Shooting in the snow - any tips?

jasonstonejasonstone Fire& Grin-stoneRegistered Users Posts: 735 Major grins
edited October 28, 2012 in Technique
title says it all - i live in Switzerland but have always been a bit concerned about shooting in the snow - whether it's just freezing or actually snowing at the time.

I have done it - but just not sure i'm taking all the right precautions.

If it matters I'm shooting a weather sealed (? or just protected ?) Nikon D7000 plus Nikon battery grip plus one of the following lenses:
Tokina 11-16 f2.8
Tamron 17-50 f2.8
Nikkor 35mm f1.8
Nikkor 70-300 VR

Usually the 17-50 or the 70-300

Thanks for any tips, tricks or other things I should think about - whether it's related to gear, proper protection there of or else how to get awesome photos in the snowy conditions - i'm open to it all :thumb

Thanks
Jason

Comments

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,614 moderator
    edited October 27, 2012
    Jason, I carry my camera in a shoulder case, or a back pack, and try to keep the snow off my camera if I can. But I do not perseverate about it, either.

    I shoot several different bodies, and some have significantly better weather sealing than others, so pay attention to your camera body's weather sealing as you mentioned. My 5D does not like getting wet at all, but my 1series bodies are pretty unaffected by it. If it is really raining, I use a vinyl or GoreTex raincoat for my camera from Optec or other firms.

    I try to dry my camera with a chamois or a micro fibre cloth, or towel or sweater, or whatever is available - the lens surfaces only get CLEAN micro fibre cloths of course.

    Once the camera is cold, snow does not melt when it hits it, but just rolls off, or brushes off. I keep an extra battery inside my jacket to keep it warm as cold batteries are weak batteries.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • jasonstonejasonstone Fire& Grin-stone Registered Users Posts: 735 Major grins
    edited October 27, 2012
    Thanks for the info - What about transferring from inside to out - do you go through the extended temperature aclimitisation folks seem to recommend?

    I'm trying to find a way to shoot outside or have camera outside for extended periods but be able to shoot virtually immediately after coming inside too

    it's a family holiday so don't want to miss anything :D
    pathfinder wrote: »
    Jason, I carry my camera in a shoulder case, or a back pack, and try to keep the snow off my camera if I can. But I do not perseverate about it, either.

    I shoot several different bodies, and some have significantly better weather sealing than others, so pay attention to your camera body's weather sealing as you mentioned. My 5D does not like getting wet at all, but my 1series bodies are pretty unaffected by it. If it is really raining, I use a vinyl or GoreTex raincoat for my camera from Optec or other firms.

    I try to dry my camera with a chamois or a micro fibre cloth, or towel or sweater, or whatever is available - the lens surfaces only get CLEAN micro fibre cloths of course.

    Once the camera is cold, snow does not melt when it hits it, but just rolls off, or brushes off. I keep an extra battery inside my jacket to keep it warm as cold batteries are weak batteries.
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,614 moderator
    edited October 27, 2012
    You need two separate systems, because if you bring a cold camera and lens into your warmer, vastly more humid house, you will get condensation on the camera body and all optical surfaces if you are lucky.

    If you are not lucky, then the condensation will be inside your camera, and possibly on your sensor or penta prism. Not a pretty picture, no pun intended.

    How long to acclimate?? Depends on how cold outside, and how cold your camera became, but certainly several hours in a camera bag. I would not try my camera inside until at least 3 hours had passed if it is really cold outside - say well below freezing.

    I was shooting in Bosque a few years ago in 14 degree weather for several hours at sunrise.

    I got pretty cold, so I crawled into my truck to warm up for just a few minutes, and when I exhaled, my breath immediately froze all across the front surface of my 500 f4 IS L. Totally frosted the whole front surface. I had to wait for the lens temperature to rise back above freezing and then dry off the front surface before I could resume shooting, took me over an hour before I could go back to work.


    Keep one camera and lens for indoor use if you must begin shooting after coming in from out of doors, and leave your outdoors camera in a cooler area in a bag, like an unheated garage or hallway.

    The answer really does depend on just how cold and dry it is outside. I usually just leave my camera in my camera backpack overnight and start again in the morning without concern then.

    If the difference between indoors and outside is only 20 or 30 degrees then one can be less concerned, but once it drops below freezing out of doors, you really must be aware of condensation possibilities. It also matters how long your camera soaked in the cold. If it was only out for a few moments, then it will warm up fairly quickly in your camera bag which never really got cold. But if your gear has been outside in 0 degrees, for several hours, it really must be rewarmed slowly and carefully in a camera bag, or even a garbage bag to act as a humidity barrier.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • Mike JMike J Having Fun! Registered Users Posts: 1,029 Major grins
    edited October 28, 2012
    I shoot a lot of ski racing so I spend a lot of time sitting in the snow (6-7 hours at a time).

    I agree with pathfinder that you are will not be able to bring your camera in from the cold and use it immediately. You WILL get condensation. Keep it in your backpack as pathfinder has said. One other thing you can do is to put in a plastic bag over the camera (gallon size ziplock bag worksl) before you come in and then put the whole thing in the backpack/camera bag. You want things to warm up gradually.

    Batteries - again as pathfinder said batteries will be weaker in the cold. Keep the extra battery close to your body to keep in warm.

    The bodies I used are pretty well sealed so if it is snowing I really don't worry too much. If it is NW snow (read wet) then I try to get something over the lens. The optek sleeves are fine. I've also cut sleeves off old rain jackets to use as a makeshift sleeve. You can even cut the sleeve so that you have a flap to cover part of the camera body as well.

    Exposure - In consistent light, I shoot manual. To set the exposure you will need to be a stop or two over to compensate for the snow. I usually just point my lens at the snow and make sure I get a single spike in the histogram as far right as possible without blowing out too many highlights. If you are shooting in aperture priority, you will need to dial in some + exposure compensation but since you've done this before you probably know this...

    Shooting in the snow is great because you have giant reflector on the ground throwing back a light of light into faces. Even better on an overcast day which is a giant softbox... You can get some awesome portraits in this type of light. Try using flash fill as well or a reflector to add some catchlights.

    Watch your WB as well so things don't get too blue.

    I would recommend some gloves that have the fold-back finger tips. I haven't used these but I use something similar: http://www.freehands.com/ When it gets below freezing, it doesn't take long before you can't press the shutter button because your finger has no feeling.

    Enjoy and have fun...
    Mike J

    Comments and constructive criticism always welcome.
    www.mikejulianaphotography.com
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