Hunting often requires its practitioners to face extreme weather conditions. Depending on the season, going outside on the plains before sunrise could mean sitting in roughly 15-degree Fahrenheit weather with possible windchill, too.
While an insulated jacket can keep a hunter warm, what about the four-legged companion he brings to retrieve the game? Gunner Kennels recently took their new All-Weather Kit 2.0 and cold weather door into the field to demonstrate their heat-saving capabilities using a FLIR T-Series thermal imaging camera.
When promoting products like kennel insulation kits, the challenge is how one conveys warmth to customers who can’t be there to experience it. Thermal imaging provides both temperature data proving the product’s efficacy and an objective visual indication of warmth when customers can’t be there in person to feel it themselves.
Armed with a FLIR T860 High-Performance Thermal Camera, 29 mm telephoto lens, 17 mm standard lens, and 10 mm wide angle lens, photographer Christopher Dowell and videographer Sean O’neill headed out on the Kansas plains to document how the Gunner Kennels retained heat. Side-by-side thermal comparisons showed a difference of almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit between a kennel with Gunner’s cold weather kit and one without.
The kennel on the left had their cold weather kit while the one on the right did not. (Credit: Christopher Dowell)
A commercial photographer who specializes in the outdoor industry and hunting, Dowell’s experience didn’t include the use of a thermal imaging camera. Despite the difference in technology, Dowell says he found the T860 easy to use and operated it all day without issue.
As you might imagine, being in the middle of Kansas hunting grounds doesn’t lend itself to gear heavy shoots very well. Dowell aimed to stay as portable as possible and was able to shoot everything they needed on just two cameras: a standard DSLR and the FLIR T860 fitted together one a custom rig designed to hold both cameras to shoot thermal and standard video simultaneously from the same view.
“We need to move kind of quickly if birds are coming in and you don't necessarily have time to have a large rig to pick up, move, and sit down. We were able to stay nimble and move around with the FLIR rig though,” Dowell says.
Dowell had to keep up with dogs and hunters while walking around the Kansas plains. (Credit: Christopher Dowell)
The thermal camera was light and portable enough to easily incorporated with the rest of Dowell’s gear. “It was fantastic to use and hold. The ergonomics of the design was great and if it was just the thermal camera out there, shooting would have been a breeze,” Dowell says. The T860 30 Hz image frequency was fast enough to shoot thermal video and pull stills as they need to later, eliminating the need to switch between shooting modes.
The shoot took place at Fowl Plains Outfitters in Kansas from 8 a.m. till sunset, or about 8 p.m. Despite being a 12-hour shoot and taking place in the cold, windy plains, Dowell was able to complete his shoot using just two full batteries for the camera. “It’s always nice to know that they last these long shoots, especially in the cold. We were outside the whole time in mid-20’s and it held up well.”
A handprint on the kennel provides a striking image while showing off the T-series incredible thermal sensitivity. (Credit: Christopher Dowell)
You can see the full video over at Gunner’s youtube channel.
You can find more of Chris’s work on his website and Instagram.