Well, the new camera arrived and I headed out this morning for sunrise near Castlewood Canyon. Out of bed at 5:30, I checked the indoor/outdoor thermometer and saw the temp was 45 degrees at the house. No problem…Jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt, and a heavy fleece. It’s not really that cold out and it will get warmer when the sun gets up. Right….a perfect display of some of my flawed logic. See, Castlewood Canyon is about 300 feet higher in elevation than my house and therefore a lot colder. When I arrived at my location the outside temp was 36 degrees. No problem, I got gloves and my Rocket J Squirrel hat in the car just no jacket. Get the camera and lens mounted on the tripod, pull on my fuzzy hat, and take off for my shooting position. About halfway there I realize I left my gloves in the car. Should I go back and get them? What??? And miss that 30 second window when the sky is the most colorful? Not bloody likely. I can just keep my hands in my pockets. Bottom line, I got a few decent images but after a while my hands were too cold to focus properly so a lot of my efforts were wasted. And that brings us to the subject of tonight’s blog: Dressing properly for the elements.
You’ll probably start to see tips and blogs dealing with preparation for cold weather photography. There is all kinds of information out there about keeping your equipment in shape for winter shooting but sometimes we all forget about the most important piece of equipment…yourself. Today’s sunrise expedition proved once again that if you’re not comfortable you won’t make your best images. So here goes.
In Colorado we learn early on about dressing in layers. It might be freezing when you head out in the morning and 80 degrees by 2pm so you have to prepare for everything. If I had been wiser this morning here’s how I would have dressed.
First, the underlayer: Today it wasn’t tremendously cold so long underwear wasn’t needed. I pulled on a long sleeved t-shirt which would have been good for an underlayer. Finish with a pair of warm crew socks and the unders are done.
For the second layer I put on a pair of heavy duty jeans, not the fashionable lightweight stuff. On a day like today, 37 degrees, that was adequate. If it were 10 or 20 degrees colder I would have put on long underwear and my wind proof ski pants. I topped it off with a fleece pullover which was my only outerlayer. Had I been smarter I would have brought along a light jacket at the very least. In extremely cold weather I would bring along my dual layer ski jacket.
Hat and gloves. For those who are follically challenged like me, a hat is a must. You lose more body heat through your head than anywhere else. In my car I always have a good wool stocking cap but my main cold weather hat is one of the fake rabbit fur lined north woods cap. I call it my Rocket J Squirrel cause it sort of looks like the helmet Rocky used to wear. Good gloves are a must. I suppose there is a “perfect” photographer’s glove out there but I haven’t found it. At any one time I have as many as 3 different pairs of gloves in my car and another pair in the pockets of my jacket. The ones I use most are thin fleece. They’re warm enough for most conditions and thin enough to let me operate most of the controls of my camera.
The moral of the story is this: If you’re too cold you can’t concentrate on great images. I came away with a few nice images this morning. If I’d dressed properly I would have had a lot more. Layers Layers Layers. One of these days I’ll remember that…just not today.