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To take a little break from winter and the subzero temperatures hovering over Alaska’s interior, I went back in my summer archives and reviewed some photos taken in June. This picture is from a great encounter with a young grizzly bear, that curiously posed for a long time, which in wildlife photography, is anything longer than a quick glance. What was worthy of note in this particular frame was the very shallow depth of field due to the long focal length of 500mm, my close proximity to the bear, and shooting almost wide open with an aperture of f/5.6. In times like these, critical focus is all the more apparent and important. The eyes, an important element to have in focus, are very sharp. The nose however, is quite soft, which reveals how little depth of field there is in those specific shooting parameters.

Grizzly bear on the springtime tundra in Denali National park, Alaska. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/160 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 400

The narrow depth of field reveals that the eyes are very sharp, but the nose is soft.

For those of you who own or care about cold weather battery performance in the Canon 5D Mark III, I further optimized on the recent cold snap in Fairbanks and did another battery test to see how well the LP-E6 performed in colder weather. At minus -31 degrees F, the camera and battery still held up reasonably well.

Details: The camera was at room temperature before going outside, so performance is probably a little better starting at this temp, compared to replacing a battery in a very cold camera to start with. I put a corded release in the camera and took continuous 30 second exposures, with long exposure noise reduction turned off.

The important thing the graph reveals is that the battery performance percentage is fairly consistent up to about 50% and then the batter just goes dead. So be advised that if you are monitoring the battery performance level in your LCD display, it is not a truly linear representation. The graph shows how after a gradual decline up to 2:20 minutes, it just tanked after that and died completely. The 2-2.5 hour mark seems to be about the performance level of this battery in temps around -20 to -30 degrees below zero (F).

  • dachez - thank for your review
    sorry for my english im french and live in quebec city
    nice pictures.

  • Jim McCann - Thanks for doing this kind of testing and offering the information to us, Patrick. Really appreciate it. And I suppose you “bagged” the camera before bringing it back inside? And how long do you leave it in the bag to avoid condensation? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Patrick Endres - Jim,
      I wrapped the camera in a big down parka before bringing it inside and let it slowly come up to room temperature.ReplyCancel

Adelie penguins hauled out on floating icebergs near Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula.

As I prepare for an upcoming trip to Antarctica, I was doing some photo reminiscing from my travels there two years ago. Since then, Lighrtoom 4 has been released so I went back to a few files to re process them with the new algorithms of LR4. I came across this photo of Adelie penguins launching off an iceberg. Who can not like penguins? They are intrinsically humorous in their movements, very fun to watch, and as much fun to photograph. On sunny summer days in the southern hemisphere it can be bright. And having just spent time photographing polar bears in the arctic, under very borderline lighting conditions, I was even shocked to see this exposure of 1/800 sec @ f/14, ISO 400. Plenty of light for stop action shutter speeds and generous depth of field. I’ll be giving a few lectures during our 2 week voyage and one will discuss ways to optimize the exposure of a RAW file in the field, so you get the maximum benefit in post production. Time to start the packing and planning process, it is going to be a great trip.

  • Ken Dobson - Perfectly timed capture. Nice job!ReplyCancel

  • Janice Hartmann - I agree about loving penguins and look forward to living this experience vicariously through your amazing trek! ;) ReplyCancel

A few years ago I witnessed and photographed an amazing natural history moment. The Grant Creek wolf pack in Denali Park attacked and killed a baby moose while the cow moose attempted to fend off the predators. Someone sent me a link yesterday to a video taken of that event, the first one that I’ve seen. You can view that event at the link below. (but beware it is a visceral and harsh visual story) If anyone knows who took the video, I would like to connect with them.

Video of the Grant Creek wolf pack attacking a baby moose in Denali National Park.

These wolves have been in the news again as discussion about a buffer zone around the perimeter of Denali National Park has made headline news recently. Wolves from this pack were legally trapped just outside the park boundary last year, and apparently the did not reproduce this year.  Wildlife viewing is a significant reason for many visitors coming to Alaska and it has intrinsic economic value. Re establishing the buffer zone would likely give some protection to these animals. Unfortunately,  the popular wildlife sightings of these animals in the recent past along the Denali Park road will likely diminish considerably in the future.

Cow moose defends her newly born calf from the Grant Creek wolf pack who attack them in a small tundra pond, Denali National Park. In the end, the wolves got the baby moose.

The still images that I took from this event can be viewed on my previous posts:

Gallery of all the photos from that scene

  • chuck ashley - Hey Patrick,
    I was just telling a co-worker about this video in regarding of How wolves actually hunt. In this case the alpha female distracts the cow while her pack concentrate on taking out the calf. Wolves are very intelligent & adaptive hunters unlike humans which put out some bait & sit on their behinds & shoot when they see their target go after the bait fire away or worse yet do what Coke Wallace did and just kill his horse & set up snares around it. He didn’t even care about the fur but instead waited til after the April thaw to check the snares! I fear for the remaining wolves in Denali as the chances for re-implementing the buffer as the board seems stacked with wolf hating hunters and they may fall prey to similar scum.ReplyCancel

I’m often asked about how my camera functions in the cold. So far, in my practical experience, I’ve never really experienced camera failure from the cold with Canon’s 1D and 5D series cameras. I usually fail first. So, for the curious ones out there who own a Canon 5D III and wonder how it may perform in cold weather, I conducted a few tests recently to chime in on this subject. Fairbanks has been having some below normal temperatures for this time of year, so I thought I’d take advantage of that chill. Since my office is in the hills, where it is generally 15 degrees or so warmer, I escaped the -40 below zero temps of the low lands.

Test one: Camera function in the cold -20 degrees

I placed my Canon 5D Mark III outside on a tripod in -16 to -20 degree temperatures, with a  fully charged battery and took one picture approximately every 15 minutes. After 10 hours, the camera worked fine and the battery still read a full charge.

No noticeable problems, other than a little slower reveal on the LCD screens.

Test two: Battery function in the cold -20 degrees

After the camera spent 20 hours in -20 temperatures, I put a freshly charged battery in the cold camera and plugged in a release cord and set it to take consecutive 15 second exposures (Long Exposure Noise Reduction turned off). The camera fired away for three hours until the battery ran out of  juice.

The camera worked fine, but I did notice that after sitting outside for an entire day, the small buttons on the top of the camera did not activate the respective functions. For example, the ISO changing button did not work, so I changed the ISO using the back display using the Q button. Pretty impressive performance all in all.

If it get’s really cold in the hills, I’ll repeat this test again.



  • Calin - Thank you for this Patrick!!! I am wondering if the temperature was C or F.

    I live in Canada and I have a wedding tomorrow…and I am concerned about my 5dMIII camera…Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Kollin Brinkerhoff - Thanks a ton for doing this test and sharing the results. Did the buttons ever work again?ReplyCancel

  • Patrick Endres - Rick, can you please explain further? What are the conditions? The lens itself should not fog up. However, if you are near water it may frost/fog depending on temperatures and moisture conditions.ReplyCancel

  • Rick Williams - I am having problems with my lens fogging up on cold nights. Any suggestions?ReplyCancel

  • Greg Syverson - Ejoyed seeing the vido of the moose trying to protect her calf. We filmed a sequence where a small number of wolves took down a caribou. Very interesting to watch. Some may find it sad…but we all know it is the way of life in the wild. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Greg Syverson - I tested my Canon 5D Mark3 in -5 to -20 and had no problems other than what you mentioned. The buttons did not always do what they were suppose to. Later it worked just fine. Your report on battery life is 100% correct from my experience.

    You really have provided a lot of great information for other to learn. I would be happy to share you site with others that ask about auroras. I am just a guy that loves to be out there in the cold in the middle of the night. Just do not have the skills to write about it as you. Best Wishes and your aurora photography is outstanding.ReplyCancel

  • Ricky L Jones - Nicely done, I’ve have had issues with the older Canon batteries in cold weather. I never tried my 7D below -10 but good to know about the 5DMk3ReplyCancel

  • Patrick Endres - Thank you Jim!ReplyCancel

  • Jim McCann - Wow! That is some valuable information, Patrick! That’s the sort of stuff I always wonder but likely would never do the testing myself. Thank you very much for doing this. I love my 5D III. Perhaps you could someday share with us something about your computer and backup system? Thanks for all you do.ReplyCancel