Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Blues-NO WAY!

When asked what's my favorite time of year to photograph, I usually say winter. Oh man, the looks I got! I've had to think about that response once the words left my lips, but when narrowing it down, I know why I make this claim.

Its the quiet, less people around, fresh tracks in the snow, shorter days (so I don't have to work
18 hour days) that are so appealing. So maybe its more accurate if I say winter & wilderness. The same nuances seem to apply to both. I'm comfortable there.

I love the peacefulness of winter. The sounds outside are different, the light is different too. And the unique challenges that accompany winter activities keeps many inside. All I can say is this; If you are prepared to be outside in the cold, you'll have a rewarding experience in a season that so many put on hold.

One prime example for a winter excuse is a wonderful workshop coming up in March in the Canadian Rockies at Banff National Park. See the flyer below. The idea of photographing winter at it's peak, the ice fully formed, the longer days of late February and warmer temps, puts you in position to photograph one of the most legendary winter locations in North America. Contact the Mentor Series for more information.

Mentor Series Photo Workshops

What keeps folks from embracing winter? The cold!

How you dress is the key to staying warm and enjoying yourself. Remember, cotton kills. Stay away from cotton. And think layers. Dress in layers. In cold, the moment you feel a sweat coming on, take a layer off. When you stop, pull that layer back on, it'll hold in the heat. Wearing clothing with a wicking layer, from your long johns to your jacket are key to staying warm for the active shooter. Always have a hat and wear it! Most of your body heat escapes from your noggin, so keep it warm. Again, when you start cookin' take it off, but keep it handy.

And in my opinion, the most overlooked piece of clothing is that all important wind layer. A warm fleece or down jacket is warm until that wind cuts through you like a hawk. Pulling that all important wind layer will keep you snug and toasty. When it comes to your hands, mittens are far warmer than gloves. I wear a thin pair of poly gloves inside my mittens so I can pull them off, snap off a few frames, and slide my hands back inside those warm mittens.

For my wind layer, I wear something that is also water resistant or waterproof. Living in Minnesota and doing a lot of work in the arctic, the conditions of the snow are very cold. So, the snow just glides off my gear. But, in places like the Rockies, especially in Spring, the snow can be wet and cling to you. Remember, STAY DRY. This is key to a safe and enjoyable trip outdoors in winter.

Batteries....oh my, the big worry isn't it for shooters? If I'm on assignment and gone for days, I carry several spares. But, I also carry those little "heat packets" you buy at the store and once opened stay warm for eight hours. I'll keep one wrapped around my spare each day just in case my in-camera battery dies. And, if I have a warm place to sleep at night, I recharge.

Bringing gear in from the cold. If you are staying out all day in the cold and then return to a warm cabin at the end of the day, be careful with your gear. That temp change will cause rapid
condensation on your very electronic equipment. I keep mine inside my bag, under my big jacket and allow it to slowly warm to room temp. Often times this takes several hours so be patient. If you plan on any addt'l night shooting once you've come in, just leave the gear outside and out of the wind.

What is there to photograph in winter? The subject matter is as endless as any other season.
Take a look at some of these images to kick start the mind. Get out and shoot. Winter can offer the photographer a collection of imagery that sets them apart from most shooters. Explore, take risks with light and lens. The air is crisp and clean and the magic of that temporary fossil called ice, offers the artist endless options in a sea of translucence.

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