Hey Everyone! Hope I find you healthy and safe this week. This week I'd like to talk about winter photography and how to dress for it. Now, living in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, it doesn't get super cold like it does up north but still gets cold enough that if you're outside you need to dress for the cold. Dressing for the cold is much like dressing for a backpacking trip in the fall, the same precautions. Here are a few tips that you should consider.
Hands - Keeping your hands warm is key to photography, and our cameras in the cold are just cold hunks of metal that can suck the heat right out of your hands. Wearing gloves or mittens is the way to go. There are special photography gloves that you can get where the fingertips peel back out of the way while you are adjusting the knobs of your camera which comes in handy. I bought a pair of these special gloves a year or so ago and wish I had bought them earlier. Another thing you can do is use hand warmers. These are a must in my camera bag when it's cold outside. These are small chemical-filled bags that get warm when you shake them up. They can stay warm for hours and feel as good in your pockets as they do in your hands. They are inexpensive and great to have in your camera bag.
Head - Most of the heat in your body leaves through your head, so wearing some sort of head covering is a must in cold weather. I like to wear a stocking cap that is made out of fleece. It covers my ears and feels great. I also have one that has insulation built into it that also works great. The biggest thing is that it keeps the heat in and is comfortable and lightweight. I also like to wear a neck gator. This is a tube of cloth that is made out of fleece that you pull over your head to wear around your neck. You can also pull it up over your nose to keep it warm too. Eyes also need protection, especially when you're in the snow. The reflection can really harm your eyes, so wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Body - The key to keeping your body warm is to dress in layers. No cotton!! In hiking and backpacking, the term "cotton kills" is a popular saying. Cotton may be comfortable, but it holds moisture. If you get it wet by sweating or by falling in a creek, cotton will hold all of that water, making you freeze. You want to wear layers of clothes that are made of a moisture-wicking type of material from your base layer (underwear) to your outer layer. Multiple layers will help you regulate your body temperature during the day. If you are hiking to your photo spot, you can take off some layers and put them in your camera bag. Then, as you heat up during the exercise of hiking, you won't sweat as much. When you get to your location, you can put on those extra layers you carried to keep you warm as your body cools off. Lightweight clothes are what you're looking for as you are layering, and heavy bulky clothes is what you want to stay away from. We want to be comfortable while we are on our adventure.
F eet - You must keep your feet happy when in the cold. Wear socks that are not cotton. Again, "Cotton Kills" in cold weather. Wool socks are a good option. They make wool socks that aren't itchy like the ones you're probably thinking about. In cold weather, I usually take an extra pair of shoes and socks and keep them in my vehicle in case I get my feet wet while out and about. A clean, dry pair of socks and shoes feel great after slogging around in wet conditions all day. Again, they do make feet warmers like the hand warmers that fit into your shoes to keep your feet warm. I haven't used them much, but they could come in handy--or footy. LOL
As you can see, the key is to keep yourself dry and layer up to stay warm in cold weather. Now for extreme cold weather, you would have to have some heavy-duty outer wear to keep you dry and insulated. But for general cold weather, the above suggestions should help. So don't let the cold weather keep you from getting outside to do photography. Dress the part and then get outside!