Another cold weather question : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I just read the posts regarding the cold weather problems, I've got a few similar questions. During a recent outing to the Moab area I camped out to get an early start for a morning photo session with my equipment stored in my car. I was set up before sunrise with no problem, but as the sun rose over the horizon almost all my gear became covered with a surprisingly thick layer of frost. Only my Quick Load film packs and my lenses seemed to escape the frost. I dried off my film holder with a bandanna and exposed a few sheets of film before waiting about forty minutes or so for the sun to rise a little higher for more exposures. In this time my equipment seemed to dry ok with a little wiping down. My questions,

1. What is the likelihood of the moisture getting to the film emulsion, and can I expect spotting if it did?

2. How can I prevent this in the future? I seem to remember reading somewhere that a good defense is to store the equipment in plastic bags with the air squished out and to place silica gel packets inside to absorb the moisture, though it would seem that regardless of how the equipment is stored beforehand, once it is exposed to the moisture and cold temps it would frost up regardless.

3. Now that my lenses have been exposed to the frost (though they seemed unaffected) what is the possibility of future damage due to the moisture? If so, is there any corrective measure I can take after the fact?

Thanks as always for any replies.

-- Andy (, November 07, 2000



Moab is such a dry place that I would not expect the frost to be condensing just from the atmosphere. I'm speculating, but some of it may be from your exhalations. Your lenses and quickload may have escaped the frost because they were not in the direct path of your breath.

This is not a problem that I've had when working in the winter in Alaska, where it's cold and dry, except along rivers with open leads. Fog often collects in these areas and will coat all of the equipment, including the lenses. Were you working along the river, north of town when this happened?

I have had problems with my condensed breath on the ground glass, which I remove with an old credit card. It also condenses on the rear standard, but I've never had it condense on the bellows.

I have occasionaly had moisture absorbed by the bellows, which occurs when I'm in a humidified house or near a beach. When I set up the camera on a cold, dry morning, this moisture is released, and condenses on the rear element of the lens and on the inside of the ground glass. I have not had condensation on the outside of the bellows in these conditions.

I don't think that an ultimate solution exists. You will at times work in places, such as a long a river, where condensation is unavoidable. Be sure to take a lens cloth to clean your lenses and something for your ground glass. I don't think that you'll experience any long term problems if you allow your equipment to adequately dry after you return from your trips.

Best of luck, Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (, November 08, 2000.

Andy, I would have been impressed at less than that! However, normally this kind of moisture appears only on the outside of gears, where they are exposed to ambient air. I would not worry too much for films and lenses as long as you do not pack them while they are still wet. I had a similar experience a few days ago but it happened inside the camera: when the sun came up, it heated the bellows and the lens was immediately covered with condensed vapor. If I had pulled a dark slide then, the film would have gone wet too.

-- Paul Schilliger (, November 08, 2000.

Thanks for your answers. Bruce, to answer your question the moisture was definitely ambient moisture. The previous evening I was camped at the Canyonlands Willow Flats campgrounds where we were alternately rained and snowed on. I don't remember having any trouble at all in the Castle Valley/Fisher Valley area east of town or lower elevations. At the higher elevations though, there was some sporadic snow, sleet, and rain showers. Needless to say I was surprised too!

-- Andy (, November 09, 2000.

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