Photos and article by: Drake Rekowski - Green River Creative
The phrase no risk, no reward applies to most things in life, and especially to photography/videography.
As seasoned photographers and videographers know, the harsher the weather, the stronger the feeling you can generate from an image. Images from shots taken in these elements can create a dynamic sensation not typically felt from a golden hour or bluebird sky image. This is often done through trial and error and risking your gear for that pivotal shutter click.
When in the field, some of the best hunts we can have are those cool, 45-degree days with a light breeze and a setting sun. However, some of the most memorable hunts we can have are the ones where we feel like we are risking our comfort and our gear to be in the elements. Negative temperatures and 15-20mph winds with snow are only scenes out of a book or movie if you never dare to live them yourself. Some of the most exciting hunts I have been on were just like this, and you guessed it…my camera was right there with me to capture the whole thing.
So, what can I do to capture that sensational shot in the elements?
First, let me set a premise here: the intention of this is not to be reckless with your gear, but rather be opportunistic in a way that makes the most sense to you. I bought my camera body and lenses weather-sealed so I'm always prepared for anything. When faced with weather challenges such as the examples mentioned above, I make sure to bring extra batteries and plenty of lens wipes to keep my glass and eye piece clean. Taking extra precautions like this will keep you in the field longer and allow you to not miss opportunities you might have normally been hesitant to take your camera out for. Please follow the guidelines of what your camera and lenses are capable of as it relates to weather sealing.
Your gear can take a lot more abuse than you probably think it should be able to take, but regardless of what you have, the most important thing in this type of weather is to keep your camera covered when it is not being used.
How do I store my gear after shooting in the elements?
When it is time to finish up for the day and you bring your camera gear home, let it air dry out. To do this, remove your lenses from the camera body and make sure water does not drip onto your sensor. You do not want moisture or mold to get into your camera or lens, so PLEASE DO NOT place your camera gear back in its case or wherever you store it until it naturally dries. Also, your gear is better off warming up to room temperature on its own, so I don't recommend using artificial heat dryers (such as a hair dryer) because it can displace water.
So, if you see an image in a magazine or online and wonder how they were able to get it, most of the time, they were willing to risk their gear for that image. At your own discretion and comfort level, start bringing your gear with you every time; not just on those perfect days, and you will be a lot happier that you did. Some of my recommendations may be new to you, but by the time it's over and you start processing your images, I have a feeling you will be much happier with the result. Memories are great, but as hunters we all know they are called hunting stories for a reason. Now you'll have the proof!