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10/16/2009

How many layers today?

Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer


Any of my coworkers will tell you I’m no fashion guru. But everyday I go to work I have to decide, "what do I wear?"

This isn’t about looking good - although many wish I would incorporate more of that line of thinking into my morning decisions, they are, in fact, based more on practicality.

How will I tolerate the day’s weather, or conditions, is far more likely what I consider.

Now that autumn has settled in, and winter is galloping straight ahead, the biggest decision of the day is "how many layers?"

Today, was a four layer day.

With the temperature forecast to be in low single digits, and knowing I was headed to stand in the cold at Argos practice (the facility is at U of T’s Mississauga campus), I layered up. Surprisingly, the biting wind encouraged me to don an early appearance of the GorTex windpants.

Weather can be the a photographers worst enemy. Unfortunately, news photographers rarely know how the day will develop, so there is real need to be flexible. You have to employ the versatility of being sent to a variety of assignments. Dressing in layers is the only way to go.

You can find a good chunk of the day, if not all of it, standing in one spot for hours on end exposed to all kinds of weather. At the same time you could end up working in the studio most of the day, then have to run off to crime scene where you stand, in one spot, exposed to whatever the weather system is spitting out.

I have even taken to layering my hands. I use a thin cotton glove which fits tightly (and is warm to about 10 d C) under a wind resistant glove, which fits snuggly. Both allow me enough tactile sensitivity and flexibility to manipulate dials and buttons on the camera, or to easily change lenses.

Decisions of the foot cannot be taken lightly either. Which shoes, or hiking boots (low vs high top), or weather proof boot (again, high vs low) is the best choice to get you through the day?

On long, cold outings, how many foot and hand warmers to carry, and when to open them, can also figure into the equation. Being exposed to freezing temperatures for hours doesn't do much for computer batteries either. During last January's inauguration of Barak Obama, Tara Walton and I both slapped body warmer heat pads to pieces of equipment to keep the batteries from drainning in the cold.

I’m already missing summer. The decisions are easier!

Rick-tara02a Rick Madonik and Tara Walton on the Washington Mall after the inauguration of Barak Obama. After 5 long hours on the Mall from early morning, we had a two hour walk back to the office. Hand warmers were employed on computer batteries, pockets and gloves.

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You should check out using something called fill flash for something like this, would make the faces stand out much better.

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