If You Are Cold, You Are Stupid

Lunar eclipse, Ballingeary, Co. Cork
Lunar eclipse, Ballingeary, Co. Cork
Winter is a great time for landscape photographers in Ireland. It means we don't have to get up five minutes before we've gone to bed to set off for a sunrise shoot. And then there is the magic that a dusting of snow adds to any landscape. While the photograph above of a lunar eclipse would have worked well without the snow, it adds genuine atmosphere to the picture. There are drawbacks. Winter is cold. Bitterly so here in Ireland when it really gets going. That means taking precautions and limiting the amount of discomfort you find yourself in while out taking pictures. Clothing is important, but can't protect every inch of you all the time, especially your fingers. Although the time can't be too far away when we can tell our cameras what to do by speaking to them, for now fingers are needed to poke and prod them into action. That means exposing your fingertips. But that's about as much as you should leave unprotected. (Ironically, the same can be said of me on a beach in the summer—I burn easily, so I keep exposure to the sun to a minimum.)

Fashionably cold

Although this is common sense, you'd be astonished how many people don't seem to have it. My sister Ronadh, who is a professor of geosciences, often takes undergraduates on field trips. Geoscientists go to some barren and open places. Cold and windy. But she has learned over many years that young students lack the ability to plan their wardrobe accordingly. They lack the understanding that fashion and scientific fieldwork in harsh conditions don't gel. There is a reason you can't get an Armani spacesuit. To avoid people going hypothermic on her, she sends out a list of clothing requirements ahead of field trips. Written at the bottom are the words, "If you are cold, you are stupid". A couple of weeks ago, my young son forgot to bring his coat to school. As I dropped him at the school gates, I saw the opportunity for a teachable moment. "Son," I said, "you won't be able to play outdoors at the breaks for very long because you'll get cold." I hoped he would learn the lesson of leaving home better prepared next time. To make sure, I used my sister's line. "If you're cold, you're stupid," I told him. It seemed to settle in his brain. I felt pleased with my parenting as I drove home. I rock as a dad. A few days later, my wife was sitting at home and commented that she felt chilly. Quick as a flash, my son turned to her and said in an earnest voice, "Mum, if you're cold, you're stupid." I don't know where he gets it from.

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