Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cold weather photography

Fairbanks is a great place to experiment with cold weather photography. And experiment is an appropriate word, particularly in respect to the effects of extreme cold temps on camera equipment and the human body. Generally, the latter fails first for me. As far as equipment goes, I'm amazed at the heartiness of my Canon 1D series cameras. While the LCD screen slows down a bit, it still functions at minus 30 and 40 degree temperatures. The batteries last a much shorter time, but keeping a spare one inside my down parka pocket, and trading them out works well. In the old days of micro drives, I've had some problems with cards, but for the past few years the San Disk extreme cards have performed without problem.

As for the human body, the hands and fingers are my weakest link by far. My current system is a pair of beaver mittens large enough to fit fleece gloves inside. Add a chemical hand warmer to the mix and I can maintain functionality. The leather pads on my mitts are supple enough that I can operate the camera dials and buttons with the mitts on in most cases, and when necessary, I can pull the hands out and still have a pair of gloves on. The wheel on the back of Canon's cameras is a great mechanical feature operable with mittens.

After frostbiting my face a few times by pressing the metal angle bracket on my camera up against my face, I now add moleskin padding to the camera parts that inevitably get pressed against my face and nose.

Minus 40 degrees and ice fog in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska.
Canon 1Ds Mark II, 24-105mm f4.0L IS

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