How To

Let it Snow!
Capture All that winter weather has to offer.

By Jon Cox

Just because youâve packed away all your summer clothes doesnât mean your camera should be packet away too. Winter scenes are wonderful photo opportunities if you are willing to brave the cold. In addition to the cold there are also some other challenges to shooting in snowy situations. You need to take special care of your batteries, lenses, camera and even your tripod.

A major problem of shooting in snow is that your lens becomes fogged when you bring your camera from a warm and cozy room outside into the cold. To avoid this fogging problem keep your camera equipment in its case and store it in your garage or a back porch about an hour before you are ready to shoot. This will allow your camera and lens to cool down slowly and reduce the possibility of fogging on your lens. If youâre driving in the snow, try and keep the heat to a minimum so your gear wonât get too warm.

Bring double the batteries you think you will need when shooting in the snow, because cold weather drastically reduces the life of your batteries. Instead of cooling down your batteries like you do with your camera and lens, you should keep your batteries warm to ensure that they operate. The best way to keep your batteries warm is to keep them in an inside pocket and allow your body heat to do all the work. When you are ready to shoot put the batteries back in the camera and place them back in your pocket when finished.

Mechanically speaking a tripod operates fine in the cold. The problem arises when you use a metal tripod. Even with gloves or mittens a metal tripod will suck the heat right out of your hands. A simple solution is to use foam pipe insulators to duck tape around the legs of your tripod. Pipe insulators are found at most hardware stores and can be a real lifesaver on your hands. Another solution is to use a carbon fiber tripod, which wonât take nearly as much heat away from your hands.

Youâll need to protect your camera and lens from falling snow. The cheapest way is to put a clear plastic bag over your gear with a hole cut out for your lens. The see-through bag enables you to continue using all the functions of your digital camera. Rubber bands are great for closing the ends of the plastic bag - you can also use tape but be careful not to get it stuck on your camera. You can also buy digital camera raincoats from and

The final thing to remember is that you must be able to use your hands. Taking your gloves on and off can become a problem and I havenât found a pair of gloves with which I can actually shoot. I can shoot with glove liners and thatâs fine if itâs not too cold. However, when itâs really cold I like to use a pair of convertible mittens overtop of the glove liners. The key to a great mitten is that the thumb and the finger tops can open up with a Velcro opening. This gives me access to my fingers and thumb without having to remove my mitten.

Snowy Bridge
Wrapping a plastic bag around my camera and lens enabled me to keep shooting in the middle of a snowstorm. Remember if you decide to drive in the snow fill up your gas tank, bring a snow shovel, food and water and it doesnât hurt to throw in a sleeping bag ö you never know where your journey may take you.


Female Cardinals
You could say I cheated or you could I was clever. I shot this while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate at my kitchen table. I feed the birds all winter and in the snow they come right up to the house. I opened the window just enough to get my lens through. I then packed a few towels around the edges to keep the cold out. With this winter set up you can photograph all day and stay in your pajamas!


Cattails with snowcaps
When a high-pressure cold front follows a snowstorm the temperatures can really drop. I woke up early before the wind started howling so I could catch snow encased subjects. Using an aluminum tripod with foam pipe insulators wrapped around the legs, I kept my hands warm throughout the frigid morning.


Mt. Rainier
There was no chance of my lens fogging in this situation because my equipment was the same temperature as the outside temperature. I had hiked for about five hours to reach this clearing in hopes of seeing Mt. Rainier. For about ten minutes the Mountain did show its face through the passing clouds. I followed my own advice and kept my batteries in my inside jacket pocket and when I was ready to use them they were full of juice.

ö Jon Cox is the Author of the AMPHOTO book ăDigital Nature Photographyä and a regular contributor to Digital Camera Magazine.



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