The Deep Icy Lake


G+ PhotoWalk in Austin during SXSW Today!

All skill levels are invited – bring your whole family… it’s great fun for all.

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  • Date: Saturday, March 10 at 2 PM.
  • Location: The Google Lot downtown – Bar 96
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Mittens or Gloves

I still have yet to find the perfect situation for this.  I’ve tried many different gloves with flip-up fingers so I can use the camera, but they are usually not that great.  My fingers still get deathly cold after thirty minutes.  I think mittens are better, generally, because the fingers keep one another warm.  And I’ve tried some flip-up solutions for those, which aren’t great either.  What do you use?

Daily Photo – The Deep Icy Lake

Lake Wakatipu, cut by glaciers 15,000 years ago, plummets to 399 meters in depth (almost a quarter-mile)!  There is something creepy about very-deep lakes.  I don’t know what it is.  I mean, anything could be down there.  Something cold, old, and terrible… slithering around through a slurry of icy mud and grit, just waiting to shoot to the surface for a snack…

The Deep Icy LakeLake Wakatipu, cut by glaciers 15,000 years ago, plummets to 399 meters in depth (almost a quarter-mile)!  There is something creepy about very-deep lakes.  I don't know what it is.  I mean, anything could be down there.  Something cold, old, and terrible... slithering around through a slurry of icy mud and grit, just waiting to shoot to the surface for a snack...- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post, including some SXSW info, at the Stuck in Customs blog.

  • I avoid the mittens or gloves debate by living in a warm climate.  Well, except when I’m riding my motorcycle. Then gloves are the only acceptable answer.

    As for deep water, it never bothered me.  Whatever is down there generally prefers to stay down there.  On the other hand, Beem’s Law clearly states that when you transition between land & water, you reverse your position in the food chain.

  • Ironic that you suggest something dark lives down there… Lake Wakatipu was the filming location for ‘Loch Ness’ in 2007 😉
    A bit of interesting trivia is that its depth of 420m exceeds the surface elevation of 310m… Diving to the bottom would mean you are going below sea level, despite the fact that Queenstown is high enough to get a decent amount of snow in winter – as you can see above.

    Speaking of snow… We are heading back into the colder months here, and I’m looking foreword to more of this:

  • Beautiful lake…and the mountains look awesome too! Good luck on the sxsw photowalk tomorrow – know it will be fun!

  • Filip Farag

    Hi Trey! I use these ( ) I’m happy with them so far…I was shooting a sunrise over Lago Fedaia in Italy a week ago, it was around  -10°C and I felt warm and comfortable. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    You could always move to Texas.  It’s never cold and damp here.
    (Oh. I forgot to say – “Read with extreme irony”)

  • Casper van Zyl

    Lakes and Mountains are always nice, like forests and streams there is always a picture some where its the making of the composition that really counts or they  just become happy snaps like mine.Gloves,now that can be a problem as some people feel the cold more than others,also see if you can buy some silk gloves or have a pair made up and buy a pair of good gloves to fit over them. When the time comes to take photos you slip off the outer glove and walla your hand is still covered as silk will have enough heat to keep your hand warm against the wind chill and light enough to feel the buttons. Second never have to hot a shower in the morning before going out,shower at night,do not drink alcohol of any sort or take aspirin all these things are thinning your blood and you will feel the cold. A good breakfast with some butter and bacon and eggs and toast will see out the cold. Remember no drinking the night before either,all this advice is from and old wise man and you will see you would appreciate the cold more.Sorry you wine drinkers but its true,try it and stay dry.

  • It’s so weird to me to be able to leave any advice for you, since I’m such a fan of your photographs! 🙂 But I’ve been in Norway this year and what I’ve done with the gloves thing has worked quite well. I have an extremely warm pair of down, waterproof mittens… and under them I wear some very cheap glove liners. They are thin and I can feel everything through them perfectly… and yet they keep my hands warm for a surprisingly warm time! I can have just them on for at least half an hour, and even when its really, really cold, the warmth lasts a few good minutes. Then, when I’m not taking any pictures for awhile, I put the mittens back on and quickly everything warms up again. Also I find that if you are warm everywhere else, you can take more liberties with your face and hands, which are harder to keep warm conveniently. So I wear long underwear bottoms, extra socks, etc. Then my fingers and face can take more cold without me feeling miserable or getting numb!

  • John Foster

    I remember being further up the lake at Glenorchy, sitting in a garden bar with a friend from aussy. It was very hot high 30’s looking at the snow capped peaks. He couldn’t fathom it at all – being hot looking at snow. Mind you the peaks are about 10,000 ft and it’s about half way between the  equator and south pole.

  • Beautiful photo, Trey!!  It now resides on my desktop.  Thanks for posting, have a wonderful weekend where ever you are 🙂

  • I usually forget my gloves in the hotel room.  I tried the flip up gloves, but my fingers get cold too quickly in anything under 65! 🙂  Here is a post I did “How to take Amazing Photos” that spoofs me (A guy from SoCal) trying to take photos in cold places “How to Take Amazing Photos”

  • Anonymous

    I use ski gloves with inserts…  Wear both while looking for the shot and then just wear the inserts when setting up and taking the shot…  Seems to work for me…  May be a little cumbersome for others…

  • I have pretty much given up keeping the fingers warm in moderately cold temps. I just wear some full fingered bicycling gloves. They are thin enough to be able to use the camera without taking them off and just warm enough not to leave my fingers completely numb. I use this until it reaches 25 F or below then I just put some insulated ski mittens over them. Of course I have to remove these when I take a shot. I’m thinking my fingers won’t completely thaw from this winter’s abuse until late April or so….

  • Steffen Richter

    I very frequently take pictures in a a place where the annual  average temperature is around -49 ºC (~ -56ºF) and it gets down to -73ºC (-100 ºF).  When you say you only last for half an hour I have to smile 🙂 In a way it gets easier in these temps, because you are not tempted to just run out in less than appropriate clothing.

    Number one thing is to know your camera and to have it setup before you head out. I think you have that well covered.

    As somebody else already pointed out, it is key to maintain your core temperature. Obviously, my measures in that respect are a little more extreme. I wear a Canada Goose Mantra Parka ( I love this puppy. Plenty of pockets for some extra lenses and bodies, nice big hood that will help to keep your nose out of the wind. It even comes with some pockets for hand warmers in your arm pits, which help to keep the blood warm that’s circulating through your arms.

    For my hands, I start with some super cheap polypro glove liners. Over those I wear some wool gloves that have a little flap that you can put over your fingers to turn them into mittens. That’s super neat, because I only need to expose one finger at a time and I frequently rotate through my trigger fingers. Unfortunately, the company that made them went out of business years ago. I raided our warehouse to get the last of them (I’d be very grateful if someone has a lead on where to buy something like this). The wool also keeps you warmer than any of the synthetic fabrics, which basically turn as stiff as cardboard in these temperatures. I also wear some super large and heavy duty  Air Force mittens or gauntlets (they call them bear paws) on a string around my neck. I put my hands in there between shots. Once it get’s below -40ºC I add a couple of chemical hand warmers. If I have to press some of the tiny little buttons, I can strip my hand down to the glove liner for a few seconds.   

    For my face I have a wind stopper balaclava, made by headsokz (

    With this outfit I outlast my camera in the cold.

    In more moderate cold climates I only wear a nice big down jacket with a down hood (I use and some down mittens ( over glove liners. I take the mittens off to take the picture. So they have to be fairly large for easy on/off. The jacket compresses down to nothing. So it’s easy to take along.

  • I use Lowepro gloves.  I can work all camera controls (Nikon D3x) without problem.  Used them down to about 15 degrees.  Yes, I feel the cold a little bit, but it’s tolerable.

    Mike Tschappat

  • Nicole S. Young

    I agree about the glove comment. I have a good pair for shooting I got from B&H ( but what I REALLY want is a solid pair of mittens with a little hole to poke my finger through to shoot/do stuff on my iPhone. 🙂

  • Stewart Baird

    Nice photo, Trey.  You really have to come here to see the colours are actually like this! Hope to see you back here again soon 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I totally know what you mean about very deep lakes being a bit creepy…I get that feeling too, even more-so than on the ocean. Perhaps it’s because lakes have a certain stillness. Love the image, thanks for sharing.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks all! 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    And also – thanks for all the good suggestions!

  • Anonymous

    There have been rumors for years that there are still dead Indians on the bottom of Lake Tahoe.  With the water so cold, bacteria which produce gas, don’t multiply much so the bodies just stay in some sort of suspended animation.  Maybe not, but it adds to the creepiness of deep, cold lakes.

  • Beautiful capture!    

    I use really el-cheap-o wal-mart camo hunting mittens. The flip back and velcro kind.    I look ever so -not – stylish in them but dang they work at $6/pair I have them in every bag I might carry.

  • Allen Haren

    Hey Trey,
    First off I want to say how jealous I am, you are living my dream. I spent a year in NZ and that really made my love for photography blossom. I have always wanted to live there permanently. While I was there I ran into the same dilemma of cold fingers while shooting. I carried two pair. The first was a pair of neoprene fly fishing gloves. Good for wet weather too which you always run into in NZ. You can even find ones lined with fleece ( The beauty of these gloves is that it is only the thumb and index that get cold when shooting. Personally these are the only fingers I think you need when taking photographs. I was fine on glaciers and on top of Tongariro Crossing in winter with my fishing gloves. My second pair of gloves were more for survival, warm wool mittens a size too big that I could wear over the neoprenes. If the temp really drops which in NZ is essential to always be ready.

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