Diane Wehr Street Photography
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Dedicated to Street

A Street Photography Blog

Weather or Not

 
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Cold

My first photographic foray into potentially really cold weather was a trip that I took to Antarctica. It was well before my street photography days, which is good because unless you count penguins as street photography subjects, there is going to be precious little street photography to be taken. I prepared to take pictures in the cold of all cold, but as it turned out, my then-hometown of Birmingham, Alabama was actually colder for the two weeks I was gone than Antarctica was.

Photo by Kate Wehr Johnson. Used with permission.

Photo by Kate Wehr Johnson. Used with permission.

I knew to layer clothing. I had found thin gloves that allowed me to operate my Canon DSLR quite adequately. I also took thick gloves that could go over them so I could periodically warm up my hands. As an extra precaution I put those packaged chemical hand-warmers in my coat pocket, but I never needed to use them.

The black glove is the thin glove. The white glove is the one I added for extra warmth.

The black glove is the thin glove. The white glove is the one I added for extra warmth.

I knew that batteries do not have the same life in cold weather as they do in normal temperatures, so I took extras. I probably under appreciated the value of keeping backup batteries and memory cards reasonably warm by putting them in my pocket with a hand warmer. I also did not know that if a battery is used up when it is cold, it gets some new life into it when it warms up. If you are going through batteries fast in cold weather, that is definitely the time to get one of those chemical hand-warmer packages fired up in your pocket where you put the batteries and memory cards.

The next time I had to face really cold weather, I was using a mirror-less Olympus. Fortunately, I decided to try out the thin gloves before I went on the trip, to see how well they would work on the touch screen. I know you are incredulous that I had not gotten the memo, but I had no idea that a touch screen only responds to some things, like fingers. In these days and times, this is a solvable problem. They make gloves with fingers that are touchscreen sensitive, although you want the ones designed for photographers. Having a thumb that is touch screen sensitive is great for texting, but awkward for photography. Since I was very attached to my thin gloves, I was pleased to find a product called Nanotip that can make any gloves touch screen sensitive. Sensitive or not, gloves are hardly precise when you touch a touch screen. I now use finger-less gloves. If it is brutal, I put them over my thin gloves and use the traditional camera shutter button instead of the screen

My last observation on how I deal with cold weather is that while, for the most part, I do not put my lens cap on when I am out shooting, in very cold weather it should go on. It will help protect the lens from freezing precipitation.

Hot

There are two issues to manage in hot weather. Taking a camera from a cold temperature, like an air conditioned room, to a warm temperature can definitely cause condensation inside the lens. It can take an unpleasantly long time for the condensation to go away.  On an Amazon River cruise our guide suggested we store our cameras in the bathroom which was not air conditioned. Of course, I forgot. Who stores a camera in the bathroom? Going from my air conditioned room to the hot, muggy Amazon climate created instant and long lasting lens fog. Lesson learned. Keep your camera in the least air conditioned place where you are staying when you are going to shoot in hot weather. On a recent trip, I found putting my camera in a drawer worked satisfactorily. When going from cold to warm, whether you are going out to hot weather or coming in from cold weather, if you put your camera in a Ziploc bag or dry bag and seal it, your lens will not fog up if you give the camera time to warm up. It is always a good idea to keep moisture out of your lens.

A river village just outside of Nauta. Peru.

A river village just outside of Nauta. Peru.

The second issue that I face is leaving my camera in a hot car. It can get quite hot in Nashville. Since I have to drive into the city to shoot street photography, I plan other stops. I do not always want to take my camera. If my camera is going to stay in the car, I put it in one of my insulated grocery bags before I get to the next stop. That way it stays safe from the heat. It also helps significantly reduce the possibility of theft.

Exercise

 What is your plan for weather related challenges?