North America / United States / Maryland
Jonas, the storm that brought crippling, blizzard conditions to the east coast in the early months of 2016 was a fierce storm indeed. Dumping several feet of snow in less than 24 hours. This of course served as a great opportunity to not only provide some photojournalistic coverage of the city while being hit by the storm (not after, that is SO boring) but it also provided an opportunity for me to test the limits of my gear and clothing.
My expedition began at home, on Guilford Ave, just three blocks from Baltimore, Penn Station. I decided to leave just as the eye of the storm was passing overhead. Giving me a break in the weather (that I knew was still going to batter the city) but also at a point that already had impressive amounts of snow on the ground. I trekked south, along the cities main traffic corridors.
There was no shortage of 'nightlife' abound. From ambulances rushing to persons in need, locals with early onset cabin fever in search of an open establishment to imbibe, and adventurers looking to save money on a lift ticket. While I think it is OK to have fun, there is a a point where interfering with emergency employees trying to do their job at a critical hour is very selfish and dangerous; not to mention becoming a potential victim themselves.
With a ban on non 4x4 vehicles in effect, this driver above was lucky to not get stuck in the storm, get fined by police, or get bowled over by a city plow.
An employee of a private company operates heavy equipment to clear the parking area of a condo community, but with no place to put the excess snow, they dump it on Cathedral St for the plows to clear on their next pass. Further downtown, a Baltimore City employee mans a snow blower and barely puts a dent into the massive amount of snow in front of the National Aquarium. Trying to stay the hell out of his way, I followed the path he was clearing to snipe some shots, along with shooting from greater distances. It is important to not interfere with people doing their job!
SO what does one wear in a blizzard you ask?
And specially when staying light and mobile are both a priority for comfort, and a key to success? How about just two layers of clothing: an moisture wicking base layer by Under Armor, and a thermal cotton long sleeve shirt from Walmart... thats it! This allowed me to stay dry, warm and mobile. The next two (outer) layers are equally as important: an 800 fill, ultralight down jacket (made by a company that still has yet to endorse me) and a waterproof "Summit Series" shell by The North Face. I probably had the shell and the down unzipped halfway, most of the night because this combination was so effective.
The same principal applied to bottoms: Thermal underwear by Uniqlo and ANYTHING but denim for pants. In this case I used some wrangler branded khakis with cargo pockets for extra storage. Keeping my feet dry was also important, so I wore waterproof boots by Columbia and warm thermal socks.
Looking back, it was almost silly to bring along my stove, kettle and packets of hot apple cider because I didn't end up needing them. The Royal Farms convenience store was open when I walked by. Other than that, the rest of my weight was taken up by camera gear.
The Camera Gear:
My iphone almost always serves as an an emergency backup camera, and I did decide to only bring one body and lens combo on this trip: A Canon 7D and 24-105 f4L. The 7d is not only weather sealed, but it is fast (shooting) as well. I did not have a need to get really wide since I was planning on walking everywhere, so my legs acted as a zoom on the wider end. The camera was clipped to my chest harness almost the entire time, allowing me to walk with both hands free, but have immediate access to the camera when needed. DO NOT PACK YOUR CAMERA AWAY, EVER. That is a waste of valuable time when you see a shot.
Because I had such little weight with me, I brought a tripod along in the rare event that I needed long exposures, extra height, or a walking stick. A monopod would have been a better choice for sure.
Stay safe and always properly prepare for the weather you are walking into!