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Hockey Photography Gear

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Hockey Photography Gear

The second half of the hockey season is kicking off this New Year and I wanted to take the opportunity to show the camera gear I use when shooting hockey action. I'll get the occasional question about a camera body or camera lens that I am using, but mostly there are a lot of glares and staring from fellow photographers or hockey parents eyeing up the gear. 

In full disclosure, there is better camera equipment available then what I am using but I have found success with this setup I have been using. An example would be in camera bodies where the gold standard for Canon is the 1DX Mark II. It is a full frame professional body that shoots a decently with a fast frames per second rate, quick focusing system, higher dynamic range and larger sensor size while handling low light situations extremely well. This of course carries a large price tag with a new Canon 1DX Mark II sale priced currently at $7,699 at McBain Camera for the body only. Nikon and Sony will also have some high end camera bodies which will definitely satisfy the needs of sport photographers.  

So here it is, my list of equipment;

CANON 7D Mark II & CANON 5D Mark III

'll start with the 7D Mark II as it is definitely my work horse when it comes to sports photography. The 7D II is a crop sensor camera meaning it will take a 70 - 200 mm lens and essentially make it a 112 - 320 mm due to the 1.6 crop factor. The added length that it provides lenses means that I can get a tighter shot on the defencemen at the blue line in the offensive zone, stretch across the ice on a forward breaking into the zone or filling the frame up with a tight shot of a goalie. The 7D II also shoots a pretty fast frames per second at 10.0 FPS in continuous shooting, which is nice to try and capture a burst of shots during a play. The 5D II has a 6.0 FPS in continuous shooting. Along with the higher FPS, a couple more advantages the 7D II has over the 5D Mark III is the autofocusing seems to be a little faster and the buffer is definitely faster, which allows those bursts of images to be written to the memory cards faster. The biggest advantage of the 7D Mark II over the 5D III is the anti-flicker feature that helps significantly with the fluorescent light flicker of hockey rinks and gymnasiums. The anti-flicker isn't as useful in extremely well lit LED lit rinks and gyms but those are fairly hard to come by when shooting amateur sports right now.

A couple noticeable short comings for the 7D II compared to the 5D Mark III is the performance in low light situations, like a community arena, and the dynamic range. The 5D Mark III can easily be pushed to 5,000 - 6,400 ISO in order to keep a fast shutter speed, but the 7D II seems to peak around 3,200 - 4,000 ISO before getting a little more digital noise then I would like. The 5D III also has a noticeably better dynamic range, so the dark colours are deeper and the colours more vibrant. This helps a lot when shooting a set of photos in a JPG format for a quick turnaround when getting things looking as perfect as possible in camera is essential. 

Both cameras are weather sealed, have the same ergonomics when holding it, same battery size and both have duel memory card slots (one CF card and one SD card). The Canon 7D Mark II is a terrific sports camera, and wildlife camera, while the Canon 5D Mark III has been a phenomenal portrait, wedding, landscape and event camera to have. I typically will have a 70 - 200 mm lens on my 7D II and then a 50 mm lens or 24 - 70 mm lens on my 5D III for a hockey game. 

CANON 70 - 200mm IS II 2.8 LENS

This has been a fantastic lens for sports, as well as for weddings, portraits and landscapes. It is what I shoot the majority of my hockey images with either from a spot on the bench or through the glass in the corners. It is primarily attached to me Canon 7D Mark II camera body which then turns it into a 112 - 320 mm lens. The image stabilization doesn't play a major role in shooting sports action, in fact I often have it turned off, but is amazing for other types of photography. It also a great low light lens with a wide open aperture of f2.8 which helps significantly in arenas compared to the Canon 70 - 200 mm f4 lens. It is a tank of lens weighing just over 3 lbs, which doesn't sound like a lot but over the course of a game you can really feel it. I like the heaviness to it as it makes it feel durable and strong while still being easy to handle and zoom quickly when needed. 

CANON 24 - 70mm 2.8 LENS

A versatile zoom lens that lets me grab shots of action that happens right in front of me or wide angle shots of a large portion of the ice. I will typically have this on my 5D III and get those nice wide shots or some between action shots on the bench with it. The lens is a workhorse in most of the photography I do, including weddings, landscapes and events. It is a decently fast focusing lens, not quite as fast as the 70 - 200 mm lens but still can hold it's own. Again, an aperture of f2.8 helps immensely in arenas where lighting is often less then desirable. 

CANON 50mm 1.4 LENS

I will use this lens sparingly as an alternative to the 24 - 70 mm 2.8 lens for when action gets closer than the effective range of the 70 - 200 mm lens. It is an extremely wide open lens with an aperture of 1.4 so getting shots of a dark players bench or poorly lit hallway is a benefit of the lens. It is also great to really blow out the background for close shots between whistles for player portrait style shots. It is extremely small and low weight so very easy to handle, get a couple of photos and move it out of the way. Again, I would use this lens with the 5D III if I was going to use it in a game. 

MEMORY CARDS

Both cameras I use have the ability to shoot to two memory cards. One card slot is for a Compact Flash (CF) card and the other for a Secure Digital (SD) card. Shooting to two cards helps ensure that if something goes wrong, I will have a back up of the images in some capacity right away. I will typically use 32 GB or 64 GB cards, shooting JPG images to one card (usually the SD card) and RAW images to the other card. The SD card allows me to quickly plug it in to my laptop to upload an image or two during the intermission or to ingest the images from the card to a hard drive for a third back up set. Having two or three sets of the images is just something I have grown accustomed to from shooting weddings and not wanting to lose images due to a card failure. I will typically have six to eight different cards, formatted and ready to go, with me should something happen to a card or two at the game. Better safe then sorry. 

The specifics of the cards I use are as follows; all of my CF cards are SanDisk Extreme or Extreme Pro ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB to allow for a lot of photos and fast write speeds and my SD cards are Lexar Professional ranging from 32 GB to 128 GB. 

BATTERIES

I will generally take a total of four batteries with me to a hockey game. Two for the cameras and two for back ups. I always make sure they are charged and ready to go prior to the game, but like memory cards I feel more comfortable being over stocked with batteries should something fail. I couldn't imagine having no battery life left with ten minutes to go in a great back and forth game. For a tournament or back to back games, I will pack a charger or two that I can plug in during an intermission or between games if needed. 

So that's it. That is what I use when I shoot hockey photos. Nothing too intense like strobes, remote cameras or net cameras. Not yet anyways! 

I have included some hockey photos below, but if you would like to see more you can check out the sports section of our site or our sports specific Instagram account @TwoPointPhotographySport

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Photo Location - University of Alberta

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Photo Location - University of Alberta

Late in the fall I spent some time walking around the University of Alberta (north campus) looking for some photo spots. I had spent four years at the University from 2001-2005 where I earned my Bachelors of Physical Education degree but I never spent too much time walking around the campus, especially the northern part…of the north campus. The University of Alberta or U of A or UAlberta has a nice mixture of old architecture with new and modern designs as the campus continues to grow. Changes I noticed since I was a student include a whole new Hanson Fitness & Lifestyle Centre, Wilson Climbing Centre, Saint Joseph College Women’s Residence, a renovated exterior to the Student Union Building and finally numerous changes to the residences in the Garneau area on the east end of the campus as well as the the new structures built in the medical sciences area of campus. When I was a student at the University the biggest change was the completion, or near completion, of the LRT expansion from HUB Mall to the Health Sciences area. 

While a lot has changed in a decade there is still a lot of old history and historic buildings around campus, especially towards Saskatchewan Drive. This is where we focused our search for some photo locations. I would highly recommend walking around campus during a weekend as it is much more quiet without a lot of stressed out students roaming around. In the fall we only walked around the north/north eastern part of  campus but I definitely want to go back when we get a fresh blanket of snow to see what some of these buildings look like with snow on them. When you are on the northern side of campus you have a nice trail along Saskatchewan Drive and the River Valley as well as quick access to Emily Murphy Park and William Hawrelak Park to the west as well as to the east you have the Old Strathcona area. Perhaps the crown jewel of the University campus is Rutherford House which was the first home of Alberta’s first Premier, Alexander Rutherford. It is now a provincial historical site and a great piece of the history of Edmonton. 

Here are some photos of the campus I captured during our walk for you to enjoy. 

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The Rutherford House (C7 on map)

Photos above taken around Earth Sciences Building (C5) as well as Tory Building area (C6)

Faculty of Arts Building (D6)

The brick buildings around campus are hot spots for wedding and engagement photos

Dentistry/Pharmacy Building (E5/6)

The main transit road through campus (E5/6)

St Joes College (F5)

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Favourite YouTube Channels

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Favourite YouTube Channels

I wanted to make a list of my favourite YouTube channels that I go to for a source of inspiration, knowledge and entertainment. Previously I made a list of my favourite Instagram accounts, which you can find here, so I thought it would be a good time to share what I enjoy watching to maybe inspire you. 

Casey Neistat | 8,256,091 subscribers
I stumbled upon Casey Neistat because of his Snowboarding with the NYPD video (which you can see below) as it made the news around the world. Neistat isn’t so much a photographer as he is a vlogger and film maker, but what I find amazing about his content is his ability to be creative every single day. A short history on Neistat is that he started with next to nothing as a high school dropout moving to New York but began making movies. He made his first viral video in 2003, before it was easy to make a viral video on a platform like YouTube, called iPod’s Dirty Secret which criticized Apple about their battery life. After that and the success of another short film, Neistat was picked up by HBO to create a series before making more short films on YouTube including a 2011 short film about Bike Lanes before starting his daily vlog in 2015. He has also started his own video sharing app Beme, which was then sold to CNN for $25 million in 2016. He has most recently began Beme News which is a unique look at major events like Hurricane Harvey, the iPhone X battery test and open carry laws in Texas. Neistat even sent a crew to Calgary after the release of the Dunkirk movie to interview veteran Ken Sturdy who was at Dunkirk and was featured on Global News after he went to a local theatre to see the movie. 

Watching his videos gives new appreciation to capturing moments and working hard to create content everyday, even if he is an extreme example. I think he is organized chaos but it is addicting to watch him capture the mundane and everyday occurrences in his life, sprinkled with some pretty amazing moments. Each one of his daily vlogs are carefully edited and presented which shows that putting time and energy into your creative content will eventually pay off. Most of his content is created in New York, which his style and the city seem to go hand and hand in his success. 

Peter McKinnon | 1,371,593 subscribers
I want to say that the first time I checked out Peter McKinnon’s channel was because I was searching how to do something. McKinnon is a photographer/videographer that has seen a ridiculous growth in the last year or so of his channel, 1,000,000 subscribers in 9 months kind of ridiculous growth. Part of this massive growth is the combination of amazing photos, videos and instruction. Even amongst other phenomenal YouTube creators, McKinnon is seen as a top notch videographer, in fact he has recently been collaborating with Casey Neistat more often as well as some other great creators like food photograper Dennis The Prescott or fellow filmmaker/photographer Matti Haapoja

Like Neistat, it is refreshing to see how McKinnon puts pro level time and energy into something like a vlog or a two minute tutorial. One of the biggest takeaways I have had from watching his channel is to try and put that effort into free work to showcase your talents to potential clients down the road. Always energetic McKinnon makes it easy to follow along in his tutorials and often talks about the things he has done to go from being a guy holding down part time job after part time job to becoming a full-time photographer, filmmaker and YouTuber. He is also Canadian so, support local. 

Jared Polin (aka Fro Knows Photo) | 708,809 subscribers
The Fro was the first YouTube channel I can remember following along religiously and following along to try to pick up new and better ways to take photos. He is often a straight shooter regarding how he does things, how he feels others should do things and in his honest general opinions. Polin is in Philadelphia so there is a magnitude of things to be able to photograph corporate, landscapes, architecture and professional sports. All of which he has created tutorials on which include the camera equipment he is using, how he composes images, how he edits those images and how he delivers those images to clients. He has since evolved the channel to include more and more product reviews with regards to camera equipment as well as more photography news with things like a Fro Knows Podcast. 

Thomas Heaton | 176,447 subscribers
Located in England, Heaton is a calm and methodical landscape photographer that is a stark contrast to the likes of Neistat, McKinnon and Polin. I enjoy landscapes, you can check out my personal Instagram account, @kriskush1, and Heaton is a fantastic landscape photographer. His approach is all about planning and preparation for only a couple of photographs versus taking dozens of images and praying for one to work out. Often you will find Heaton explaining his settings as well as reasoning behind the composition of the image he is looking for with the occasional video in a 'how to' approach. His landscapes are often breathtaking with the England landscape, and seascape, the subject of most of his photos but like most successful photographers, you can find him all over the world. 

Adam Gibbs | 1,223 subscribers
Gibbs' YouTube channel is the most recent I have found and watch as much as I can. He is a landscape photographer who often visits local settings such as the Canadian Rockies as well as more recently the Vancouver area. Like Heaton, Gibbs plans, hikes and works for the right composition of an image or two before moving on. He seems to be incredibly particular in what he is looking for, as evident in one of his videos where he bypasses a shot in Johnston Canyon in the Banff National Park because he just wasn’t feeling it. Most people would still photograph the site because who knows when they will be back, but not Gibbs. It was the Jasper National Park videos that drew me to Gibbs’ channel as it would be amazing to be able to capture them in the manner he does. 

The Camera Store TV | 288,891 subscribers
These guys are out of Calgary and are heavy into the show and tell aspect of photography gear. I find their videos where they showcase a new piece of camera equipment to be incredibly well done as they will photograph subjects that the average person or photographer might be shooting and give you a recommendation on the gear. They cover both photography gear as well as videographer capabilities of the camera equipment that they are testing for a decent all round review. 

The Art of Photography (Ted Forbes) | 376,611 subscribers
Ted Forbes is the host of the Art of Photography which is an incredibly in-depth look at photography and the history associated with photography. You can instantly tell that Forbes is one of the brightest photographers around with a passion that is equal to that knowledge. Forbes has covered everything from film photography to new camera equipment impressions to motivation as a photographer to, as the name of his channel suggests, photography as an art form. Often Forbes will reference a photographer that makes you go “who?” but once you look up the photographer he is talking about or he shows you a piece of their work, you will more than likely recognize it. 

Something very cool you can find on his channel is his Photo Assignment project. The idea would be a series of assignments that would help you as a photographer maybe break out of a creative funk or just get to rethink how you compose an image. Very cool as every week a new assignment would be walked through by Forbes and he would share submissions by his viewers for the previous assignment building his community. 

Andrew Kearns | 88,861 subscribers
I used to watch Kearns' vlog daily as a source of entertainment more than anything. It was amazing to see this young fella roam freely across the Pacific Northwest area hiking and shooting throughout Washington and Oregon states primarily. His YouTube channel contained some great videos showcasing how he does what he does but it is mostly a daily vlog style channel, heavily influenced by Casey Neistat, where he takes you along on his journey. It is quite astonishing what a creative person who surrounds themselves with creative people can accomplish. 

Kearns hasn't posted a video since August 8, 2017 but he is still very active on his two Instagram accounts @andrewtkearns and @secondhand_kearns which he uses to document his journey. 

Thanks for checking out this blog post and it would be great to hear if you have any go to YouTube channels by commenting down below. 

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Wonderful World Of Disney

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Wonderful World Of Disney

In September we took a week long family vacation to Disneyland, our first family trip to the magic kingdom since 1989. It would also be our first family vacation with our two year old and five year old, so Disneyland was perfect. I was roughly the same age as our oldest son when I was last at Disneyland and I have scattered memories of the two weeks we took to drive down to Anaheim and back home. So I figured I would document the trip like crazy, 7,186 photos on my camera and another 688 photos and videos from my iPhone. That translates into full on tourist mode trying to capture a busy family who were trying to take in everything in a single week. 

Full disclosure, our family are not diehard Disney fans. Our two boys know of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, but that acknowledgement of their existence is kind of where it stops for them until they saw the characters at the park. They are much more into the Pixar aspect of Disney as well as Star Wars and Marvel comics now that Disney owns those properties. My wife is the biggest Disney fan in our house as she grew up during the peak Disney movie period of Lion King, Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Pocahontas. 

High Up | f4, 1/1600, ISO 100, 24mm

In this blog post I want to share our experience taking photos and maybe offer some advice to you for your Disneyland adventure. 

Tip #1 - Be Patient

Thousands of people are at Disneyland, all the time. It is almost impossible to not have other people in your photos when you are trying to capture the sights. There are ways to try and limit the amount of people and one of them is to show a little patience. Show a little towards the people currently trying to take a photo where you want to take one and you will get your shot. Rarely was there a situation where someone just arrived to a spot, barged to the front, took their photo and left. People are understanding because they are trying to do the same thing you are. Also if you are trying to get photos of your kids, people are more than willing to make some space and give you the opportunity to get your photo. That being said you need to have your camera settings set and what you want your composition to be before you get to the spot so that you are not infringing on the patience of others. You’ll have some time setting your camera up (take a photo of the family in front of you to see if your settings are fine) and watch how others are composing their photos for some ideas. 

Tip #2 - Hit The Landmarks

This is where you get your timeless Disneyland photos. The landmarks are the sites that have been there for a long time and will continue to be there for a long time. In thirty years when you look at the photo you should instantly know it is Disneyland. These are landmarks are places such as Space Mountain, Fantasyland Castle, It’s A Small World, Paradise Pier, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, the Mark Twain and Main Street Disneyland. These spots are always busy and although they have been photographed a million times, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get your own photo with your own style. Theses spots are always busy so bring your patience and creativity. Grab one of the park maps located at the main gates, they highlight popular photo spots in both Disneyland and California Adventure.

Fantasyland Castle | f2.8, 1/80, ISO 3200, 24mm

Tip #3 - Shoot The Details

Something I ended up doing while waiting in lineups, and you will be waiting in lineups a lot, is to photograph some of the details. I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of small details that Disney has put into the park. There is pretty amazing architecture everywhere and the little details can often be missed unless you look for them. During our visit both Disneyland and California Adventure were transformed for the coming Halloween celebration. This meant Halloween themed decorations and details throughout the parks.

Tip #4 - Make Sure You Have The Right Gear

We spent the morning at Disneyland, back to the hotel for a recharge and some food, then back to the park in the afternoon until it closed. Make sure you have enough storage space for your photos, you’ll be taking a lot and don’t want to have to sit and delete phots on the memory card via the back of the camera to make room. I would highly recommend not shooting all of your photos on one memory card. Bring multiple memory cards with you and change them out every day or two if you aren’t able to unload them onto a hard drive in between visits. This way if you spend a week in Disneyland and have the photos spread out over four different cards, if something happened to one card, you at least have three others full of photos. If you do have a laptop and hard drive with you, I would still recommend having multiple cards to shoot on and keep the photos on the cards even after uploading them to a hard drive. Having more backups of once in a lifetime moments is better than no backups. 

If you are spending hours on end at park, take an extra camera battery with you as well. You don’t want to miss a great moment because your battery is done. Make sure you charge those batteries or that phone when you get back to the hotel, you don’t want to head to the parks without a full charge.

Tip #5 - Spend Some Time Scouting Locations

I think we saw every corner of Disneyland and California Adventure twice because we took a few minutes each day to come up with a plan of attack. It also let us target the rides we wanted as well as getting to see most of the park in different lighting settings such as during the day, dusk and night. The lighting conditions make some of the locations look and feel much different. A good example of this is Cars Land, which is great during the day but at night it is outstanding with all the lights. It also helped us make sure we were able to get as many photos of the boys with characters as possible as they are in certain locations at certain times. So we knew we could see Captain America and Spider-Man then the Guardians of the Galaxy in the same area at relatively the same time. 

Nikon Picture Spots Located Throughout the Parks

On a side note, if anyone in your group is having a birthday while you are visiting Disneyland I highly recommend getting the birthday button for them. It is quite amazing how the cast (staff) and characters go above and beyond to say Happy Birthday. Our oldest turned five while we were there and it was fantastic to see him get an extra high five from a character, for a cast (staff) to stop what they are doing to say happy birthday or for Captain America to talk to him about his birthday I think made his day even better. 

How I Took Photos

During the day and walking around outside I was either shooting in Aperature Priority mode (camera controls the shutter speed) or Manual Mode. Aperature Priorty let me quickly grab a photo of something as we were passing by if I didn’t have time to set my own exposure before it was gone. When we had slightly more time I would adjust everything in Manual Mode for the exposure that I wanted. This typically occurred when the boys were with characters or I was wandering around taking detail photos of buildings. 

On a ride or in a building I would turn it over to Manual Mode, set my shutter speed at a minimum of 1/200 and adjusted my ISO as needed. This often meant riding a fairly high ISO in some of the more dimly lit locations due to not using a flash. 

Most of the photos, maybe 75%, I took were with a 24-70mm f2.8 as it let me capture wide angle and then get a little tighter if need be. The remains photos were primarily a 50mm f1.4 and a few 35mm f1.2 shots tossed in. I simply had my camera out with me at all times on a shoulder sling so I didn’t have to grab in and out of a bag all the time or off the stroller time and time again. I use a shoulder sling for weddings and events as they take the weight off your neck and it feels more comfortable to have the camera at my hip while walking versus bouncing off my chest.

My last piece of advice is be comfortable standing in a group of people and taking a photo with your camera or phone held up. No one cares. There are thousands of people around you and thousands of those thousands are taking photos of something or someone. You’re going to get other people in your photos and you’ll be in other people’s photos (so dress nice). You don’t have to be rude and pushy to get your photo but at no point did anyone say anything to me about stopping somewhere to take a photo. It is just in the Disneyland culture. 

Thanks for reading along, don’t forget to share any of your favourite vacation photography tips or photos. Here are some of our favourite photos from the week! 

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Cold Weather Photography

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Cold Weather Photography

Winter has finally arrived. We all seem to wish for year long summer but the winter months offer some great and unique moments to capture. The Northern Lights will reach peak activity during the winter, the snow offers some amazing landscape and family photos and we still have a lot of outdoor activities to participate in. But the cold can complicate your plans on capturing the right photo. Here are some things you can do to help make sure the winter cold doesn't dampen your photo taking experience.

Dress Warm

It seems like it goes without saying but.......dress warm. You wouldn't want to miss a great moment of your kids playing outside in the snow, the Northern Lights dancing or a great finale to a New Years fireworks display because you got too cold. Gloves, touque, boots, socks and layers are essential for having to stand around and wait for that moment.

Backpack/Camera Bag

While the bag won't do a lot to prevent the cold from reaching your camera, it will help to make sure that it stays clean and out of the elements. Falling snow, thrown snow and setting your camera down in the who all mean that moisture will get to your camera. A bag will also free up your hands when there is some down time to warm them up. If you have a big enough jacket you can also try using a camera strap and keeping your camera warm and out of the elements under your jacket. If you are activity in your layers however go with the bag as keeping the camera in a warm humid setting under your jacket may lead to additional moisture on your camera.

Batteries

If you have a spare battery or two make sure they are fully charged prior to heading out and make sure you keep them warm. Cold weather will discharge your battery quickly as they get colder. A simple way to combat this is to keep the batteries in your pant pockets or in a pocket of an inside layer. Having your batteries lifeless before you get the shot you were looking for will be a huge disappointment. If you have exhausted a battery you may be able to warm that battery up and get a few more shots. If you are out looking at taking long exposure photos of the Northern Lights or video of that epic snowball fight, keep in mind that your battery will normally discharge quickly in these settings, the cold will simply make them drain even quicker.

Airtight Plastic Bag

You will need a plastic bag you can seal that is big enough for your camera and lens or a bag for camera body and a bag for your lens or lenses. The plastic bag will be a life saver for your camera gear coming in from the cold. While you are still in the cold, remove your memory card and battery and place the camera and lens into the airtight plastic bag. As the camera warms up, the condensation will form on the outside of the bag and not on the camera. This will take time so plan on having your camera and lens in a bag for a couple of hours. Electronics and moisture do not get along, a plastic bag could very well save your equipment.

Plastic and Glass

Take care in handling your camera gear while in the cold. Freezing temperatures can make plastic and glass more susceptible to cracking or breaking. So be careful to bump your lens or open a memory card or battery compartment door with too much force. 

Some other quick tips;

  • Don't blow on your lens or camera to remove any dust. This will just add moisture to your gear. Use a small brush or lens cloth to remove the dust.
  • If you are using a tripod with metal legs try to grab the tripod while wearing gloves and not a warm sweaty hand. If you are in the market for a tripod and envision yourself doing a lot of cold weather shooting look at purchasing a carbon fibre tripod. They are lightweight, durable and not metal.
  • While shooting in the night I've used a touque to cover the eye piece on the camera to avoid stray light potentially getting in and ruining a shot. A toque or scarf could also be used to keep falling snow off of a camera that isn't weather sealed. 

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