Tips for Winter Photography

Photographers are lined up for a chance to capture eagles on Mississippi River.  Due to a cold weather the number of eagles have been far greater than previous years.

Photographers are lined up for a chance to capture eagles on Mississippi River. Due to a cold weather the number of eagles have been far greater than previous years.

Extreme cold temperature can send photographers to a shelter (in this case a vehicle) faster than ever.  Nothing spoils a good day of photography than feeling cold.

After 15 minutes …

Winter creates unique photo opportunities for wildlife and nature photography. But extreme weather makes outdoor photography challenging, to say mildly.

Countless time, I’ve seen people who aren’t dressed adequately for cold weather. Consequently, they usually can’t stay long outside and have to take frequent breaks to warm themselves up. Obviously that means missing good photo opportunities when good actions happen.

My advice is to “dress for success”.  Dressing appropriately for the weather, and thus stay longer outside to witness key moments, make a half the success in winter nature photography.

“Michelin Man”. A heavy winter coat (and dressing in layers) allowed me to stay outside longer and more comfortable than expected during the coldest day at -17F (with wind-chill at -40F).

“Michelin Man”. A heavy winter coat (and dressing in layers) allow me to stay outside longer and focus on photography.

1. Dress in layers.

I like to dress in layers. It keeps the heat longer than wearing one big coat and also allows me to adjust to the higher temperate by taking one or two off if needed. I also have a heavy coat for subzero temperature.

2. Wear insulated gloves and boots.

Cold hands and feet will send you home really quick.  So an insulated gloves and boots will save you from having numbness and pain.  Believe me, getting frostbite on your fingers can be very painful.

3. Carry a spare camera battery and/or a second camera.

Lastly, take care of your camera.  A camera is delicate with many electrical parts, which can drain battery a lot faster.  I usually carry a spare battery inside my jacket just in case.

Extreme temperature can also cause your camera to malfunction, so having a second camera body will save your day.  While photographing eagles all day in frigid temperate, I would rotate my camera every hour or so to make sure that one doesn’t get “too cold.”

4. Leave camera in bag in room temperature after photoshooting.

Also after being outside in cold temperate for long hours, I leave my cameras ins the bag for a few hours in the room temperature before taking it out to clean.  This will allow camera to slowly warm up. This may save you a lot of money on camera repair.

My facial impression left on the camera

My facial impression left on the camera

 

4 Comments

  1. Ken Maddox says:

    How do you handle changes in camera settings when it is so cold? Do you set the camera up in anticipation of your day? This seems to be the obvious answer. I have found pulling my gloves on and off to be a pain, (maybe a fact of life)but you have no dexterity otherwise. No simple answers I suppose, but even at 9 degrees the other day after about 5 minutes my fingers were feeling it with my gloves off. Thank you for your help. PS I am a follower of yours on FB. Love your photos!

  2. Noppadol Paothong says:

    Hi Ken, I leave my camera setting on Aperture Priority mode, which still allows me to control aperture setting. An insulated leather glove (made for mountain climbing) works well for me. I can control my camera without taking them off. It’s also very tough and durable.

  3. Penelope ross says:

    Hello! Just read the book and am giving it to a hunter/conservationist friend who lives in Sikeston
    I have two questions. The image of beach plums is unlike the beach plums on the east coast, which has tiny leaves This looks a lot like poison ivy to me
    Also the photo of Black-eyed Susan and queen Anns
    Lace on p 64 would not be in early spring even in MO
    Where I have visited several times
    I’m a photographer/editor from CT. Fabulous story and
    Photographs! Glad you came from 10000 miles away

  4. Noppadol Paothong says:

    Hi Penelope, The beach plum image was taken on Martha’s Vineyard at the Long Point Wildlife Refuge in early May. The image on p. 64 was taken in early June, so early summer might be more correct. Thank you for your comments.

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