Saturday, December 8, 2007

Winter Travel Photography

I think it has been asked countless times. And usually towards the end of the year. No surprise, since most Singaporeans would be planning for the December holidays, in some winter destination somewhere. Being in a tropical country, our most common question would be how the cold would affect our photography, or even, whether our cameras can survive/operate under the winter conditions!

While most camera manufacturers will state the optimal temperature where their products will operate, usually, they will perform beyond that. And I say this not just for my DSLR, but for those compact cameras as well! My coldest venture to date was a trip to Hokkaido Japan in Jan-Feb period. The coldest spell I had was -16 degrees Celsius - and that doesn't even include the wind chill. All I can say is that my photography gears perform better than my body did....

So, are there any special precautions needed? Here's a few tips :
  • Mostly importantly I feel is, protect yourself! Make sure you have adequate clothing - you're unlikely to produce any good photos when you're cold & miserable!
  • To add to the above point, get good gloves to protect your hands; I try to have 2 layers, one thinner inner layer, usually of polypropylene material. Then a thicker outer glove. Usually, those thick gloves will render your fingers shutter retarded, so whenI need to use my camera, I will take out the outer glove, and there will still be some protection for my hands to take some shots. I've yet to find a single glove that can suit my photography needs (my fingers are very susceptible to cold!)
  • Bring additional batteries! And store them well. Batteries perform poorly in the cold - it's not that they're drained out; put them into your pocket or somewhere warm, and after a while, they seem to have some of their charge back. Apparently, the cold impede the chemical reactions in the batteries, so you may have to change batteries a little more frequently, alternating between those "frozen" and those kept warm.
  • Keep your cameras into your bag when going between cold & warm places. These include going back to your hotel, visiting the convenience store, and going into shops/museums etc! The sudden change in temperature may cause condensation in your cameras that may cause problems later. Wait a while for the temperature to even out a little before taking them out. This is especially true when returning to my room in the hotel. We usually want our room to be really cosy after a cold day out, but that means the difference in temperature is even greater. So I usually wait an hour or two before taking my camera out of my bag!
  • Photography wise, just take note of your camera metering; it may give underexposure
  • If you're going to some mountainous area or some big expanse of land, sunglasses would be of utmost importance. The glare due to light reflecting off the snow is bad for your eyes.
  • Wear waterproof shoes/boots! Wet socks/feet spells trouble to you overall.
Ultimately, after doing all your preparation, do enjoy yourself and stop worrying over too many things. Winter can be really pretty you know!

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