Winter Photo Tips: Part 1 - Your Car

October 30, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Wow, the weather in Colorado went from wearing crop pants in 80-degree temperatures to sporting the arctic coat and playing in snow in the matter of ten days! I love it!

American_coot_2American_coot_2Four American coots (Fulica americana) create reflections in the water as they stand on the edge of the ice on a cloudy day at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area near Salt Lake City, Utah.

All this snow and ice now has me itching to photograph those critters on snowy landscapes. I recently added my winter wildlife Post-it to my wall of ideas of what to photograph in the coming months: bighorn sheep, bald eagles, ducks, scrub jays, white-tailed ptarmigan, American dippers, Stellar's jays and snowshoe hares. Looks like another great winter season coming. 

So, now that the cold weather has arrived, how do you prep your gear, your clothing and your vehicle for snowy outings? Here is the first in a three-part series about gear and preparation tips for winter photography so you are ready to go BEFORE the weather really sticks around. This post discusses prep for the car.

First, check those tires. In Colorado, there is a state law — the Passenger Vehicle Traction Law — that can be implemented by Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT; and I have seen Rocky Mountain National Park implement it too) any time there is snow and ice on the roads. The law requires all drivers of passenger vehicles to have an AWD or 4WD vehicle and 3/16" tread depth. (For more information about the law, visit CDOT.) That is about the depth of the edge to Abe Lincoln's head on a penny. (For more information about how to use the penny test, visit Bridgestone's website. Just remember that they use the 2/32" U.S. recommended tread, which is less than 3/16" required in Colorado.) 

Which tires do I use? I go through about a set of tires a year — yes, sadly I buy a lot of tires — and usually put them on in the fall just before weather starts to get really bad. The last set I installed was the Falken WildPeak A/T Trail, and although they are only rated as a better tire and I didn't get the 65,000 miles out of them the manufacturer said I should, I was very impressed with how they handled in the snow last season. 

Next, make sure you have the proper items in your vehicle for an emergency out in the cold. Living in Colorado, I leave most of these in the car all year long. Items include:

snow/ice scraper : go for the one with a brush and scraper
blanket  : this is a great blanket perfect for a cold Colorado day
- extra pair of socks : I have a few pairs of these Colorado-themed socks — perfect to get you into the mountain spirit 
- extra pair of boots : I love my Lowa Renegade hiking boots and I keep my old pair in my vehicle for those emergencies
- extra jacket : because you just never know when the temperatures might drop 20, 30 or 40 degrees in one day
flashlight with extra batteries : I go with headlamps for hands-free use
- jumper cables or a battery jump/charger : this should be in your vehicle all year
- foot traction : I keep Yaktrax and micro spikes in my vehicle as soon as the snow starts falling in the mountains
- first-aid kit : like a few things on this list, this should be in your car all year long
- water and a tow strap are also recommended by CDOT although I have had trouble keeping water because of the freeze-thaw issue
- plastic container to store it all : must stay organized! Find one that stacks, so you can keep one for each season, and has a front door and top lid for easy access.

Finally, check the fluids in your vehicle. Double check the anti-freeze, oil levels and windshield washer fluid as well as your wiper blades — front and back, if applicable. Have a maintenance team check your brakes and battery. Check all of the lights to make sure none are burned out. And if the forecast looks iffy, try to keep a full tank of gas. More gas you have, the longer you can keep the heater running if you are stuck. Plus it adds more weight on the tires. 

Have fun in the snow, and check back soon for part two of this series where I will discuss clothing for photographing in winter.

NOTE: Links in this article may take you to an affiliate website. I may receive a portion of the sales yet it costs nothing additional for you. Thank you for supporting my business so I can keep providing you with helpful information about enjoying the outdoors. The products linked in this article are recommendations from products I have used but do not represent an endorsement. Purchases are at your own risk. Please research products for proper size, fit and personal uses.

Want to help even more? Buy me a coffee for those cold Colorado days.


Comments

Subscribe
RSS
Archive
January February (1) March (1) April May June July August September October November (2) December (2)
January February March April (1) May June July August September (15) October (22) November (9) December (10)
January (2) February March April May June (1) July August September October November December (2)
January February March April May June July (1) August September October November (1) December
January (1) February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May (1) June (2) July (2) August September October (1) November December (1)
January (1) February March (1) April May June July August September October November December
January (1) February (1) March (1) April May June (1) July August September October November December (3)
January (2) February March April May (2) June July August September October November December
January (1) February March (2) April (2) May (1) June July August September October November December