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How safe is my camera out in snow and cold?

The Homely Hills Of Winter

“The Homely Hills Of Winter” by Netkonnexion
How safe is my camera out there?

We all love to do snow shots…

But, will my pride and joy be safe if I take it out in the snow? It’s true. Camera equipment can be damaged in cold and wet environments. Lets look at the dangers…

Operating environment

Most camera manufacturers will provide guidance for what they consider safe environments. If you look in your manual you will find this data for your camera. Look in the a section entitled “Specification”. For my Canon 5D MkII the advised operating temperature is:
      0°C – 40°C (32°F – 104°F); 85% humidity or less
These sound great on paper but they are not practical. If you want to go out in the snow or even on a frosty morning the chances are your local air temperature will be below freezing. Is there real danger to your camera?


The camera manufacturers are covering their reputations. If your camera stops working in the cold they can say, “We told you so in the specification”! This absolves them of any responsibility. Canon have regularly published winter photographs on their website and one is there as I write. Probably the same is true of other manufacturers. It is safe to assume by this that cameras can operate in cold environments, but how cold is safe?

Protecting your camera and equipment

The best advice is to protect your camera against extremes. If you left your camera on a frosty lawn overnight in sub-zero temperatures it is likely to be fine as long as it is dry. I have read of people using their cameras in temperatures down to below -30°C. Remember all those documentary films and photos you see in magazines and on television. These are frequently taken in very low temperatures.

Cameras may operate in those temperatures but the battery life will be very short and mechanical parts would be liable to jamming. In most cases therefore, the best thing is to keep your camera out of extreme temperatures. Probably a safe minimum working temperature would be at around -10°C. Below that you may be into seriously heavy battery use and possible mechanical damage. This is a guess and may vary from camera to camera.

You can extend the camera battery life by keeping batteries in your pocket and regularly swapping warm ones into the camera. Battery performance falls rapidly with temperature. At 23°C (a warm room) my battery will give 850 shots/full charge. This falls to 750 shots at 0°C. Greater reductions can be expected as the temperature falls further. Low battery temperature impairs electrical efficiency. However, mechanical inefficiencies are also caused by the cold. The battery has to power resistance created by cold mechanisms in the shutter, the lens focusing equipment, the aperture/iris and the mirror mechanics. These seriously drain the power in severe cold.

If your camera does jam in the cold weather stop using it immediately. Mechanical and/or electrical damage may be caused by jams if you continue to force it. As soon as possible leave the camera to warm up slowly for, maybe, 24 hours. Then, using a fresh battery, try it again. If it is still jammed seek professional technical servicing.

Damp is a huge enemy in the cold

In cold weather one of the biggest dangers is condensation – damp in your camera. When you go from a warm room to a cold outdoors the rapid cooling of your camera is likely to cause any water vapour in your camera to condense on metal or glass surfaces. Where moisture gathers it will cause corrosion and electrical failure. Both will kill your camera – the danger will tend to be cumulative. So it is unlikely to happen straight away. It is therefore worth protecting against damp. It is not unusual to see condensation on the inside of lenses when cameras have quickly transitioned from warm to very cold or visa versa.

When you take your camera out make sure that it is allowed to acclimatise slowly. Keep your camera in a cool dry place. Before you go out put it in a cold place to allow it to cool down slowly. When bringing a camera into your house keep it in your bag for long enough for it to equalise its temperature before you open the camera. If you open a cold camera in a warm, humid room the air will mix and condensation will form inside the camera.

The conclusion?

If you are not going into extremes of temperature most snowy places will be fine. If you are going to more extreme environments I suggest you take technical advice from the manufacturer. Also, consider buying weather sealed equipment. If you are going to photograph your kids having a snowball fight – have fun!

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Principles for excellent photographers – yes, thats you!

No matter how quirky, make sure you drive your photography forward...

No matter how quirky, make sure you drive your photography forward…
Quirky By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

People who excel do so because they try.

My students of photography are exceptional. They are dedicated to learning photography, clever, talented and they enjoy what they do. They don’t know how talented they are, they are not ready to move to the next level or to take charge of their photographic destiny. Most of them hold back.

Those students are you! Photography is a uniquely self driven pursuit. You don’t need to be “ready” – you need to have a go… Everyone can be exceptional if they try; most don’t.

Here are the principles to help motivate the next move. They will take your photography to the next level and get your pictures out there.


You can do some incredible things with photography. Imagine what you want to do. No matter how amazing it sounds, no matter what you want to achieve, or how out of your reach it seems – imagine yourself doing it. If you have that dream, that goal, that vision in your mind, you are on the road to success.


This is your dream. No one else’s. Only you want it. Make a deal with yourself to fulfil your own contract. You are going to reach that goal you envision. You will get help and work with other people, but that contract is your guide. Be your own leader, worker, supporter, friend, cheerleader troupe and advocate.


Your contract is your guide. Plan how to fulfil it. Make your path obvious, map it clearly. Don’t be afraid to risk changes – be flexible. Your development can teach you better ways. Work to move quickly to your goals. Use your dream. The paths you take should reflect the importance of your contract. Take one step at a time and move smoothly forward.


Do things that invigorate your soul. Get the adrenaline pumping. Do the risky things despite your misgivings. Publish a picture, dare to write to a celebrity for a photo-shoot. Challenge your limits. Take risks to push your photography beyond comfort. Make your heart pound. Don’t protect yourself or create limits. Take some risks, it opens doors. Try new things, it makes you take a new look at your photography. Start immediately, stretch your limits.


Doing new and exciting things will get you attention. Sometimes you will be the toast of the town. Sometimes you will feel you are drowning in the pool of criticism. Stand-outs, leaders and risk-takers all have enthusiastic followers. The down side is the critics cluster around too. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going! Being neutral will consign you to obscurity. Get used to being on the crests of waves and in the trough between them. They come together, but the benefits win out. Stay with it.


You don’t need to wait for validation, promotion or the big break. You are not going to be ‘discovered’. You are ready now. Moving on is liberating and simple. Take the next step on your own initiative. You know you can do it. So take the next move – dare to work to better your photography, dare to be bold. Don’t question yourself – you are ready.


If your vision is different, innovative – that is good. Dare to think different. Push your style to its limits. The unique, quirky and out of the box style gets attention. Don’t listen to the inner art critic. You can let your style out. You can realise your artistic and photographic talent. Be different. It will be your own personal validation. It is a licence to show people how you see. Seeing is what photography is about. Be quirky – show the world.


Ask for help. Ask for advice. Make your own decisions about moving forward. Assess advice yourself. Be confident in your assessment. Work to your agenda. Your development, your talent, your ideas are only going to be successful because of you. Other people have agendas of their own for helping and advising. While some things others say will be useful – some will not. Review your “contract” with yourself. Check that the advice of others fits with your inner direction. Test all advice you are given and follow only the advice that benefits your long haul goals.


Focus your attention. Do the unthinkable. Push the limits, take your photography to the edge – push your skills. Remember, learning and redefining your boundaries is hard. You will be challenged and you will find it tiring. Stretching yourself becomes a compulsion once you start. Make sure you have some “you” time. Take time for respite. Be rested – be more effective.


Share your knowledge, skills and talent. There is no greater self development than to share and teach. Be generous with your help of others. Give of yourself so that you can feel fulfilled as a person as well as an artist and photographer. If you are helping those who will be the future of photography you will also be the parent of a trend. Don’t hold back your talent. Let others benefit. A wave will carry you for free. Commanding the tide not to rise is futile and saps your strength. Share and you will reach your goals.


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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Simple mistakes to avoid in photography

The quick way to improve:

…Is undoubtedly to listen to the mistakes that others made. Here are some easy things you can do to improve your photography in leaps and bounds. Getting lots of practice is the first step. The more you shoot the more you will get to know what works and what does not. However, going further than that takes a little diligence. So here are some things to do for quick improvements…

1. Not reading the manual

Get the manual out. Learn a technique from the manual. Then go out and use that technique.

2. Not reading the manual again in six months

Repeat (1) in six months. Using your camera will become easier and your memory will be refreshed.

3. Not making friends

The most fun you can have in photography is with friends. Join a club, find some other camera owners, join a website that shares comments… whatever you do – get people to look at your photos and help you with tips and tricks.

4. The equipment you own

Read “Seven deadly photographic sins” and realise that you should concentrate on learning everything about the equipment you own. Once you are an excellent photographer with your current equipment then consider new stuff, but not before.

5. File resolution

Shoot with the largest file size and highest resolution. If you do not know how to do that consult the manual. This is important. Using tiny files and low resolution will really frustrate your improvement.

6. Not checking the image

Beginners often click away without checking the image. Shoot-and-hope mostly fails. Check your screen, check and check again. Reduce the number of shots you take. Concentrate on composition – make the images you do take higher quality. Read up on “Chimping” the gentle art of screen checking!

7. Deleting in camera

Do not delete in camera… There are many good reasons for this…

  • Constant deleting shortens the life of your memory card – only ever format the card.
  • Unless very experienced you are probably not qualified to say if a shot is good or bad.
  • You cannot possibly tell if an image is good enough in the low resolution of a camera screen.
  • As your ‘eye’ develops you will change your idea of what is a ‘delete’. I have seen an image voted Best-shot-of-the-day but listed as a deleter by the author before the vote.
8. Not looking at the image in full size

There is only one sure test of sharpness, look at the image in full resolution. When you pull the image up on screen it is reduced and sharpened. Expand it to 100% to see it as you took it. Read your software manual to see how.

9. Ignoring the light

Find out all you can about light – all types of light and all sorts of lighting situations. You can find a whole range of resources here… Light and Lighting – Resource pages on Photokonnexion. Your knowledge of light will make you a great photographer if you focus on that alone.

10. Not using a tripod

The best sharpness tool is using a tripod. Never forget your tripod and you will always have sharp images!

For more on this subject and some detail of how to get past these mistakes read: Mistakes beginners make and how to overcome them

Here is a short video with four more great tips for you to take on board…

Mistakes to Avoid as a Beginner Photographer

startphotography channel External link - opens new tab/page

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

A quick tip to stop colour distractions

Quick Photography Tip

Quick Photography Tip – eliminate distractions

One distraction can draw the viewers eye.

You do not want to distract the viewers eye away from the subject. I often see pictures with a bright and cheerful colour somewhere in the frame. That’s fine and can be effective if it’s the subject that is the bright colour. If it is not the subject then you have created a distraction.

Pay attention to bright colours and objects. The human eye is naturally drawn toward the brightest colour or light. Look through your viewfinder and check if there is a bright spot or bright colour that is not the subject in the frame. If you do have such a distraction then you need to recompose your shot.

Sometimes the bright spot may be as simple as some rubbish on the ground. Other times it may be a bright sign or piece of street furniture. Recomposing the shot means finding a way to take the photograph of your main subject from a different perspective or angle so the bright spot is not in the viewfinder. Simple and effective.

Remember, it is always easier to recompose than it is to spend time in post processing taking something out of the picture.

The Zen of sharpness – 12 easy ways to improve

Sharpness factsSharpness facts

Making sharp images takes knowledge and practice.

Photographers often wonder why they cannot reproduce publication sharpness. It’s not difficult, but there is more to it than clicking away. Here we look at all the factors that may affect sharpness.

Seven common problems

1. Poor focus:
• Frequently, focus problems occur because the focus has been taken from the wrong part of the scene. Choose one of the auto-focus (AF) points you can see in your lens (see how in your manual). Use that point to select the point of focus in your scene. The choice of where you focus is also critical. The eyes are often the most important point of focus. (See: The Eyes Have It… nine ways to emphasize eyes).

2. Camera blur:
• Movement of the camera during the shot will create a softness or complete blur. The solution is to improve your actual shooting technique. Holding the camera, your stance, your breathing and even the way you click the shutter button can all create camera movement. (See: Simple tips for a good stance). Camera blur can also be created because the shutter speed is too low. If you have a relatively long exposure the camera is more likely to move during the shot. If you have a higher shutter speed the chance of movement is reduced – sharpness is improved. Most people find they cannot hold the camera steady at 1/60th of a second or longer. With practice you can get better. A good starting shutter speed for hand-held shots is about 1/200ths of a second. It is possible to also change the ISO to enable higher shutter speeds and still maintain a good exposure.

3. Motion blur:
• If the subject moves and the camera is stationary the subject will be blurred. You may need to change your focusing mode to to compensate for movement. Use Continuous focus mode for constant movement [AI Servo AF (Canon)/AF-C (Nikon)]. Alternatively you can use autofocus mode [AI Focus AF (Canon)/AF-A (Nikon)] for slight movements or unpredictable/unexpected movement.

4. Poor quality lens:
• It is a common mistake to spend a lot of money on a camera then skimp on the lens. In fact it is best to spend as much as you can afford to buy quality lenses. They will pay you back with quality sharpness much more than the camera body will. Poor lenses can give you colour fringing, poor focus, distortions, softness and limited depth of field.

5. Depth of field too shallow:
• The depth of field (DoF) is the zone of sharpness in a picture. You can determine the DoF by changing the size of the aperture. (For more information see: One big change – one easy step forward).

6. Diopter set wrongly:
• If your eyesight is poor, or does not match the optical properties of the viewfinder, you will need to adjust the diopter. Most people can use it to adjust the viewfinder sharpness for their eyesight. If your sight through the lens is sharp it helps you fix a good focus to ensure sharpness.

7. No sharpening in RAW:
• When the picture is uploaded to your computer it’s file format effects sharpness. RAW, the native file formate for your camera, is created as a file without sharpening. The *.jpg file format is highly processed in the camera. It is sharpened as part of the processing. So *.jpg files may look sharper than RAW files on screen. The solution is to make sure you apply some sharpening to RAW files as the last action of any post-processing you do.

How to Take Sharper Pictures

By way of consolidating the above here is a video discussing the above points with examples…
(More after the video)

Beyond the basics

Sharpness is about continuous improvement. Here are some more ideas to extend your skills…

8. Stance and the anti-roll “bar”:
Many self-made photographers don’t recognise the importance of stance. Holding the camera steady is part of a “whole-body” effort. You should create a stable platform to comfortably hold your camera to ensure a steady camera position. The way you hold your arms, the way you breath and other factors affect your focusing and the amount of camera movement.

In addition to poor stance an additional unintentional movement causes softness. Some photographers click the shutter button then “roll” the camera away from their face prematurely. Doing the “roll” will induce movement in the camera – often before the shutter has closed. The solution is the “anti-roll bar” – you must “bar” yourself from doing the roll.

Learn more about stance and the “anti-roll bar” in this article: Simple tips for a good stance.

9. Test shots

Today we have the digital freedom to take as many shots as we wish without paying for film developing. To improve your sharpness spend time making sure your shot is going to be sharp. Do test shots to familiarise yourself with the scene and to practice for ‘the’ shot. You can find out more here: How to take a test shot.

10. Viewing the image at 100%

When you upload your image files they are not sized to 100% on screen. They are presented much smaller so you can see the whole picture. Photographers often don’t look at their pictures in full size. What is not obvious is that when pictures are resized on screen they are sharpened. If you are not aware of this you might be disappointed when you print the image. It will not be as sharp as it could be because you never looked at it in full size. If you are aware of how sharp you have made your image (at 100%) it will help you to develop your skills. You can find out more about viewing at 100% here: The benefits of 100% viewing.

11. Use a tripod

The vast majority of shots can be taken from a tripod. Using one is undoubtedly the single most effective sharpening technique. You can find out more about using a tripod here…
Three Tips for Pin Sharp Shots with a Tripod
Definition: Tripod
The Tripod
The Third Most Important Piece of Kit

12. Practice, practice, practice

Knowing all these things is different to actually being able to put them into practice. Making your pictures sharp is about doing all of the above. Then, reviewing your own achievement after each shot. You must practice all these regularly and consistently in order to succeed in producing the sharp images you want.


By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Easy ways to avoid reflections on eyeglasses

Reflections on eyeglasses can be controlled.

• Party Person •
Reflections on eyeglasses can be controlled. Check the angle of light sources.







Flash creates irritating reflections on eyeglasses.

Flash can be difficult to work with. Especially pop-up flash.


In particular, reflections on eyeglasses make ugly highlights. On-camera flash is directly parallel to the optical path of the camera. The light from the flash travels right down the line, hits the glasses and reflects right back into the lens. This can cause ugly bright reflections, highlights in the eye space of the glasses. Picture ruined.

Get off the optical path

The use of flash should always be off the optical path if you want to avoid red-eye or reflections on eyeglasses. Ensure that you do one of two things. Use an off-camera flash where the flash is off-set to the side on a stand or convenient surface. Alternatively you can redirect the on-camera pop-up flash using a diffuser or some type of reflector. You can find out more about the latter in this post: “Does Pop-Up Flash Ruin Your Shots?”. Both these help to reduce the highlight problem. The light will be on the subject from bouncing off other surfaces. This reduces the direct effect of the light reducing the reflections on eyeglasses from direct rays.

Controlling reflections on eyeglasses

If you use off-camera flash, or any other type of light to illuminate your subject you can get highlights on the glasses. The key to overcoming highlights and reflections on eyeglasses is knowing the simple “Law of the angle of incidence”. The law states…
       • The angle of reflection = the angle of incidence •
Basically, light hits a surface and reflects off again at the same angle. Simple!

The “Law of the angle of incidence” teaches us not to stand so your camera is on the same angle as the light reflecting off the glasses. This applies to any light, not just flash. Remember, that when you line up your camera you should look carefully at your subjects eyeglasses to see if there are any highlights you can avoid. If there are lights reflecting off the eyeglasses then move so the “Law of the angle of incidence” does not apply.

Remember to keep the catchlights

Of course the way that eyes look alive is that wonderful bright spot called a catchlight. As in the image above that feature of a reflection brings vitality to an image. To help preserve that, use a tiny bright point directly in the line of the optical path. If you have an off-camera flash you probably have a white pop-up card on it. You can use that card for making a catchlight. Point the flash beam to bounce off a nearby surface. When the card is up, it reflects a gentle light at the subject. At the same time the main beam of the flash is heading off for the ceiling or walls nearby. That little card on the flash reflects just the right amount of light directly to the eyes of the subject. The small size of the card is critical. It is not bright enough to cause bad reflections on eyeglasses. But it is enough to create that lovely bright spot. The eyes suddenly become alive. They are not blotted out with massive back-reflections.

Avoiding flash reflections on eyeglasses:

In the video Mark Wallace explains the Law with a simple diagram then sets up the ways you can avoid the highlights. Remember, his advice applies to any light, not just off-camera flash or studio lights.
Ep 214: Digital Photography 1 on 1

More about off-camera flash

Off-camera flash is a much more controllable way to light with flash than pop-up flash. If you would like to know more about off-camera flash, including how you can buy effective equipment at affordable prices see this post: Off-camera flash. It provides more information about the flash units and how to use them. There is Also advice on purchasing.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

The benefits of 100% viewing

Cornish Vista

Cornish Vista
At full resolution this picture is 5616 x 3744 pixels – Canon 5D MkII
Click picture to see the cropped version of the beach.
“Cornish Vista – secluded beach” by Netkonnexion on Flickr

Check sharpness right through.

One of the mistakes that beginners make is not to get the sharpness right into the image. Often it looks good on screen. Below the surface it’s not so good. When you open the image up to full resolution there is a lack of sharpness. What is going on?

Sharpness is the name of the game

A picture with poor sharpness may still look good on screen when you open it. Image editors will readjust the size to fit the picture on-screen. Then you can see the whole shot. The image editor has sharpened it as it resized the picture. What you see is not a full resolution view. As a result the picture looks better than its full resolution sharpness. Print it or see it at full size and the truth is revealed. The sharpness is just not there.
More after this…

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Beginners find it difficult to learn to take a sharp image because they only ever see pictures as small pre-sharpened versions on screen. They think the image is sharp – it’s not. The benefit of opening up your image to 100% resolution is that you see the sharpness that you have really achieved.

Professional photographers will tell you that if your image will not print sharp at full resolution your picture is not sharp enough. That level of skill is something that takes time to develop. However, if you have aspirations to improve your photography then you need to know the level of sharpness you have achieved. For this reason, I urge you to open all your images up to 100% size resolution. You will probably not be able to see the whole picture. Some of it will be off-screen. However, you will be able to properly see what sharpness you are achieving. As you improve your sharpness this test will show your improvement.

Each image editor has its own method of changing the image to 100% size. Check out the help pages for your editor to find out how it’s done.

Here are some links to help you work on your sharpness:
Simple tips for a good stance
Are you sacrificing image quality with a zoom lens?
Five tips you must know to start photography
Focus – great tips for better understanding
Don’t get lucky, get great photographs
The Third Most Important Piece of Kit
The Tripod