Can the cold really impact your gear? I think it can!

Richard Charpentier Photographing Arizona, Portrait Work, RLC Design 2 Comments

Yesterday’s shoot demonstrated something to me.  Shooting in the cold is……well, cold!

Along our travels in the Dells I came across a scene with the San Francisco Peaks in the distance and I wanted to try a portrait with the peaks in the background.  Everybody knows a longer lens means you can compress the scene, and that’s what I was after.  200mm on my Canon 70-200mm L Series lens.  Of course, I wanted to over power the sun, have the backdrop darker, etc.  In order to do all of this I had to put a good distance between me and the ladies.  So, trudge through snow, sit on ice, and get maybe 150 feet away…….

Given the fact we were actually in freezing temperatures I’d say we all did good.  Well, everybody but the Radio Poppers.  Was I too far away?  I don’t think so.  Could it be the cold?  More likely than not, I think that’s what impacted my attempt to produce this shot.  We got a couple of flashes to start with, then suddenly when I thought I was almost dialed in the flash stopped triggering.  I got off of my cliffside perch, noted that my pants were soaked from sitting on ice, and walked back over to Kassi.  I tried triggering the flash time and again right next to her.  No dice.

So, I swapped transmitters (I have 2).  The one in the case was still warmer.  And it triggered like a champ.  But the moment was lost.  We were too cold and had to start moving…….  Maybe we’ll return and try this one again because I think the concept is cool!

No "Pop" from the popper. Too far, too cold, to soft........where's just right?

One pop did make it through. But I needed a few more test shots to figure out lighting, etc. Next time.....

So, any other folks ever encounter issues triggering wireless flash in freezing temperatures?  Is it just me, or is there a temperature threshold?  I’m seriously curious now.

Comments 2

  1. C’mon, Rich. You used to live in NH, no? Remember such things as engine heaters and plugging in your vehicle to be sure it would start? The main issue resulting in the use of such vehicular aids is the significant decrease in battery efficiency when it is cold. Well, buckaroo, same applies to battery driven photographic accessories. Your ‘Radio Poppers’ use batteries, yes? And they sat outside, in the cold, all during your set-up & relocation to achieve the desired depth of field, correct? Is it any wonder that you experienced failures?

    Keep in mind that some professionals use helpers to swap out batteries so fully charged, warm units are available (eliminating the fail factor). Even wrapping fleece or other insulation around them might have allowed those flashes to retain some of the heat generated during set-up and testing, thus assuring continued operation despite the cold. I suggest you experiment with one exposed and another protected. Also, make sure you have all that equipment within the heated portion of your truck or you are guaranteeing another likely wasted trip. It’s winter out there in “them thar hills”. Good luck and happy shooting.

  2. Post

    Hey Wil,

    Yup, I do know batteries (former engineer). Just informing, ya know. 🙂

    And yup, had a helper holding a light stand. In the end, too chilly. When we actually see 3 below here it is a shocker. Feels like NH!

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