Cold day photography. Fighting the wind.
It was mid-December and we were having our first bout of chilly weather. We needed one more image for an annual report I'd been working on. The art director called to ask if we could do this photo of a rescue driving. He drives on the major toll roads helping people whose cars have run out of gas, had some sort of problem, or need some sort of service to get going again.
Couldn't have picked a better day for this kind of shot. It was windy, overcast and cold. Every once in a while some fat raindrops whipped through. The client had a location and a time in mind and I started packing. Generic camera choice. You could have shot this with just about any make or model and any lens better than a Coke bottle. The real secret for this shot was sandbags. Lots of sandbags.
I got to the location and mapped out where I wanted to shoot from and I started setting up my light. First things first, I put 40 pounds of sandbags on the heavy duty stand before I put anything else on it. Don't do this backwards!!! Don't put the flash head, softbox and modifier on the unballasted stand first or you'll have a sail in your hands. I also attached the 18 pound Elincrhom Ranger RX AS power pack to the stand for extra stability. The winds were mischievous and teased me at ten miles per hour then whipped at 30 mph. My little Elinchrom VariStar umbrella box fluttered like a flag on the top of the stand but everything held.
I set the camera in manual at it's highest flash sync speed and set an exposure that would give me a dreary background. I put half CTO (orange) filtration on the lights and set the camera to a manual WB setting of around 3800K. I shot in raw. When I working in Lightroom I fined tuned the balance between the warmth of the flash on my subject's face and the cool of the background. This example may seem a bit warm but I think it's the contrast of colors that I'm really seeing.
We shot a bunch of variations and then I broke down the set and packed up the car.
Why bring out the "big gun" lights on a cloudy day? I wanted to be able to put the light far enough away and in a light hungry modifier, covered with light sucking conversion gels, and still be able to shoot and recycle quickly enough to keep the shoot moving and my fingers from freezing. The Ranger at half power was giving me more than enough power and clicking along with a steady 2 second recycle time. The much bigger battery, in comparison with the smaller Ranger Quadra or my Profoto 600b meant less slow down from the biting cold (well.....biting in a central Texas sense, meaning low 30's.)
Nice to have the right tools for the job at hand. We were in an out in about an hour and the photo was delivered later that evening in order to meet a review deadline. That's about it.