain air. Cold air can not contain less than hot air. When hot air saturated with moisture is cooled, it will no longer be able to contain the same quantity of water and the only way to get rid of it is to condense it in the form of droplets.

So condensation is only done when cooling air. This is what happens when cold material enters a hot environment, it cools the hot air. The arrival of the cold photo material will condense the air layers of the warm room (hot and humid) on these cold parts (housing, lenses and accessories), including, often, inside the room. apparatus and optics.

The phenomenon of condensation can also appear when the appliance is taken out of the heat to the cold: the air contained in the appliance is hot (and humid) air and its cooling can cause condensation. But this is significantly less important because the amount of air in the device is low and will dilute quickly.

The solution

To eliminate condensation it is sufficient to dry the surfaces on which the droplets are formed; easy on the device, much less see impossible inside the case or lens. It is therefore better to avoid condensation for this, nothing more simple.

When you are still cold (outside so), put your equipment in a hermetic bag-type freezer bag and close the well.

On returning, it will form immediately condensation on the bag but not inside. It will be enough to wipe it and wait a few minutes until the material inside is warming up. By opening the bag there will be no condensation.

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Nicolas Beaumont is a photojournalist, director and writer specializing in social and humanitarian photography. Among our clients are the French Red Cross, Emmaüs, Handicap International, Secours Mag, Dimatex, Actusoins. We make films, photographs and articles around the world on current topics: migration, war, displaced, natural disaster, flood etc...

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