Christmas is on its way. Despite all my subtle (and not so subtle hints) about lenses and cameras I suspect I’ll just be getting socks. Again. Still, socks are an underrated garment. For landscape photographers a warm pair of socks can be the difference between being comfortable and prematurely giving up for the day. Woollen socks can’t be beaten when it comes to keeping your feet warm. After all, if it’s good enough for sheep then it’s good enough for you.
Despite cold, winter is a wonderful time for photography.
Landscape photography often means standing around and waiting. If the ground is cold and your feet aren’t insulated then you’ll quickly begin to suffer. Bog-standard wellingtons (or gum boots) generally aren’t a good idea for this reason. They’re fine for general use in snow or ice but they’re not the warmest footwear you can buy. Though more expensive, neoprene boots are a better bet. If you can find a pair that’s fleece-lined then so much the better.
Keeping warm while waiting for the light on cold mornings doesn’t have to be a test of endurance.
Keeping warm in winter is a challenge when you’re standing around. Movement, such as walking, generates heat. Stop moving and this heat is quickly lost. The traditional way to trap body heat is to use layers of clothing, starting with a thermal base layer and finishing with a water and windproof layer. Each layer traps warm air, air that’s been warmed by your body heat. If you start to get too hot you can gradually remove away layers. The layering technique is therefore both effective and efficient.
Wool is an excellent insulator. Just ask any sheep!
Hands can be a problem. Thick gloves will keep them warm, but thick gloves make using camera controls tricky. It’s all too easy to press the wrong button accidentally when wearing gloves. However, take your gloves off to use your camera and your hands will immediately begin to get cold. Gloves also make using touchscreens difficult. The solution once more is layering. A thicker outer glove will keep your hands warm when you’re not using a camera.
A thin, inner glove (once you’ve taken off your outer gloves) will allow you to use your camera’s controls without losing all feeling in your fingers. If your camera has a touchscreen you could either invest in a pair gloves that have special conductive fingertips or wear fingerless gloves under your thicker, outer gloves.
Shooting star trails means being out for hours on end. If you’re not warm, you won’t stay the distance.
Although it’s a myth that most of your body heat is lost through your head a hat is essential when outdoors in winter. A hat with a brim is useful to direct rain away from your face. However, the brim can be a hazard when using a camera. If you’re anything like me it’s easy to forget about the brim when bringing your camera to your face.
Wind chill will reduce the ambient temperature further. Windproof clothing is a must.
I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve either knocked my hat off or almost knocked my camera and tripod over because of my hat’s brim. A brim that can be fastened up and out of the way is therefore useful. Your ears are especially vulnerable to cold so a hat that covers them is ideal, though earmuffs are effective too.
If you have any tips for staying warm this winter (apart from moving to the southern hemisphere) do share them below.