The last post talked about the experience of shooting in cold weather and how my equipment acted when the temperatures dipped into the low teens and single digits.  I should have mentioned I was also prepared in the event it was snowing during the shoot; having a cover to protect the camera and lens from an over abundance of moisture.

I wasn’t really worried with snow flurries as the camera and lens do have seals that can at least handle that type of weather.  And when I saw a photographer lay a camera with 400mm f2.8 lens in the snow I wasn't worried.  So even when snow flurries or blowing snow was present the camera and lens performed brilliantly.

As for me, I was dressed appropriately for the weather conditions.  Most photographers want to feel comfortable during a shoot and usually are dressed in shorts or pants (jeans), short sleeves, and sneakers.  In fact a few years ago I went out on a cold 20° early morning in shorts and t-shirt to take a morning sunrise lake photograph.  Did I stay out for an hour, NO!  I was aware of the limitations of my dress and did my time outside accordingly.

And there wasn't any wind or blowing snow either.

In my recent trip to Northern Maine to shoot the IBU World Cup Biathlon #7 at the Nordic Heritage Ski Center in Presque Isle, Maine the conditions called for dressing a little more appropriately for cold weather.

I wanted to make sure I was comfortable and could add or remove clothing to be comfortable inside or outside.  Layering is extremely important for comfort and warmth.  If you put so much clothing on that you begin to sweat, and your clothes don’t have wicking capability, you can be in store for a very cold day.  Be smart in what you put next to your skin – no cotton!

I dressed in my “ski” outfit — lightweight wicking silks – shirt and pants; ski shirt with high collar; powder length ski parka with high collar and powder skirt; and ski pants with snow gator built in.  Because I would not be moving a lot and generating heat, I added a fleece layer before putting on my ski parka.  This gave me a little added heat retention layer.

Key to the body staying warm is keeping the feet warm.  I had my boots and also some really good after ski boots I could use.  I started with dry socks and kept an extra pair with me just in case.  My feet never felt the cold.  I will say that I discovered a boot that I will certainly get for my next shoot.  These boots are calf length with overlapping felt lining, and a full length zipper front.  You can step in snow to the knee, and even then, it will not bother you.

Again I say, I want to point out here that for the most part photography is not an action sport and it generates little body heat in cold weather.  It is very important to keep this in mind when layering up.  You don’t know how long you will stay in one place during an event, so personal comfort needs to take a high priority.

Ok, so I am dressed and I have the clothes and the cap to prevent all the heat escaping from the top of my head.   Oh yes, that is where it will go.  What about my hands?  What do I wear that will keep my hands warm and also give me feel on the camera?

Interesting question on which I have heard many suggestions.  I went on a hunting spree to find the right glove or mitten.  Which would be right for me? 

  • There are gloves/mittens that have fold away fingers that will expose your shutter finger, but don’t do much for the dials. 
  • There are fingerless gloves which expose all fingers, yet provide no protection.
  • There are silk liners that can be separately.
  • You can use a larger size outer shell glove/mitten and put a fingerless glove on as a liner.
  • You can use silk liners with your gloves and pull the glove off when you need to shoot.  The same would hold for mittens.
  • You can get a glove product like “Power Stretch” from a number of manufacturers.

I didn’t choose any of the above – I chose to purchase a pair of winter golf gloves that were form fitting, had a leather palm and fingers, and extended my feel right through the glove.  I could feel the camera just as if I was holding it in my bear hands — I could control every dial and button with ease.  These gloves made the perfect cold weather photography glove for me.

I also carried my big pair of ski gloves in case it got super below zero cold and windy, and I needed something to totally block the wind.

Well that’s it.   No, one more thing.  If I had an ultimate wish list I would include in my cold weather shooting kit a snow camouflage suit that would enable me to be in the direct line of the TV camera and not be seen.  With that outfit I would have been able to get really close to the action without disturbing the athlete or the TV crews.  Add to that a warm mat to lay on, and I would be all set.  Oh well, I will save those for another day.

With that said, enough already.  See you next time. glj