What I love about a proper winters day is the cold crisp weather. Nothing feels better than going out for a walk, enjoy the sun and coldness followed of course by returning to a warm home. Especially after sitting indoors and eating a lot over the Christmas days it is a great way to feel better and re-energise. As the weather often also is a bit cloudy you come across some fabulous photo opportunities.
The only problem with winter photography is that everything is so bleak. The only colour you find comes from some evergreens and if you are lucky winterberries. Apart from that during the day everything is grey. Only during sunset and sunrise do you get a magnificent display in the sky, providing there are some clouds.
The other downside is that your camera is getting so cold 🙂 . Even if you protect your camera in a proper bag, it still gets cold quite quickly. With that comes the problem of battery drainage. I always seem to be running out much faster than I anticipated! At least with a digital camera you do not have to fiddle with film whilst your hands are frozen. Most memory cards are big enough for a days worth of images.
I do have on purpose some fingerless gloves so my hands stay a bit warm and I do not have the hassle of taking them on and off. If you have a touch screen camera, you can now get some special gloves that let you control the screen without taking them off. Great invention, next it would be nice if they had a little heater in them!
If it is really cold I always carry a couple of small hot packs with me. These are chemical pouches that you can recharge by carefully boiling them in water. To trigger them you need to snap a small metal disc inside the pouch. They can last for years. I always have several with me to cover those really cold moments. As they are small they fit in your pockets and with a bit of clever manoeuvring I even found ways to keep my back warm 🙂
It is of course important to take extra care of your equipment, especially once temperatures reach below zero. All day out in this weather with your camera can make it run slower. Avoiding moisture is most important – it can easily creep into little spaces. It will not be the first time that I have to stop taking images as my lenses get foggy on the inside. The only option then is to return home and be patient for the moisture to disappear.
And even though it does there are many disadvantages, they are minor when you are lucky enough to go out and find some wildlife. Due to the cold they also move slower, so you have a much better chance of getting a cute squirrel or dashing deer on a photo.
We normally do not get much snow in the UK so when it falls it always seems to be causing mayhem. If I do not need to travel I love to go out and find some fresh snow areas without foot prints, although I do like bird tracks. I can just image the birds hopping from one foot to the other whilst thinking ‘cold, cold, cold’.
Here in the UK you won’t see much else then birds, but if you are lucky and early you will come across foxes, deer and stags with their massive antlers. In Scotland you might come across the Highland Cow. A mighty beast with long red hair and half of the original cows of the famous Texas Longhorn. They always make me a laugh as you wonder how they can see with the hair in their face. And they look silly when they try to lick their nose as only a cow can. In Continental Europe you might come across some wolves, lynx cats, stoats and polecats.
If you are really lucky you can find some drunk moose in Canada. You just have to find a fruit tree with some decaying fruits on the ground. During the decaying process the fruit can ferment and become alcoholic. Most wildlife consider this a delicacy in those cold winter days. Same a bit like us humans, and we all suffer the same consequences from over indulgence.
Of course whilst we in the Northern Hemisphere complain about the cold winter, the Southern Hemisphere will enjoy a warm and sometimes even hot summer. That’s way so many people from the North move South during winter and to return back in spring. Much like many other migratory animals. I think I might join them in the future as although I like winter, I rather much more enjoy the summer!