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The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Taking Winter Photographs in Northern Maine
By Gene Cyr

Nature or scenic photography is not on any list of hazardous jobs that I know of
but as a photographer in northern Maine I sometimes feel that it should be.

When the weather forecast calls for bitterly cold or subzero temperatures it's
time to start taking precautions because the job of the outdoor photographer
becomes extremely hazardous.

Staying indoors in front of the wood stove, though inviting, is not really an
option since I take pictures for a living and if I stopped for the winter because of
a little cold weather I'd be missing one of Maine's best seasons for photography.

I've learned to survive the Maine cold the same way I learned photography, on
my own and through trial and error ... fortunately for me I learned about dealing
with cold temperatures a lot faster.

I love hiking through the woodlands and farmlands of northern Maine and enjoy
all four of Maine's unique seasons. Prior to becoming a photographer I endured
Maine's winters but never had any great love for it. These days I find myself
actually looking forward to winter and its ever changing landscape.

Taking photos under cold, harsh winter conditions poses it's own unique
challenges but nothing a little experience and common sense can't overcome.

The trick: layers

The two biggest challenges are always keeping myself
as well as my camera at least warm enough to function.
A shivering photographer rarely takes a good picture.
As with many other winter outdoor activities the trick
is to dress in layers; the colder it is the more layers.

A good first layer is thermal underwear, followed by
a heavy flannel shirt and flannel lined jeans;
sweaters or light fleeced jackets are always good.
I top all of that off with a heavy winter coat. I figure
I'm better off with too many layers than too few since
I can always remove a layer if it gets too warm.

Wearing boots that are well insulated and waterproof is also a good idea
because not matter how dry and fluffy the snow may be eventually it will soak
through your boots if they're not waterproof.

If it's not too cold I'll usually just wear a woolen bonnet on my head but in
extreme cold I have this flannel hat with ear flaps that I wear under my bonnet.
It's not a pretty sight but hey
I'm not in front of the camera!

Handwarmers: A photographer's best friend

Probably the hardest body part to keep warm when you're taking pictures is the
hands and since I've never been able to work with gloves on, no matter how thin,
the first thing to come off when I get ready to shoot a pictures is my nice warm
mittens. In all the times I've gone out in temperatures well below zero degrees
Fahrenheit I've only once gotten a mild case of frostbite. I now use hand warmers
to keep my hands warm or to warm them up after they've been exposed for any
length of time.

Hand warmers are also an excellent way to keep the camera warm enough to
keep it functional. Even the best of batteries will stop working quickly in
extreme cold so I make sure my coat pockets are large enough to hold a hand
warmer, my camera, as well as my hand.

I also make sure to have spare batteries with me and try to keep them in an inner
pocket so my body heat will keep them from being drained by the cold. A
relatively warm camera and warm hands can make for some beautiful winter

My most popular photo called "Winter Blues" (pictured, above) was taken on
one of the coldest days in January of 2005, the day I got that mild case of
frostbite. It always seems to me that the colder the day the clearer the air is and
the better the pictures come out especially scenic views. I often get e-mails from
people who've seen "Winter Blues" or some of my other winter photos telling me
how cold it looks.

It makes me feel all warm inside to know that I've actually made someone "feel
the cold" through my photos.

My work can be seen at but before you visit --
dress warm.

About the Author:
Gene Cyr is a photographer living in the far reaches of northern Maine.  
Visit his Web site at, or
view his gallery on this site by visiting Gene Cyr Gallery.
Buy at
Winter Blues
Gene Cyr
Buy From
Buy at
Baby Blue Winter
Gene Cyr
Buy From
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...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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