Extreme Weather and Your Camera: How to Get the Shot and Protect Your Gear (by Chris Therkildsen)

Posted by:johanbotha on Sep - 30 - 2014 - Filed under: Photography -

If all outdoor photographers only shot on mild days, photography as an art would be shockingly boring. The best outdoor photography brings nature to life by capturing its extremes. Unfortunately, cameras and equipment are sensitive to those extremes.

To create stunning outdoor photography, you’ll need to be prepared for the worst that nature can throw at you and your equipment.

Cold Weather and Your Gear

Below-freezing weather presents a variety of challenges to your equipment. If you can overcome those challenges, there is no other weather that can give your images the remote, quiet feeling of a blisteringly cold, snowy day. Take these steps to protect your gear in wintery weather:

  • Protect Your Batteries: Cold temperatures will drain batteries quickly. Make sure you have a set of fully charged batteries at the ready, and keep them in a pocket where your body heat will warm them. When you remove a spent battery from your camera, warming it back up will often bring it back to life.
  • Avoid Rapid Temperature Changes: Dashing from a warm building to the freezing outdoors to snag a shot is never a good idea. Temperature changes cause your lenses to expand and contract, which can cause moisture or an oil leak in the lens elements. Do what you can to gradually move your equipment to warmer or cooler areas. A well-insulated gear bag will let your equipment warm up or cool down slowly in all but the most extreme environments.
  • Don’t Change Your Lenses Outside: If it’s great shooting weather, it’s probably also snowy. Even if it’s not snowing, the interior of your camera will be a slightly warmer than the outdoor temperature. Opening your camera or removing a lens can let in stray snowflakes or condensation that will damage the image sensor, fog up mirrors and cause other issues.

Shooting in Hot Spots

There are three things problems that hot-weather photographers will need to deal with: temperature swings, overheating and condensation. As with cold weather photography, protect your gear by letting it adjust to the new temperature slowly. Avoid leaving your equipment in hot cars, as prolonged heat can damage film, image sensors and lenses.

You need breaks to cool down, and so does your camera. Image sensors and batteries will warm up as you use them. In extreme heat, these components can overheat quickly. Not only will it ruin your shoot, but it could cost you hundreds of dollars in repair and … read on.

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I was born somewhere, and over the last 43 years I have been trying to grow up. Along the way I went to a prestigious university, two times, where I learned about things. Then I stayed around in Cape Town, South Africa and did various things for different famous and important people. I ended up where I am now. A romantic anthropologist, a social media community manager, a web editor and an award-winning photographer. I have survived my chemical based darkroom, outlived silver based film and I am trying to continue doing stuff in binary code now. I love food and wine and remain a fulltime student of life as apparent from my diverse interests and training. I am always looking for a challenge to work with odd and inspiring creative people.