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Photographing in cold weather

Posted by Florian – February 18, 2013

Worse than the cold temperatures are strong wind conditions. I am searching the frozen ocean for polar bear tracks in Northern Svalbard.

For my latest book “To The Arctic” – the companion to the IMAX film with the same name I have spent many months in the arctic. It was my goal to photograph the arctic environment throughout the different seasons. I therefore spend quite a bit of time in the high arctic during the really cold season. After my multimedia presentations I often get asked how my photography gear held up and people are often surprised when I tell them “just fine”.


Photographing in the far north of Greenland at 40 below.

The biggest mistake many people make when they head out into the cold is that they always want to keep their cameras warm. The truth is, that it does not take very long for you to be out there and the camera equipment has the same temperature as the arctic air. Which in my case often reach – 45° Celsius when actively photographing. Now the BIGGEST MISTAKE you could do is to open your parka and put the camera underneath it to warm it up. In no time, the lens will fog up and the camera gear will become dripping wet. The same is true when you will take a frozen camera and lens inside a heated cabin or a tent. If you need to take you cameras inside, you should have a solid plastic bag in which you can put your camera bag so you can slowly warm it up to the room temperature and the condensation will happen on the outside of the bag.


A large male polar bear is patroling the frozen arctic ocean near Svalbard, Arctic Norway.

Young polar bear cubs are following their mother over the pack ice.

One thing to watch out for while photographing in the cold, is not to breath against the front of the lens by accident or to even hold the lens with thin gloves near the front element. Perspiration can quickly fog up the front element of the lens for a while. Why thin gloves – often you wear multiple layers of gloves but handling the camera can sometimes become difficult and you may take the outer gloves off for a moment to handle the camera.

Securing the tent during a blizzard

Now the comments all were about the well-being of the camera. Wearing layers of great clothing is obvious. But watch out for your nose when you are not wearing a face mask. More than once I have pressed my nose to the camera and froze to the metal parts. You soon get some frost bite right on the tip and look like a clown.

Watching the moon over the frozen arctic ocean while the D3s is shooting a time-lapse

Full moon in northern Greenland


But what about the batteries?

During my expeditions I mainly shot with the D3s, D3x, D300s and D7000, later with the D600 and D800. The batteries held up extremely well. I have shot continues images for time-lapse for hours at temperatures of – 40° to – 45° Celsius. I had a bulk of 14 large EN-EL4 2500 mAh batteries with me, that lasted me for weeks. One or two spare batteries out of the 14 I would carry close to my body inside the parka until I needed to use them. If you travel with snowmobiles you can always use the cigaret lighter plug to charge batteries through an inverter.


Posted in: Adventure, Arctic, Equipment, Expeditions, Experience, Photography, Uncategorized, wilderness | Tagged: , , , , , , , ,


Nikon D600 – ISO performance

Posted by Florian – October 10, 2012

So the Nikon D600 is in stores and one or the other photographer has already picked up their won body. But I have been getting many requests from people out there to talk a bit more about my experience with the camera. So let me give you a bit of an insight to what I have found:

Wolves at night in Yellowstone National Park.
IMAGE INFO: NIKON D600 and the Nikon 600mm VR-II lens @ f4; 1/6 sec and ISO 6400

REVIEW OF ABOVE IMAGE @ 100% – without adjustments and NO noise reduction. Shot with ISO 6400

What I very much like about the way Nikon has handled noise. Noise in the files looks more like film grain that those of us know from the old days of shooting film. The way noise shows up in images really depends also on the overall lighting conditions. If you shoot a scene during regular daylight noise will show up less or it is easier to remove. To shoot these wolves in the middle of the light with a slight light source was a real eyeopener for me. Photography today makes things possible that simply were not in the age of film. Keep in mind this, too that this is a 24mp file. You can put a bit of noise reduction over this and the image will look even more stunning. Shot with 1/6 sec and a 600mm VR-II lens.

Now I want to present you another shot of a snowy owl at dusk. This image was also shot with ISO 6400 and I am really fascinated how well it turns out even at such high ISO settings. ALSO – Lightroom shows the noise a lot stronger as the Nikon Capture software, but again it has the look and feel of film grain. I chose to use LR 4.2 as I assume most people will be using this software for their archive.

Snowy Owl at dusk photographed with the Nikon D600 at ISO 6400 with the Nikon 200-400mm lens at f8 bringing it to 800mm using the 2x TC 20 III tele-converter at 1/100 sec

REVIEW OF IMAGE AT 100%  completely raw, as seen in the beta Lightroom 4.2

For comparison a shot I took of the owl during warm morning light at ISO 400

Snowy owl photographed with the Nikon D600 and the Nikon 600mm VR-II with 1.4 telconverter bringing it to 850mm at ISO 400


IMAGE REVIEW AT 100% of shot above at 400 ISO


No the other questions is the shooting of night skies with the stars. For timelaps we have often used the in-camera timelaps function. But of course the images get downsized to an HD Video, which is smaller then a 24mp file. When shooting stills at night I often used the 24mm f1.4 and the 14-24mm f 2.8 lens wide open. I very much liked the results I got, especially how the camera still rendered color as well.

Nikon D600 with 14-24mm f2.8 lens shot at ISO 3200 with an exposure of 15 sec. at f2.8

Same image above rendered with the NEW Lightroom 4.2 Nikon D600 support. I see how we are missing a lot of the shades of yellow in the tent area, that the Nikon software was able to show.

When you compare the two images above you realize that the Lightroom 4.2 software still needs to be updated a bit on how LR renders the Nikon D600 raw files.



With the family of the new Nikon DSLRs Nikon has pushed the bar yet again so much higher. All us out there can shoot images of a quality that is unprecedented. For today the Nikon D600 is up there with all the high end cameras and in my opinion sticks out in its versatility and the incredible golden mean between high resolution, ISO performance and frame rate. Like I have said over and over again: a great all-round camera for any nature photographer.


Posted in: Equipment, Experience, Nikon D600, Photography, Test | Tagged: , , ,


On Speaking Tour in the US – October

Posted by Florian – September 30, 2012

Florian Speaking at the Times Building in New York in 2010.


After one week of presentations at Photokina I am now traveling across the states giving talks about the Arctic Conservation Photography project. Check below for dates and time! Looking forward to seeing you at one of the shows in Berkeley, Portland, Pittsburg, New York, St. Paul, Carbondale, Aspen or Washington D.C.


Monday October 1st, 2012 7:00 PM

Florian Schulz will share stories, photos, and videos from his adventures in the Arctic. Learn more about ongoing work to protect the Arctic, be entered to win raffle prizes, and more!

Sponsored by Alaska Wilderness League, Braided River, Clif Bar, and Osprey Packs

Goldman Theater at The David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

RSVP below or join in on Facebook


Wednesday October 3rd, 2012 5:30 PM

Florian Schulz will share stories, photos, and videos from his adventures in the Arctic. Learn more about ongoing work to protect the Arctic, be entered to win raffle prizes, and more!

Ecotrust Building
Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center
721 NW 9th Ave, Suite 200

With complimentary beverages provided by New Belgium Brewing and food by Hotlips Pizza. Presented by Alaska Wilderness League, Braided River, Wild Salmon Center, Clif Bar, Osprey Packs, Patagonia, Klean Kanteen.

RSVP below or join in on Facebook


Friday October 5th, 2012 7:00 PM

Celebrate the opening of the IMAX film To The Arctic with a special presentation by award-winning photographer Florian Schulz.

Presented by Alaska Wilderness League


Monday October 8th, 2012 7:00 PM

Florian Schulz will share stories, photos, and videos from his adventures in the Arctic. Learn more about ongoing work to protect the Arctic, be entered to win raffle prizes, and more!

Sponsored by Alaska Wilderness League, Braided River, Clif Bar, and Osprey Packs

Lolita Bar
266 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002

RSVP below or join in on Facebook


Wednesday October 10th, 2012 7:00 PM

Florian Schulz will share stories, photos, and videos from his adventures in the Arctic. Learn more about ongoing work to protect the Arctic, be entered to win raffle prizes, and more!

Sponsored by Alaska Wilderness League, Braided River, Clif Bar, and Osprey Packs

University of Minnesota
St. Paul Campus Student Center

RSVP below or join in on Facebook

5 signed up so far.


Friday October 12th, 2012 7:00 PM

Florian Schulz will share stories, photos, and videos from his adventures in the Arctic. Learn more about ongoing work to protect the Arctic, be entered to win raffle prizes, and more!

Sponsored by Alaska Wilderness League, Braided River, Wilderness Workshop, CLEER, CLIF Bar, and Osprey Packs

Third Street Center
520 Third Street
Carbondale, CO

RSVP below, or join us on Facebook


Saturday October 13th, 2012 6:00 PM

Florian Schulz will share stories, photos, and videos from his adventures in the Arctic. Learn more about ongoing work to protect the Arctic, be entered to win raffle prizes, and more!

Sponsored by Alaska Wilderness League, Braided River, Clif Bar, and Osprey Packs

Woody Creek Community Center
6 Woody Creek Plaza | POB 4
Woody Creek, CO

RSVP below or join in on Facebook


Posted in: Alaska, Arctic, Conservation, Events, Experience, Photography, presentations, Talks | Tagged: , , , , ,


Presenting on the Nikon Stage @ Photokina

Posted by Florian – September 21, 2012

Florian talks about his project “To The Arctic” and of course the brand new Nikon D600.


After many months of having to keep the “big secret” we can finally talk about the Nikon D600. I am presenting twice a day at the Nikon stage. If you are at Photokina come on by! My show is at 10:50 in German and at 14:20 in English. But there are many other great presenters on stage if these times do not work for you! Hope to see you later!

Entspurt auf der Photokina. Noch 4 Shows gibt von mir auf der Nikon Stage bei der Photokina zu sehen. Um 10:50 auf Deutsch und um 14:20 auf English. Falls die Zeiten nicht passen einfach trotzdem mal vorbeischauen, denn es gibt eine ganze Reihe super Vorträge! Bis nacher!

Posted in: Equipment, Interviews, Nikon D600, Photography, Uncategorized


The new Nikon D600 – a first look

Posted by Florian – September 14, 2012

Over the years I have specialized in documenting the natural world in all its diversity, shooting landscapes, to aerials, to intimate portraits of wildlife. I often get asked the difficult question what single camera I could recommend for a nature photographer. I now would not hesitate to name the new D600 because of its versatility.


In nature photography weight often matters and with the D600 you have the finest Nikon technology in a compact light-weight, yet robust FULL FRAME camera body, that delivers incredible images. With 24mp, fast AF, 5.5 frames/sec. and fantastic high ISO capabilities it has met the golden mean. It allows the photographer to use the beautiful array of super wide-angles like the 14-24 while it still lets you auto-focus at F8 with my most favorite wildlife lens: the 200 – 400mm bringing it to a 800mm super-telephoto. The image quality of the high resolution 24mp sensor is breathtaking; but  beware as this camera will challenge you as it does not compromise any mistakes in your photography technics like the slightest off-focus or camera shake.

The versatility of the camera does not end on the photography side. It delivers fantastic HD video files, lets you AF while filming. You can also monitor your take on a fantastic 3.2 inch LCD, that still allows you to see the image at extreme steep angles. With the full frame sensor you can be filming with a cine-look through the use of shallow depth of field, while the light weight body design can be easier put on camera cranes and magic arms. I love creating multimedia presentations and for that the new time-lapse feature is a handy little gismo.

A long exposure at night, allows Florian to capture the movement of the waves under moonlight with the new Nikon D600.


Never before has there been such a compact camera that is loaded with with so many fantastic features. Now there are no limits to your creativity. The D600 is a true all-rounder.

Florian photographs the rising sun at Bryce Canyon using the new Nikon D600.


Posted in: Adventure, Aerial, Alaska, Equipment, Nikon D600, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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About this blog:

Sharing the natural world through stories, images and experiences out in the field from conservation photographer Florian Schulz and Emil Herrera-Schulz. Here you will find conversations on environmental topics, conservation, photographing nature and wildlife subjects and professional tips to achieve striking images or managing your image archive. If you have a question, send it to us via our contact form and it might get answered on a post!

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