Shooting in Cold Climates – Scandinavia February 2018

Technical Info:

Our expedition to Finland and Norway in February 2018 with Ignacio Palacios was a spectacular trip.  We enjoyed incredible sightings of the Northern Lights, and we gained great experience in learning to shoot effectively in sub-zero temperatures (down to -29 degrees C).

Firstly, when shooting in very cold climates – especially at night –you need really good clothing to ensure you remain as comfortable as possible.  You can sometimes wait around a long time for the Northern Lights to dance for you. I believe you need good-quality, full length mittens in sub-zero temperatures.  I was fortunate to pick up a seal skin pair with fur lining.  Inside those, it’s important to have inner gloves to keep your hands as warm as possible.  Hand and toe warmers are also very useful as you can be out in the snow for hours at a time.  We bought the disposable ones from our local Chemist.

You must also carry a good cleaning cloth and a blower, because in extreme cold you will have ice forming on your camera and lens.  Make sure you check your lens regularly, or you will have soft images.

You need a reliable head torch so you can clearly see where you are going – one that is powerful enough to paint the foreground if you want to do that.  If you want to do night or astro-photography, be sure you have your lens set to infinity.  It is preferable to focus on infinity in the light, then tape the lens so it doesn’t move.  Many people we travelled with had focusing issues, as they were trying to focus in the dark.

If you are walking in snowshoes at night, it is advisable to have someone with you. If you fall down through a tree, or into a hole, it can very difficult to get up or untangle yourself.  So, it’s wise to have a buddy along with you.

When shooting the Northern Lights, or doing any type of astro-photography, you need to consider what your foreground is going to be. Without an interesting composition, you may get great colour in the Northern Lights, but your images will lack scale and connection.  Just like a photograph of a sunrise or sunset needs to be more than just a sunrise or sunset, so it is with astro-photography.  What makes these images successful, is when you connect them to the landscape.

Personal Notes:

We enjoyed the company of Ray Martin and several other keen photographers on this trip, which was great.  The northern lights we witnessed in Norway were sensational, dancing right across the skies.  It made any fireworks display or light show I’ve ever seen look average in comparison with this amazing natural phenomenon.  It has to be one of the greatest spectacles I have ever seen.  The lights lasted for hours and after a while, Ray, myself and some other photographers put our cameras down to just drink in the experience.  Ray said that in all his years travelling around the world as a journalist, seeing many sensational sunrises and sunsets, the Northern Lights was the most spectacular display of nature he had ever seen.

It’s amazing how having other photographers along, can inspire you to get out there and get as many photos as you can.  Sometimes when you’re on our own, you can become complacent.  But when you’re with others, you are always encouraging and pushing each other.

That’s why I offer workshops and expeditions to encourage photographer’s to join in and rediscover their inspiration. Whether you are new to photography, or an experienced shooter wanting to hone your techniques, there are many different photographic workshops that provide inspiring fun-filled adventures, in the most spectacular locations. Click here to find out what workshops and expeditions are coming up.

If you would like to be the first to know when we launch a new photographic workshop or expedition, then please join my free VIP Club by clicking here.

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Ken Duncan is well known as the pioneer of Limited Edition Photographic Art in Australia. After a visit to New York in the early 1980’s, Ken returned home with a dream to have photography widely accepted as an art form in this country. Read More..