Professional Photographer for Real Estate – Working in extreme cold temperatures

There are many challenging aspects of being a photographer during the winter season. As a professional photographer for real estate, not only do I have to take precautions for keeping my hands warm and dry, I also have to consider the impact of the sometimes extreme cold temperatures on camera equipment.

The purpose of this blog post is to talk about humidity and condensation that arises inside camera lenses. Unlike fingerprints, dust, or other things that can easily be cleaned off the front or rear elements of lenses with a proper cleaning cloth, when a lens with internal humidity is quickly subjected to extreme cold temperatures, it can flash freeze on the inside and may look something like this:

And can result in a photo that has a large, and unwelcome, blurry spot in the centre, like this one:


So what do I do to prevent this from happening?

Well there are a number of strategies that can be employed, from firstly storing camera equipment in a location that has low humidity, or packing camera bags with moisture absorbing desiccant packages (those little bags of stuff you find inside the boxes of new electronics), but the easiest solution for me is to simply plan ahead.

When photographing a property there are lenses that I use to photograph the interior of a home, and different lenses that I use to photograph the exterior. While I always travel to and from a location with all my lenses in one bag, when I arrive at my destination I can quickly determine which lens I will be using to photograph the exterior and I will then just leave that lens in the car. Since I typically photograph the interior of a home first, by leaving the exterior lens in the warm car, I am allowing the temperature and internal humidity of that lens to gradually adjust to the colder temperature and humidity outside as the car cools down. By the time I have finished photographing the interior, my exterior lens has cooled enough that when I take it from the car and begin to work outside, any temperature difference is no longer extreme enough to cause any flash freezing of whatever humidity is still inside the lens. The end result is a clean and clear photo like this one, taken in a windchill that was around -30C.

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