Photographer’s Quote

Photography is the easiest medium with which to be merely competent. Almost anybody can be competent. It’s the hardest medium in which to have some sort of personal vision and to have a signature style.”

 – Painter/photographer Chuck Close

Outfitting Yourself for Cold-Weather Photography

Outfitting Yourself for Cold-Weather Photography

Outfitting Yourself for Cold-Weather Photography

By Charles Glatzer

For taking photos in frigid winter weather, layering is the way to go. The key to maintaining and regulating core temperature is wearing moisture-wicking base and mid-layer garments with a wind- and water-proof outer shell.

Today’s high-tech materials offer a plethora of lightweight, highly compressible materials such as Polar Fleece, Primaloft, Polarguard, WindPro and Coreloft to meet your thermal requirements. Waterproof shell fabrics from GORE-TEX, Epic and Event offer breathability and wind resistance while keeping you dry.

Editor’s Note: For more great advice on winter photography, don’t miss Charles Glatzer’s “14 Pro Tips for Conquering the Cold” also in this month’s newsletter.

Base Layer

Wicking undergarments like power dry, silk, or merino wool are the way to go, and having zippers, snap tops or buttons at the neck is, in my opinion, a must for venting and maintaining comfort while under exertion. Note: do not wear cotton shirts with or without wicking garments, as it will totally defeat the purpose. Cotton is known as the “death fabric,” because it stays wet, zapping valuable energy and dropping your core temperature.

Mid Layer

Polar fleece, down or a synthetic jacket and pants are recommended. Again, breathability and wicking properties are key to regulating your temperature. If you plan on hiking with a pack, down would not be my first choice, as you will get wet from perspiration and stay wet. I prefer my mid-layer to have a hood.

Outer Shell Layer

A good, breathable waterproof shell jacket and pants from GORE-TEX, Epic, PreCip, HyVent, etc., is one of the most important pieces of clothing you can own. Get the jacket one size bigger than you normally wear so that you can layer clothing underneath. A built-in companion hood is also vital.

Parka

In extremely cold conditions, a prime goose-down parka with high loft (800) is your best option. An attached hood is imperative, preferably one that extends beyond your face with a removable fur or synthetic ruff for dissipating wind. Many top-brand cold-weather summit parkas do not come with a hood ruff, but if you are planning to spend time in Arctic-like conditions I would seriously consider adding a ruff to your parka. I suggest you make the ruff removable with a wire inside so that it will hold its shape when used. I had what many consider the ultimate cold-weather parka (Canada Goose Snow Mantra), which worked extremely well but was bulky and heavy, making it difficult to transport to locations with luggage and weight restrictions. I have since gone to a Mountain Hardware Absolute Zero Parka, which is highly compressible and lightweight, features welded waterproof construction, and is insanely warm.

Gloves

Wearing mitten shell gloves with liners is a big plus in cold temperatures. The ultimate cold-weather photographic gloves, in my opinion, are TheHeatCompany.us Layer Gloves. Great emphasis has been incorporated into the functional details. The system is incredibly versatile, as the mitten can be used fully closed, providing the ultimate in warmth, or opened with the liner glove fully or partially exposed to allow for full freedom of movement and dexterity. Thumb and index fingers that feature silver fabric enable the use of your LCD camera and touch screens.

Boots

Sorel XT, Baffin Impact or Steger Mukluks (my favorite) boots are recommended. For wet landings in cold temperatures I use Arctic Pro Muck boots. Wool socks made by reputable manufacturers such as Patagonia or Smart Wool will wick moisture away from your feet, keeping them warmer as a result. Silk sock liners add additional comfort. Placing The Heat Company chemical toe/foot warmers inside gloves and boots will extend your comfort time in extremely cold conditions, especially when remaining in one position for long periods. Rechargeable USB lithium battery hand warmers, which warm quickly and work very well, are available on Amazon.

Hats

Outdoor Research and Black Rock make ultra-lightweight goose-down beanies and hoods that are extremely warm. OR also makes a very warm Aerogel beanie. Balaclavas are a must for keeping your face from getting frostbitten in extreme cold.

Goggles

Goggles are very effective for protecting your eyes and face in extremely cold temperatures and wind. You should note, however, that it’s very difficult to see the full image through your camera’s viewfinder when wearing goggles, and few of them fit or work well if you wear glasses.

Sunglasses

To prevent snow blindness in bright, sunlit snow conditions, polarized or transition eyeglasses are a must.

Anti-fog treatment

This is very useful to prevent your glasses from fogging up due to the moisture from your breath when using a face covering.

I hope these tips will be helpful. Please feel free to contact us for specific clothing or gear product recommendations.

Charles Glatzer’s Clothing and Gear Links

Boots: Baffin Exterme, Sorel XT, Steger Arctic/Yukon Mukluks

Shells and Parka: Arc’Teryx, Mountain Hardware, RAB Expedition, Feathered Friends Rock Ice, Fjallraven

Down Pants: RAB Expedition, Mountain Hardware Nilas, Feathered Friends, Millet Expert Pro

Shells, mid and base layers; Arc’Teryx, Mtn Hardware, The North Face, RAB, Patagonia, REI, Outdoor Research, Ice Breaker, Fjallraven

Gloves: The Heat Company US

Balaclava & Hats: Black Rock, Outdoor Research, Arc’Teryx, Nomar, Mountain Hardware

Socks: Smart wool

Warm-Weather Shirts & Pants: ExOfficio, Columbia, Rail Riders, Mountain Hardware, Fjallraven

Stuff Sacks for Gear: Sea to Summit

Additional outdoor gear accessories: Sea to Summit, Outdoor Research, Exped

Sleeping Pads: Exped sleeping mats

Anti-fog: Cat Crap or Z Clear Lens Cleaner & Anti-Fog

Goggles: Smith I/O, Bolle

Sunglasses: Maui Jim, Smith’s

 

One of the world’s most renowned wildlife photographers, Charles Glatzer has won more than 40 photography awards in his stellar 34-year career. He’s been honored as a Canon Explorer of Light, and his photos have been published in National Geographic, Smithsonian, Outdoor Photographer, Nature Photographer and many others. A sought-after speaker, he’s addressed Audubon, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy and other organizations, including Georgia Nature Photographer’s Association in 2016. When not on assignment, he can be found fly fishing on the river near his home in western North Carolina.

 

Meet a Member

Meet a Member

Don L Williams, Hamilton Chapter

 

In every newsletter, we feature a short profile of a GNPA member. This month, it’s Don L Williams from the Hamilton Chapter.

When did you join GNPA?

I first joined in 2015.

What’s your occupation?  

I retired from TSYS, Inc. in Columbus several years ago as Associate Technical Director. For most of my career, I designed software, both technical and business.

How did you get into photography?

I purchased a used Voightlander rangefinder camera when I was 18 and played with it for a while. But it wasn’t until I went overseas with the military a couple of years later that I really started to get serious about it.

What are your favorite photography subjects?

I will photograph about anything, but as my wife and I are both avid “birders,” I shoot a lot of bird photos. I also very much enjoy close-up photography.

What are your favorite places to shoot?

It’s hard to pick just one favorite place. We like to travel and camp, so wherever we are at the time is where I will shoot.

What would be your photographic “dream trip?”

There are lots of places! But Iceland has to be near the top of the list.

Which camera and lenses do you use most often?

I currently shoot with a Nikon Z6 and Nikon D500. If we are birding I will have a Sigma 150-600mm on the D500 and a Nikon 24-70mm on the Z6. Otherwise I will have a Nikon 28-300mm on the D500, with a Sigma 105mm macro if I decide to do some close-up photos (although the 28-300mm does a pretty good job with closeups for the most part).

What are your go-to websites for photography information?

I usually go to YouTube for photography information. There are three or four folks there that I follow fairly regularly.

Have any photographers inspired you?

I was inspired by Ansel Adams early on. Today there are so many great nature photographers that it would be impossible to pick specific ones. I am constantly inspired by other photographers, including several of our own GNPA members.

What’s your favorite part of belonging to GNPA?

I think the favorite part for me has been the annual trips to the Smoky Mountains and the Circle B trip. It was my first GNPA Smoky Mountain trip as a relatively new member in 2015 that convinced me to continue my association with GNPA.

Something about you most people don’t know:

In addition to photography, I sometimes paint in watercolor or draw with pen and ink.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Alabama.

 

Snow Geese in Flight by Don L. Williams

Morning Frost by Don L. Williams

 

14 Pro Tips for Conquering the Cold

14 Pro Tips for Conquering the Cold

14 Pro Tips for Conquering the Cold

By Charles Glatzer

Editor’s Note: After years of capturing award-winning images in some of the most inhospitable winter locations on the planet, Chas Glatzer has encountered almost every cold-weather problem a photographer can face. Below, he shares some hard-earned tips for dealing with the challenges of winter photography.

Condensation

Whenever you move your camera from a cold environment to a warmer one – especially when humidity is high – condensation can be a big problem. To avoid condensation on camera gear, place your bodies and lenses into stuff sacks, garbage bags or camera bags before bringing them indoors. But be sure to remove media cards and batteries while outside prior to placing the gear into bags. Thin bags will allow your gear to acclimate faster to the indoor ambient temperature than an insulated camera bag. I use Sea to Summit Big River stuff sacks on cold-weather trips.

Felt tabs

When you’re wearing gloves, it can be difficult to locate and depress the buttons on your camera. To make it easier, I use inexpensive, self-stick 3/8-inch round felt tabs on my horizontal and vertical shutter and AF buttons in cold weather. In fact, I like this technique so much that I usually just leave them on all year. Plus, the packages come with enough tabs to share with everyone on the trip. The small tabs are available at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Bed, Bath and Beyond and other retailers.

 

 

Gear acclimation

Always allow your gear to become fully acclimated to the outside ambient temperature before taking images. Lenses are made of different metals and contain various types of glass that expand and contract at different rates. I have found that leaving my camera and lens outdoors prior to shooting increases image sharpness, particularly my initial images. I place my gear in a stuff sack and leave it outside when not in use, even overnight. Just remember to remove the camera batteries when not in use and stash them indoors.

Protect your gear

Many cameras and lenses have a high degree of weather sealing. That said, even the slightest nick in an O-ring gasket can lead to catastrophic gear failure. I cannot afford to take that gamble, especially when shooting in remote locations. I typically use LensCoat RainCoat covers in rain, wet snow and salt spray, and rely upon fully encapsulated covers like Think Tank Hydrophobia or AquaTech covers when I’m dealing with blowing sand.

Pack towel

A dry, absorbent pack towel or cloth will come in handy to quickly wipe moisture off your gear or to clean your filter or front element if it does get wet.

USB rechargeable lithium battery hand warmers

Inexpensive, rechargeable lithium battery hand-warmers are available in various shapes, and range from 5200-7800mAh. They heat up quickly and provide hours of warmth on low settings.

Chemical warmers

Chemical hand- and toe-warmers provide needed warmth to the extremities in severe cold conditions. Make sure you open the warmers and leave them exposed to air for a few minutes before placing them in your pockets or in your boots. Toe-warmers are thin and have an adhesive backing, which also makes them great for utilizing in the top of shell mittens.

Battery grips

In cold weather, consider using a battery grip on your camera. Grips typically allow the use of two batteries instead of one, thus helping to maintain longer camera life in winter conditions. Keeping extra batteries in a warm pocket will provide maximum voltage when needed, and help to revitalize those that have dropped in voltage due to the cold. Switch out cold batteries with the warm ones for longer shooting.

IS/VR

Turning off IS/VR when not needed will help prolong battery life.

Tripod legs

Carbon fiber becomes more brittle in colder temperatures. The deeper the snow, the more the legs need to spread. Pulling out the leg locks will allow the legs to splay out sufficiently, preventing them from breaking at the tripod flange. Additionally, do not try to stand up by pushing down with all your weight on a tripod leg in cold temperatures, or you risk breaking the leg. Tripod foot spikes or rock claws will help in snow and on icy surfaces to keep your tripod feet from slipping.

Breathing

Try to avoid breathing onto the camera’s viewfinder and rear LCD, as they will quickly ice over in very cold temperatures.

Metal and skin do not mix

Many camera bodies contain metal, which can become extremely cold. Avoid placing your bare skin (cheek and nose) in contact with metal camera bodies, because this can quickly result in freezing your skin, with resulting frost nip and even more severe frostbite. I have come home with a black nose on a few occasions! Lesson learned: I now place a one-inch adhesive tape strip across the bridge of my nose to prevent frost nip.

Eyeglass fogging

Eyeglass fogging is a big issue when photographing in cold weather, especially when wearing a face covering like a balaclava. Condensation from your warm breath will sneak out the top of your garment, causing your glasses to fog and making it almost impossible to see. I have found some facemasks and balaclavas that allow greater air exchange directly in front of your mouth to help avoid eyeglass fogging. All that’s needed are a few pencil-sized holes punched through the fabric near your mouth. Anti-fog products like Cat Crap and Z Clear Wax also help, but require frequent applications to be effective.

Footwear traction

When walking on slippery icy surfaces, devices like Kathoola MICROspikes, ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip and Black Diamond Access traction systems provide you with improved stability.

Also read Charles Glatzer’s tips on specialized winter clothing this month in “Outfitting Yourself for Cold-Weather Photography.” 

Shoot the Light, Office: 828-891-4082

info@shootthelight.com, www.shootthelight.com

Instagram@charlesglatzer, Facebook: charles.glatzer

TheHeatCompany.us, info@theheatcompany.us, 1-828-393-6513

 

One of the world’s most renowned wildlife photographers, Charles Glatzer has won more than 40 photography awards in his stellar 34-year career. He’s been honored as a Canon Explorer of Light, and his photos have been published in National Geographic, Smithsonian, Outdoor Photographer, Nature Photographer and many others. A sought-after speaker, he’s addressed Audubon, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy and other organizations, including Georgia Nature Photographer’s Association in 2016. When not on assignment, he can be found fly fishing on the river near his home in western North Carolina.
From the President

From the President

Photo by Eric Bowles

Getting Out Again

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

We’ve just completed a very successful Smokies Weekend field trip. Thanks to Mike Thornton, Tricia Raffensperger and all the trip leaders and competition leaders who made this weekend such a terrific experience. While things have changed due to Covid, it was great to be outside again and have a chance to photograph some familiar locations.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee was exceptionally crowded – and that has been the case for months. We’re all looking for ways to get out and make photographs in nature, but recently that has often limited our travel to locations that are within driving distance. Fortunately, the Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway match that description for most of us.

There is no doubt things have changed. Across the country, conferences are largely on hold for now as we avoid large groups and meetings. Our Smokies event certainly had to adapt, and it felt different without the camaraderie of our large group meetings and photo competition. Travel to field locations was done in our individual vehicles – possibly with one other person – in order to maintain social distance and limit contact. But it was sure great being in the park and enjoying nature and photography. A lot of memories, stories and photos were created.

We’re going to use this experience to help us decide on a plan for the annual GNPA Expo in 2021. Many similar conferences are evolving into virtual events now. One of the big attractions of Jekyll Island as a conference site is that it provides so many photo opportunities. We could create an event that takes place mainly in the field, in order to limit gatherings. We could also consider a hybrid event, with field activities and virtual programming via Zoom. We’ll be asking for your input via survey later this month.

Before I close, I’d like to recognize the members who have joined our Communications team to help with the online blogs and newsletter. We now have more than 40 articles on the GNPA Blog, which can be accessed on our website. In addition, we have created the GNPA Newsletter, which offers additional content and feature articles which then become part of that website archive. Blog posts are updated on an ongoing basis, while the newsletter is produced every-other month. Our team – consisting of Tom Wilson, Ken Dunwoody, Armetrice Cabine, Cindi Kurczewski and Jamie Anderson – are responsible for coordinating the overall effort, selecting and assigning content, editing and posting the articles, and finding great photos to support those articles. Please join me in thanking them for all of their work on the newsletter and the blog. Make sure you check out those articles on our website, or when the GNPA newsletter hits your inbox.

Thanks for your continued support of GNPA.

 

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