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~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~
  
 
zurura
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Hello there,

I am based in India and do landscape photography [most of the times]. I am going for a winter trek in January, where the temperatures are expected to range between 5 to -20 degrees Celsius [40 to -5 degree Fahrenheit]. The entire trek is done on a frozen river and I have heard there are nice vistas covered by snow. Chadar Trek Link

My question is regarding camera and photography here. I have a Fuji XT20 with Rokinon 12MM, Fuji 18-55, 56 & 55-200 currently after switching from Canon recently. I would be carrying almost all the lenses here but my question is about the body. This is my first time with a camera in such temperatures. So, I have some generic questions and some specifics. Would love to have opinions on these and any other points that you may think are useful.

1. What are the things that I need to keep in mind about shooting in winter?

2. Does the camera throw up any issues that I have no clue about?

3. I have 3 batteries currently; how many batteries should I carry for a 5 nights without electricity trek? I would be shooting sparingly and shall do some milky way as well. 2 out of 3 lasted me well during my last trek which was 5 days without electricity.

4. Would the batteries last as long as they last in the hills at temperatures of 5-22 degrees Celsius [40-70 degrees Fahrenheit]?

5. Any issues with the performance of these lenses? Any precautions that need to be taken.


Thanks for reading this.

- Gautam


PS: In case if this needs to be asked in or linked to some other board, please let me know.




Oct 10, 2017 at 11:36 AM
Sashi
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Gautam

The trek seems great. A few things to note:

1) Batteries. More batteries. Even more batteries. In the cold, battery life decreases. Better to have more than less, especially since you will not have access to electricity
2) Spare memory cards
3) Be prepared for the camera to start acting up in the cold, and you can also get fogging/dew on the glass. Ideally, let the camera and lens get acclimatized to the ambient temperature gradually
4) Your lenses are good for close and moderate range
5) Night photography, especially Milky Way photos, will take the sap out of batteries

Since this is not a trek you would do over, recommend that you pack more batteries, spare cards and then warm gloves with your tripod.

Post some pics when you are back



Oct 10, 2017 at 02:07 PM
sullivanrp
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Sashi had some solid notes. Just a couple tips to add -
1. I've heard of adventure photographers acclimatizing their camera by storing it in a cooler before heading out into cold conditions (i.e. day before/morning of before you leave).
2. Another common tip is to keep your extra batteries, or at least some of them, in pockets so that body heat helps keep their temperature up and less drain due to cold temperatures.

I'd suggest having 1 battery per day, depending on how much use they'll get, as a minimum.

An alternative to buying more batteries is carrying a portable power bank. Typically you can get one for the size of an external hard drive (Goal Zero Venture 30/70). I believe your camera can charge via USB cable so you could charge on the move for not a ton of extra weight. An added benefit if you have other electronics like a phone, gps, etc. that may need a charge on this trip.



Oct 10, 2017 at 02:26 PM
zurura
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Thank you so much Sashi & Sullivan. That definitely helps.

Batteries were the first thing that came to my mind. And after reading these suggestions they definitely seem to be the top priority. The power bank point is awesome Sullivan. I had read it somewhere earlier and wanted to try it but somehow it skipped my mind. This gives another dimension to the battery situation. Shall try my existing 10000 power bank with the camera and report back here.

I am covered on the memory cards front. Got enough storage on hand. Also, I don't shoot much at each location. That should be covered, I think.

On the lenses front, don't think would be taking the 56 there. The 12 mm would be useful for the milky way and would make the trip. From my experience I usually shoot more in the range of 50 - 150 in the Himalayas. So, the 12, 18-55 & 55-200 should cover it.

That fogging is something I would need to be careful about. Shall try out a few things on the first day there and would get it as part of the shooting process. Thanks for reminding me. It did screw up few shots on my last beach trip when we stepped out of the car. That's a story for another day though.

Now once the camera is sorted out, let me fish for some winter gear for myself.

Thanks a ton guys. Really appreciate that.




Oct 11, 2017 at 06:01 AM
bflood
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


2 things to add:

The standard advice for dressing for cold weather is to dress in layers, something I endorse. I suggest wearing a t-shirt with a pocket as your first layer, and carrying a battery in that pocket. Being inside the rest of your clothing layers and next to your body, that battery will be at its strongest if you need to replace a fading battery in the field. The cold will cause batteries to fade, whether they are in a camera or in a camera bag.

Condensation - after a day or night out in the cold, taking the camera gear into a warm environment can lead to a lot of condensation on the gear. I suggest you take an assortment of "zip-loc" type bags with you on your trip and keep them with your gear when you go outdoors. Put your gear into the bags and close the seals BEFORE you carry the gear indoors, and leave everything in the bags for an hour or more to come up to the interior temperatures. Then you can open them without worrying about condensation.



Oct 11, 2017 at 06:11 AM
zurura
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Thanks there for the suggestions. I am planning on 4 layers throughout the trek. Issue would be getting to the inside layer for retrieving these batteries

Also, I don't think condensation would be a major issue as the tents are not heated. So, the difference in temperatures inside and outside is not much. But I do carry Zip-Locs and shall use them here liberally.

Thanks again.



Oct 11, 2017 at 06:13 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


I shoot a lot in cold weather - here are my thoughts

1) Your big challenges will be batteries, frost, weight

2) Mirrorless are battery hogs - either bring buckets of batteries or rent a dslr - particularly for milky way shooting. O rent a generator. When I had a sony a7r, at best I got 25mins with a full battery. With my canon 5dsr I can get hours. I suggest 6d 24-105 f3-5.6, and Samyang 14mm. I doubt you will used your long lens.

3) Frost - the two things you struggle with are breathing on the lens (or lcd) which turns into ice and dew feezing as you get higher. I suggest bringing some chemical hand warmers and an elastic band (put the elastic band on you lens with the chemical hand warmer to defeat dew and remove iceing). When you go inside put the camera in a camera bag that will warm up slowly and close it up.

4) Weight - drop the 55-200 - its not likely that you will get close enough to animals to use this lens.

5) Don't use liveview, turn camera off when not using, don't bring a camera with an articulating screen, don't use wireless/gps - they all take batteries. Don't breath near the lens or camera. Don't bring your camera lens in to the heat if you plan to go back out again.

6) Bring wind breaking clothes. When you are standing around with the wind blowing, you will get cold unless you break the wind.

7) Putting your nose on a cold lcd when you shoot through viewfinder is a recipe for frostnip. A camera cover will keep the cold in and save your nose.

8 I like layered mitts with gloves inside them - its hard to adjust you camera with mits but gloves are too cold.

Have fun.

[I went through the ice once at -35c - even got to swim with my cross country skis on. Initially it was warm because the water was at 0c. And then I discovered that frozen ice clothes makes a terrific wind break for my 7 km walk to shelter. - let the guides go first and don't bunch up so the weight is distributed. Make sure the outfitter has a very good reputation.]



Oct 11, 2017 at 09:20 PM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


If the outfitter is not giving you detailed advice on clothes and non-photography related gear find another outfitter. Your seem to have little experience with cold weather (most of us don't either) and you absolutely don't want to be learning the first time from this (or any other) forum.

Consider whether the outfitter you have chosen in suitable for photography. If this is a trekking oriented outfitter they will want to be on the move most of the time, with little time devoted to stopping and smelling the roses. You don't want to be "that guy" who everyone is waiting for in -20C weather.

When the temps drop be prepared for AF to stop working. This is particularly true for AFS/USM lenses, but below -10C even screwdrive lenses can become problematic for focusing.

Eating helps keep you warm.





Oct 12, 2017 at 07:15 AM
 

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Scott Stoness
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


GroovyGeek wrote:
If the outfitter is not giving you detailed advice on clothes and non-photography related gear find another outfitter. Your seem to have little experience with cold weather (most of us don't either) and you absolutely don't want to be learning the first time from this (or any other) forum.

Consider whether the outfitter you have chosen in suitable for photography. If this is a trekking oriented outfitter they will want to be on the move most of the time, with little time devoted to stopping and smelling the roses. You don't want to be "that guy" who everyone is waiting for
...Show more

I agree with GroovyGeek - your first priority should be safety. If you have never been outside at -20 with the wind blowing - you are not ready to do it for 5 days. When you are walking tired and cold - you won't feel like taking picturers, just surviving. Focus first on your personal safety. If you get blisters on your first day, it will be hell.

- Make sure the ouffitter has a plan for surviving falling through ice - matches, separation so not all in, spare clothes, rope
- Don't overpack - it makes you heavier and you will have less fun. Plan to wear the same clothes continuously. Hire a Sherpa if you can.
- double layer socks - thin and thick. Spare socks. This will be critical. Blisters will make he trip very painful and if they happen early, it will be 5 days of hell. You need to be dry. Buy whatever you will walk in and wear it for weeks so it and your feet are broke in. Bring some kind of solution to blistering. Your boots should be big enough for your socks - not tight but not loose. Restricting your feet will cause them to be cold, I used thick smartwool and thin inner socks and padding insole in my winter boots. And all of this cannot be tight so my boots are size 13 where I normally could get by with 12.
- something to cover all of your head - scarf, mask etc. When the wind blows and you get frost bite and lose a nose you will regret.
- don't take cotton - use material that stays warm when sweaty and drys quick.
- layer up and be ready for -30 just in case. Long unders, undershirt, overshirt, overpants, nanopuff jacket, bigger light jacket nanopuff jacket,
- all covered by over pants, over jacket to break wind.
- spare clothes in case you go in
- all as light as possible. All non cotton. Wool dries slow so aside from socks I would avoid too.
- bring yak tracks x 2 they break
- big warm mitts with inner gloves for picture taking. Mitts should have room for chemical warmers and hard surface to break wind.
- keep your distance from others on thin ice
- bring an emergency beacon device (spot?)
- be careful with hygiene. Bring alcohol type hand cleaner. Don't eat from dirty hands - yours or cooks. Make sure water is boiled. Make sure cook is clean. Having the runs in -20c is a real challenge. Personally I would only eat coffee that is boiled and freeze dried stuff that I made with boiled water.

I looked at your link and it seems like the outfitters are pretty cavalier. Talk to someone that has done it. They suggest rubber boots. Rubber boots are cold and don't breath and will give blisters.

I can list the specific gear that I would take if you like. The problem is that you might not have same brands, PM me if you want help.

[ I wish I was going - sounds like an adventure but my wife does not like me to risk my life much]



Oct 12, 2017 at 02:07 PM
zurura
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Thank you so much Scott. That is quite a detailed and awesome reply. Thank you Groovygeek as well.

The outfitter is experienced in this particular trek and I have done another circuit with them previously. They have an edge over the competition, I feel. Also, I personally know the lead and he is a good friend of mine. Also, from my previous experience, I usually am at the start of the bunch after the porters [sherpas] just so that I have enough time to shoot if I find something interesting. So, the group would not be waiting for me much. And this outfitter has quite a few additional porters, in case some one is a bit slower than the rest.

I am not carrying my bag on this trek. Shall hand it over to the porters [who carry it on a sledge on this trek]. Would only carry my camera gear with me.

All trekkers here use the rubber boots for easier walking experience. I spoke to a couple of guys who have done the trek previously. One outfit had used crampons in of the previous years, but collectively everyone stopped it as they feared breaking the ice sheet.

Batteries remain the biggest concern now. Renting a 6D with the two lenses would be quite an expensive affair here. I would be paying somewhere in the region of double the amount that I am spending for the entire trip. I have 3 batteries & am planning to add one more. Got a 10K power bank and shall buy another one. Also, a friend has another power bank which he can lend. SO, a bucket of batteries it is.

The points on breathing on the LCD and the AF not working are worthy mentions. Thanks.

About layering, that is the plan. Excellent thermal inner layer, under shirt, [forgot the layer type, fleece , I think] warm layer, down jacket and another thick down jacket. Had forgot the over pants. Thanks for that. With all this on the body I think, the bag would only contain socks and a change of clothes, in case these become wet somehow.

Water is always boiled. And since, the food would mostly be Indian, pretty sure it would be well cooked in that boiled water.

Thanks a ton guys. That really helped. You should consider this Scott. It really is an experience from what I heard from the other guys.





Oct 13, 2017 at 12:34 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


zurura wrote:
Thank you so much Scott. That is quite a detailed and awesome reply. Thank you Groovygeek as well.

The outfitter is experienced in this particular trek and I have done another circuit with them previously. They have an edge over the competition, I feel. Also, I personally know the lead and he is a good friend of mine. Also, from my previous experience, I usually am at the start of the bunch after the porters [sherpas] just so that I have enough time to shoot if I find something interesting. So, the group would not be waiting for me much. And
...Show more

I will wait for your trip report - and the pictures and then put it in my bucket list. Thanks. Scott




Oct 14, 2017 at 08:21 PM
msoomro
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


tag for reference


Oct 14, 2017 at 08:27 PM
Tim Knutson
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Oh my, all this is making this desert boy's toes hurt. Maybe our dry heat isn't so bad after all.


Oct 15, 2017 at 09:45 PM
tc202
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


Hey,

I snowshoe/ camp in the winter often for wildlife photography/ fun with the coldest in Alaska at -50f. If you are looking for boots check out Baffin (rubber boots are not the most comfortable/ warm when walking in the backcountry for miles). If you are going to use rubber boots then buy a thick felt insole to provide some insulation from the ground. Do not wear tight boots, or you will be cold. Since this sounds like a one time event then you probably do not want to buy expensive gloves/ boots. Never wear cotton.

Camera: do not breathe near your LCD in subzero temperatures because your breath will travel up your LCD into your viewfinder causing zero visibility. I am not sure about your brands batteries, but one 1DX battery will last me all day in temperatures near 0f. If your batteries are similar to GoPro then you are going to need a large amount. My canon cameras act 100% normal around -5f. In my experience, the 5D line starts to act up a little in the -30's/ 1DX in the -40/50f range. The weird behavior is normally the LCD being slow/ the buttons not always responding quickly.

This applies if you don't use heated tents like me-

1. Remember to never go asleep with cold feet because you will have cold feet all night. Do some jumping jacks, or go snowshoeing to get warm- then go to bed.
2. Put all your batteries in your sleeping bag with you
3. Put your boot liners in the tent with you, so you have warm feet for the morning
4. If you are cold put boiling water in a bottle (wait to close the bottle until the water is not steaming a lot) put it into a leakproof bag then place it at the bottom of your bag for the toes, or between your legs to warm the arteries.
5. Open most of the tents ventilation areas or you will wake up in condensation heaven
6. If you are just run cold zip your jacket up, fold in the arms, and pull the jacket around the outside of your sleeping bag's footbox
7. Bring a set of clothing just for sleeping in
8. Body wipes will be fine in the -5f range- I use them all the time to clean up. If you are in the -20's do not use them on your skin

I just read about about blisters- if you feel one coming use Leukotape. It's a backpackers best friend because once you stick it on your skin it won't go anywhere. You can have it on for weeks if you don't take if off

Just remember it's easier to stay warm then to get warm. -5f is really not that bad, and I'm sure you will have a blast.






Oct 23, 2017 at 12:55 AM
zurura
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · ~ Winter travel | Gear Query ~


tc202 wrote:
Hey,

I snowshoe/ camp in the winter often for wildlife photography/ fun with the coldest in Alaska at -50f. If you are looking for boots check out Baffin (rubber boots are not the most comfortable/ warm when walking in the backcountry for miles). If you are going to use rubber boots then buy a thick felt insole to provide some insulation from the ground. Do not wear tight boots, or you will be cold. Since this sounds like a one time event then you probably do not want to buy expensive gloves/ boots. Never wear cotton.

Camera: do not breathe
...Show more

Thank you so much for the detailed answer. There is a lot of information in there that will be useful to me.
Appreciate you putting everything out there.


Wonder why no one mentioned the threat from white walkers.



Oct 24, 2017 at 04:00 PM







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