2021—Extreme (Cold) Photography

In my wildest imagination, I never thought that I would think a weather forecast of -16° Fahrenheit was a welcome warming trend. However, after spending time in the wee small hours of two mornings photographing the Aurora Borealis in Fairbanks, Alaska at crushingly cold temperatures (-37° the first night) I welcomed the potential for a 21° rise in temperature. Sadly for me, however, the forecast was incorrect and the second night was an even colder -39°. I call this Extreme (Cold) Photography. And, I managed to brave the bone-chilling cold for a few hours to photograph the Northern Lights. And, I must say, it was well worth it. For the most part, I was not too uncomfortable at that temperature. I was prepared, up to a point. My Achilles heel was not my feet but my hands. Despite layers of warm gloves, I had to make some camera adjustments and so I removed my outer glove briefly. I had a thin glove liner on but metal of the camera was as cold as the outside temperature and I had to fumble longer than I wanted to because the darkness prevented seeing the camera body. In addition, I was wearing my glasses and despite using anti-fog spray on them, they somehow gathered moisture then quickly froze making the lenses opaque. So my fingers froze and I was temporarily blinded. On the second night (this shot is from the first night) after quite a while outside, my core got so cold I started to shiver uncontrollably so I told Moose I was going to abandon shooting and return to the vehicle. At those temperatures, you don’t dare turn off your vehicle so it was a welcome haven. Moose must have been cold too because he joined me and showed me how to use Nikon’s Snapbridge app to control our cameras which remained outside while we were warm inside. My question is, why didn’t we try this from the very beginning? In the end, I warmed up, my hands thawed out and except for the tip of one finger that seems to have suffered a bit of frost bite, I am back to normal. It was another unforgettable experience!

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