Tips for Shooting in Cold Weather
|photo by Katrina Rice|
* Keeping warm and protecting yourself from the elements- This should be obvious, but you will want to be able to feel your fingers and limbs while shooting. The first element in staying warm is to dress appropriately. This includes your normal dress including a coat, but also making sure to wear a hat and gloves.
A great glove option for photographers are the convertible kind, where the top part (like a mitten) folds over to reveal fingerless gloves so that you can still have easy access to camera controls. I would recommend getting a pair with a grip pad on the palm to prevent gear from slipping out of your hands. Suggestions: these, these, or these (UK). You can also make your own fingerless gloves out of socks if you're in a pinch.
To keep your neck warm, you can make a warm camera neck strap cover by crocheting or knitting one, or sewing a slip cover for it. Use wool yarn, or repurpose an old sweater.
Use warmer packs. These things work great in shoes or inside clothing on really cold days or nights when you need to be outside for extended periods of time. These are favorites of people in the movie industry while shooting on outdoor sets in cold climates and winter months. Recommended: Grabber Warmers. Extra tip: Wrap these around your lenses to prevent lens fogging (see below).
Another aspect to protecting yourself from the elements is to remember that if the ground is covered with snow or ice, that shoes with good traction is important to prevent slipping and falling. You don't want to drop your gear and brake it or get hurt. If you don't spend a ton of time in snow and ice and don't have specific boots for this, the Stabilicer Lite or traction system accessories are good choices.
* Protecting your camera equipment from the elements- For snowing or raining conditions, transport and store your gear in a waterproof bag such as the Lowepro Dryzone Backpack. During shooting, you can cover your camera and lens with a plastic bag (just letting the end of the lens stick out), and use a lens hood and filter for extra protection. If you're going to be shooting in conditions like these often, then investing in higher-end gear that has weather resistant seals on it is also recommended. For example, the "L" lenses in the Canon line have these seals.
Don't forget about lens fogging! You can prevent this two different ways- you can either put your camera and lenses into a plastic Zip-lock bag before heading inside, which will prevent the condensation that occurs from reaching the equipment as it will form on the outside of the bag. Or, you can warm your gear up gradually by using your body temperature or a room that is in between the exterior and interiors temperatures.
Another issue that happens when shooting in the cold is battery problems. They die much quicker in cold conditions. Always take extra batteries with you, and keep them warm by keeping them close to your body in pockets when not in use. Turning off unnecessary battery-draining functions (such as auto-focus) is also helpful to lengthen battery life. For more info, read: How to Maximize Your Camera's Battery Life.