Getting ready for the Icelandic Adventure and other photographic topics.

Someone wrote and told me that I might like to have thin gloves to wear under my bigger, heavy duty gloves if I'm out in the cold taking photographs. Their logic made sense to me; the big gloves do most of the work keeping my fingers warm but when I need to make a change that requires pushing a small button or turning a recalcitrant dial I can pull my hands out of the big gloves and still have something between my skin and the metal of the camera body.

I went to REI and found a decent pair of glove liners and bought them. I think that was the last purchase I needed to make for the trip, as far as winter clothing is concerned. Certainly there are still many opportunities to rush out and buy a new camera system before departure ---- if the spirit moves me.... Plenty of time to read the new owner's manuals on the plane.

Cold weather shooting tips are most welcome. Remember, I spend most of my time in Texas where snow is rarer than common sense.

Don't bother warning me not to breathe on the front of a lens in weather below freezing. I did that last year in Toronto and was rewarded with a frosted front element.


Stephen Cysewski said...

I live in Fairbanks, obviously very cold. I get the largest mittens that I can, then using a camera strap I attach them so I can hang them from my neck. When I need to adjust the camera, or take a photograph, I take my hands out of the mittens and then return my hands to the mittens. Having the largest mittens are important so it is easy to remove my hands. If it is very cold I use a chemical hand warmer in each mitten. I don't wear gloves when I do this. I have the camera around my neck. An external battery grip helps with battery longevity. I have lightweight mittens for Zero and Above and heavier weight mittens for the real cold.

PacNW said...

Have you considered convertible gloves? You can wear glove liners under them. Much easier solution:


Just slide off the tips and your fingertips are exposed. The tips hang off the glove, still attached. You don't have to hold them or put them someplace, and you an put them back on in a couple of seconds. Convertible gloves are very popular among photographers in cold places.

Kristian Wannebo said...

Feet, keeping warm:
Moving in and out between cold and warm makes your feet cold after several times. Even with good footwear. (I've been told this is because of condensation.)
I'd recommend double socks (normal plus warm) in just a little loose winter boots plus a change of socks in a pocket. (Preferably wool, keeps you warmer than cotton if damp or wet.)

[ Ever had new boots give blisters on your feet?
A roll of non-elastic (~1.5" wide) somewhat stiff tape makes a good second protecting skin when you first notice reddening of your skin or on top of a blister.
The import thing is that the tape plus the covered skin stay flat and don't tend to wrinkle.]
- - -

( Not to forget keeping head, throat and bum warm in addition to your hands.)
I often have a folding piece of about 1/4" insulating material to sit on in a pocket.
( If you want one but don't find one that folds, try running a sewing machine along the middle to make it fold more easily, or cut and tape.)

I don't know Icelandic weather. In the north of Sweden you now have to be prepared for sudden snow and strong winds.
- - -

( But you've probably been told this many times already..)
It is easy to forget the risk of condensation when bringing a chilled camera back into a warmer - and damper - car or bus (or house)...
The usual suggestion is to first close the camera bag well around the camera.
( In extreme conditions a couple of silica gel bags are suggested.)

When cold, keep your extra batteries warm in inner pockets.

Unknown said...

Keep spare batteries in an inside coat pocket or shirt pocket to keep them warm, battery life will be shorter when they are cold. When coming inside with a cold camera put it in a zip lock bag until it warms up to prevent condensation forming inside your camera.

David said...

With the caveat that I haven't photographed below -18C, I've found putting gloves on and off tiresome. And I've missed shots.
I start with wrist warmers. The wrist loses a lot of heat. Cut the tops off old socks and slide over the wrist.
I use good knitted gloves that allow me work the dials but hold some heat in. One hand is almost always in my coat pocket when not photographing. In extreme conditions there is one of those chemical warmers in there as well. Here in NZ we use possum merino gloves. The possum fur is hollow and is a great insulator.
Mainly I'm concerned about wind chill, so a good light weight raincoat is handy (Gortex or similar is good). If the wind comes up the camera and hands go inside that.

jiannazzone said...

Hand warmers.... for your camera batteries.

Kristian Wannebo said...

In windy weather, even with a jacket long enough, I sometimes want an extra pair of underwear under my long johns to keep my private parts and bum from freezing.

Kirk Tuck said...

these are great tips. Keep them coming and I'll share them with the workshop crew!

Karl said...

In December I annually go fly fishing in Montana. The day is spent standing in a stream, which is often warmer than the air temperature. (You needn't question my sanity as my wife has that role down pat.)

Useful suggestions for staying warm in the cold weather include:
1. Get merino wool underwear, including long johns. It insulates well and does not get smelly like the synthetics sometimes do. Merino wool is not itchy, unlike other wools.
2. Get a scarf or neck gaiter to keep the cold breezes off your neck. I prefer a merino wool gaiter as it is not bulky for its warmth, as it is small it is easily slipped into a pocket if you get too warm. It can also be pulled up onto your face should your face become cold.
3. Wearing a coat with a hood that can fit over whatever hat you are wearing can help a great deal by blocking the wind.
4. Wool socks, will keep your feet warmer than other type of sock, even when they are damp with sweat.
5. Consider some sort of wind blocking pants to slip over your pants, blocking the wind will keep you significantly warmer. They needn't be insulated as blocking the wind is the main goal, and they won't be as bulky with regard to packing.
6. On my hands I wear a fingerless glove/mitten combination. The mitten part folds back then I am essentially wearing fingerless gloves. The thumb has its own separate fold back portion. I have found that I can fish with only my forefinger exposed while the rest of the hand is covered.
7. Chemical hand warmers are very helpful when it is really cold. You can also wear them in your shoes to keep your feet warm, they are worn on the top of your feet. Usually I wear 2 socks and slip it in between the 2 socks. For your hands you can have one on the back of your hand and another in the palm of your hand to maximize the warming effect.
8. If you will be outside for long periods of time, without access to a warming area, I would consider bringing a bag or pack with some heavier duty warm gear, such as thick mittens, wind pants, etc. You may not be able to shoot with thick mittens but they will warm up your hands so you can go back to thinner gloves once you are warm.
9. Consider bringing a thermos with a warm beverage.
10. A word of caution, anything restricting blood flow to the extremities will cause them to become cold despite wearing adequate insulation. No tight fitting boots, socks, or gloves. Gloves that are snug on the fingers will be problematic, be sure your double glove scenario is not too tight fitting. As a northerner it is well known here that mittens are warmer than gloves. We certainly wear gloves most of the winter but I thought you might like to know that.
11. Bring lip balm as you will likely develop chapped lips with prolonged exposure to the cold weather, cold air has a much lower moisture content.
12. Sadly I need to inform you that caffeine causes vasoconstriction which can contribute to developing cold fingers and toes; the restricted blood flow issue as described above. Consider carrying something besides coffee as your warm beverage in your thermos.
13. Dress in layers.

Basically the the whole premise of insulation is the creation of a dead air space, which is a good insulator, thus the frequent suggestions for blocking the wind. The other goal is to stay dry, wet and damp clothing will wick away heat.

Have a great trip, it is a beautiful country.

Nigel Hodges said...

Hi Kirk!
I've done a few trips when gloves have been required. Most gloves are great for keeping you warm but rubbish to operate a camera with. My solution is slightly different- I take a pair of normal gloves for when I'm just out and I also have a pair of photo gloves for using the camera with. They are by Lowepro (bought in UK a few years ago), thinner than normal gloves but have rubber grips on them to help hold the camera. They are not perfect but I can alter most things using them.
Have a great trip and hope to see some results.

Nigli said...

Hi Kirk, I've found that the best place to buy the clothes you need is generally in the country you need them. The stores there will have the best stuff for the local conditions.

kirk tuck said...

Hi Nigli, I'll bring some credit cards and see if there's anything I'm missing. A word to travelers, I talked to my bank and they advised me to let them know when traveling out of my usual tracks so they don't decline charges that might be time critical. Since I'm not making my own airline reservations the credit card companies will need a head's up that I'm traveling. Good delay prevention.

Anonymous said...

Just checked. Both your Iceland workshop and your England workshop are sold out. Where will you be teaching next year?

Anonymous said...

I don't have any suggestions but will relate my experience: When my wife and I went to Iceland in April of last year, the cold wasn't really an issue - a good overcoat and layering sufficed for us (and while we don't live in Texas, it's not like where we live - Virginia - is exactly an icebox). We spent a week circling the island on the loop road, with plenty of stops along the way to see and photograph the sights and even do some light hiking. The temperatures were in the low 30s for most of the approximately 8 days we were there. The bigger concern was the precipitation. We had two snowy days and one day of heavy (and cold) rains alternating with days of sunshine.
Have a good trip, however the weather turns out to be!

Patrick Corrigan said...

Not perfect, but in moderately cold climates I use frames gloves (house framers, not picture framers), which leave the ends of the index and middle fingers exposed so I can easily push small buttons. Yes, those two fingers do get cold!

Roger Jones said...

Well here's an idea, send your class out on an outing and you stay close to the bar just encase some come back to soon. Or take your long john's, gloves and a down parka. How does the small cameras work with gloves? In the cold??


Dano said...

When I went to Iceland, moisture covered my lens and body anytime I was outside. The most valuable piece of equipment was a micro dry wash cloth, I got mine at a auto parts store. Have fun. I unfortunately got a heat wound in a ice cave. A local wound cream call ChitoCare. If you find some, it is well worth the cost.

Bonaventura said...

If the temperature is below freezing, d not lick bare metal.

MB.Kinsman said...

You might want NEOS Overshoes to wear over your boots. Coat with inner pockets and some hand wamers to use for batteries and hands. Check out hunting mittens - they have pockets built in for the hand warmers and flip back finger sections so you can use the gloves liners and keep the mittens on. Buy 2 pairs of glove liners. Snow pants for snowmobiles work well too. A neck gaitor is a must - get one. I photograph in winter often and all of these things help keep me out ther for hours at a time. Sun glasses too to avoid snow blindness on bright days. I use the squall parka from LandsEnd, a supper jacket for winter photography.