Emergency Vehicle Session

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On a cold day in January, I got in my car and traveled to Haverhill, MA for a commercial shoot of emergency vehicles at sunset. The temps were in the teens, and I had a little bit of anxiety about my batteries holding up. It turns out I really didn’t have to worry about the batteries. What I had to worry most about was my on-board meter. It became useless in the torrent of bright, flashing lights. All of a sudden I had to shoot like I used to shoot film. Bracket, bracket, bracket, guess, guess, guess. The trick was to keep the shutter open long enough to catch the whole light cycle, but keep the exposure looking like it was taken at sunset.

I took all the precautions that I could think of, kept my camera cold and my batteries in my pocket. The difficulty came anyway because just breathing while framing a picture is a hazard for the image when it’s that cold. What fun I had though, and the images came out great, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I learned quite a bit about cold weather shooting that day. As most cameras are only rated for functioning normally above 31 degrees (mostly for the LCD operation), there was a small question in my mind of just how hard this was going to be, but I knew that it was possible because people do shoot in even colder temps. If it is possible, I’m totally game for trying it.

Luckily, my LCD didn’t freeze, so I tried the histogram to help me out. That was also confused by the bright lights, and made every image appear as though it was over-exposed when it wasn’t. With the image preview I was able to get a ballpark idea of where my exposure was, and bracket from there, so I wasn’t completely shooting blind. What did keep freezing though, was the viewfinder & the glass over the LCD — when I carried it around my body heat would cause condensation which would instantly freeze. I had to scrape them off a few times, and some shots had a thin fog over the lens. It was one of those sessions that was worth every second to me. I was challenged. It kept me thinking, scheming, adjusting, trying, moving. I really, really loved working this job, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Feedback is most welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

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