Seven Tips for Outdoor Photography When the Temperature Drops

With winter swiftly approaching, and the cold and snow with it, outdoor photography can be miserable. Especially when your alternative is a warm, comfy bed. Unfortunately, winter is also when the clouds tend to be more cooperative and interesting to look at. Below are seven tips for outdoor photography when the temperature is less than ideal.

  1. Dress for the weather
  2. Get hand and feet warmers
  3. Use your tripod
  4. Keep your spare batteries warm
  5. Keep your camera in a sealable plastic bag
  6. Take a hot shower when you get home
  7. Reward yourself with a hot drink

Dress for the Weather

The first tip for outdoor photography is to dress warm and in layers. You don’t want to get cold to the point where you start to shiver and cause unnecessary camera shake, creating blurry photos.  So, check the weather before you go. I normally go out for sunrise, so I check the night before, but it’s safe for me to assume that it’s going to be cold. So, I generally wear, fleece lined tights, leggings, wool socks, and jeans, a tank top, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, a hooded sweatshirt, and a fleece. This is all under my winter coat and snow pants. I also have a hat and gloves, and if there’s snow on the ground my winter boots.

Get Hand and Feet Warmers

Late last winter I asked my mom if she could make me some hand and feet warmers. I told her it was no rush, and I got them in April. That’s not important to the story really. Anyway, I’m trying to be more conscientious of using re-useable items more than single use items, which is why I asked her in the first place. Since I didn’t get them until the spring, I haven’t tried them yet, but they should stay warm for as long as I’m out on those cold mornings. On a side note, if you want your own set, or anything else, just shoot her a message on Instagram.

The hand and feet warmers my mom made for me.
The hand and feet warmers that my mom made for me. I can’t wait to use them this winter to keep my fingers and toes warm.

Use a Tripod

I am not a fan of using a tripod if I don’t have to, but if I have to I will. And when it’s cold out is one of those times when I have to. I’m cold all the time, and being outside in the winter only makes it worse. And I don’t want blurry photos because I was shivering and didn’t realize it.

Keep Spare Batteries Warm

Camera batteries don’t play well with the cold, so they tend to drain quicker. Especially when in use. So, you’ll want to bring your spare batteries with you, and you’ll want to keep them warm so they have some juice when you need to switch them out. Put your spares in a pocket close to your skin, so your body heat will transfer to the batteries.

Keep Your Camera Gear in a Sealable Plastic Bag

These next three tips for outdoor photography are more for when you’re finished. This one will help keep your camera safe, and the next two are for you. When you’re all done for the session, take out your SD card and battery, so you can start processing your photos and charging your batteries, and then put your camera in a bag with some of that cold air it was in. Then put that bag back in your camera bag and bring it inside with you. That way, your camera can slowly warm up instead of going from one extreme to the other. If you go from really cold to really warm, you risk getting condensation on the sensor, and water and cameras don’t get along.

Take a Hot Shower

Once you get home from an exciting day of winter photography, take a hot shower to warm up again. Or you can do what I do, and turn up the furnace and sit in front of a vent. I’m a floor sitter, so I do this more than the hot shower. But do whatever works for you.

Reward Yourself with a Hot Drink

Before I go out, I brew a pot of coffee and I leave it on. That way, when I come home, I get to have a piping hot cup to warm up from the inside out. It’s also nice to hold the hot mug in my ice-cold hands.

These are my seven tips for outdoor photography in the winter. What do you do to stay warm? Since it is winter most of the year in Wisconsin, I’m always looking for more ways to keep from freezing.

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