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Tips and tricks

Photography of mammals in winter

Photo school

In the winter season there are lots of nice opportunities to photograph. Even simple landscapes become more beautiful and breathe a different, enchanting atmosphere as in a fairy-tale. It is really the time to grab your camera and off you go to nature!However, one or two safety rules must be kept to protect your equipment and yourself from the harm of winter.
Photo: © János Szekeres

NIKON D3, 80-200 mm f/2.8 f/5 1/125 s ISO 1250
Primary rules:
- wear several layers of warm clothing, especially protect your hands and feet
- always take something to drink as you lose more fluid in cold than usual
- charge you batteries completely. Coldness primary affects batteries, they lose energy faster in cold weather.
For this reason keep your camera near your body as long as you can. It is worth taking extra batteries with you and keep them in your pocket, so you could change batteries if necessary. You can also put heating elements into your bag.
Carry your equipment in a bag or backpack to protect it from moisture. Cameras are delicate electronical devices, it is advisable to keep some rules to protect them. In case of interchangeable lens cameras, the change should be done as quick as possible and in a protected place. Never do it in wind and during snowfall outdoors as humidity can get into the inner parts of the camera.
If you want to work with the taken pictures at home immediately, then take the card off the camera at the end of the shooting in the cold and put it in your pocket to warm it up. Before taking it out, leave your equipment at least for an hour in the bag, so it has time to warm up to room temperature. The worst enemy of cameras is moisture and condensation. Cold air has low level of humidity, therefore the problem does not derive from going out of the warm room to the cold air or staying outdoor, but when we go back from the coldness to the warmth. In that case not just the glass of the lens gets misted up but mist can get into the internal parts of the camera easily. To avoid that we have to warm the camera up to room temperature gradually. Never place it near to the radiator or any heating source, but put it in the colder part of the room. If you take these advices, you won't have unpleasant surprises.
Where should we shoot? What should we photograph?
You can find even more themes than in other seasons as even the simple, flat landscape get nicer and enchanting when the fresh snow covers and hides the disturbing elements.
If you want to capture animals in snowfall, then make sure to expose at least about 1/60 – 1/80 shutter speed. At this shutter speed snowflakes will be a bit blurred and look bigger and in motion. Snowflakes will look like white lines in the picture due to their movement during exposure time, and this reflects very well the real sight of a snowfall. Choose a dark background if possible, as it highlights the snowfall even more clearly.
Photo: © János Szekeres

NIKON D100, 18-270 mm f/3.5-6.3 f/11 1/125 s ISO 400
I like this season very much, animals are much calmer too, they do not hide too much but are on the move almost all day looking for their food. But be careful and move cautiously as at this season they have less calorie than needed, so being disturbed may cost their lives.
I recommend the usage of hide tents or other hides built on the ground in advance. A well-chosen hide and some feeding can result in successful photos. Of course, the field has to be studied in advance and it is worth taking the professional advices and experiences of the hunters.
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