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Thread: Winter is coming...

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Cortland, NY USA

    Winter is coming...

    I wasn't quite sure where to start this thread, might be more appropriate in "Style & Technique?" Moderators, if I chose wrong, my apologies!

    Anyway, Where I live it typically will be in the 32 to 0 degree F (0 to -17 C) range through out the winter with occasionally much lower temps.
    I've sorted out a pretty good routine for my small format excursions--good cold weather clothes, minimal equipment, and ziploc bag camera, lens, and film when returning indoors. I use my battery free cameras and a separate light meter I keep in a pocket so the battery for the meter isn't in the cold too long.

    What large format specific considerations should I be thinking about?


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    North of Chicago

    Re: Winter is coming...

    Don't breathe on the groundglass...

    and warm boots, wear really warm boots

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Winter is coming...

    Use a snorkel to breathe while under the darkcloth to keep from fogging it. Actually, I just hold my breath and pull my head out to exhale.

    I leave the camera equipment in the unheated garage to keep from condensation from forming when brought into the house. Like you, I keep the meter in an inner pocket to keep the battery warmer.

    I wear one wool mitten and keep the other hand in a pocket most of the time. A mitten can be worn on either hand, so I can switch hands to operate the finer controls of the camera.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Winter is coming...

    I don't think about it much because winter can arrive any month of the year here in "sunny" Calif. ; so I keep my gear pack appropriately equipped year-round. Had three days is snow about a week ago in the mtns. Waterproof darkcloth, spare meter battery, plastic bags of various sizes. Some tripods legs can freeze shut if you collapse them wet. Try not to breathe on the groundglass or loupe. Various mittens or gloves, depending. Appropriate boots and personal gear, including a parka. Modern view cameras themselves present few problems. Sudden temp changes with filmholders can lead to conde nation on film (lenses too), or popping out of plane. Cold dry snow is easier to contend with than sloppy wet snow.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    now in Tucson, AZ

    Re: Winter is coming...

    Rob, I shot LF outdoors in upstate NY in all seasons from 1982-2010. No precautions necessary specific to LF... what works for smaller formats works for large. Vaughn's comments make sense- I used fingerless gloves. I suppose a wooden tripod would be easier to handle in the cold but I've never tried one. The biggest problem is convincing yourself to get outside in the cold!

  6. #6
    Indiana, USA chassis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Indiana, USA

    Re: Winter is coming...

    I work on still life and studio portraits for winter large format work. Outdoor in the winter will be mainly medium and small format for me.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    North Dakota

    Re: Winter is coming...

    Might pad top leg sections with foam taped on so you carry it easier and it is not as cold on the hands. On threads of locking knobs a touch of automotive 'anti sieze' helps. From experience and friends it works at 44 below zero OK.
    Extra batteries for anything in an inside pocket always helps. Windproof gloves/mitten and especially for ear coverings and hats. Cutting the wind will help a lot.
    Might think of a wind block you can stand behind if you are setting up the View Camera. Or a decent pop up ice fishing shelter to shoot from - inside and out of the wind with zip or pop open windows in bitter cold and wind is really nice to have.

    Plastic bag to wrap the camera bear when coming into the warmth from outside so condensation is on the bag, not the camera and lenses.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: Winter is coming...

    I love the squeak the snow makes under my boots when it's hitting 10 or 20F below zero! I shoot at night a lot, with temps diving to -20 or sometimes -30F. My two biggest tips are breath through a straw when under the dark cloth--very difficult to get condensed breath off of ground glass. My other tip is to wear liner gloves and use those to pull dark slide and any other fine finger operation. Don't expose bare skin to that kind of cold. The spirit levels on your camera are likely either alcohol or glycol, and shouldn't freeze at any temperature found on earth.

    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    klamath falls, oregon

    Re: Winter is coming...

    I third a variation to the straw and snorkel - go to somewhere like Home Depot and buy a couple feet of this clear plastic tubing, about 1/2" diameter, and breathe through that. If it takes you as long to compose and focus as me, holding your breath is not a viable option!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Elko, Nevada

    Re: Winter is coming...

    Enjoy yourself by staying warm and taking your time. Otherwise you will be miserable and your photography will probably reflect that.

    If you don't want it to be fogged or iced over, don't breathe on it.

    If it is metal, don't touch it without gloves.

    Wooden cameras and tripods are preferable to metal ones.

    If something you depend on uses a battery, keep it warm.

    Dress warm, eat and drink well, and don't push your body or your equipment as hard as you might in warmer weather.

    Take your time.

    Carry something to cover yourself and your equipment if it starts to snow/sleet/rain.

    Be very, very careful in extreme cold. The same holds in areas where snow and ice make your footing less secure.

    Alcohol use is not smart until after you are safely home and in your easy chair.
    The Viewfinder is the Soul of the Camera

    If you don't believe it, look into an 8x10 viewfinder!


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