12500ft High, Thin Air & Water Everywhere!

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12500ft High, Thin Air & Water Everywhere!

“Photography sometimes provides a challenge for me, it offers a chance to work in challenging locations, facing extreme weather and circumstance, and I have learned to control this in my workflow.”

Location shooting can often create so many problems for production, the team, for me and the other creatives. My remit is not just to look after the group by direction but as the person who has to bring home the bacon from any location shoot keep decorum and a focus to what needs to happen.

Four long cable cars to the top, this takes the best part of an hour to reach the summit. The views on the way to the top are stunning.

When we arrived, the weather was beautiful and sunny but cold with fabulously stunning panoramic views across the mountain tops.

Working at 12500ft, the weather is similar to Iceland and changes every few minutes unless stable air pressure is above us. Clouds flying in from below just quickly obliterated the location – my problem would be how to get the final shots when the whole team has spent over an hour getting to the summit?

Next day we were up early and began hour-long convoy of camper vans and cars to the location. Unpacking, we started our ascent to the top and weather at first seemed favourable. Kit all gathered and people gathered we headed to the summit of Hintertux.
“We approached the entrance into the Ice Cave via the side of the actual Glacier.”

As we followed up via a chiselled path, we entered the side of the glacier and into a winter wonderland of ice. Through the opening, were magnificent ice structures and lots of low-level lighting.

The air was weighty and damp, water was running and dripping everywhere which we to be a problem shooting. However, I had decided to bring a collection of LED light panels and handheld lights power by batteries and one battery generator pack which stored charged electricity — a perfect and safe way to power up.

Water was running all over.
The actual position which seemed the best location to work in was through some holes in the ice wall when climbed through would allow you to stand on an ice floor with giant and quite dangerous ice columns surrounding the shooting position.

The floor level was the ceiling to a large ice cave below, and if it collapsed, we would fall into ice-cold water fifty meters beneath us. No health and safety measure here!

Setting the light panels and supplementary secondary lighting was tricky, the leading lights of which I used three dimmable light panels and no diffusion. The main problem was how to keep them dry as the water was running everywhere. The light panels were all dimmed accordingly to create an atmospheric setting, and we added gels to them.

Jackie, the model, was from Germany and had such a great attitude which helps when the location is tricky. She’s as perfect for this particular shot as could be, because of her happy and engaging demeanour. For her, nothing was too much of a problem, and the cold was not going to put her off. 

Some models with an uncompromising attitude make some shoots draining and hard work.

Here we were okay 🙂 Inside this part of the cave, the air was very clammy, cold and damp and was effecting the camera gear, steaming up and getting quite moist. Time was of the essence, set up, time would eat into the models comfort zone; it’s also imperative you get to the shoot quickly; otherwise, she would develop goosebumps.

“As a rule, I don’t shoot naked models like some prefer.”

The client decided to up the game and put the model and me on the spot. In these circumstances, it is essential to read the situation. While I felt uncomfortable, I realised the shot would be better if we somehow contained her nakedness. Her arms masked her nakedness the shot work, and the direction allowed for the perfect look.

La Befana

Shot entirely on location in Austria and part of European 27-day production. The final look for the client which shows lighting with a very simple LED light and my own post-production techniques. The final image was marketed throughout Europe via German production and clients.

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