What’s it like to photograph things in extreme conditions?

Once again we hit the road and drove north with three 4×4 contenders. We had the new Dacia Duster with us and we put it to the Test against two contenders. One being the Skoda Yeti and the other one being the new Citroën C4 Aircross which is brand new on the swedish market. The two contenders is almost double the price compared to the cheaper Dacia. So the question was if the Dacia was up for it? The answer to that and many more questions can be found in the latest issue of Teknikens Värld, number 5, which is out in stores now.

And here are some pictures from Jämtland, Sweden which is incredible beautiful. And we were very lucky with the weather, a crispy blue sky and around -25 degrees celsius. And no, mosquitoes was never an issue. 😉

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People ask me sometimes what it´s like to work in these conditions and how my gear hold up and so on. And all i can say is that it´s not really a problem, it could be if you are not prepared for it, but i have been doing this for quite some time now, eight years and counting to be exact. Sometime soon i will put up a little film here where you will see how i do this, just a little teaser of what it´s like.

Anyway, as i said, if you are prepared for the task at hand you will fix it. But for everyone else who are wondering, here are a few things to have in mind if you are about to do a shoot in extreme cold.

– Layers. You need to dress yourself with layer on top of layer, the more the merrier. Use at least three layers underneath your outerwear. You need wool and fleece or other materials that breathes and transport moisture away from your body to the outer layers. Do not use cotton closest to your skin, if it gets wet it will stay wet. That´s a bad thing. If you get to warm you will start to sweat and then you will start to freeze when that hot sweat starts to cool down.

– Boots. You need really warm shoes, or boots with a good pair of socks in them. Not some supermarket socks but a pair of real skisocks made by wool or something similar. Better yet, use a thin linersock with a thicker sock on top it. You will be glad you did, trust me!

– Outerwear. You need outerwear that is up for this. Preferably with some sort of ventilation outlets to let warm moist find it´s way out.

– Gloves. You need warm gloves, but not to bulky because you wont be able to operate your camera then. Use a thin linerglove underneath. You wont regret that, especially when you need to change memory cards and stuff. When it´s really cold it wont take long until you start to freeze if you expose your hands even for just a minute, trust me.

– A warm hat. If you are gonna be out for longer periods of time a facemask or a balaclava is a very good investment.

– Your gear. I take for granted that you have this section under control! You need to have fully loaded batteries, all of them. Keep them in your bag or in a ”warmer” place. Batteries drain a lot faster when it is really cold. Your cameras will be incredible cold after awhile and as soon as you bring them in someplace warm they will start to condensate and you will get a lovely haze all over everything that is made of glass. Dont go in and out a lot with your camera, it´s better to put your gear in your camera bag before you go into a warm place because it will keep it sort of cool for you. And the transition from -25 to say +20 degrees will be slower and you wont have the same kind of problem with condensation. If you get snow or ice or whatever on your lens dont try to blow it away with your breath, what will happen then? Wipe it away with a cloth instead.

– Get warm. Try to go into a warm place now and then, it will make you a happier photographer. Working to long so that you might get freeze damages is not a good thing, it is not worth it. Look for white spots in areas that are exposed to this extreme cold, like your face for instance, if you get a white spot you need to warm it up with your hand or something else a.s.a.p. That white spot is the first step to a freeze damage to your skin, avoid that in every possible way.

– Dont be stupid! This one is the most important one and it aimed to most of you that have not been in conditions like this. It´s not a game. No one will thank you for staying out to long and ending up with numb limbs. And if you are not careful enough, it will happen. People have actually died of extreme cold conditions. There is not that many photographs that are worth it, right? Keep your head cool, if you know what i mean. Keep your cellphone warm, it can be your only help, and it wont do you no good if it turns itself off because of the cold even though it was fully loaded before you went out. And last but not least, dont ever work alone in conditions like this, never!

Good luck and dont freeze your a** of, for real!

Until next time!


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