This area we live and play in is a winter wonderland. We get cold, snow and ice that transforms our lakes, freezes waterfalls, and without the leaves on the trees, opens up some of our hidden gems.
For our snow birds, you are missing the cold, but are also missing some spectacular winter vista and activities that the Finger Lakes offer in this weather.
What does this have to do with photography you might ask? Well, hopefully by now, and if you have been reading this column, you know that I am a huge advocate of having your camera with you when you go on your adventures. Winter brings on a few unique challenges with photography.
My primary concern will always be your safety! When it comes to shooting in the winter, the weather can be very unpredictable. The best way to prepare is to expect anything—dressing appropriately for the situation is fundamental. When it comes to apparel, it is necessary to plan for weather that may change suddenly and significantly.
You also need to “winterize” your gear. Today’s cameras that are weather-sealed typically perform very well in cold temperatures, but there are a few important considerations to be aware of when preparing camera equipment for winter.
Keeping your batteries warm is one. Depending on how cold the temperature is, battery life can be greatly reduced. Results vary depending on the temperature and camera model, but it is safe to assume that batteries might only last a few minutes in cold weather.
I hold one of my hand warmers on the camera to keep the battery area warm. This action helps extend the life of the battery. I also carry backup batteries and keep them close to my body for extra heat—the batteries should be in a location as close to the body as possible. Throughout the day, switch out the cold batteries with the warm ones for longer shooting.
Another common problem with camera equipment in winter is the condensation that occurs from changes in the environment. Frigid air has very little water vapor and is dry. When a camera comes from a cold outside environment to a warmer and more humid environment like a heated vehicle, water vapor can condense on the outside and inside the camera.
Water inside the camera can cause the electrical components to malfunction or even be permanently damaged. To avoid this, bring a large Ziploc bag and seal the camera inside it before moving from a colder to a warmer environment, and leave it there until the temperature inside the bag is roughly the same as room temperature.
The main technical obstacle to winter photography is the challenge of exposure. When evaluating exposure, your camera meter might not provide accurate readings for white subjects like snow or ice. This error occurs because snow fools the camera meter into trying to average out the luminosity of the snow, and the camera ends up turning the snow gray rather than white.
A critical element in improving your winter photography is paying close attention to the light. In wintertime, the light quality is unique, as frequent changes in weather take place.
Winter is a great opportunity to get out and try something new. Take the time to enjoy what you are doing, and you’ll come back with beautiful images.
Check out https://www.fingerlakes.org/winter-finger-lakes-unique-experiences-and-sites for some ideas