5 Most Important Cold Weather Photography Essentials

The Himalayas have temperatures ranging from plus 10 to minus 40 degrees Celsius ❄️. Cold weather photography at this altitude, particularly in extremely cold weather, can be difficult. When it’s that cold, photography, and just about everything else, becomes tenfold more difficult. However, the icy, snowy, white winter wonderland-like images are well worth it. Here are some of my recommendations for cold weather photography, based on my time in the Himalayas and several travels to Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and other Himalayan mountainous locations.

Snowfall at 12,451 feet Tarsar Lake, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Cold weather photography essentials

?Battery and its Performance

The performance of batteries is hindered by extremely cold conditions. Extras batteries should be kept in a warm pocket close to your body. For my full-frame DSLR camera, I normally take four camera batteries, which will last for a week if properly packed and stowed.

According to my cold weather photography experience, at approximately 0 degrees Celsius at the camping and sub-zero at night, the battery depleted by roughly 17 percent in all the unused batteries after 3-4 days. So, to retain the charge, I store my batteries in a plastic zip locker and I keep them in a warm location, such as the inner pocket of my down jacket.

Also, remember to carry extra batteries and power banks for smaller gadgets like GoPro or DJI Action camera. Most of the action cameras have a Type C charger and power banks can easily support this A power bank with 20,000 mAh and above is recommended.

Roopkund - Himalayas - Ravindra Joisa Photography
Mystery Skeletal lake, Roopkund at 14,882 feet in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand, India

?Use of Filters

Snow white can cause blindness, hence sunglasses are usually recommended. The same is the case with the camera, and you’ll need filters. However, don’t underexpose the shot; else, the snow will seem grey. If you’re interested in long exposure photography, cold weather photography might be tricky. On the white section of the histogram, the snow-white might blow up. As a result, it’s a good idea to use ND filters and set the stops dependent on the intensity of the light. Recovering from whites in the histogram can be challenging if the image is over-exposed.

?Water-resistant backpack

A water-resistant backpack for cold weather photography is a must. In addition to having a water-resistant cover for your DSLR, it is highly advised to have a rain/snow cover. The Lowepro backpack that I have comes with an attached rain cover in it. Else you can always buy additional coverage based on the volume of your bag. Again, this cover is useful for light showers but now for heavy rain or snow. It is better to take shelter in a proper place, maybe in a tent if you are in the wild.

That’s me experimenting with Cold Weather Photography at Hampta Pass at 14,009 feet, Himachal Pradesh, India

?Carbon Fiber Tripod

Having metallic tripod arms can make it hard to hold while in cold weather photography. A rubber coating on top of the metal or a carbon fiber tripod leg can be super helpful as it is a bad conductor of heat or cold. From basic rubber-coated flexible tripods to high-end carbon fiber tripods, there are many that you can buy based on your budget. Note that carbon fiber tripod is expensive and lightweight. It is ideal if you are into cold weather photography up in the mountains when you are on a hike for a few days, for example, while hiking in the Himalayas.

?Personal Apparel

When you are considering cold weather photography, it is important to consider your personal clothing too. For example, in addition to regular clothing, there are other things to keep in mind. For example, the thermals, windshield jacket, down feather jacket, cold weather hiking shoes, woolen cap, and most importantly, the hand glows which has optional openings. So that it is easy to operate your camera if it has touch screen options.

camping in ice-cold weather for cold weather photography
The fixed tent and the layer of snow underneath at Bagwabasa campsite, Roopkund.

These points that are mentioned above are based on my personal trekking experience in the Himalayan snow-clad mountains. I go for weeklong trekking in the Himalayas every year and cold bad weather is always a concern. Cold weather photography can be super challenging, and I usually avoid winters as it is extremely hard to hike to the destination and the trail remains closed.

You might want to check my outdoor activities where I have discussed in detail all my previous treks. Also, consider subscribing to my Youtube channel or you can even buy me a coffee to support my work.

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