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As a photographer, how do you manage really cold weather?


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Hi all . . . especially those of you who inhabit the colder climes.

 

Being born on the edge of a desert, and mostly avoiding really cold places, my experience is about to be well and truly tested by spending Christmas in Estonia, New Year's in Istanbul.

 

From a personal point of view, the cold will be manageable, but when it comes to using cameras . . . two things spring to mind:

 

  • wearing gloves vs manipulating camera controls, and
  • dealing with possible condensation in lenses going from toasty to frosty (more vice versa I'm guessing).

 

I manage condensation in south-east Asia no worries (basically by keeping camera gear in least-air-conditioned spot in lodgings) but was wondering how cold-climaters manage both this and reconciling gloves with camera controls.

 

cheers,

DD

Edited by dustydingo
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It's most discouraging that doctors tend to dismiss Raynaud's and other chronic conditions with a nod and a shrug of the shoulders. I don't suffer from Raynaud's but I do have three others. 

 

I don't know if you're familiar with the Mayo Clinic, Bryan, but they are considered the best there is in the USA:

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/raynauds-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20363571

 

 

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16 hours ago, meanderingemu said:

 

 

now, Southern, time to change

 

come on, widen your meanderings sir . . . I have an acquaintance who was stationed for a while on the Falklands. Very southern hemisphere, very (by my standards) cold at the moment. And let's not even think about heading too far south of Tasmania . . . 😎

 

DD

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6 hours ago, dlmphotog said:

Most important is to put the camera in an air tight bag when taking it from very cold to warm, then leave it alone for a couple of hours as it slowly heats up. I use clear office/kitchen garbage bags. I hand-puff the bag up a bit like a small balloon before I twist it shut to make sure it is air tight.

 

Below is a video about weather issues and cameras.

Warning some mild foul language

Camera 'Weather Sealing' Unicorns & Nonsense

 

Hope this helps,

 

 

 

I've read of the plastic bag procedure and did wonder if folk used to such conditions used it. Seems so ☺️

DD

 

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On 01/12/2019 at 05:03, Bill Brooks said:

Warmer than -10C I am OK with dressing in layers under a normal warm winter jacket. Going from -10C to room temperature with a digital camera has never been a problem for me. I shoot normally in any cold, except I use the battery switching technique detailed below.

 

Your head and body core temperature is the most important to your survival, so your system will withdraw heat from your not so important extremities, such as fingers toes ears nose. This is to protect your head and body core.

 

So dress in layers over your body core, and cover your head, to the point that your core and head is warm and toasty. Then your extremities will be much warmer. You still need to use a glove. If you get too cold your brain does not function as well, and you will start making mistakes. Allow for this. Time to get inside and warm yourself.

 

Any temperature below -10C I wear an older version of this parka over layers. Overkill maybe, but not when you are standing around at -15C in a high wind with night coming on. Watch out for cheaper counterfeits, if you intend to buy one.

 

https://www.canadagoose.com/ca/en/snow-mantra-parka-9501L.html#q=parka&cmpid=918366382&medium=cpc&source=google&agp=45546741346&cre=393822942398&kid=%2Bcanada+%2Bgoose+%2Bparka&mtype=b&pla=&merchant_id=&product_id=&country=&gclsrc=aw.ds&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8d6LuNyS5gIVFHiGCh1YaAPlEAAYASAAEgJNKvD_BwE&start=1

 

Read the reviews at the bottom of the page.

 

I always start out with a fully charged battery in the camera and a second fully charged battery under my parka warming in a shirt pocket. When the camera indicates an uncharged battery, switch the cold camera battery with the warm one in your pocket. When that replacement battery gets cold, and indicates a need to charge, switch batteries again. When you warm the cold battery in your pocket it will revive and be good for more shooting. Switch back and forth. You may want to carry a third fully charged battery. Use a high capacity memory chip so you do not have to switch memory chips with cold fumbling fingers.

 

Watch the histogram for lenses that are not stopping down to shooting aperture, or focal plane shutters, mirrors, that are too slow in operation. Clean your lens and camera contacts before your trip at home. Never had this happen at any temperature with a digital camera, but something to watch for anyway.

 

Below -10C going rapidly between cold to hot environments will cause condensation on your gear. The solution is to plan to shoot in your cold environment all at once. Zip up your cold gear in a padded camera case, bring into the warm environment and let sit for an hour or so. Go to lunch while your gear warms up slowly. Then towel off any condensation, then shoot inside.
 
In -40C weather I once had a camera so cold that when I brought it inside at +19C the condensation turned to ice immediately, on the outside of the camera.  The camera was encased in a block of ice. In desperation, I used a hand warmer in a nearby toilet. The camera, a film Nikon, was functional once it was deiced.

 

Brilliant Bill, thank you. Those Canada Goose parkas look fantastic, but I'd be seeking out freezer rooms to be able to use it once back home 😎

 

The battery tips from you and others taken on board, purchasing another spare before we leave.

 

I note you use just a padded camera bag (the padding I assume offering a degree of insulation) as against the recommendation from others to use an airtight (or close to it) plastic bag. I might adopt a bit of a belt-and-braces approach until I can test this in the flesh.

 

thanks again, and to all who've assisted with advice etx. much appreciated.

 

DD

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1 hour ago, Ed Rooney said:

 

The message I'm getting is "don't go out."

 

😎 Edo, I'm travelling with my three girls to the other side of the world, having to sell a kidney on our return to pay for it . . . so trust me, not going out and seeing all there is to see is simply not an option 🌝

 

The girls say hello by the way.

 

DD

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And a big hello back to the girls. I know you as a very sensible dude, Dusty. I'm just joking around about the weather. As Mark Twain said: "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." 

 

Edo

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2 hours ago, dustydingo said:

 

I've read of the plastic bag procedure and did wonder if folk used to such conditions used it. Seems so ☺️

DD

 

 

The traveling I've done has been with a company of professional wildlife photographers who are used to taking people who don't necessarily have the most sophisticated equipment and their advice is often of the easiest variety. So for the dust in Africa they suggest pillowcases rather than the nicer Sea and Summit bags and for the arctic they suggest a plastic bag for transition from cold to warm. Also always a garbage bag to cover your bag in the zodiacs in case of.... oops, we are taking in water. 

 

Paulette

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3 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

And a big hello back to the girls. I know you as a very sensible dude, Dusty. I'm just joking around about the weather. As Mark Twain said: "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." 

 

Edo

 

So sorry we can't squeeze Liverpool into our long-planned itinerary, it would be very cool to meet up again. Of course, who knows what the rest of next year will bring 🤞:)

 

Dd

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1 hour ago, NYCat said:

 

The traveling I've done has been with a company of professional wildlife photographers who are used to taking people who don't necessarily have the most sophisticated equipment and their advice is often of the easiest variety. So for the dust in Africa they suggest pillowcases rather than the nicer Sea and Summit bags and for the arctic they suggest a plastic bag for transition from cold to warm. Also always a garbage bag to cover your bag in the zodiacs in case of.... oops, we are taking in water. 

 

Paulette

 

Thank you Paulette, the stock of plastic bags is on the increase. Zodiacs probably not in the plans at this stage :unsure:

 

DD

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12 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

It's most discouraging that doctors tend to dismiss Raynaud's and other chronic conditions with a nod and a shrug of the shoulders. I don't suffer from Raynaud's but I do have three others. 

 

I don't know if you're familiar with the Mayo Clinic, Bryan, but they are considered the best there is in the USA:

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/raynauds-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20363571

 

 

 

Thanks for the link Edo.

 

 I've read it through, but I don't think my condition is sufficiently severe to require intervention. They more or less say the same as my Doctor, i.e. wrap up and stay warm!  Other folk suffer a lot worse, I have a relative who gets white fingers if she spends time near the fridges in a supermarket, and is then unable to deal with cash/cards at the checkouts.

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Back in the good old days of film...  I had two NIKON F's w/o meters or motors .  Once in Siberia I had one freeze to my forehead, had to use Vodka and a warm knife

to remove it.  Don't work in Siberia anymore, but my D800's seem to be OK in cold, Boston is not really that bad.  Keep them inside my jacket and always have a spare battery

in my pocket.  My favorite cold weather accessory are my SOREL's, the old original ones with the felt lining. 

 

One winter in Moscow we had to be out on the airport tarmac for hours and

the diaphragm lever, aperture, on my 600 f4 froze and shattered.

 

When I downhill ski I carry a Canon G9, started with a G2, inside my parka and it has always worked well.

 

Bryan,  Sorry to hear about your affliction with cold,  I hear Jamaica needs better stock.....

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There's a brand of sock in the UK called "Heat Holders" - I was working at a showground all day on cold concrete floors, put some of those on & had an instan transformation - warm feet! They are quite bulky though, but way better than the usual 2 pairs of socks.

 

Disposable gloves with fingerless Thinsulate over the top, batteries in an inside pocket.  And a hat! Never ceases to amaze me how many people in the UK walk around in quilted jackets, gloves, scarves, and no hat!

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On 01/12/2019 at 09:49, hdh said:

I know they are not popular but very practical. 

Indeed - Long johns are such a standard part of my outdoors clothes that I forgot to mention them. Don't leave home without them.

Edited by Colin Woods
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The best place to pick up some grippy thin but warm gloves is usually a horse riders shop. they have little rubber blobs designed to let the rider manage the reins. Rock climbing outfitters are also worth a look. With the thinner ones, you can still get your hands in your pockets. I can't get on with the fingerless type, it's my fingers which first feel the cold. When it gets proper Arctic cold I leave it to the specialists.

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On 30/11/2019 at 17:03, dustydingo said:

Hi all . . . especially those of you who inhabit the colder climes.

 

Being born on the edge of a desert, and mostly avoiding really cold places, my experience is about to be well and truly tested by spending Christmas in Estonia, New Year's in Istanbul.

 

From a personal point of view, the cold will be manageable, but when it comes to using cameras . . . two things spring to mind:

 

  • wearing gloves vs manipulating camera controls, and
  • dealing with possible condensation in lenses going from toasty to frosty (more vice versa I'm guessing).

 

I manage condensation in south-east Asia no worries (basically by keeping camera gear in least-air-conditioned spot in lodgings) but was wondering how cold-climaters manage both this and reconciling gloves with camera controls.

 

cheers,

DD

 

1) wearing gloves vs manipulating camera controls,
I use these "Black Warm Magic Gloves", Amazon/other vendors are available. Dirt cheap, buy lots, if one pair get wet, swap them for another. They fold down to almost nothing, so I have them in coats, the car, you name it.

 

2) dealing with possible condensation in lenses going from toasty to frosty (more vice versa I'm guessing)

As best you can, avoid sudden changes of temperature and humidity. Not always possible, but consistency is the best solution IMHO.

Enjoy your festive break, come back with some great photos!

Tony

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Take care, those Magic Gloves are pretty good and so cheap that you can stash them in lots of places ready for the occasion, but that link will take you to a place where you will not have the option to refuse the 30 day Amazon Prime swindle (offer if you insist!)

Edited by Robert M Estall
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On 02/12/2019 at 08:05, Bryan said:

but my favourite, cycling, is problematic due to static and very cold hands due to wind chill

 

How about these.

 

Or make your own.

 

Allan

 

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2 hours ago, Robert M Estall said:

Take care, those Magic Gloves are pretty good and so cheap that you can stash them in lots of places ready for the occasion, but that link will take you to a place where you will not have the option to refuse the 30 day Amazon Prime swindle (offer if you insist!)

Many thanks Robert, typical Amazon!  Yup,  just Google Black Warm Magic Gloves instead. 😀

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For cyclists, motor or peddle, decent gloves are essential both for cold winds and protection, I used to drive a 650 BSA long ago and I needed proper heavy gloves even in summer. But you wouldn't want to operate a camera with those. But back to camera suitable light gloves, the stretchy magic gloves are all right at a pinch and handy to keep in the bottom of the bag, but the horse riding ones are quite a bit warmer and more robust and not a whole lot more expensive. But neither will cut it for long in freezing conditions. I have a wonderful heavy leather and waxed cotton version of the old donkey jacket which defies all manner of weather combined with lots of suitable under layers with huge pockets for kit and hands. Lined trousers are great on the day. Silk long johns are terrific but perhaps a little expensive unless you mean to really do this kind of work. I have worn my wet/cold kit in Ottawa where it gets pretty cold in winter  but if I were thinking of N. American prairies or sub-arctic I would be taking a different approach. The Bill Brooks Canada Goose suggestion may sound extravagant but if I lived back in Canada or the mid-west bits of America I would regard getting kitted up with some of the now available winter kit as just the price of living in that part of the world.

 

But I still wouldn't do more than a pretty short stretch on an Arctic skidoo. For more than that, I defer to my mate Bryan Alexander.

Edited by Robert M Estall
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Thanks again for all the tips before we left for Estonia and Turkey and the unknown (to us) pitfalls of shooting in the cold . . .  in the end the coldest daytime temp we had to deal with was minus 5 (in Tallinn), and New Year's Eve in Freedom Square it got down a couple of degrees lower, but even that was more than manageable: Turkey was a toasty (and sometimes wet) 8 or 9 degrees, not the slightest whiff of snow.

 

Long Johns as many noted, a good jacket, totally water-proof shoes and woollen socks, left hand in a simple woollen glove, right hand (between photos) in pocket with chemical hand-warmer pack. As we were heading home would tuck camera up under jacket near warmed pocket to let it thaw a bit. Luckily in Tallinn we noted almost every buidling we entered had its heating set at _just_ warm, not super-toasty, so condensation on camera lens only occured once. We were told that was so that people didn't necessarily have to totally strip off all their warm clothing every time they went inside--not sure if that's the reason but it certainly worked that way 🙂

 

Nikon D850 didn't seem to mind the cold at all; Nikkormat EL purred through it all too. Only the Nikon FE occasionally decided to give its light-meter a rest. Didn't have to call on the back-up D700.

 

Now, a little bit of sorting and editing awaits . . .

 

DD

Edited by dustydingo
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On 02/12/2019 at 08:05, Bryan said:

I suffer from Raynaud's disease, poor circulation leading to painfully cold white hands, so winter can be a nightmare. The only medical advice I have been given is "Don't allow yourself to get cold"!

 

 

I had a bout of secondary Raynaud's a few years ago. People do give you some odd looks when you start swinging your arm around in a circle to force blood into the fingers. Luckily I haven't had a recurrence for some time, but I have been avoiding low temperatures.

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In my photo youth, I actually enjoyed shooting in winter conditions.  One of the best things I ever bought were scuba diving gloves.  They were thin but warm enough for the Washington DC winters....the winters used to be colder...today it was nearly 20c (69F).  They were thin enough to manage the camera controls pretty well. I did make a trip out to U.S. Rockies one winter and I bought some expedition quality mittens that I wore over the scuba gloves.  They had laniards that attached to my wrists so I could shake  them off when I needed to shoot and they would just have from my wrists.  The other critical clothing items were a nice face mask and ear covering.  Oh and I loved my Canadian made Sorel boots....still have em...best boots ever made!

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I don't recognise the name Sorel Boots but I have a pair of Canadian boots I inherited from my Dad who had a pair of serious boots which had a robust rubber lower part, leather uppers about a foot high and a lining of at least 1/4 inch of felt .  I just checked the labels and they have a big K , so not Sorel I guess. My misguided sister was going to throw them out but I rescued them and wore them back on the plane ( I was, as usual, flying hand baggage) We don't get a lot of snow here in Suffolk, but they still get a good few outings every winter and they will probably see me out. So, yes, proper gloves lots of layers and a good pair of boots! Wellies won't cut it.

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11 minutes ago, Robert M Estall said:

I don't recognise the name Sorel Boots but I have a pair of Canadian boots I inherited from my Dad who had a pair of serious boots which had a robust rubber lower part, leather uppers about a foot high and a lining of at least 1/4 inch of felt .  I just checked the labels and they have a big K , so not Sorel I guess. My misguided sister was going to throw them out but I rescued them and wore them back on the plane ( I was, as usual, flying hand baggage) We don't get a lot of snow here in Suffolk, but they still get a good few outings every winter and they will probably see me out. So, yes, proper gloves lots of layers and a good pair of boots! Wellies won't cut it.


Your boot description sounds very similar to Sorel.  I just looked them up in Wikipedia and found that the Sorel boot came from an Ontario based company called the Kaufman Rubber Company.  So your K boot is probably from Kaufman.  In the coldest weather and in deep snow, my feet have never been cold in them!

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