Cold Weather Photography-updated with hint!
Winter is here, bringing with it the challenge of photographing in cold weather. Personally, I have found two main challenges: Keeping your equipment warm, and keeping yourself warm.
High end DSLRs are extremely durable. My 40D itself doesn't need to be protected in any weather I've been in. I've dropped it in deep snow, shot in rain, dropped it on the ground, photographed in sub-zero temperatures (F). It does react to the cold in certain ways though. Scrolling through pictures on the LCD looks like a fading slideshow. This is not serious though. A more challenging issue is the battery. Many batteries will be drained by the cold. There is no total solution to this, but there are ways to compromise. Keep a spare battery in your pocket. Remove the battery from the camera and put it in your pocket during times when you are not shooting. The transition from cold to warm (inside) is another problem. I have gone through almost 100 degree transitions in a couple seconds, and this will cause severe condensation to form on the camera. A well known solution is putting your equipment inside a large plastic bag outside, sealing it tightly, and bring that inside. This has worked well for me. Don't take the camera out of the bag for half of an hour or more, depending on how cold it was outside. The bag must heat up to room temperature first. And the condensation will mostly form on the inside of the bag instead of on the camera. Those are the most major issues I've come across with keeping my equipment warm. You could build off this, and see what works for you.
I've had lots of trouble with keeping my body warm while shooting. Most of my body is easy to insulate, but the hands...
You must keeping yourself warm while maintaining nimbleness. It's very hard, but what I do is probably the best it gets. I use 40 gram wool gloves lined with merino wool. I can operate all of the controls on my camera quite easily. These are pretty warm, but I cold temperatures, this isn't enough. I have beaver mittens (see here and request a catalog. They are expensive, but very well made and warm.). I tie them to myself so I can slip out of them and they dangle at my wrists. I put these mittens on over my 40g gloves when I'm not shooting, just walking or setting up my tripod or waiting for the shot. If it is cold enough, I put chemical hand warmers inside these mittens to keep my hands warm.
HINT: Most hand-warmers have a life of 7-8 hours. I am rarely outside for that long at a time in cold weather, so it seems a waste to toss a pair of 1/4 used hand-warmers in the trash. My hand-warmers are powered by a chemical reaction using air. Thus, taking air away from them will "pause" the hand-warmers. I have stuck partially used hand-warmers in a small zip-lock baggie, and open them up a few days later, and they're still going strong. It has worked very well for me.
This day it was -10 degrees F. I used my techniques of keeping warm, and was able to shoot for a lot longer than usual.
Photo credits: Elimitchell.