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The weather outside is frightful for photography it is quite delightful.
Let it Snow!!! Let it Snow!!! Let it Snow!!!
Winter photography can be challenging but it is worth the effort. Here are some tips to improve your winter photography.
Don’t Exposure Camera equipment to Extreme Temperature Changes. Condensation is a major problem for camera equipment. Electronics and moisture don’t mix well. The good news is that the moisture will eventually evaporate if the equipment is allowed to warm up to room temperature, but it can take a long time.
I keep my camera in its bag before going indoors or outside. The bag insulates the gear a little from extreme temperature changes. When I return home I just leave my gear in the camera bag and make sure I don’t open the bag for at least one hour.
I also keep my car cold. It minimizes condensation. It also seems like less of a shock from going out of the warm vehicle to the cold. If you take off you gloves and coat, crank the heat, you will find it tempting not to even get out of the car and take a picture.
Keep batteries warm. Your camera will work fine in very cold temperatures as long as it has functioning batteries. Batteries drain quicker with cold weather. When I do a winter shoot I often bring several sets of batteries which are charged daily. Certain types of batteries perform better than others in the cold. I keep extra batteries in a pocket inside my jacket where I can keep them warm. Sometimes I put a chemical hand warmer in that pocket also. I often rotate the batteries between my camera and my warm pocket.
Tripods: Avoid touching a cold tripod with you bare hands. Some people use tripod leg warmers to help with this problem. Several manufactures make tripod leg warmers. You can also use plumber’s pipe insulation for the tripod legs. For less than five bucks you can make your own tripod leg covers from foam pipe insulation and hockey tape (the best tape to use ’cause it can handle the cold). Be careful not to force your tripod into the snow. You can damage you tripod.
A Lens hood can help to prevent problems with snow on the front element of a lens from falling or blowing snow.
Hand Warmers are easy to use, they start warming the instant you open the package. You can keep some in your boots, gloves, and coast pockets. I keep one stuffed in each glove or mitten, and this way my gloves are always warm when I put them back on.
Exposure: don’t blow out the whites. The camera will want to make the snow a neutral gray color which is a problem. Learn to read the histogram and you will find exposing the snow properly is very easy.
Get out early. Winter landscape photography looks best with fresh snow on the branches. It is best to be out there before it melts or gets blown off the branches.
Take extra precautions. Let other know of you travel plans in event of an emergency. Bring emergency supplies with you on your adventures.
You can add interest and color to snow shots simply by including a colorful object or two in your composition.
Fly to Florida. If you need a break from the cold you can’t beat Florida. It is warm and incredibly beautiful. The wildlife photography is incredible. Winter is the dry season in Florida. Since there is less water the wildlife concentrates into smaller areas which make it a wildlife photographer’s paradise.
Some of my favorite photo opportunities are during winter. Don’t let the cold keep you inside. Get out and enjoy.
Dress for the Cold. Proper dress is critical for outdoor winter photography. It will keep you warm, comfortable and dry. Winter weather can lead to frostbite and hypothermia.
The important thing to remember is to dress in layers. Layering simply means wearing a combination of clothes (in layers) to help regulate your temperature and keep you warm and dry. You can add or subtract layers to match the weather and activity. Once you have a layering plan, you can adjust your temperature control simply by removing or adding layers as needed.
There are essentially three layers to consider: base, mid, and outer. Each layer has a specific function. The base layer wicks moisture & perspiration away from your skin to keep you warm. The mid layer is for insulation and keeping you warm. The outer layer allows moisture to escape while blocking wind, and repel water.
The base layer is in contact with your skin. A tight fitting and wicking material is best to keep you warm and dry. Polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate, and wool are all good choices Base layers come in various weights (lightweight, midweight and heavyweight). Select a weight based upon the outside temperature and your activity level. The lighter weight is better at wicking, the heavyweight has more insulation.
The Mid layer provides insulation. The insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Common material for mid layers includes down, polyester, fleece, wool and synthetic/ natural blends. Many mid layer clothing has extras such as pit zips, long front zippers, adjustable cuffs and collars.
The outer layer blocks wind and allows moisture to escape. An outer shell is an important piece in bad weather, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to feel cold. Furthermore, without proper ventilation, perspiration can’t evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell. Typical outer layers include shells made of Gore-Tex or a similar material. Extras such as pit zips, ankle zippers (for pants), and a variety of ventilation options are standard. Outer layers should also be tough enough to withstand tears and abrasions. Other less high tech options may include wind resistant materials, or water resistant fabrics. I personally like a coat that has pit zips and a hood.
Avoid cotton because it traps moisture, so it stays wet and draws heat from you. Anything that can dampen your clothes, such as perspiration, rain, or falling in the water, can cause cotton to start robbing you of heat fast.
Gloves are very important for winter photography. It is hard to shoot with cold hands. The cold temperatures can also damage them. I have tried several different methods to keep my hands comfortable. There are several options.
a.) Heavy gloves are too bulky to set camera controls. If I am not shooting that much I use this method and quickly take my hand out of the glove for adjusting controls.
b.) There are gloves which split and allow quick access to thumb and finger tips. The fingers simply can be opened up temporarily so you can operate the camera or gadget directly while keeping the rest of your hand warm.
c.) I like using glove liners with and without heavy gloves. Glove liners allow access to controls. They will keep you hands a little warmer. I can also use them with a heavier glove when I am not photographing.
Footware: Waterproof and insulated Hiking boots. Socks should be layered also.
Gaiters are an essential element of your gear for winter and spring backpacking. Many backpackers and hikers also use them year round. In the winter and spring, gaiters provide extra insulation for your lower legs, particularly if you are snowshoeing. During mud season, they are also essential for keeping your socks dry. If you do a lot of bushwacking, they also provide a lot of extra leg protection. Many people will also use them in drier seasons to keep rocks and sand from getting into their boots or trail shoes. Gaiters come in different lengths called high and low gaiters. High gaiters are used for snowshoeing and mountaineering and extend to just below your knees.
Lip Balm and Sunblock. Prevent your lips from cracking in the cold and protect your face from sunburn. The sun still project UV light in the winter even on cold days.
Sunglasses are very important. The sun reflects a lot of glare of the snow even on cloudy days so protect you eyes.
Dress warm and you will be a lot more comfortable and safer which will lead to better photographs.
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WILDLIFE CHECKLIST: FLORIDA PHOTO TOUR
REPTILES: American Alligator, American Crocodile, Anole, Red Bellied Turtle
MAMMALS: West Indian Manatee, Raccoon, Eastern Gray Squirrel, White Tailed Deer, Dolphin,Doberman Pinscher
DUCKS: Whistling-Duck, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Red-breasted Merganser,
PODICIPEDIDAE — GREBES: Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe
CICONIIDAE — STORKS: Wood Stork
PHALACROCORACIDAE — CORMORANTS: Double-crested Cormorant
ANHINGIDAE — ANHINGAS & DARTERS: Anhinga B
PELECANIDAE — PELICANS: American White Pelican, Brown Pelican
ARDEIDAE — HERONS, BITTERNS & ALLIES: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, □ Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron,
THRESKIORNITHIDAE — IBISES & SPOONBILLS: White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill
CATHARTIDAE — NEW WORLD VULTURES: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture
PANDIONIDAE — OSPREYS: Osprey
ACCIPITRIDAE — HAWKS, KITES, & EAGLES: Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk
RALLIDAE — RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS: Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, American Coot
ARAMIDAE — LIMPKINS: Limpkin
GRUIDAE — CRANES: Sandhill Crane
CHARADRIIDAE — LAPWINGS & PLOVERS: Wilson’s Plover, Killdeer
RECURVIROSTRIDAE — STILTS: Black-necked Stilt
SCOLOPACIDAE — SANDPIPERS, PHALAROPES & ALLIES: Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper
LARIDAE— GULLS, TERNS & SKIMMERS: Bonaparte’s Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Least Tern, □ Caspian Tern
COLUMBIDAE — PIGEONS & DOVES: White-winged Dove
STRIGIDAE —OWLS: Great Horned Owl, Burrowing Owl, Barred Owl
PICIDAE — WOODPECKERS: Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker
TYRANNIDAE — TYRANT FLYCATCHERS: Eastern Kingbird
LANIIDAE — SHRIKES: Loggerhead Shrike
CORVIDAE — CROWS & JAYS: Blue Jay, American Crow
MIMIDAE — MOCKINGBIRDS & THRASHERS: Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird
PARULIDAE — WOOD-WARBLERS: Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler
CARDINALIDAE — CARDINALS & ALLIES: Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting
ICTERIDAE — BLACKBIRDS: Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle
PASSERIDAE — OLD WORLD SPARROWS : House Sparrow
I love photographing Florida I have been going there for several years.
The Roseate Spoonbills is one of my favorite birds. This species feeds in shallow fresh or coastal waters by swinging its bill from side to side as it steadily walks through the water, often in groups. The spoon-shaped bill allows it to sift easily through mud. It feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts and very small fish ignored by larger waders.