Photographing the Northern Lights – Part 4

Your trip up North to see Auroras will certainly be memorable.

However, remember that it will be cold and you will be standing outside for long periods of time. To make your experience as enjoyable as possible, be sure to dress appropriately to stay warm (see 5 Tips to Stay Warm when Photographing in Cold Weather). Also, consider protecting your equipment from cold and humidity. My heart sinks when I see frost on my camera and favorite lens, not to mention the sickening noise of the shutter when it starts freezing… So here are some tips and protective gear that I use for my camera and lenses.

Humidity for your DSLR is just … bad!

When shooting auroras, you have to remove the protective filter on your lens. Never, ever breathe on your lens or your will get frost immediately – if it happens, do not try to clean it or you will scratch the lens. Just pack it in, let it defrost slowly indoor and clean it very carefully. When not shooting, put your lens cover on. There is not much else that you can do to protect your lens.

Frost on 14-24 mm lens. Halo in the middle and distorted picture.

Frost on 14-24 mm lens. Halo in the middle and distorted picture.

When it is way below zero Celsius, a layer of frost will form on your camera and lens -frost that will melt and turn into water when bringing your equipment indoor. When it is above zero Celsius and humid, droplets of water will form on your camera and lens. A friend told me about water dripping off cameras while shooting in Yellowknife last September. Lots of humidity by the lake!

Because of my experience with cold weather photography, I was asked by a small Vancouver company to partake in the development and testing of a new line of products aimed at protecting cameras in cold conditions. I have been using and testing their camera covers for the past 3 years on each of my trips up North, providing feedback to perfect the products. The Camera Parka keeps my camera dry all night, protects from cold and greatly extends my battery life -not to mention that it helps prevent the shutter from freezing. I am looking forward to give a full review of the final products when they are released in early fall this year.

Now, time to pack  your bags and head up North!