Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Photography - Operating your Camera

 One of the biggest challenges of an outdoor photographer in winter is staying warm. Sure you can wear extra layers, thermal boots, long johns and the all important toque but keeping your hands warm is always a challenge. Being able to control your camera and losing your fingers to frost bite is a fine balancing act that your fingers often lose.

 I've tried various glove and mitt combination's with limited success. Traditional mittens are warmer than gloves but are useless when trying to use a camera so gloves tend to be used by most photographers. Some gloves use rubberized tips to improve tactile feel, others use cut off finger tips with velcroed mitten flaps to cover exposed skin when not required. Most winter wear including these half glove/mitt hybrids do not provide a fabric free thumb option so you often need to remove them to review images or adjust exposure compensation (thumb wheel on Canon Cameras). Some manufactures are starting to catch on to the idea of fabric free thumbs due to the popularity of texting on smart phones.

 I recently came across a company called Freehands who's line of gloves provide both an exposed index finger and thumb with magnetically held tip coverings. Originally designed around the frustration of using an iPhone in winter and having to remove his glove to answer his phone Josh Rubin came up with this perfect solution which can be used for any gadget in cold weather. I purchased two different models the Recycled Fleece ($18) and the heavier Ski Mitts ($45). One thing I really like about these gloves are the magnets used to hold the fold back tips. Other manufactures tend to use velcro which you always seem to fight with, and I've scared subjects away (birds) with the noise of separating the two sides of the velcro.  I've found the lighter fleece gloves to be so warm that I haven't used the ski mitts yet. Normally my hands get cold in gloves, but the fleece gloves have performed very well even after 5-6 Hrs. in -6C temps.

Freehands' order shipping (US/Canada Post) was quick, less than a week to Toronto even during the busy week before Christmas. Their sizing chart was surprisingly accurate. I'd normally buy extra large gloves, but their chart recommend just a large size for me. I was leery ordering the smaller size but they fit like a glove (sorry). Their products have been reviewed by many media firms as genius and I'd have to agree. They're available at only a few Canadian locations, but ordering on line was hassle free so check them out.

Update (17-Jan-2010):  Out on the weekend in -12C (-23C with the windchill) and had to use the heavier Sky Mitts, and although they worked better than most other gloves I've tried my finger tips still got cold after a while. I had to break out the Grabber hand warmers.

No comments:

Post a Comment