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Cold Weather Photography

Monday, September 24th, 2018

by Barry

I know that many of you, just like me, love to take pictures.  What better way to remember your travels than coming home with amazing pictures to show off and hang up?

Photography in cold weather destinations like Iceland or Antarctica could present some “interesting” challenges.  These revolve mainly around the weather and climate you will be enjoying.  What comes to mind initially is the temperature that you will be experiencing.

Preparing for taking pictures in cold weather destinations can be divided into two categories:
1. Taking care of your camera and
2. Taking care of yourself.

First, most important, and most basic, is to take care of yourself.  This means staying warm.  I’m not going to talk a lot about this topic in general.  I’ll leave this to your research.  The one thing that I do want to mention is keeping your hands warm.  As you are anticipating, the key here are gloves.  What I do is bring a pair of regular warm gloves that I use here in Pittsburgh to stay warm and a special pair of “fingerless” gloves so that I have dexterity to operate my camera in the cold.  There are several types of these “fingerless” gloves to use.  My suggestion is to go to a sporting goods store (or online) and head to the hunting section.  Hunters use these gloves all the time.  Here is an example.  Now, let’s talk photography!  There are two issues that make photography in the cold “interesting”; power and water.

First let’s talk about power (batteries).  The thing to remember is that, in cold temperatures, battery power goes down quickly.  There is an easy solution to this; carry extra batteries.  If you camera uses regular batteries, just pop a couple of extra sets in your coat close to your body (to keep them warm).  When the set in your camera gets cold and stops working, just change them out for a “body warmed” set.  (The cold set will come alive when warmed up again.)  If your camera takes only proprietary rechargeable batteries, go to the camera store (or order) a second battery.  Keep one warm while you shoot with the other; then just swap them out.  Easy enough!

Now, let’s talk about water, two kinds:  Ocean Spray and Condensation.

The easy one first:  Ocean Spray.  In places like Antarctica, you will be getting to shore by Zodiac rubber boats.  There is the chance that you, and therefore your camera, may get wet.  The solution is to transport it to shore in a waterproof bag.  While a sealable baggy may be adequate, I prefer a “Dry Bag” to really protect my camera – here is the kind I have.  The size you get depends on your camera size.

I’ve saved the “Best” for last:  Condensation.  If you’ve been outside for a while in the cold air, then go inside the warm house; what’s the first thing that happens?  Your glasses fog up.  This occurs when your cold glasses hit the warm air.  The same thing will happen to your camera.  If you take your cold camera in to a warm room, the camera will instantly form condensation (water droplets) not only on the camera, but also inside the camera.  Remember, water and electronics are not happy together, i.e. your camera’s guts will “fry”.

Preventing condensation on your camera is very important and not too difficult.  Here’s the solution:  While your camera is still cold, put it in a sealable plastic bag, and seal it tightly.  Leave it in the sealed bag until, once back inside the ship, the camera slowly warms back up to room temperature.  Problem solved!  (Going from warm to cold should not be a problem, only cold to warm.)  I’m actually throw a couple of those Silica Gel desiccant packs (the kind that comes with your new shoes to keep them dry) in my camera bag and the plastic bag for added protection.

Now, some of the above advice may be overkill, but you can never be too prepared.

My final words of wisdom:
1. Take plenty of Memory Cards
2. Take plenty of Batteries and appropriately sized sealable baggies (see above)
3. If you’re going to get a new camera for the trip, get it now and learn how to use it now (don’t wait to open the box on the plane on the way to your destination!)
4. Practice using your camera and all of its settings.  Being familiar with your camera will pay off in improved pictures.

Now you have one less thing to worry about as you prepare for your next cold weather amazing journey.  Happy shooting!

The New York Times Top 10 Places To Go This Year

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Wanna get away?  Whether you’re a world adventurer or feel safer and more content staying closer to home, the world–or the United States–is your oyster.  The New York Times recently issued their Top places to see and you might be surprised that while several are exotic and requiring great traveling distance (as they say, ‘the greatest treasures are the one’s longest sought’), some are closer than you think.  I’ve added an eleventh – my personal favorite and always a Top Place to visit….even more than once.  (I’m actually headed there for the 14th time later this week…)

#1  Santiago, Chile:   Less than a year after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc in Chile, its capital, Santiago, has largely recovered, the economy continues to grow, and tourism is in an upswing.

#2   San Juan Islands, Washington State:  what brings tourists out are the landscapes. On islands from Shaw to Decatur, pastoral hills give way to broody forests and scrappy escarpments that overlook fjordlike inlets. Areas are protected from logging or unruly development, and in turn provide fresh terrain for the public to explore.

#3   Koh Samui, Thailand:  A toned-down version of Phuket, heavy on wellness and food Koh Samui is Thailand’s third-largest island. But the 95-square-mile tropical gem in the southern Gulf of Thailand, whose white sand beaches, abundant coral reefs and seas of palm trees were once a backpackers’ secret, has emerged as the stylish luxury alternative to crowded Phuket.

#4  Iceland:  Where a country’s hardships are a visitor’s gain, Iceland’s economic crash has had an upside, at least for tourists. After the devaluation of the krona that followed the country’s 2008 financial crisis, the breathtakingly beautiful island is a lot more affordable. While traditionally a must-see for nature tourists — who come for thermal springs, glaciers, volcanic landscapes and the Northern Lights — Iceland is now emerging as a cultural phenom.

#5  Milan, Italy: A reborn cathedral joins fashion-forward galleries and hotels. Compared with the Italian troika of tourism — Florence, Venice and Rome — Milan is often an afterthought. But with novel, eye-catching design emerging around the city, that should soon change as the city’s collection of 20th-century art is now showcased at the Museo del Novecento, which opened in December in the restored Palazzo dell’Arengario…plus, outside the historic center former factories have been transformed into design studios, old warehouses have been repurposed as unconventional art venues, and galleries are packed with avant-garde works.

#6 Republic of Georgia:  Ski buffs don’t usually think of Soviet Georgia when planning their next backcountry outing. But ambitious plans in the Caucasus are trying to change that fast. Tucked between the Black and Caspian seas and smattered with mountains, Georgia has the kind of terrain adventurous skiers yearn for: peaks reaching 16,000 feet, deep valleys and largely untouched slopes.

#7  London:  There is never a bad time to go to London, but this year may be better than most: the 2012 Summer Olympic Games has prompted the construction of 12,000 hotel rooms, and several hotels that have been around for a while are burnishing their appeal with notable new restaurants. (NOTE: Join Amazing Journeys in August for our Jewish Singles Cruise from London through the British Isles)

#8:  Loreto, Mexico:  Long known for sport fishing, Loreto, on Baja California Sur’s eastern coast, is poised to become one of Mexico’s next luxury destinations.  Recently, Villa Group Resorts, one of Mexico’s largest privately owned hotel groups, opened a $60 million Villa del Palmar resort with three restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot turtle-shaped pool and 150 suites from $250 to $1,500 a night. The resort is the first phase of an 1,800-acre development, Danzante Ba. It will add seven resort hotels, restaurants and a Rees Jones golf course.

#9  Park City, Utah:  Many film aficionados have been lured to Park City for the annual Sundance festival, missing the slopes entirely, which is a shame. This year, new hotels, expanded terrain and events at area ski resorts make on-mountain exploration imperative.

#10  Cali, Colombia: Cafe culture is on the rise while salsa fuels the night life; Cali has always felt like the grittier stepsister of Medellín, but tucked amid the colonial homes of the barrios of San Antonio or Granada are a number of new jewelry boutiques, low-key cafes and salsotecas teeming with crowds as sexy as any in South America.

#11: Alaska:  Few places on earth conjure up a better collection of natural beauty, peace on earth, adventure for any level, unpredictable arrays of wildlife, majestic mountains, uncharted territory, imposing glaciers and a culture that reigns more with the land it inhabits, than the people who govern. Its a place you have to see to believe…but where you have to experience again and again to quench your yearning for more.