Perhaps a few of you reading this post received a new camera over the holidays. With today’s technology, that can be anything from a smart phone to a point and shoot to a DSLR. Now, let me ask you (especially those that have or received a camera). Where is it? Where has it been while you were out sledding with your family? Where was it when your kids were baking treats and covered with flour? Please, please, don’t tell me sitting in a camera bag in a closet. Please, please, don’t tell me you have this beautiful technology to capture those fleeting moments you so desperately want to freeze and now you’re too afraid to get it dirty or wet or cold or scratched.
Sure, cameras do have their physical limitations. You can’t take them underwater; drop them from tall buildings or run over them with your car. You need to use common sense. But, they aren’t so fragile that they need to be stored inside with your fine china. They can take a bump, a sprinkle, a drop of bubble juice and not break. I speak from experience. I had to overcome my own fears of my camera disintegrating out in the elements. I took this image of my daughter while out sledding with my family. I love that you can sense how excited she is about playing in the snow.
Here are some tips for using your camera in the snow or other semi-adverse conditions:
1. Be safe. I keep my camera in an all weather bag when in snow or rain. There are several models available. I have this one from Lowepro. I like that I can easily slide it to the front of my body to get my camera.
2. But still use it. When it’s wet or messy outside, I take my camera out of the bag to capture some images and then put it back in when I’m ready to be messy myself. Yes, it’s really that simple. If it’s pouring rain or very wet, you can purchase a plastic shield that will cover the entire camera minus the lens opening. In a pinch, you also could use a plastic bag.
3. Avoid ‘Auto’ mode in snow. Here’s why: The camera’s light meter will see all that white from the snow and think you need to reduce the exposure by, for example, slowing the shutter speed or narrowing the aperture. If you do this, the resulting photograph will be dark, and the snow will look drab or even gray. Try switching to Manual mode (come one, just do it) and increasing the shutter speed so the camera tells you the image will be overexposed (but, again, it’s wrong). You might have to take a few images and check the back of your camera to get it right. If the image starts to appear too bright, you can dial back the shutter speed a bit.
I hope this post gave you the courage to take your camera with you on your next snowy outing. While here in Wisconsin, we can easily tire of snow, but it’s sheer magic to children, and you can photograph some beautiful expressions, not to mention fun moments you’ll cherish forever.