A series of columns on outdoor photography
The f-Stops Here
Cameras Catch Cold
Links are provided to books mentioned below.
They are for sale through Idaho fish Ďní hunt in association with Amazon.com Books
by Sharon Watson
"Big-footed prints in the deep snow led to a receding figure with a .22 over his shoulder. He was searching for blue grouse in the towering, winter-dressed firs surrounding him. To put this Idaho hunting scene on film, I pushed the shutter release Ė and the viewfinder went black."
Suspecting a relationship between the jammed camera and the icicles on my nose, I slipped the camera under my coat. Sure enough, a bit of warmth and the mechanism worked fine.
A little TLC can cure a camera with a slight "cold", but deeper chills usually take more doctoring. Some cameras begin coughing at freezing temperatures. Others donít even sneeze till around zero or below.
The most common symptom of a cold camera is batteries that seem dead. The prescription is simple: change to warmer batteries! Keep several sets and rotate as needed from your own pocketful of little rejuvenating "miracles." Especially in these icy temperatures, itís best to use quality camera batteries, not watch batteries. Regardless of battery choice and regular rotation, though, cold weather will stress and shorten battery life, so keep plenty of new ones on hand.
To keep batteries working as long as possible, photographer Leonard Lee Rue III straps a commercial hand warmer onto his camera and motor drive. See his book,
How I Photograph Wildlife and Nature.
I keep my camera batteries warm by simply placing an ungloved hand now and then on the battery compartment of my camera, or I carry the camera under my outer coat.
Donít place a camera right next to your hot bod, since condensation can form in its vitals when again exposed to cold. This moisture can damage internal metal surfaces and ruin film. Donít breathe on your viewfinder or lens glass in extreme cold Ė the surface condensation will turn to ice!
Cold cameras quickly break into a "sweat" when brought indoors, so leave them outside if youíre going inside only briefly. At the end of a chilly photographic day, warm up cameras in stages by putting them into cold rooms before moving them to warmer rooms. Or place them in sealed plastic or insulated bags to prevent sudden contact with room moisture.
Be certain all condensation has evaporated before taking cameras back out into the cold, or the moisture may freeze. Besides rendering the camera inoperable, iced-up camera parts can cause serious internal damage.
Film also begs for gentle handling in teeth-chattering temperatures. It becomes brittle and breaks easily. Winding and rewinding film SLOWLY alleviates this problem. If frigid film is wound too fast, it may generate static electricity. The resulting sparks create white child-like scrawls on your negatives. For this reason, using a motor drive at all in glacial weather is risky.
Keeping a camera warm is often easier than keeping yourself from icing up. Once icicles form on eyebrows, nose, and ear lobes, you really ought to go in for a break by the fire. One Idaho shutterbug who ignored dropping temperatures actually froze his nose TO the camera!
Other Photography Titles for Reference
Other relevant Photography titles, picked especially with gift potential in mind, are listed below. If you know a budding photographer, these titles will be especially inspirational to them. The little book of Ansel Adamsí black & white photographs in postcard form makes a nice present for a friend, neighbor, co-worker, colleague, or anyone who especially admires Ansel Adamsí famous scenics.
Even non-photographers will love the first two titles listed below filled with awesome Idaho photos taken by two of Idahoís best.
These titles are for sale through Idaho fish Ďní huntís association with Amazon.com. Just click on the titles below, and order the ones you want for gifts -- or for yourself!
Photographs by Mark Lisk, text by Stephen Stuebner
Idaho Magnificient Wilderness
Photographs by Jeff Gnass
Pacific Northwest : Land of Light and Water
by Art Wolfe (Photographer), Brenda Peterson
Winter Photographs : A Postcard Folio Book
Photographs by Ansel Adams
How To Photograph Animals in the Wild
By Leonard Lee Rue III
The Art of Photographing Nature
by Art Wolfe (Photographer), Martha Hill
Photography Outdoors : A Field Guide for Travel & Adventure Photographers
by Mark Gardner, Art Wolfe (Contributor)
Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape
By Galen Rowell
The Art of Adventure
By Galen Rowell, J. Curtis Sandburn, and David Cohen