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Taking Pictures in Cold Weather

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With much of the country again in the grips of cold, snowy weather, I thought I’d mention an applicable article I recently read by noted wildlife photographer Weldon Lee.  In it he gives some great tips for Taking Pictures in Cold Weather.  I picked up some good ideas there and think it’s worth perusing if you are a bad-weather birder (many of the tips he gives cross over from photography to using optics in general when Jack Frost is at play.)

Long-tailed Ducks don't seem to mind the gnarly weather, and with the right preparation birders can keep on birding & photographing birds even in a Polar Vortex.  Lake Ontario, NY Dec. 2009.

Long-tailed Ducks thrive in gnarly weather, and with the right preparation birders can keep on doing their thing even in a Polar Vortex. Charlotte, NY Dec. 2009. Photo © Bill Schmoker

While most would consider this a portal to a frozen wasteland from which they may never emerge, serious birders see an opportunity to get a few hundred meters closer to birds out on the open water beyond the ice edge on Lake Erie.  Pt. Charlotte, NY, Dec. 2009.

While most would consider this a portal to a frozen dimension of hell from which they might only emerge looking like Han Solo in carbonite, serious birders see an opportunity to get a few hundred meters closer to birds out on the open water beyond the ice edge on Lake Erie. Charlotte, NY, Dec. 2009. Photo © Bill Schmoker

 

Chris Wood and Jessie Barry shrug off the cold with the right wardrobe and gear considerations.  As the old Scandinavian saying goes, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing."

Chris Wood and Jessie Barry shrug off the cold with the right wardrobe and gear preparations. As the old Scandinavian saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.” Nearly the same sentiment applies to photography- with the right gear and preparations you can keep your camera going and get great images in the most wintry settings you find yourself in. Charlotte, NY, Dec. 2009. Photo © Bill Schmoker

One little trick I like when the mercury drops is to wear glommits with hand warmers tucked in them over the backs of my hands.  When I flip the mitten cover back to use my bare fingers the heat pack extends the temperature range that I can still function in before I’ve got to switch to more heavy-duty gloves or mittens.

Do you have any tips to add for cold weather birding &/or photography?  If so please leave a comment.

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Bill Schmoker

Bill Schmoker

Bill is known in the birding community as a leading digital photographer of birds. Since 2001 he has built a collection of digital bird photos documenting over 640 species of North American birds. His photography has appeared in international nature publications, books, newspapers, interpretive signs, web pages, advertisements, corporate logos, and as references for art works. Also a published writer, Bill wrote a chapter for Good Birders Don't Wear White, is a past Colorado/Wyoming regional editor for North American Birds and is proud to be on the Leica Birding Team. Bill is a Colorado eBird reviewer and is especially fond of his involvement with the ABA's Institute for Field Ornithology and Young Birder Programs. Bill is a popular birding guide, speaker, and workshop instructor, and teaches middle school science in Boulder, Colorado. When he isn’t birding he enjoys family time with his wife and son.
Bill Schmoker

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  • Frank Izaguirre

    Definitely gonna try that hand warmer trick. Thanks, Bill.

  • John Kendall

    I carry a second set of thinner gloves in my coat pocket in late fall and winter so that I can operate a camera for a handful of minutes or longer (if not bone chilling cold and wind) without bare skin. I go right back to the winter heavy double gloves as soon as the shots are over.

  • JoshExmoor

    Lithium Ion batteries lose their charge much faster in the cold. If you have an extra battery, keep it buried inside your warmest pocket to keep it fresh.

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