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[by Gail Mooney]
There’s an old saying “Showing up is 80% of life”. I suppose there’s some truth to that, but if you simply “show up” on most photo shoots, you’ll most likely blow the job.
It’s hard to pick just one assignment to write about, in terms of having to deal with a challenge or solving a problem. That’s because almost every assignment I’ve ever had, has had its challenges or problems that needed to be addressed. In almost every situation, I was aware of the challenges I was up against, before I “showed up”. The key was to be prepared.
One particularly difficult assignment was a video production that dealt with “ice”.
We had to shoot in a climate-controlled environment, where the temperature had to be kept below 8 degrees! We also had to shoot everything on “green screen” and since most of what we were shooting was large in scale, our “green screen” needed to cover a lot of background.
Our initial thoughts concerned our own comfort. How would we stay relatively warm throughout the day? That was the easiest of our problems to solve. Then our attention turned to our gear. How will our video cameras hold up in a frigid environment? What about static electricity? How will we handle the green screen? How we will light the set?
For the green screen, we opted to use green screen fabric. It worked great except for one thing – the fans that were generating the cold blasts of air were wreaking havoc with our fabric background. Our only option was to turn the fans off when we shot, and that meant we had to shoot quickly.
To keep our cameras warm, we put them in “polar mittens” which did the job, but were extremely cumbersome to shoot with. Our challenge in terms of lighting was to avoid getting condensation on the bulbs when we turned the lights off. We were using “hot lights” at the time, so we had to leave them on all day and then wrap them tightly in plastic bags when we were finished and let them gradually acclimate to warmer temperatures. We also needed to be mindful of condensation on the cameras, so we wrapped them up as well. It was 95 degrees that day and it was a slow and tedious process! These days we’ would use LED lights, but the hot lights did provide a bit of relief from the cold when we stood in the warmth of their glow.
Generally speaking, most jobs do come with challenges, and most can be solved, if you are well prepared.
Gail Mooney writes about other helpful tips for photographers who are transitioning to motion in her book “The Craft and Commerce of Video and Motion”.