Tips on Photography for Winter Trips

This is a guest post by Martin shell, otherwise reported in his blog about photography , and is editor of the online travel magazine StadtLandFlucht.

The temperatures drop, snow is in the air. To the calendar beginning of winter, which is only a few days away, the weather has also relented. The dreary rainy “November weather” gives way to finally crisp cold days, which fuel the prospect of White Christmas. Is really warm to the heart of many, when they think of upcoming tours in the snow-covered winter wonderland. Who should worry but a few who want to photograph the sparkling snow, northern lights in the night sky, or the friends on a snowshoe hike, to, what impact can have the freezing temperatures on the photographic equipment.

A review: In the first years of the still young third millennium, I took still a purely mechanical and of course analog camera on winter tours. Only the built-in exposure meter needed a small battery – Not everything without would have worked. Focus, release, film transport. I had the fear that a camera fully stuffed with electronics beyond not would cope with temperatures of minus 20 degrees. Later I put a F100 still analog, but, after all, already featuring battery-dependent technology instead of the old Nikon FM2 in the luggage. In, the camera even in bitter sub-zero temperatures is proved on a ski tour over the Hardangervidda Norwegian. Lithium batteries kept the camera in a good mood and also the electronics made no vices. When I went on expedition in the spring of 2006 my first Greenland, where an online diary should be fed directly from the Greenland ice sheet with digital pictures, was time to throw it finally all concerns about Board and to pull through and through in the battle with high-tech. Weeks of freezing temperatures, snowfall, storm. To do this the need to recharge batteries and batteries via a solar panel. How safely performed even the old mechanical camera service. However, the advantages of the more modern device, its better equipment and digital images, was on hand.

Now that harmless survive even extreme conditions also state of the art digital cameras and deliver excellent picture results turned out. And also at times of the mechanics, it was not like when you would have to shoot just away without noticing some things. I still remember as themselves when attempting a winter crossing of the Jostedalsbreen glacier in Norway mid-nineties, condensation between the lens in the lens had stated. Negligence was to blame for this and it took a small eternity to again clear view prevailed and I could continue shooting.

The following Tips should be followed to ensure an untroubled photography experience even for week-long ski tours into secluded winter landscape and at temperatures far below the freezing point. So all winter activities without failures on the chip can be dispelled.

The energy supply

The batteries of DSLR cameras donate amazingly much energy even at high negative ratings. Of course, they are more quickly exhausted as at summer temperatures. With their smaller batteries, compact cameras suffer more under the influence of the cold. You can safely forget the tip to take the battery out, to keep warm in your pocket and only to plug, needed in the camera. Who wants to drop the gloves already and with increasingly stiffer and fingers open the battery cover, insert the battery warm? To do that only if you must, not necessarily but for each photo. The inserted battery is therefore suffer from the cold. But, it makes sense to store them, to keep their potential until used in the camera at a high level in a warm place (pocket, inside pocket of the jacket) with the replacement battery.

AA lithium batteries or the outstanding Sanyo eneloop batteries offer more performance compared to the standard camera battery in my experience. If you have the opportunity, should use a vertical grip on his DSLR, which allows the use of AA batteries and rechargeable batteries. Even if this increases the weight of the camera, more times per charge are simply greatly possible.

Is one many days or even several weeks on the road, without access to electrical outlets and the easy way to recharge the batteries, you must either take a sufficient amount of rechargeable batteries, or way the battery breathe new life into. Proved the power of the Sun. With high-performance solar one is self-sufficient panels (E.g. from off-grid systems). While the solar not directly load Panel the camera battery, but it feeds a kind of “Zwischenakku” (for example, a Digi charger from Annsmann) can be operated with the below then a charger. The way nearly all commercially available Spezialakkus and AA/AAA can be charged batteries.

Clearly, it is of course, avoid unnecessary waste of energy when taking pictures. Guzzlers are considered to be primarily the internal Flash or the image control on the camera monitor. It will work closely with the energy supply, saving a few grains also switching off the auto focus.

The Kondensproblem

More dramatic than an empty battery, the warming up of the camera can be. Special caution is required after a longer use in the cold. Entering a warmer place – in the cold camera it is indifferent whether it is a heated Chalet or even just a little less cold interior of the tent-, then condenses the air moisture from the warmer air on the camera and the lens. For those who like to shoot with blur, a veil on the lens is a nuisance that temporarily puts more photographic ambitions on ice perhaps welcome, for everyone else. The housing can still wipe off moisture. A studded lens is even more difficult to get rid of it. Best put the camera to the side and waits until again clear perspective prevails. Wipe away with synthetic cloths often leads to streaks. A cotton cloth (as also with rain drops) is better. It is very cold, freezes the condensed water as ice tanks on the camera and the lens.

It is really uncomfortable when condensing water penetrates in the camera or the lens. Especially with zoom lenses, caution is advised, after changing the temperature, since warmer air into the Interior of the lens can be pumped through zooming.

Gently reheat of the photographic equipment is so very important. It is helpful to place camera and lens before entering a warmer room in a closed container. A plastic bag is enough. The warmer air condenses then outside the bag and not the camera. It should be warmed up then but continues to slowly and still always closed. Is the equipment in a well-padded camera bag, so one must consider that the bag is perfectly isolated and even after a long time in the warm room, camera and lenses that can be still cold! So: A slow step by step warm up is necessary.

However, the cold has an advantage: the sensor is cooled down, which reduces the image noise.

The exposure

But the photographer is challenging not only the cold. Correctly exposed to perpetuate a winter landscape that is more difficult than to record Palm trees on the beach. With older cameras that still did not have such sophisticated Belichtungsmesssysteme, as is the case for today’s models, the exposure setting when a monochrome snow landscape proved often very difficult. An exposure series was often last help. A digital camera offers the great advantage to be able to check whether the exposure is always directly on the monitor. While I made the experience that the exposure metering with sunshine and blue skies work very accurately. In cloudy weather conditions, however, most of the time a correction is necessary. Then, the camera tends to a too tight exposure, which should be corrected over the exposure compensation during recording. Not there’s a default value but also here. Mostly, however, the optimal correction is at about + 1.

In addition, that the shooting in bad weather conditions are recorded almost always very shows poor contrast. Here it is to counteract the (what then would mean having to change the settings depending on the shooting situation) about the high contrast settings in the camera, or to make the contrast enhancements in the image editing program afterwards. Here it is recommended to take photos in RAW format. Just as the most comprehensive opportunities for post processing available, without having to put up with losses in image quality.

Higher demands as a summer business in almost all areas of a Winter Tour – photography is no exception. How do you solves the problem of cold in the winter? What experiences have you done?

About the author

Martin case photographer, author and passionate ice walkers. Week-long ski tours have led him to many regions of Scandinavia. After glacier tours in Norway and island crossing, already twice the Greenland inland ice from East to West about. In his blog he reports on photography, travel and expeditions. In addition, Martin is editor of the online travel magazine StadtLandFlucht cover.