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Cold weather/mountain photography
I plan on going to Pikes Peak, CO in the near future, and had 2 questions.

1) Is there any danger to camera (Panasonic FZ8) if I'm carrying it around all day (literally) in sub-freezing temperatures?.

2) Is there any general advice for shooting mountain landscapes in low light (due to cloudiness or snow)?.

Thanks - Chas[PS, thanks for any answers, particularly since the search is down.]..

Comments (20)

Off the top of my head, since you don't say much, my main concern is for the camera man, not the camera, so forgive my nosiness. Are you planning on going to the summit, or photographing it from a lower vantage point like Colorado Springs? Do you have high altitude experience? Are you planning to hike, drive, cog-rail to the summit?.

ChasBC wrote:.

I plan on going to Pikes Peak, CO in the near future, and had 2questions1) Is there any danger to camera (Panasonic FZ8) if I'm carrying itaround all day (literally) in sub-freezing temperatures?.

If it's sunny the camera will probably stay warm enough. I recently did a 3 mile hike and photo shoot in sunny 12 degree temps and managed to keep surprisingly warm, even removing hat and gloves for a bit. But if there's even a slight breeze or it's overcast, all bets are off. The most important thing is to put the camera in a plastic bag when you come out of the cold - a large ziploc bag works great. Keep it sealed until it's back up to temp - this prevents condensation from forming in the camera..

If you're not going to the summit, temperature won't be much of a worry - it doesn't usually get THAT cold here. It's been in the 60s this week (I'm actually in Denver but can clearly see Pikes Peak).

2) Is there any general advice for shooting mountain landscapes inlow light (due to cloudiness or snow)?.

Depends on the conditions. No way in hell I'd be on top of a 14er when it's snowing. If it's cloudy I try to work with the conditions, just like I would any place else. If it's obstructive cloudy... well, that's another sign that it's not a good time to be up there...

Comment #1

ChasBC wrote:.

I plan on going to Pikes Peak, CO in the near future, and had 2questions1) Is there any danger to camera (Panasonic FZ8) if I'm carrying itaround all day (literally) in sub-freezing temperatures?.

Not per se. There are some issues you'll want to cover, however. First, do use a UV filter. It's easier to remove ice from a flat filter than from a curved front element..

Second, you'll need some airtight bags. EVERY time you bring the camera in warmer environment, FIRST put it in an airtight bag - or you'll get a lot of condensation. Don't keep the camera inside a jacket, keep it at outdoor temperatures while outside..

Thirdly, you'll need spare batteries - and those should be kept warm..

The camera should be fine - I took images with both compacts and SLRs in pretty foul weather high in the mountains. I think the worst was -23 degrees Celsius..

2) Is there any general advice for shooting mountain landscapes inlow light (due to cloudiness or snow)?.

Shoot, inspect, redo if necessary. You will probably need to use exposure compensation due to a lot of white..

WARNING! This advice is only for handling the camera. You shoud know how to handle yourself on the mountain. If you don't, don't go! It can get life threatening very fast..

/d/n..

Comment #2

Spare batteries are essential - recently viisted Alaska & with my now ex-prosumer & it absolutely ATE batteries.

Simon.

Http://www.landscapephotographyuk.com/.

North Wales photographs - Snowdonia & Anglesey..

Comment #3

Simonkit wrote:.

Spare batteries are essential - recently viisted Alaska & with my nowex-prosumer & it absolutely ATE batteries.

Simon.

Http://www.landscapephotographyuk.com/.

North Wales photographs - Snowdonia & Anglesey.

The recommended approach is to use two batteries: one in the camera and one in an inside pocket and switch them periodically..

You should use a UV filter for the UV at those altitudes, not to mention the ice..

Exposure compensation will be necessary..

Do take care of yourself. Windproof outerwear is essential. The road to the top is dangerous in any weather. Altitude sickness can render you unsafe to drive...

Comment #4

Chances are that you won't be able to get to the top until spring..

This time of year they usually only let you go as far as the gift shop about halfway up:.

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Once you get past this point (which is why they don't let you past here in the winter), the weather can change drastically and can get very dangerous in the cold winter!.

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Looking toward Colorado Springs from the drive up Pike's Peak:.

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The three shots above were taken on December 30, 2005.

Some other random shots of Pike's Peak taken from near Woodland Park, Colorado:.

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I've been on top of Pike's Peak in July and August and it was snowing up there while it was hovering around 100 degrees on the flatlands..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Remember.always keep the box and everything that came in it!..

Comment #5

Shooting while it's snowing or completely overcast makes for bad landscapes photos but just as a storm rolls in or clears can create dramatic light. for sunny days a polarizer is a must. when coming in from the cold, there is a possibility of condensation forming inside your camera if the camera got cold. put your camera in a gallon size ziploc bag and squeeze the air out before bringing it inside. leave it in the bag till it warms up to room temp...

Comment #6

MusicDoctorDJ wrote:.

Chances are that you won't be able to get to the top until spring..

That depends. The Cog Rail is 'scheduled' to run a very limited schedule - something like once a week - all winter. But if that is the method taken to the top there's no worry about being in sub freezing temp all day - they only let you stay about 30 minutes at the summit..

The PP Highway is open from April through December, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it's closed already...

Comment #7

I've never taken the cog train to the top.one of the things on our 'to do' list..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Remember.always keep the box and everything that came in it!..

Comment #8

Use a circular polarizer- but practice with it first.Adjust exposure for the snow/ice +1.5-2 stops normally..

Don't just bag everything- double-bag it by putting the already suggested bags inside a trash bag, that makes the trash bag the vapor barrier, and condensation will form on the inside of the outer bag.The battery advice you've already been given is good..

Wear neoprene paddling gloves inside some warmer overgloves or mittens, that way you can manipulate the camera controls without totally freezing your hands..

Paulhttp://PaulDRobertson.imagekind.com..

Comment #9

Consider keeping camera and equipment inside of one or more coolers. Perhaps a large, dry one for ALL photography equipment, and a smaller portable one for when you take whatever you need "out". Such unsulating devices will help make temperature changes to the equipment more gradual. Remove the camera only when shooting, then return it to the relatively warm environ of the cooler.ngk20000..

Comment #10

First, a thermos-type device is worth nothing without something to keep the temperature (warm or cool). Without that, it will get to the environment's temperature the first time you open it. But that's not important, since re-heating the camera is a BAD ideea..

Ngk20000 wrote:.

Consider keeping camera and equipment inside of one or more coolers.Perhaps a large, dry one for ALL photography equipment, and a smallerportable one for when you take whatever you need "out". Suchunsulating devices will help make temperature changes to theequipment more gradual..

You mean, instead of one cooling, you'll have multiple cooling-warming cycles..

Remove the camera only when shooting, thenreturn it to the relatively warm environ of the cooler..

What about condensation/ice? You bring the cold camera in the warm thermos, you get condensation on the camera. You bring the camera-and-moisture outside, you get ice. You bring it in, more condensation. Out, more ice. And so on..

Funnilly, a cooler with a cooler pack might be usefull to keep the camera cool when going inside, but it's WAY too complicated to do so..

History is a wonderfull thing. World War II, Russia. Winter. German army had problems with freezing machine gun mechanisms, Russian army did not. Explanation: the Germans brought their machine guns inside, to the warmth and then back to the cold. Russians did not..

/d/n..

Comment #11

In the above threads is that if the camera gets cold enough the LCD will stop working. It doesn't hurt the LCD, it'll work again when it warms up but you may not be able to review your photos at the time.You'll need two batteries (at least)..

A gallon ziplock bag, advise given in above threads. (double bagging not necessary).A polarizing filter is a nice addition if its' sunny..

A good UV filter makes cleaning snow off the front easy if it's snowing. A big soft brush in an outside pocket is handy for snow removal from camera and lens. Make sure the brush is cold or it'll be a big wet brush mucking up your camera ";^)Multiple overlapping shots make nice panoramas..

Take your eye from the viewfinder and enjoy the scenery, not all of life should be experienced thru a viewfinder.A member of the rabble in good standing..

Comment #12

Regarding my allegedly "bad" advice about using a cooler for camera storage in a cold environmentand devnull's rebuttal..

The camera and cooler both start out at room temperaturelet's say 74 fahrenheit. You head out into the cold weather to your cold automobile. For a few moments in the "cold" car the camera cools ever so slightly until the car engine warms up and the heater kicks in. Now we're back to 74 degrees again. Camera might be 73..

As we travel up the mountain, camera and cooler again resume ambient temperature of 74. Now we step out of the car for a few snaps. Is the camera inside of an insulated case? If not put it inside your jacket for body heat until necessary to pull it out for a few exposures. Back inside the jacket. Back inside the car which is still resonably warm..

More travel, more short stops, etc., etc. And if the camera is "out in the cold" for any extended period, the car is also cold when you return. Let the camera inside of it's own case gradually warm up as the car warms up. Use the cooler to avoid harsh up and down cycles which cause rapid expansion and contraction which certainly is not beneficial to sensitive equipment..

In summary, the cooler brings about much slower temperature changes and greatly reduces the extremes of fluctuation. INSIDE the cooler the temperature never reaches the extreme cold or heat of the environment in less than maybe 10 hours. Also, regarding the fear of condensation. There's darn little air inside of a small (or larger one fully loaded with equipment). Therefore there's darn little mosture in ther to condense on anything. Remeber, it started as a dry cooler..

Ngk20000..

Comment #13

In the above threads is that if the camera gets cold enough the LCDwill stop working. It doesn't hurt the LCD, it'll work again when itwarms up but you may not be able to review your photos at the time..

Not necessarily true..

Here in Colorado lots of people take their digital cameras skiing..

In the winter months we see lots of cameras come in for repair with cracked LCD's after being frozen while on the slopes..

Of course, most of them are small P&S digitals..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Remember.always keep the box and everything that came in it!..

Comment #14

.. I believe:.

1. We are talking about different things (how to handle a camera on the mountain in the cold vs. how to handle a camera around the car);2. Even in your conditions, it's not how things work..

Ngk20000 wrote:.

Regarding my allegedly "bad" advice about using a cooler for camerastorage in a cold environmentand devnull's rebuttal..

It was not a rebuttal, it was a correction - and I stand by it..

The camera and cooler both start out at room temperaturelet's say74 fahrenheit. You head out into the cold weather to your coldautomobile. For a few moments in the "cold" car the camera coolsever so slightly until the car engine warms up and the heater kicksin. Now we're back to 74 degrees again. Camera might be 73..

Ok. I had to look at a F-C converter..

As we travel up the mountain, camera and cooler again resume ambienttemperature of 74..

Well, if you are not talking about an powered cooler, you are talking about a bad cooler. The aim of the cooler is not to allow heat exchanges with the exterior..

Now we step out of the car for a few snaps. Isthe camera inside of an insulated case? If not put it inside yourjacket for body heat until necessary to pull it out for a fewexposures..

So, you are putting the front element (which is at 74) at a humid 95-98? You'll get condensation which will freeze when you get the camera out..

Back inside the jacket. Back inside the car which isstill resonably warm..

Now, you've melted the ice and add a LOT more condensation, from bringing a COLD front element to a humid 95-98..

More travel, more short stops, etc., etc. And if the camera is "outin the cold" for any extended period, the car is also cold when youreturn. Let the camera inside of it's own case gradually warm up asthe car warms up. Use the cooler to avoid harsh up and down cycleswhich cause rapid expansion and contraction which certainly is notbeneficial to sensitive equipment..

I am sorry, but it does not work like this. I'll go in reverse:.

If you bring a humid front element in the cold, it will freeze. So, it must be kept dry..

If you bring a cold front element in a warmer space, condensation will form. So, put it in an airtight bag before bringing it in..

There is no way to cheat around this. You have to get the camera in the cold, to take pictures. Unless you have an extra box on the car to carry things and are willing to put the camera there every time, you'll have to bring the camera in, in the warmth..

You'll also want to warm the thing as quickly as possible: you don't know when the next photo opportunity will be..

In summary, the cooler brings about much slower temperature changesand greatly reduces the extremes of fluctuation. INSIDE the coolerthe temperature never reaches the extreme cold or heat of theenvironment in less than maybe 10 hours. Also, regarding the fear ofcondensation. There's darn little air inside of a small (or largerone fully loaded with equipment). Therefore there's darn littlemosture in ther to condense on anything. Remeber, it started as adry cooler..

Ever opened a cooler with something COLD inside and not found moisture on the thing and cooler?.

Anyway, that's mostly empty talk - it's not the question I was answering to..

/d/n..

Comment #15

MusicDoctorDJ wrote:.

In the above threads is that if the camera gets cold enough the LCDwill stop working. It doesn't hurt the LCD, it'll work again when itwarms up but you may not be able to review your photos at the time..

Not necessarily true..

Here in Colorado lots of people take their digital cameras skiing..

In the winter months we see lots of cameras come in for repair withcracked LCD's after being frozen while on the slopes..

Of course, most of them are small P&S digitals..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Remember.always keep the box and everything that came in it!.

Well, the LCD is more sensitive to shock when frozen..

All I'm saying is that you can freeze it untill it quits working and it will unfreeze without damage. If you give it a bang while frozen it's much more likely to crack than while unfrozen.Skiing, mountaineering, etc. are all pretty hard on the equiptment.A member of the rabble in good standing..

Comment #16

Here is a thought provoking idea..

Try just using your camera bag!.

Much safer for your equipment and a lot eaiser to carry around in the mountains or in the freezing cold than a cooler!.

And chances are will keep your camera in better shape and ready to shoot with than any cooler!.

Funny what people will argue about around here..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Remember.always keep the box and everything that came in it!..

Comment #17

Yes, it's amazing what we mere mortals will argue about in these posts. Sorry, but devnull doesn't like "rebuttal", he likes "correction". I think he misses his days on the debate team, but really needs a course in meteorology..

Firstly, it's a small cooler of about one gallon capacity which some workers carry their lunch to construction sites. Rectangular, removeable lid, squarrish handle locking lid in place. Easy to carry..

Secondly, If the camera AND cooler both start out "dry" in a house, where does all this humidity and moisture come from that causes your ice and frost?.

Thirdly, in the case where the camera came back to the car on the mountain, and I said cold car and cold camera would both warm back up to 74 degrees, the camera was not immediately returned to the cooler in it's cold state. It was AFTER the camera had warmed up to about the slightly cooler temperature inside the cooler at that point. You MUST have a difference of temperature between the camera and it's moist environment for condensation/frost to form..

Finally, a different yet similar situation. It's the dreaded heat of summer. Outdoor temperatures approaching 100 degrees. I'm taking the camera to a picnic or outdoor sporting event, or vacation. If the camera is to be left in the car (automobile) for even one hour while I go into a restaurant for a meal, temperature inside the car will reach 140 degrees. In those and similar situations I put the camera in my cooler.

Surely that cooler holds ice and drinks, not a camera!.

Have a good day in Romania. I hear the scenery there is magnificent.ngk20000..

Comment #18

Ngk20000 wrote:.

Yes, it's amazing what we mere mortals will argue about in theseposts. Sorry, but devnull doesn't like "rebuttal", he likes"correction". I think he misses his days on the debate team, butreally needs a course in meteorology..

It seems it's a debate you want. I am not really interested, but since it's the beginners' forum, it might get educational..

Firstly, it's a small cooler of about one gallon capacity which someworkers carry their lunch to construction sites. Rectangular,removeable lid, squarrish handle locking lid in place. Easy to carry..

Firstly, I already noted that we were attempting to answer different questions..

Secondly, when going climbing, people often clip half of the toothbrush handle, to save weight. It is not necesarrily wise to carry a pound of two of camera in these conditions, but it's the only way to bring down pictures. Call it human vanity..

Secondly, If the camera AND cooler both start out "dry" in a house,where does all this humidity and moisture come from that causes yourice and frost?.

You've noticed that if you remove a beer can from the fridge, in a few minutes the can is wet? It's air moisture. You may want to research "relative humidity" and, especially, "dew point". Wiki is a good source.Also, every time you open the box, air from the environment will get inside..

Thirdly, in the case where the camera came back to the car on themountain, and I said cold car and cold camera would both warm back upto 74 degrees, the camera was not immediately returned to the coolerin it's cold state. It was AFTER the camera had warmed up to aboutthe slightly cooler temperature inside the cooler at that point. YouMUST have a difference of temperature between the camera and itsmoist environment for condensation/frost to form..

And precisely why do you suggest to put the camera inside the cooler box after it's warm?.

On second thought, you might have a point. In this perverse universe, if you have a camera locked in a box, you'll be more likely to meet Yetis, aliens, strange and wonderfull, never witnessed-before phenomena and the like. However, maybe you can get a similar effect only by forgetting the memory card or batteries at home, so I still think the thermos box is a bit over the top .

Finally, a different yet similar situation. It's the dreaded heat ofsummer. Outdoor temperatures approaching 100 degrees. I'm takingthe camera to a picnic or outdoor sporting event, or vacation. Ifthe camera is to be left in the car (automobile) for even one hourwhile I go into a restaurant for a meal, temperature inside the carwill reach 140 degrees. In those and similar situations I put thecamera in my cooler.

Surely that cooler holds iceand drinks, not a camera!.

That's not a bad move at all - but the situation is different. You are shielding the camera from heat, not from condensation..

But I'll suggest you two even better moves: put the cooler box in the trunk, where it can't be seen. (Personally, I won't leave even an empty plastic bag inside the car, where it can be seen.) Or, better, take the camera with you in the restaurant. It might come in handy. .

Have a good day in Romania. I hear the scenery there is magnificent..

Thanks, same to you. The scenery is not bad - where it was not altered by 50 years of communist regime. Where it was... well, you can get nice images of identical, equally spaced, grey appartment flats, grey concrete walls, series of long, grey barns, grey industrial buildings, grey monumental buildings, and so on. You can find anything you like - as long as it's grey and standardised..

Ok, I admit, I am exagerrating a bit. .

/d/n..

Comment #19

Thanks for everyone's input, particularly on dealing with possible condensation. That's one thing I hadn't thought of, and will come in handy this winter, regardless of going to Pikes Peak...

Comment #20

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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