Layer Up – Not Photoshop – It’s Just Cold

It’s that special time of year where the angle of the sun is low, we have potential for beautiful snow and ice, and to top it all off the sunrise times are more than a little sociable. You can get a full days shooting in and still be home for a hearty meal and a relaxing evening in. After a great day out I’d recommend some good Bordeaux by the fire, but each to his own on that front. So what’s the problem?

There’s none really as long as you dress to deal with the elements. We have just been on tour in Slovenia and temperatures we’re down as low as -15 Celsius ( 5 fahrenheit ). Check me out live posting from the Julian Alps last week below and the resulting image. It’s cold but its worth it:)


There’s nothing like winter to really change the landscape. Snow can make the most dirty foreground look crisp and clean. Frozen waterfalls, icy rivers, heavy frost. Need I say more..

Frozen River Inchavore Wicklow

Frosty Tree’s Glendalough Lower

Snow Storm Iceland

Ice Cave Iceland

Frosty Morning Yellowstone National Park

Now come back from the dreams of winter wonderland and think layer, layers, layers. And not the kind you access in Photoshop. We are lucky enough to shoot lots of countries through the cold months and plan lots of workshops in locations like Scotland, Iceland and Slovenia. Being based in Ireland we simply don’t see the lows of the aforementioned locations but I still get great use out of my winter clothing here in Ireland. It’s nice to be snug shooting sunrises in Dublin Bay too!

Starting from the bottom up. A few tips and recommendations..


  • Get boots with an extra shoe size so you can wear more socks.
  • Foot warmers ie heat packs. Just shake, insert and wait for the heat. Available in all good outdoor stores.
  • Get waterproof boots well lined and insulated. Talk with the good folks at Great Outdoors in Dublin or 53 Degrees North.


  • Typically I wear 2 layers for legs in Ireland and 3 when I’m in alpine conditions. Not so practical for long walks but essential when your standing still shooting glorious landscape conditions for hours on end.
  • My over lower layer are ski pants and underneath I have marino wool thermals. The latter are quite expensive but you can get great wool alternative base layers too. The key factor here is that you have a tight pair of thermal leggings underneath. You will be amazed the different this makes.

Upper Body

  • Again I will have a base thermal layer that is tight to the body. Tee shirt over this.
  • Additional thermal layer if required.
  • NorthFace down wool fleece
  • Columbia Winter Jacket
  • They key here again is layers and lots of them


  • Multiple pairs of gloves can really help with camera operation.
  • A thin base layer pair and something warmer to pop over this. You can pull the top pair and operate the camera with the thinner pair.
  • Look for gloves that the finger area can be pulled back for camera operation.
  • Heat packs can be really helpful here too.


  • A hat with a waterproof internal lining is useful in case of persistent snow. Inside still stays dry.
  • A balaclava underneath the hat for extra warmth in really cold climates.

So your all geared up now. Don’t be afraid of the cold. Get out there and make some great photographs!

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