As the weather in the Northern Hemisphere changes from Summer to Winter it is a good time to examine the contents of your camera gear’s carrying case.
As I fumble through the vest pockets, I come upon some, decidedly warm-weather gear. A dew rag that I use for emergency shade will be of little use in the coming dark and cold. Likewise, I can probably abandon the sun screen and the insect repellant.
In their place consider some hand-warmers. Hand-warmers are useful for restoring some life to cold-drained batteries. In extreme situations, when the cold causes LCDs to perform poorly, a strategically placed hand-warmer can restore function. Oh, they also warm your hands too.
I like to carry an emergency blanket as well. They fold very small and, in an emergency, hold in your bodies’ heat. If you are stranded or disabled, it can keep you alive while you await rescue. Unfolded they also make nice reflectors.
Exertion due to heavy clothing and winter terrains can be very taxing. You will burn more calories hoofing in and out of your photographic destination and should be prepared for delays and emergencies.
I try to keep about 500 calories in my camera vest when I am shooting in winter. In the event I exert myself, I have the ability to provide a quick boost. If I get stuck somewhere, I have an emergency cache of food reserves.
Batteries also drain faster in cold weather. Consider placing an extra camera battery in your bag-or better yet – next to the core of your body, so you can rotate the one from the camera periodically ensuring a warm battery is in use as much as possible.
In addition, I keep a spare pair of gloves in my camera bag-just in case, my other pair becomes, wet, lost, or forgotten along the trail. I also carry my Spot with fresh batteries for Winter. I wrote about Spot in an earlier article and you can read that here.
The bottom line is that our bags and vests contain the materials we need for a successful shoot. Success also means coming back with the photographer’s body alive and intact. Take the time and prepare your camera bag or vest for winter’s conditions.
Rikk Flohr © 2009