To say that this has been a cold winter would be among my greatest understatements. As an employee for a district that has canceled school for 5 days in less than three weeks due to a persistent arctic air mass, I've had to start and stop classes far too many times for my taste.
Like any nature photographer worth one's salt, I've taken advantage of these über cold days in order to document life in an icebox and retain some street cred with the crowd I teach.
For those looking to shoot the cold, might I suggest the following:
- When the temps drop below -5 ℉, dress in layers. This includes thermals (I like Ibex woolies), fleece and down. Put on the "moon boots" (mine are Keen Summit County III's), and double up on the gloves (I wear Rab down mittens over Manzella hatchbacks). Dig out that fleece line headsock and eat some protein and fat before walking out the door.
- Be prepared to work slowly and deliberately. Frigid cold coupled with a slight breeze will numb and ultimately freeze your exposed extremities. I can work for hours if I'm captivated by a place and take the time to conserve energy, but once I'm spent, I'll take a hike, generate some heat or move to somewhere warm.
- Know when to say when! It is essential that you have an exit strategy and pay attention to how your body is responding to the extreme cold. If you begin to feel "the hammers" in you fingers and toes, it's time to cover up, exercise or call it a day.
The shots pictured were made at temperatures as varied as 5 ℉ to -22 ℉. Taken at different places and different times, I was always dressed appropriately and prepared to bail when my body told me it was time to go.
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