Mongolia In February
**There’s a subliminal message embedded in this photograph. See if you can find it.
I’ve had some questions about my preparation to shoot in Mongolia. It’s a winter shoot, outside, so it comes with challenges I don’t usually face while shooting in Africa, S. America or Asia. Temps right now in Ulaanbataar are running from highs of -15C to lows of -35C (that’s 5F to -31F) and for me – a wimpy west-coaster – that’s really cold.
I’m dealing with two issues, aside from the limited daylight hours. One is how I am going to manage the cold, the other is how my gear is going to manage.
We’ll have 5 hours of daylight and 2 hours of dusky light.
To extend the shooting day I carry a Canon 580EX, 430EX and a handful of pocketwizards, along with an off-shoe cable, and various gels, diffusers, etc to throw a little more light into huts and gers, etc. Long an opponent of strobes I am growing to appreciate their versatility. When you need them, you need them.
The Canon 5D is rated by Canon to operate to -40C, so the real issues
in the cold are battery life and moving from cold to warm, which causes
condensation. Spare batteries will go in an inside pocket and be kept
warm with HotShots if necessary. Cameras will be put into
medium-sized kitchen garbage bags, the air sucked out, and the top
twisted shut before going back into the vehicle. I’ve got a bag of
silica packets to deal with errant moisture in the plastic bag.
I don’t do cold. There are reasons I moved from the east to the west – several of them involve the climate. Here’s what I’m packing:
2 pairs North Face long underwear – bottoms
2 pairs North Face long underwear – tops
1 pair MEC fleece tights
2 pairs Filson Rainier Pants
3 pairs liner socks
2 pairs Wigwam -40 Socks
Patagonia Retro-X Jacket
Patagonia Down Jacket
Patagonia Primo Gloves
Assorted toques and balaclavas
Salomon B29 Boots
Hot shots – pocket warmers to keep spare batts warm.
My client has a great sense of humour, so I’m pretty sure she’s kidding about all this and when I get my passports back the visas won’t say China and Mongolia, they’ll say Botswana and Swaziland and the joke will be on me, and we’ll all laugh.