"Minnesota winter at its finest"

Hoar Frost and Pancake ice at sunrise

The Shot

 Finally we got the winter that many of us Minnesotans have been waiting for, January has been above normal temperatures with the coldest just barely hitting single digits at least in the Twin City metro area.  But these last few days have been below 0 and will continue for the next few days. Now I understand there are many that head to the warmer climates when winter arrives in the midwest, but not this lover of winter. For me personally there is nothing more refreshing than heading outside in these cold temperatures. But at the same time you have to be smart about it, and know what your own personal comfort level is. One of my best purchases was when I retired to purchase a really good winter outfit. I purchased mine from Wintergreen, handmade out of Ely, Minnesota and I highly recommend them. For this image it was -20 F with a wind blowing in from the lake. My wintergreen outfit kept be very "comfortably cold"! Now I say this because there is not a winter outfit that will keep you "toasty warm" in those frigid temperatures. But for over two hours I was on the shore of Lake Superior getting some great images of "sea smoke" and pancake ice during sunrise. Of course I was absolutely dressed properly not only with my Wintergreen, but chemical hand warmers, face covering, (not because of the pandemic), proper boots with ice cleats, warm gloves/mittens etc. But like I always tell many of my students when instructing my winter photo classes, if you cannot feel your finger and toes it is time to get inside to some warmth.

Winter photography is full of challenges so here are some tips! Cold weather does not hurt todays camera and lenses but alway have fully charged battery and spares and keep spares warm by putting them in an inside pocket. Everything works slower in cold temperatures, you, your camera, and just unzipping/zipping your camera bag is slower. In frigid temperatures it does to pay to be in a hurry. Take your time and enjoy the experience. Ice cleats are mandatory whenever on ice or hard packed snow! When done shooting remove battery's for charging and memory cards if you want to download. Zip your bag tight and do not unzip for at least 12 hours and this will prevent condensation from forming on your photo gear. Condensation will always form when going from cold to warm, leaving gear in a tightly zipped bag will allow the temperature to slowly normalize. I never leave my gear in my vehicle when I am staying someplace other than at home, but if at home and going out again in the early AM, I remove batteries for charging and the camera bag stays in the vehicle parked in the garage.

This image was taken at Agate Bay on Lake Superior, I found this location the day before and used my compass to determine sunrise location so knew it would be coming up right over this small pocket of "pancake ice"! I arrived early in the morning and the temperature was bitterly cold at about -20 F and the wind was blowing in from the lake. The"sea smoke" of course was also moving around giving me lots of photo ops. Sometimes the rising sun was totally blocked from the heavy sea smoke but at times finding a gap but then the sun was very bright and hard to control the light. That is what happened on this image but it does a nice job of lighting up the pancake ice so I was quite happy with the outcome. Over the next two hours I took many images around this location at the end of the shoot I was "comfortably cold" but very satisfied with the results! You will only get images like this in those extreme temperatures! I always recommend to embrace a good old fashion Minnesota winter-----just be smart about it!  

If interested in more of my winter photography here is a link!        

 "Good Shooting"

John Pennoyer

Technical Data

 Nikon D850

Tamron 24-70mm @ 24mm

Manual Exposure

F 11 @ 1/250

ISO 200

Cloudy WB

B & W 2 stop GND Filter

Gitzo Tripod w BH 55 Ball Head

Cable Release


Post-Processing: Adobe CC (Lightroom and PhotoShop)