Infographic: Essential Tips for Cold-Weather Photography


How unfortunate is it that some of the best photographic opportunities present themselves when it's miserably cold outside? It doesn't matter what kind of camera equipment you're using, proper preparation and knowledge of your gear and environment are essential to helping ensure success when you're out in the cold, making photographs.

Before we talk photography, let me say this: be smart. Cold causes hypothermia and frostbite. There is no potential photograph worth the damaging or deadly side effects of prolonged exposure to cold. Plan your outing, do not push yourself, and have a plan for getting warm at the end of your expedition. Also, let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back.

Before You Go Outside

1) Batteries hate the cold as much as reptiles and other cold-blooded creatures. The cold temperatures cause them to discharge faster, and there are few things worse, let me tell you, than running out of battery power in the midst of a photographic outing. The Law of Murphy guarantees that your batteries will run out just before you attempt to capture the best shot of the day or night.

Watson LP-E6N Lithium-Ion Battery Pack

Head outdoors with a fresh battery and keep your spare batteries—not in your camera bag—but inside your layers of clothing to keep them warm. Now that I think of it, someone probably needs to invent some kind of chest holster for camera batteries.

2) A camera bag or camera backpack is always great for keeping your gear clean and protected from the elements. Winter weather and cold only serve to make these accessories more important. If you are out shooting, your camera will, of course, be exposed to the same cold air that is freezing your feet, but there is no way your camera will enjoy being subjected to driving snow, slush, sleet, or ice. Keep it protected!

3) Bring a large plastic bag along with your gear. I will tell you why later.

4) Gloves. Ahhh. We can send people to the moon and back, but it is really difficult to find gear for your hands that:

a) keeps your hands and fingers toasty warm while

b) allows you the dexterity to manipulate your camera's controls. Several manufacturers have tried to crack the code, and there are winter gloves that feature removable fingertips that are designed to allow you to operate your camera's control dials, buttons, and the shutter release. If you have discovered magical gloves that are perfect for operating the command dial of my DLSR while keeping my fingers warm, please share the name of the product!

Bright Tangerine ExoSkin Leather Armour Gloves

Now we are outside... seriously? It's really cold!

Don't forget to keep your spare batteries as warm as possible. Also, if you are carrying an external flash, do not forget to keep it warm, as well. The batteries in the flash will suffer in the cold. Where is my battery-holding bandolier?

Shooting tips

1) Some good news: Cold winter air is generally clearer than warm summer air, as it generally contains less moisture. Clear air = crispier photos. Sweet.

2) If there is snow on the ground on a bright day, watch your exposures. Snow can be one of the trickiest subjects to expose properly, sometimes fooling your meter into underexposure and other times into overexposure and a loss of detail. A common rule of thumb with digital is to expose for the brightest portions of the scene and make sure to keep your highlights from being blown out to "all white." Shadow detail may be extracted later in post-processing, while overexposed highlights cannot usually be recovered. Another point if photographing in the bright sun: use a lens hood. Since the snow can act as a giant reflector, there is a greater chance of stray light reaching your lens and causing unwanted lens flare.

Canon EW-88C Tulip Lens Hood for EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

3) More good news (for photographers): Because of the lower angles of the sun (the same lower angles that make it so bloody cold), your "quality of light" is generally better throughout the day and shadows are longer (sometimes a good element for your photos). If your shooting day presents you with cloudy, overcast weather, you might also consider changing to the “Cloudy” white balance setting to add some warmth to your photos and minimize any blue cast.

4) A UV filter is an ideal tool for clearing up the appearance of haze in photographs, which is more common to winter and cold temperatures, as well as when shooting at higher altitudes. However, the UV filter's other huge benefit to photographing in snowy climates is that it protects your front lens element from snow or other elements.

Hoya 77mm HD3 UV Filter

Before You Go Back Inside

Frozen cold? Miserable because your toes and fingers are icy cold, yet warmed from the inside by the art you just created? There are some precautions you might wish to take before going back inside to thaw out.

  1. Pull your memory card from your camera. Why? Read #2.
SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card

2) Put your camera and lens(es) into an airtight plastic bag. Why? Moisture and condensation will want to form on a cold object introduced into a warm environment. Moisture and electronics do not play well together; the plastic bag will magically sacrifice itself to the condensation process so that your camera and gear can stay dry while it warms up. Leave it inside for about two hours while you get yourself some hot cocoa, draw a warm bath, and transfer your new photos to the computer.

3) If it was especially cold and dry outside, you can put your camera on a windowsill to encourage a slower warming process for your camera.

Enjoy the winter with your camera. Stay warm. Protect your gear. But, most importantly, stay smart while you make photographs!

For more information, check out this B&H video and enjoy these other winter shooting tips.

What cold weather tips do you have for shooting in the cold? What has worked well for both you and your gear?


your  Essential Tips for Cold-Weather Photography good article. It helpful article every photographer ........

clipping p. p.,

You are the BEST! This is the 6th positive comment you have left for us here. We love clipping p. p.!

All hail clipping p. p.!!!

I knew something this post.Every tip is important for me because I am a graphics designer.

thanks for posting.

Thanks for reading, Masum!

I am new at this but I love photography. I have always wanted to become an prefessional photgrapher. So every tips is important for me. thanks for posting it 

You are very welcome, Hazel! Thank you for reading and good luck in your photographic adventures!

Thank you for the article

Any other recommendations on gloves?

I have a Canon EOS Rebel t6 and the weather is 22 degrees ferinheight right now. If I’m doing long exposures like star trails will it be okay for my image sensor to be open for around 30 minutes?

Hi Christofer,

The official minimum operating temperature for the T6, according to Canon, is 32F. Therefore, unfortunately, I cannot endorse your 22F nocturnal activities with the camera. However, if you have the camera insured...

Most of the manufacturers list their minimum operating temp at 32f so that when something goes wrong at colder temps they can deny your warranty claim, but I shot at -40f to -65f routinely for about 6 months with a Nikon D810 (the camera would begin to malfunction after about 40 min at that temp, but come back when warm), and while there is the possibility that I took some clicks off my camera's life, I've had no issues with it.  I was fortunate enough to be shooting in a desert so condensation wasnt an issue, but if you're worried you can seal seams with Super 88 and use the ziploc bag as mentioned. 

Hey Alexander,

I, too, have performed operations outside of the camera's published operating limits with no ill effects. But, as I am working at and representing B&H when I reply to these comments, I cannot officially endorse using equipment outside of the guidelines imposed by the limits of their respective environmental specifications.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Great article. 

Should you also put any extra batteries you have in a plastic bag as well and let them warm up before charging them? 

What are your thoughts on keeping your camera close to your body while outside traveling to the shoot location? Would the sudden change from warm to cold affect the camera? 

Hey AnthonyJOH,

Yes, you might want to make sure the batteries are completely dry before re-charging them. Also, let them warm up a bit before scientific backup for that thought, I just know that warmer batteries perform better than cold ones, so my guess is they charge better as well.

I often try to keep my camera inside my jacket—mostly for the batteries—and I haven't had condensation issues that I recall. If you were exerting yourself and building up a lot of moisture under the jacket, that might cause issues. Most modern cameras are pretty tolerant of the cold, it is the batteries that suffer.

Thanks for the questions!

There is scientific backup for not charging cold batteries.  If the charger does not automatically disable cold battery charging, the batteries can be permanently damaged by trying to charge them.  Nearly all battery manufacturers (Li-Ion) use OC (32F) for the lower end of a charging range.  The charging process will slightly warm the batteries as well. 

If your charger has temperature cutoff circuitry, your batteries will sit in the charger until they warm enough to begin charging.  So, in this case, you could put the batteries in the charger safely even if they were very cold.

Hey, really thanks alot for sharing this useful information. Helpful really helpful.

You are welcome, Susan! Thanks for reading!

This is a really good and more necessary idea. I have got more necessary information. thank you so much for this best idea

Dr. Rasel Khan,

I am glad you think we have the best ideas! Thanks for reading our good ideas!

HI  Todd Vorenkamp

It's really awesome writing what i see ever now regarding this subject and really feeling glad and happy. i love your write and want to connect with you.I think you are best photographer i think i can help you using some clipping path

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Thank You

I am feeling the love, Clipping Path! Thank you for your fifth comment on this article!

Love your response, Todd. Seriously, I nearly spewed food everywhere when I read it. Best comment ever to these annoying automatic crap comments. 

Thanks, Trista! I am sure we haven't heard the last from Clipping Path! Stand by for more! 

Have you tried Manzella gloves?  I use them outside and shoot in manual and can easily play with everything.  They also have two fingers that can be used on a touchscreen.  I use a Nikon D3200 and have had great success with these gloves, and living in Chicago they get a lot of wear.

Hey Tim,

I haven't tried that brand, but I think someone else pitched them in the comments a long time ago. Thanks for the hot tip and thanks for reading!

I didn't realize that batteries were affected by cold temperatures! I'm just breaking into photography, so I still have a lot to learn about cameras and how they work. I knew the batteries could be affected by heat, but it's good to know that cold temperatures cause them to discharge faster.

Hi Georgia! Yep, the cold is the true enemy of the battery!

Thanks for reading! Stay warm!

Learnt it the hard way long ago. When travelling to Armenia for Christmas about 10 years ago, with sub zero temperatures, during New Year, I realized my camera battries were not holding for more than a few photos... Had to buy a new camera, which used AA battries, and kept buying battries, thinking no good battries are available i Armenia :(

Bummer, Ohan!

I do know that some modern digital cameras have adapters/battery trays that accept AA batteries....a great thing!

Thanks for stopping by! Sorry for your bad luck!

Good post that you are share.............

For the fourth time....

Thanks, clipping path s! It is so nice of you all to keep complimenting this article!

Hi, great article. Only one question. What about going from a heated room into the cold. Do you have to worry about condensating conditions going out, as well as coming in?


Hi Ethan,

Nope! If you did, your hot beverage would have condensation on it when you walked out of your favorite coffee shop or if you drove your car out of a warm garage on a cold day.

It only happens when cold objects come into warmer environments.

Thanks for reading! Good question!

Great acticle. I was wondering myself if it was ok to bring my Canon out in the cold. Do you reccommend a Ziploc bag to keep gear in?

Hey Arlo,


Yep, you can bring your Canon out in the cold. I would probably try gallon-sized freezer they close is up to you! The "freezer" part isn't really needed, but freezer bags are more heavy duty than standard plastic storage bags, in my experience.

Good luck!

While the idea of putting your camera in a plastic bag is a good one, I'd take it a step or two further. Carry a plastic trash bag to enclose your entire camera bag. All of your equipment will be cold not just the camera with which you're shooting. Also carry a small sandwhich bag. As someone else mentioned you memory card will be cold. The small bag will keep it dry while it warms.

Thanks for the tip, Sig! One more reason to buy more shares in Glad and/or Ziploc! Happy New Year!

If you take your memory card out of the camera before putting it in plastic bag and going inside, why wouldn't condensation then happen on the memory card since it's going from cold, dry air to warm, humid air without the benefit of warming up gradually?  Did I miss something here or does moisture on the contacts not cause damage unless they're making an electrical connection?  Would it not warm gradually and condensation free in the camera within the plastic bag?

Hey Pat,

Good question!

The goal is to avoid condensation on the memory card contacts when they are in the camera, as electrical current flows from the camera to the card. Moisture there could be problematic. Cards are usually almost all plastic, so that helps limit the amount of sweat you would get with them.

Additionally, removing the card before you seal the camera will allow you, when the card warms, to start uploading and enjoying your images!

Thanks for your question! I hope I gave a good answer!

Anonymous wrote:

If you take your memory card out of the camera before putting it in plastic bag and going inside, why wouldn't condensation then happen on the memory card since it's going from cold, dry air to warm, humid air without the benefit of warming up gradually?  Did I miss something here or does moisture on the contacts not cause damage unless they're making an electrical connection?  Would it not warm gradually and condensation free in the camera within the plastic bag?

The thermal mass of the memory card is so low that it will reach room temp in a very short period of time relative the camera it is taken from. 

I was waiting for someone smarter than me to chime in! Thanks, Tom!

Todd, an excellent article, as usual. 

Even though I shoot a lot in the cold and precipitation, I have not much to add for you really did a great job in outlining what needs to be done and what to watch out for.

 I would strongly recommend a very warm down coat, a woven Thinsulate cap, flannel lined outer pants, fingerless gloves or mittens and overshoes for your regular footwear.

For below freezing air, I suggest rag wool Thinsulate lined fingerless gloves with a mitten pull over as against just fingerless gloves. Believe me, your fingertips will appreciate the lined mittens. Be sure to get the kind of glove that allows an exposed thumb as well, not just the fingers.

For my feet I wear my regular shoes and socks plus an overshoe boot made by Neos called the Overshoes Villager. This is the best footwear solution I have found for the cold. $150 cold weather boots do not work as well. The secret is the insulation your regular shoe provides.

Final tips: 1. If the weather is less than 20°F, I am ready to stuff hand warming packets in my shoes or gloves. 2.  I carry 8" square terry cloth polishing towels in my pockets to wipe snow and water off the camera. 3. I carry the extra camera batteries in my shirt pocket for maximizing their warmth. 

Again, very good article full of real information.

Hi Dennis!

Thanks for the kind words!

Great tips with the clothes and gloves. Yes, staying warm is a top priority. You can take care of your gear, but if you are cold and miserable, you will not enjoy being outside and making photos!

Thanks for reading!

Execilent photoshoting tips.....Thanks for share your informative post...I think another infomativve post you share very shortly i will also wating..........

Thanks, Clipping! This is the third time you have commented on the article...and said the same thing. A new record...even for a spam bot!

Thanks for the great hints!

-Televue Optical ( has some excellent suggestions for cold weather astronomy that should work well for photography too. After several minutes in the cold, a lens will develop condensation, no matter what you do. Televue suggests a lens warmer or a lens hood to keep the circulation in your favor.  Then cover the gear before bringing it where it's warm.

-- A microfiber lens cleaner is a good item to carry, for wiping off condensation. It's agood idea to clean your gear and optical surfaces before you leave so you will have less chance of scratches when you wipe it off.

--You can also buy small packs of dessicant for the inside of the bag.

--Inevitably, gear gets banged around more in the cold when you are trying to rummage through your sack, so I have also used a protective case.

Much can be said for simplicity and a simple backup camera like an underwater one. Years ago we ski-hiked the Jungfrau area and a friend had a Hasselblad, a top-range Nikon, and a Kodak Instamatic.  I don't have to tell you which was the only one that did not freeze up, but at least we said the Hasselblad made a nice pillow.

Hey 14erphoto,

Thanks for sharing the Televue link! They make some amazing optics.

Your other tips are great as well! Am I the only person out there who detests the feel of microfiber?

Thanks for the tale about the Hasselblad pillow! I hear that frozen cameras also make great paperweights and door stops, too!

Your friends in the other "shooting sport" have the gloves you are looking for. Hunding gloves have a mitten cap that pulls back (and stays back with a velcro dot) to expose open finger tip gloves. Just go to a sporting goods store or Wally-world.

Thanks, Steven!

We have some too! Check out these gloves:

We actually have about 70 different SKUs...

Thanks for reading!

I have a pair of those gloves.  The only problem with them it that the thumb doesn't have a flap to expose it.  So, I made a cut on the underneath (and to the first joint) where your thumb would be and it works well.  I also put in a few stitches since when I cut the gloves there are several layers.  That way the stuffing stays in the gloves.

Thanks for the tip, Karen! You sound pretty resourceful! 

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