Negative 10f with Firestar Kennel aka: How to shoot in the cold


Photography – wise, I am a winter weather specialist. The colder it is, the happier I am, and so , it seems, is my equipment.  People always gasp when I tell them I spend so much time outdoors with my cameras in extreme temps.  “Won’t it freeze?” they ask.  “You’d better be careful, you don’t want to damage your equipment” is a personal favorite, as if I might damage $15,000 worth of photography gear on purpose.

The truth is, as long as you have high quality camera equipment and keep in a consistent temperature, you and your camera will be fine.  The worst sin in winter photography is keeping your camera warm.  Don’t do it.  If you shoot, and then bring it inside to warm up, and then take it outside again, all the condensation that builds up as the camera is thawing out will freeze inside your camera, causing major damage.  Instead, keep your camera one temp at all times, and keep extra fully charges batteries warm in your pocket with disposable hand warmers.  If your battery starts to wane, simply replace it with the new, warmer one, and warm up the old one.

This brings me to the clothing gear discussion.  Never, ever touch your bare skin to your camera.  That is asking for cold fingers, possibly worse, and less shooting time as a result.  Get high quality windproof gloves – I love Smartwool gloves for shooting, and I have mittens that go over the top when I am trying to warm up my hands.  If you feel your hands getting cold do huge arm circles… I’m serious.  Last year when I was shooting for The BOSS Snowplow it was -15 with a -30 wind chill.  I was making the entire creative staff do arm circles.  We looked like dorks, but no one got frostbite ;).

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Now on to the fabulous first daytime training run yesterday with Firestar Kennel!  I am following them for the year, and yesterday was downright amazing.  Not only did I get to shoot in -10 degrees and play with both dogs and my fun new 14mm Rokinon, but I got to drive a sled!!  You’ll see my feet at the end of the post – and the ground moving below them.  I was a bad sled driver by taking a photo, but I couldn’t help myself…  By the way,  a huge thank you to Al Krause for introducing me to this, and to Krystal, Josh, and Al for putting up with my incessant questions and photos.

First, here is video of the run from when I was a passenger on the sled. It was shot with my Canon 5D MK3 with the 14mm Rokinon. The dogs were going so fast!



It was -10 degrees as I mentioned above, with a windchill of -30.  It was brisk, but definitely fun, and the doggies were having a blast.


As you can see, a ton of work goes in to getting the dogs ready and making sure they are happy (they are WELL taken care of, I can assure you, and I would not be taking photos of this if they were not).  The snowmobile you see in the photos is used to break trails for the canines, and I love how the orange coordinates with the booties.  The dog in the kennel below is Firestar – the dog that the kennel is named after.  She’s now primarily a house dog, but she runs when she wants to!  Her nickname is porkchop… mostly because she has put on a bit of weight ;).


In one of the photos you see Al running next to the sled.  Humans don’t ride on the sled the whole time, they actually run with their team up the hills.  I get tired just thinking about it!

Enjoy the photos – I will bring more as training moves ahead.



A slideshow of images is now available to view – it may take a moment to load. (thanks Al for giving me this idea! 🙂 )



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