Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Spring is every bit as unpredictable as other seasons. Check out these tips and products for shooting at this time of year.
Warm weather and sunshine are natural draws for outdoor photographers, and spring is a welcome change after a long cold winter. It’s a season for shaking off the cold and getting outside again, especially with nicer weather and spring flowers pushing up through the ground. Spring also brings a few safety concerns—rushing water, hypothermia and even avalanches and bear encounters all should be considered possibilities. We’ll share some tips on how to stay safe this spring and recommend some great products that will let you take advantage of the warm weather while protecting yourself and your gear.
As the days begin to get longer and warmer, the winter snowpack starts to melt off. This makes for dramatic photos of rushing water and river rapids, but be wary of undercut banks that could give way while you’re lining up a shot. Also, as the day goes on, the meltwater increases with more sunshine. This means that the small stream you crossed in the morning might be a raging river in the afternoon.
If you’re going to be crossing streams, you might want to include a pair of gaiters in your kit. Gaiters can help keep the water and mud out of boots and keep you dry throughout the day. The Outdoor Research Cascadia Gaiters are lightweight and waterproof ($59 estimated street price, www.outdoorresearch.com).
If you’re photographing in mountainous terrain, lingering winter snow will be affected by the sun and rain, and cornice fall is a very real hazard. Always check your local avalanche bulletin service when venturing into terrain with avalanche hazards and follow these basic rules: 1) Know how to recognize areas of possible danger; 2) Travel with a friend; and 3) Always carry safety gear. A general avalanche kit includes an avalanche beacon, a shovel and a probe. The Backcountry Access Tracker DTS and Tracker 2 beacons are engineered and built in Boulder, Colo. ($289, $335 estimated street price, www.backcountryaccess,com). They’re simple, effective and easy to use. Avalanche probes are another essential piece of gear and are used to zero in on buried victims once they’ve been located by beacon. Backcountry Access makes a variety of probes, from the practical and affordable Spot 203 ($45 estimated street price) to the superlight carbonfiber Carbon 260 ($79 estimated street price). Taking an avalanche awareness course is a good idea before you go out.
Another concern is the potential for falling rock and ice. To avoid being hit, be careful and aware while shooting in the mid- to late afternoon, and especially around steep south-facing slopes that often have more exposure to the warming sun.
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