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Photography in Arctic conditions.

Discussion in 'Sub Zero' started by DaveBromley, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. DaveBromley

    DaveBromley Full Member

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    Hi Guys

    Last year i went to Kittila Finland, with a few guys from the forum. I cold camped, while the other guys used hot tents. I enjoyed the cold camping but obviously found it difficult to keep sensitive gear warm enough that it was still usable. For example i took a cheapy compact (£80 or so) and it got so cold that there were some tortured sounds that didn't sound conducive to its operation.

    Fast forward to Feb of next year and we are going to be going again to sub zero temps, I have since my last trip gotten into photography, and invested in a decent camera (£1000 or so with a couple of lenses) and obviously cant keep this equipment on my person at all times, so the question is, how to take something like that on a trip similar to the one that i'll be taking and ensure not only decent function whilst there, but also any function when we return.

    Your thoughts are gratefully received.

    Thanks

    Dave
     
  2. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    The main issue tends to be batteries which need to be kept warm. The camera itself is usually OK down to -20 degrees C, although the specifications are usually more pessimistic, but the batteries need to be warmer to work properly. I usually keep a couple of spare batteries in my pockets and rotate them with the ones in the camera to stop them getting too cold.

    Below -20 there is a risk of the liquid crystal displays freezing which can potentially cause permanent damage. The solution usually suggested is to keep the camera inside your clothing, just taking it out for use.

    However, moving a cold camera into a warm, humid environment can be a camera killer, especially if it is taken back into the cold which can freeze any condensation formed inside the camera.

    I put an article on my Ice-Raven site a while ago which has a lot more information and proposes a few solutions based upon my limited experience.
     
  3. DaveBromley

    DaveBromley Full Member

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    Gary you are a font of knowledge.

    Thanks i'll take a look at the article on Ice raven, having seen some of the shots you've taken though i wouldn't call your experience limited by any stretch lol. My camera isnt the best you can buy by any means, but its the best I could buy at the time ha ha, and i wouldnt want it breaking on me.

    Thanks

    Dave
     
  4. bopdude

    bopdude Full Member

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    Sorry to jump in, been reading the pages wide eyed at the shots, we're off to Northern Sweden in January, would a budget camera work as in nothing to fancy ? If kept warm and plenty of spare batteries etc.

    Thanks.
     
  5. DaveBromley

    DaveBromley Full Member

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    There was a lad that came with us last year (Pheastos of this parish), he used a bridge camera, nothing to extravagant but a bit better than your average point and click, he got some great images but had to devote a fair bit of time to looking after the kit.

    Not sure if that answers your question though lol

    Dave
     
  6. bopdude

    bopdude Full Member

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    Thanks, that's food for thought, I'll have to look at budget closer to the time of going, I'll get the best I can afford at that time.

    Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk
     
  7. DaveBromley

    DaveBromley Full Member

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    good idea, he took some epic shots, there is a trade off between time spent enjoying the surroundings and time sent looking through a lens. I'm worried i might miss something whilst trying to catch it on "film" as it were. But at the same time its difficult to show other people what you experienced when it only exists inside your own head lol

    Dave
     
  8. bopdude

    bopdude Full Member

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    That's my view as well, trying to convey 'the nature' as will be seen by us, magical.

    Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk
     
  9. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Spare batteries are your greatest friend in those conditions. Keep some in your pocket.

    Most cameras will do the job if you keep them from getting too cold and swap out the batteries from time to time.

    The trick is not to let the camera get too cold before putting it back under your clothing or you will get condensation problems.
     
  10. bopdude

    bopdude Full Member

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    Thanks for the tips, I just thought, better pick a phone that's not the rechargeable type battery.

    Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk
     
  11. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    Dad had his digital camera modified = a fake/dummy battery pack to fill the hole and another battery pack in his shirt pocket with a long cable which plugged into the camera.
     
  12. bopdude

    bopdude Full Member

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    Yeah, I see Wayland is / was experimenting with the same thing.
     
  13. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Sometimes workshop modifications can also be done to replace the lubricants for low temp versions too.

    That can cause problems in higher temps though.

    I do use the battery modification sometimes.
     
  14. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    I'm running my GMC Suburban with synthetic lubricant. I'm told it's made for jet engines as the viscosity does not change with temperature, like regular engine oil.
    Cold start cranking at -25C is about the same as +25C (engine is 454/7.6l ) Don't see why that concept can't work in a camera.

    Now that you mention it, Dad did say that he found some camera guy to clean some shutter parts and replace them with silicone? I think he said.
     
  15. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    The problem can be that if it is OK at low temperature it can get sloppy at higher temps which can lead to it migrating to places it shouldn't be.

    The last thing you want is a mirror mechanism flicking lube onto lens surfaces for example.
     
  16. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    Synthetic is always the same viscosity.
    I figured that it would help to crank the 454 at -20C when compared to the cold sludge of regular oils.
    Judging by sound and the amps current draw at the starter, it seems to be as claimed.
    Plus, it won't leave the cylinder walls dry.

    Anyway, I should not think that I'd need enough camera lubricant to ever be spitting internally.
    A wipe for the meerest smear of a film would be my start.

    The University of Alaska runs a research facility called the Poker Flat Research Range.
    Aurora borealis stuff, I think. I wonder what they do with their cameras?
     
  17. C_Claycomb

    Mod

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    When I was in Alberta in the winter doing stuff with Mors I made myself a little battery carrier for camera and head torch batteries that I could hang around my neck, under my clothes. I found that pockets were not reliable for keeping things warm unless they were both close to the skin and covered in insulation on the outside. Stuff in trouser pockets got cold because I was wearing wool underwear/longjohns and the trousers didn't offer a lot of insulation to the pocket contents. Coat pockets were worse. When I went to bed the battery carrier could still be worn under clothes and inside sleeping bag.
     
  18. bopdude

    bopdude Full Member

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    That sounds like a plan to me, I have a small pouch which might just do the job.
     
  19. DavidJT

    DavidJT Full Member

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    Like a version of this, but just with a longer cable, and battery pack in an inner pocket...

    [video=youtube_share;4OXD3ENA_UA]https://youtu.be/4OXD3ENA_UA[/video]

    Swapping several batteries around as Gary suggests will work fine though too.

    Someone I worked with had the screen of his laptop freeze solid when on a professional shoot in the alps, so shouldn't get the camera too cold. Condensation is the enemy as Gary says.
     

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