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Photography at minus 25 degrees

    I was given the opportunity to travel with my family to the far north of Finnish Lapland. An 8-day trip to the city of Saariselkä was planned. But what does a temperature of minus 25 degrees Celsius mean for execute photography & my gear. What about the batteries, the camera and certainly my own hands. I was expecting a beautiful nature, skies, sled dogs, a lot of unique photo sceneries I surely want to capture. So I started with investigation and preparing the trip up North.

    Just like everybody my research started on Google. We’re used to cold sub-zero winters in the Netherlands, but not comparable to the low temperatures it we would suffer in Finnish Lapland. What should I do or what not to do to make sure the gear survives throughout the trip so I could keep shooting.

    The first things I read was how to handle gear from cold to warm environments. Going from minus 20 outside to a nicely warm 20 degrees inside the apartment means a temperature difference of 40 degrees. This will cause a lot of condensation on your cold lenses and camera body. It is advised to leave your camera bag closed and leaf your stuff in to acclimatize. Although it’s very tempting to check the results right away when arriving at your stay, leave your gear in the bag!

    Batteries wont handle low temperatures. So the second tip I had is to keep the batteries close to your body so they would stay warm. Cold batteries will not be able to supply the camera it’s needed energy. My battery went dead after being in the camera body for a while during shooting. Warming the battery in one of the pockets of my jacket brought it back to life and I was able to use it again.

    We’ve stayed the whole week in Saariselka and its surroundings. A little village above the Artic circle in Finland. When we stayed the sun didn’t get above the horizon. It’s a strange experience when it’s dark most of the days, the sunrise went to sunset, without the sun getting over the horizon.

    One of the main reasons for people travelling that high up north. The Boralis Aurialius or easier: The Northern Light. Just outside of our apartment, after a 5 minute walk over the hills, you would find a viewing platform. It’s never sure if this miracle of nature will reveal itself. Earlier that evening I already made a photo of the stars in the sky and while not visible with my own eyes, the picture already showed parts of green coloring in the sky! Later that evening it showed up and I could start photographing. My Samyang 12mm full open at f2.0, to reduce the shutter speed. I started with far to long shutter speeds ending up in blurry green sky, but it lost all the details. The trick is to get somewhere in the middle and capture that unbelievable and unforgettable moment!