Capturing the moment

facebookDay 80 – Position: N72°14’56.5 W080°21’43.97

We are currently 100 km from our final destination; with the right direction of wind we could be there in a day. The winds however are lacking, which is of little concern, the scenery is spectacular and we have reduced the hours we ski so that we have more time to capture film and images. The warm spring weather along with the long hours of sunset light make this time of year ideal for taking pictures.

Arctic photographer, friend, and previous expedition member Curtis Jones gives some great tips that will hopefully inspire you to get outside and take some pictures.


Cold Weather Photography

Taking photographs in the cold can be uncomfortable and challenging, but also very rewarding and, if done right, not at all unpleasant. Here are a few simple tips to help make those bone chilling photo missions well worth the effort.

facebook-1Be Prepared

Having the wrong or inappropriate clothing can have serious consequences, and it is not something you want to worry about after you got outside and began taking photos, especially in cold weather environments. Try to wear light breathable layers close to the body and build warmer insulating layers on top of that. Wear a final wind blocking waterproof layer (jacket and pants) and try to carry a puffy down or synthetic jacket to slip over everything if staying out in the cold for extended periods. I like to wear a thin wind-stop glove to shield from the cold as I manipulate the camera and cover up with a bigger warm mitt when not needing the use of nimble finger movements. Staying warm also means being well hydrated (think warm insulated thermos of hot chocolate) and well fed (bring along some high calorie snacks).


Try to keep your camera and lenses well protected while you travel and between photographs: bumpy sled or snowmobile rides can wreak havoc on the inner workings of your digital camera. Use a well padded camera bag designed specifically to house a camera and equipment or, even better for longer trips, a molded plastic all-weather case. Carry extra batteries close to your body to keep them warm and fully charged. Batteries will lose power fast in the cold, so try to conserve power when not taking a photo. Try turning off your LCD display and cycle cold batteries with warm ones. Even what appear to be dead batteries can often be warmed up and used for 10 or 15 more shots. Lithium batteries perform better in the cold than other types.

Avoid breathing directly on your camera, the warm air will fog or freeze onto your lenses and viewfinder. If this happens use a soft cloth to wipe the surface clear again. Using a UV or polarizing filter on your lens will help protect the surface and also make cleaning snow or moisture much easier.


Most northern climates tend to have shorter days during winter and thus less daylight to shoot in. The light however is quite often very pure and clear with the sun hanging lower in the sky. Try taking photos from a side-lighted position to take advantage of the light adding drama and depth to your shots. Measuring exposure from light reflected from snow or ice will cause photos to be darker than expected. Try, if possible, to take light readings form medium grey surfaces or over expose the cameras suggested reading by 1 or 1.5 stops.

Returning Indoors

To avoid condensation, place your camera and equipment in your camera case or a plastic bag before entering a warm house, tent, or vehicle. Allow the camera to gradually warm up to the temperature of the room for about 2 hours before removing it. If the camera or lens has visible moisture on its surface, allow it to evaporate before using the camera again. Grab a hot bowl of soup and relax.


[Via Pittarak: Northwest Passage Expedition]


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