How to keep your hands warm when shooting outdoors
As unpleasant as the cold and wet weather can be to work in, it sure does set the scene for some incredible shooting opportunities. Frost covered landscapes, snow-capped mountains and wet, murky wilderness add necessary contrast to fair-weather portfolios, but one challenge to overcome is how to keep your hands warm when shooting outdoors.
The difficulty this challenge presents is that you need to be able to handle your equipment and operate it while retaining the ability to feel your fingers. Of course, gloves are critical to the solution, but they can equally hinder your efforts to have functioning and warm hands outdoors because there are a few things to take into consideration: wind and waterproof protection, thermal properties, dexterity and grip. These considerations will vary depending on the weather and how it affects you; some people are prone to feeling the cold while other people will be more resilient. What you may find is that you need different combinations to help keep your hands warm, dry and functional, so here are a few tidbits of advice.
It may sound like common sense, but ensuring you eat properly before a cold-weather shoot will help your metabolism to help fight off the cold. Your body works to keep itself warm, using calories in the process, so enrich your breakfast with some slow-releasing carbs like porridge or pancakes, and throw in some high-calorie foods as well. It’s also a great idea to stash some snack bars into your camera bag so you can keep topping up on fuel throughout the day.
Similarly, drinking plenty of fluids will also help keep your metabolism working, but be sure to avoid diuretics like caffeine which promotes dehydration, and alcohol which lowers your body temperature after some time.
One of the best ways to keep your body warm and dry in cold conditions is to layer up, and this idea can also be applied to your hands.
Liner gloves are typically full-fingered and made from soft thin material, like merino wool or cotton. They’re designed to be worn as the base-layer for your hands, that are to be worn underneath a top layer glove. The great thing about liner gloves is that they can be easily worn all year-round for general use.
Depending on how chilly the conditions are, and how cold you’re prone to getting, you can use as many or as few layers as you need for your hands.
An outer glove will typically be thicker than a liner glove, and it’ll usually have more features to help you battle the elements. These features and properties can include waterproof material, wind-blocking fabrics, zipped pockets and drawstring cuffs. The Heat Company specialises in cold-weather technology that keeps your hands warm and dry, no matter the conditions. Their recommendation is a three-step layering system using a liner, shell and hood method.
If the temperature outside is mild, but it’s raining, or you’re shooting in wet conditions, consider forgoing the thermal layer and opt for a waterproof one instead. SealSkinz is famed for impenetrable waterproof technology, and their Ultra Grip gloves are a testament to that. Constructed from knitted fabric, these gloves are water and windproof while remaining breathable, and they can even be submerged in water and still keep your hands dry.
Mittens are a fantastic way of keeping your hands warm, but they can prevent you from using your equipment properly. However, there are a few different styles of mittens available; some even allow you to detach the top half so you can retain the heat in your hands while exposing the fingers for ease of use. Ideal if you have a liner pair of gloves underneath.
We also think mittens are helpful to have in your pack for when you’re in between shots or transitioning between locations.
Many people who spend any considerable length of time outdoors will use hand warmer packets to help keep their fingers toasty as well.
These are little sachets, usually disposable, which contain a cocktail of ingredients which, when coming into contact with oxygen, produces an exothermic reaction to give off heat. In extremely cold conditions, some people will pop one in their camera bag to help regulate the temperature, but be careful not to pierce the sachet as the salts can interfere with your equipment.
Shutter release cable
Another handy piece of kit to help keep your hands warm when shooting outdoors is a shutter release cable. This device connects to your camera via wire or wireless, and once you programme the settings, you can take photos without having to handle the camera. That means you can be fully gloved up and warm, and still get your shot by using a simple button on a hand-held remote. Of course, this is ideal if you're using a tripod and you’re taking stills of a specific shot.
It may take some trial and error to find the right layering system, or pieces of kit to help keep your hands warm when shooting outdoors, but it's well worth the investigation so you can perform your best and capture incredible footage.
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