Hot Weather Photography

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Back in December we talked about cold weather photography, and ways to protect your gear (and yourself!) from the elements. Well, June is almost upon us, so now we’re going to talk about hot weather photography.

This is a subject that is very pertinent to my life, since living in Arizona means we experience 115F/46C+ degree weather in the summertime. That, my friends, is some hostile conditions. So here are some tips for dealing with extreme heat.

One – Stay indoors. This one is kind of a “duh,” no-brainer kind of tip. But if you put your mind to it, you might find that there are ample indoor-photography opportunities that you haven’t considered before. The mall can offer great product, fashion, and portrait/family/candid photography opportunities. Go to the museum (check to see if they allow photography, first!) and photograph ancient artifacts or works of art. Go to indoor sporting events and practice your action photography. Practice your macro photography on the plants and flowers that can be found in the gardening section of such places as Lowe’s or Home Depot (the light tends to be great in those areas, too).

Two – Choose your time of day wisely. The coolest part of the day is just before sunrise (the light is best then, too!). If you find yourself needing to do some outdoor photography, set your alarm and plan to be done by 8:00 a.m. if you can manage it. Just after sunset is good, too, but the heat has had all day to gather and bake into the ground and surfaces, so radiant heat is still a problem. Summertime is a great time to practice your celestial photography, too. You can’t get much cooler than the middle of the night!

Three – Protect your gear. Don’t leave your camera and your memory cards in the car! Digital cameras all have something called a “min/max operating temperature”, meaning they perform best within a certain temperature range. For example, my Canon Digital Rebel operates best between 32 – 104°F/0 – 40°C. Check your camera’s specifications to find out your optimal range. Most memory cards are safe between 13 – 185ºF/-25 – 85ºC. Your car can heat up to a much higher temperature than the air outside, so take that into consideration! Purchase a UV filter for your camera’s lens to offer greater protection, but remember never to point your lens directly at the sun! Don’t leave your gear laying out in direct sunlight – drape a towel or cloth over it to provide shade, and even if your camera is in the camera bag, keep it shaded so it doesn’t heat up.

Four – Protect yourself. Water. Let me say it again, water. And one more time for the people in the back, water! Hydrate well and often to protect yourself from dehydration. Apply sunblock liberally and frequently. Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your face – it has the added benefit of shading the camera lens. Wear long sleeved, loose fitting shirts made of light, breathable material and in a light color. Dark colors absorb heat, light colors reflect heat! Wear sunglasses attached to a lanyard so you can take them off and let them dangle around your neck while you take pictures. Take breaks at regular intervals, and find shade to rest in.

I hope these tips help you to continue with your photography efforts this summer. Please feel free to share more hot weather photography tips in the comments!

Photo Credits (all): Tiffany Joyce.

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