So I was reading my camera’s user manual recently, where I discovered that the optimum temperature range in which to operate it (the camera, not the manual) falls between 0 and 40ºC. That’s great in areas like Africa or Arizona, but what of Canuckistan where it can get much colder. A few nights back I went to shoot my favourite pulp mill at -9ºC and the camera worked just fine. I can’t say the same about my fingers.
Then last night, while driving home from friends I decided to stop at Dragon Lake – another of my favourite spots to shoot. It was just after 9pm and -20ºC (-4ºF). I parked the car and
waded walked out onto the frozen lake.
And this time the camera did take strain … It didn’t want to shoot at the aperture I was asking it to shoot, the lens was making some pretty concerning wheezing, squeaking noises, and I couldn’t seem to push the ISO above 100. The controls worked intermittently and I also had to tape the focus ring in place …
The tripod too got so cold that it burnt my fingers whenever I touched the metal pieces.
Despite all those challenges I did manage a few shots – anything but perfect, of course, but considering the challenges, I’m happy. After all, how often does one get to shoot at -20ºC at night while standing on a lake?