Planning winter trip to Yellowstone

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Looking for some advice. As the title says I'm planning a winter trip to Yellowstone. Would any Cafe members mind sharing tips about camera operation in extreme cold? What problems have you encountered and what are tips to avoid or at least mitigate it as much as possible. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance for your help.
 
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You'll find that glass fogs up when going from warm to cold; I leave the gear in the pickup overnight so it stays relatively cold compared to room temps. Not sure what body you're shooting with, but sometimes I'll use an Atomos power station with the D800 to get better cold weather battery life when shooting video.

Sean
 

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I did a snow mobile trip in Yellowstone in winter many years ago when it was about -15°F. And Iceland in winter a few years ago. I never had a battery fail on me....but I always had a warm spare with me just in case! I've always read that before entering a warm environment, put all your gear in a large bag and close it. Then let the gear warm up gradually inside the warm environment. Theoretically, any condensation will form on the bag and not inside the gear. Wear really warm gloves and then switch to thinner gloves when shooting. Hot Hands hand and toe warmers are really nice. One in each pocket will help keep hands and batteries warm. And don't neglect your head and neck area. Keep toasty!
 
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What type of Winter trip are you planning? Is it a guided photo trip? What entrance are you planning on using and are you staying at the Snow Lodge or coming in from one of the more Northern entrances?
 
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I went to Yellowstone in the winter about 15 years ago. The one way in was on snowmobile. I believe you can x-country ski in as well. I did a tour to old faithful, we saw some buffalo herds and a moose or two on the way in. The day started out at 30 degrees below 0, it was cold. The snow was really deep, at least 4 ft. deep. It was spectacular in that on the way in there were pillows of snow on rock formations with a dark deep blue sky, there were bald eagles about as well. You could not breath on near your camera while taking a photo.
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You'll find that glass fogs up when going from warm to cold...
Actually, it's the opposite.

Do what Karen suggests:

I've always read that before entering a warm environment, put all your gear in a large bag and close it. Then let the gear warm up gradually inside the warm environment. Theoretically, any condensation will form on the bag and not inside the gear.
 
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Thanks for the replies.
To answer some of your questions, we'll be going in through the North entrance. It is a guided photo trip.
Camera gear selection recommendations would be appreciated.
For bodies I have a D5, D850, D500, and Z6.
For lenses I have the 500 f5.6 PF lens and a TC1.4III that I'm planning to take as well as a 70-200 f2.8, and something wider such as a 24-70 f2.8.
Other telephoto lens available to choose from is the 200-500 f5.6, the 200-400 f4, and a 400 f2.8.
I can't take it all. So any recommendations you have on bodies and lenses would also be appreciated.
 
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Everything you list is usable so I don't think you can go wrong no matter what you bring.

I would go D850 and D5
The D850 in crop mode can replace the D500. The D5 is awesome in low light and if the action gets fast. Also if you have to work in bad weather it's built like a tank.

Most of the wildlife will be distant except for maybe the Bison. Reach is key so the 500pf with the 1.4 is a good choice.

Most people wind up taking way more scenic shots than wildlife shots unless you stumble upon a Winter kill.

The Z6 is a fine camera but unless weight is an issue or video is important then the other bodies have you covered.
 
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I have another question. Based upon Bill's answer I plan to use my 500 f5.6 pf with the 1.4 III TC. Not a big rig. Do I need to take a tripod or would a monopod suffice. I'm not thinking of weight as much as I am about using a monopod in the snow. What disadvantages might I encounter?
Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks
 
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Pa said:
Actually, it's the opposite.

Do what Karen suggests:
It can happen either way - any time you have marked contrasts in temperature and humidity, condensation exchange can occur so keeping the gear at approximately the same temp/humidity as the shooting environment means you don't have to worry about condensation creeping in, especially with zoom lenses which exchange air like a bellows when you change focal lengths.

I have another question. Based upon Bill's answer I plan to use my 500 f5.6 pf with the 1.4 III TC. Not a big rig. Do I need to take a tripod or would a monopod suffice. I'm not thinking of weight as much as I am about using a monopod in the snow. What disadvantages might I encounter?
Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks
Unless you have wide snow feet for the tripod, I would posit that a monopod is better in snow because as you move shooting positions throughout the day, any sinking or shifting movement that you adjust for will be on one leg instead of three and at the end of a day shooting, you're cleaning grit/moisture from one leg instead of three.

Which month are you thinking of coming, btw?

Sean
 
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I think Louise went there in Feb once ... I know I went to Yellow Knife March 2019 and it was -30 when shooting and what we found (4 of us) is that if the camera was working, taking images, the batteries worked find. If you had your camera on a tripod and it sat outside without taking time lapse per say, the batteries went flat in around 20 minutes. In Yellow Knife, we set up and stayed outside as we could not bring the cameras in the car and out without them frosting up, badly....so once we were outside, we were committed to being, outside. for what that is worth
 
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It can happen either way - any time you have marked contrasts in temperature and humidity, condensation exchange can occur so keeping the gear at approximately the same temp/humidity as the shooting environment means you don't have to worry about condensation creeping in, especially with zoom lenses which exchange air like a bellows when you change focal lengths.



Unless you have wide snow feet for the tripod, I would posit that a monopod is better in snow because as you move shooting positions throughout the day, any sinking or shifting movement that you adjust for will be on one leg instead of three and at the end of a day shooting, you're cleaning grit/moisture from one leg instead of three.

Which month are you thinking of coming, btw?

Sean
We are scheduled to go the last week of Februaury
 
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Great time go. Late December and January are typically the coldest time of the season. Lots of Winter kills around.

Last time I went in during Winter was in February. Never got below zero and hovered in the 20s during the day. Not saying it can't be brutal just the odds are better later in the season.
 
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Think about what you will need to shoot in low light. Odds are that at least some days it will be overcast and that means pretty dark for shooting animals with dark fur. I would take the D5 +400 f2.8 +1.4TC and the D850 + 70-200 f2.8. Have the 24-70 along for something wide. End of February you might see a Grizzly, early bears should be about. If you have a kill nearby, expect to spend a lot of time sitting on it waiting for some action. Follow the guides recommendation on clothing and take more spare batteries than you think you will need. On the 27th of Feb sunrise is 7:06AM and sunset is 6:07PM. You will loose an hour or more at each end due to the 8,000 -10,000 mountains, just plan for the light and have a blast.
 
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End of February you might see a Grizzly, early bears should be about.
Probably won't see any Grizzlies, the last few years it's been the second - third week of March. Females with cubs is April. If it's a low snow year it could be earlier but I wouldn't plan for it. I'll be back in there third week of January.
 

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