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Geoff McKay
shooting in the cold/dark
on Dec 4, 2012 at 5:17:43 pm

Hello all,
Last night I shot a search and rescue operation in the dark, about 5 degrees below freezing, very high winds, blizzard conditions. This generated some issues and I was hoping for some suggestions,
1. My lighting gave out on me mid shoot, and I agonized over whether to gain way up for more detail, and accept grainier footage or go the other way. I could make out minimal detail at a lower gain setting. Any suggestions?

2. The Sony EX3 has tiny controls, and no gloves I can find allow me to operate all of them, especially in the dark. The camera storm jacket provided some protection, but my bare hands were screaming after two hours. I missed some shots because I could no longer operate the focus ring. Anybody find anything that works in this regard?

3. Anybody know of a good, reliable, high powered spotlight that is battery powered and could be used in doc. or reality applications?

Geoff


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Scott Sheriff
Re: shooting in the cold/dark
on Dec 5, 2012 at 9:49:21 pm

[Geoff McKay] "1. My lighting gave out on me mid shoot, and I agonized over whether to gain way up for more detail, and accept grainier footage or go the other way. I could make out minimal detail at a lower gain setting. Any suggestions?"

Do what is necessary to get the shot. Use the gain, that is what it is there for. You don't even know what gain grain is until you push a tube camera to +9!

[Geoff McKay] "2. The Sony EX3 has tiny controls, and no gloves I can find allow me to operate all of them, especially in the dark. The camera storm jacket provided some protection, but my bare hands were screaming after two hours. I missed some shots because I could no longer operate the focus ring. Anybody find anything that works in this regard?"

Lot's of cold WX shooting in Colorado ski country. We use mittens designed for hunting that are really a mitten over a half finger glove that folds back to allow finger access. Any good hunting store Bass Pro, Cabellas, etc should have these. Also check places that carry tactical shooting gear. Also you can wear silk full finger 'glove liners', which are just really snug fitting silk gloves that are like long-johns for your fingers. Once again hunting and outdoor shops will sell these. These won't stop you from using the camera controls, and will limit bare skin exposure with the shooting gloves when you have them folded back to use your fingers.

[Geoff McKay] "3. Anybody know of a good, reliable, high powered spotlight that is battery powered and could be used in doc. or reality applications?"

Gaff tape those disposable thermal heat packs to your camera and lighting battery to keep it warm. These are sold anywhere that you find hunters or skier gear. Also army surplus stores usually have them. Warm batteries, are happy batteries. Also put these in your boots, gloves and they even make a vest with pockets for the heat packs.

Scott Sheriff
SST Digital Media
Multi-Camera Director, VFX and Post Production

The Affordable Camera Dolly is your just right solution!


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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Geoff McKay
Re: shooting in the cold/dark
on Dec 5, 2012 at 10:14:15 pm

Hey Scott,
Thanks for the great advice. I will implement the suggestions. This weekend the same Search and Rescue group is doing overnight, winter survival training, which I will also be shooting. It'll be a great opportunity for a field test.


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Shawn Hughes
Re: shooting in the cold/dark
on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:59:15 am

Scott make some great points. Have you considered making yourself a longer cable, and putting the batteries inside your coat?

Also, don't forget you can use your light to warm your fingers too...

I want to try those nasa gloves they are selling now. They're very thin, but they're supposed to reflect a lot of heat.

Shawn


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Mark Suszko
Re: shooting in the cold/dark
on Mar 19, 2013 at 3:57:33 pm

Stretchy glove liners that mix Polypropylene and mylar look like something Michael Jackson would wear on one hand, but they work great for keeping the fingers warm; these also come in socks form. Then you wear one of the mittens with hinged tops already mentioned over the liners. Ski shops will have these.

Some survival type guys swear by wrapping your feet in plastic bread bags before putting on the socks, as a way to keep the feet warm.

We used to keep all our spare nicad BP90 and NP1 batteries inside the coat, up under our armpits. Not elegant, but warm batteries run longer.

If your cameras are tape-based, a self-powered or 12 volt car plug powered fan or blow dryer might be useful to clear dew warnings from condensation, but you should be careful at all times about moving a cold camera into warm humid air or expecting a warm camera to go direct into the cold. Cameras need acclimatization time.

Practice power management and only shoot when there is a real, useful shot to be had. Power down in between shot opportunities.

LED lights will run longer in cold weather than tungsten, but don't have the same reach.

Keep a spare multi-bulb LED flashlight in your pocket with some velcro strap, magnet, or other clamping mechanism, to use as a spare video camera light. The color balance will be off, but a tinted shot is better than no shot at all.


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