City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
Featured Image

Featured Article

Cold Weather Photography: 10 Essentials


Article by Matej Silecky

Photography by Matej Silecky

The southern parts of our country might be headed into Spring, but here in the North, we still have some weeks of chilly weather ahead. If you’re like me, Spring or not, you’re dreaming of travel and planning future trips, including some that can involve cold weather conditions even in Summer – places like 14ers in Colorado or more far-flung locales like Gokyo Lakes, Himalayas in Nepal where I traveled last year. While many travel and photography essentials remain the same no matter where you go, there are a few extra needs to make the most of your photography equipment when the weather conditions are less than optimal, especially if you are snowboarding and skiing or hiking and camping. While no list can prepare you for all eventualities, these favorites of mine should help you make your own personal selections for your upcoming excursions – even if they are photography shoots in your own neighborhood.

  1. Your Camera! Although other essentials might be in play for survival in the outdoors, if you’re going to shoot and don’t have a camera…well, that won’t work very well. Some cameras are better suited for the cold than others. Most cameras are rated to 0 degrees Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit but that’s not really the big issue. The main problem is making sure there is no condensation created as the camera travels from cold to warmer temperatures. It is critical to ensure the camera is transitioned smoothly through temperature changes so condensation does not end up in the body of the camera and short circuit the body or even ruin the lenses. 

Because I am often traveling, I generally do not have the luxury of carrying multiple camera bodies as one would if the goal were only photography. Therefore, I typically take my preferred camera, a Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera. This is the camera I took on my February 2020 trip to Nepal. More on that in a future post, but you can see some images from the trip on my site!

There are many options for cameras geared to cold weather. You could choose a compact version depending on your needs. One choice is the Sony 1.0-type Sensor Ultra-Compact Camera with Waterproof & Shockproof Design (DSCRX0) that provides great image quality in an action-camera size.

The image below is from my February 2020 trip to Nepal, and was created using my Sony camera and the Me FOTO Backpacker Tripod described below.

  • 5b01a5a9-054d-4b89-b918-532378670c7e-1

2.      Extra Batteries, Extra Batteries, Extra Batteries. You probably know this, but cold quickly drains batteries, just like it does to your phone’s battery. When hiking and camping, you will have times when there is nowhere to charge a battery. Take extra so you are not disappointed by the shots you couldn’t even take because the camera batteries died.

3.      Lenses. Make sure you’re packing your holy trinity if you have it. Otherwise, bring the least number of lenses with the widest range of distances because, “Hey…you never know.”

4.      Tripod(s). For traveling, I often recommend a super light aluminum tripod or even carbon fiber, but if you’re planning to leave the camera shooting out overnight at the stars above while you doze off, a sturdier tripod would be better. I use the MeFOTO Backpacker, which is a bit heavier than some others, but it gets the job done without breaking the bank.

5.      Neutral Density Filters. Although they might not seem essential, if you’re going somewhere with lots of snow, the reflection from sunlight will definitely make shooting more challenging. Neutral density filters will help reduce the amount of light coming through the lens without changing colors or wavelengths.

6.      Extra Memory Cards. I’m a big believer in bringing more storage capacity than you ever expect to use. Somehow, it fills up. And, while some of the other items add weight to your kit, these cards are tiny and light. 

7.      Waterproof Storage Cases. I’m a huge fan of Pelican cases, in all their colors, sizes, and varieties. What’s not to love? Waterproof, submersible, impact proof, and kind of cute. You can get cases specific for memory cards and/or your phone, but I just have a variety of sizes for general use. You will definitely want one for your memory cards and external hard drive. I even have a large Pelican Case with foam inserts for air travel!

8.      Rugged, Portable Solid-State Drive. Yes, this is a significant expense, but if your images are important to you, this is important. You need to transfer data and have backups while on the move, and it can not be to a fragile external drive designed for your desk. The risk of loss is too great. I love the Oyen Digital Dura Series that protects your data in rubber encased aluminum from drops and moisture. I can personally vouch for this drive because I used it while hiking and figure skating in the Himalayas. The picture below shows my Oyen drive hard at work in Nepal.

  • 0a490b96-6341-43af-be4e-3edad2b7f08b-1

9. Lens Cleaning Kit and Charger Cables. You can buy special kits and organizers for these items, but this is an area where I choose to economize. You can put your necessary gadgets and cables, organized as best suits your style, in any soft-sided pouch or even resealable plastic bags, like ZipLocs.

10. Waterproof Camera Rain Cover. You can buy a rain cover for your camera, and no doubt it is a useful piece of gear. However, this is another area where I choose to economize on weight when hiking and camping. I try to pare down my gear and rely on other waterproof items in my kit. This was even my approach when hiking sections of the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan, where some days it poured rain nearly the entire time I was on the trail.

Image Below: Hiking between the Rainstorms on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail

  • 415982d3-27fc-41bb-a649-f3d03c7cc897-1

The weight of all this gear, and the extras needed for cold weather and hiking/camping, may mean that you need to switch to a different camera bag. I love my Lowepro Freeline for local and city photoshoots, but it isn’t designed for the rugged demands of the outdoors. Instead, I use a Montbell Ridge Line Pack, that I custom-fitted, after much trial and error, with padding and cases for my selected gear. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you.

I’ll be sharing more about my trips to Nepal and Japan in the coming months, but if you have any questions about that or the gear suggestions here, feel free to CONTACT ME .

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.