If you have read the 2 previous articles “Polar Bear Cubs – Part 1” and “Polar Bear Cubs – Part 2”, you are almost ready to head out and do some extreme shooting in the Arctic of polar bear cubs.
- Stability – We are always shooting the bears & cubs from 100 yards or so away. Remember, polar bears do consider humans a food source, but mom will stay with her cubs and leave us alone. The use of stable tripods with big glass is very important. Most use some sort of a gimbel head either from Wimberly (www.tripodhead.com) or 4th Generations Design (www.4gdphoto.com).
- Batteries – Whatever you think of battery use throw out the window. Batteries in an extreme cold environment, simply do not last long. I was shooting with my Canon 1D4 for the most part and generally went through 2 batteries per day. Surprisingly, many using the Canon 7D only used 1 set of batteries all day and often carried through to the next day with the same set (quite amazing). On a heavy shooting day, you should have 2 spare batteries on hand and keep them inside your warm parka as close to your body as possible to keep them fully charged. Remember the “hot hands” used inside your gloves and boots? Use one of these in your pocket with your batteries you should have no problems.
The big item of concern when shooting in extreme winter conditions is condensation, when you are finished shooting at the end of the day and ready to pack up your gear and head indoors. CONDENSATION is your enemy. Anyone who wears eye glasses knows that when you have been outdoors in the cold for an extended period of time and then comes into the warm humid environment of the indoors their glasses will immediately frost up over the entire surface area.
Expensive camera bodies and lenses with frost build up on them can cause damage and potentially make this equipment unusable when needed later that day or the next. To avoid this problem, simply carry your camera bag outside with you and pack up all your gear in your bag while still in the out doors. DO NOT open your pack for a few hours, so as to allow the contents to warm up to room temperature. This action alone will prevent any frost from building up on your equipment and secure your investment.
So properly prepared extreme cold shooting shouldn’t scare you off from going out. Get out there and have fun, but keep warm.