Diary of a Shoot, Day 8 – Shut Down Again, Extend the Shoot

Coffee and Snowstorms

Kina and me sitting by the lodge window waiting for a weather window.

When I say shut down. I mean. Shut. Down. Another day of zero pictures, zero footage. We have a few crucial shots to get in the can before we can leave. I’m talking ‘must have’…so we’re not messing around anymore. It’s do or die, but today it just wasn’t happening.

The beauty of shooting in a studio is that you can control more of the variables. You’ve got power where you want it, the weather is on a thermostat, the audio is contained…you get it. Alternatively, the big, wide outdoor world–especially in the mountains where we are for this gig–is about as far from a studio as you can get. And we’re experiencing that for our 5th day out of the past 8 days.

Yesterday, Mother Nature pulled a fast one on us… Today we planned on having none of it so we were up early, atop the mountain and we literally sat there, at the ready, for any break she gave us. For the entire day. And lo and behold, she gave us no breaks. It dumped snow all day and blew up to 50 or 60 mph for hours on end. All the while our entire crew sat inside the mountain top lodge, waiting for a break that never came.

This is not the first time this has happened in my career, or even the 20th, and it certainly won’t be the last. Through these times, I’ve learned… … that there are two primary thoughts are typically in my head. 1) this sucks, but the only thing we can do about is…2) be ready for it when the weather clears. Keep tweaking the plan, stay ready. By keeping our knees bent, ready to roll cameras when the opportunity presents itself, we’re staying sane, and doing all we can.

Tim on weather watch

Our location scout Tim braving the elements as he puts in his time on weather watch.

Once you’re in that position, and you’ve stared out the window enough, sometimes you go a little stir crazy. That was the case today. We rehearsed as much as we could. We ate junk food. We laughed. We napped. We were bored. We were hopeful. And we were disciplined as all hell. And at end of the day we still had nothing. The redeeming quality of it all was that we were there. Waiting. In a sick sort of way it felt good to stand up to Mother Nature and let her know that we were there waiting. Knocking. Half out of respect, half out of spite, half out of there’s nothing else you can do. Three halves make a whole.

Scott keeps an eye out for sun

Scott begins the senseless antics that result from a long weather hold.

Jason and Kina make the best

AD, Jason and superstar athlete, Kina make the best of the bad situation with humor.

Getting the plan dialed

Working with Jason the AD on getting the storyboard even MORE nailed so we're as ready as can be when we get some light.

Scott getting blown around

The crew stepped outside for a little rehearsal at one point. Here you can see Scott struggling to even walk in the pounding storm with high gusting winds.

And you know what? We’re doing it again tomorrow. We’ve decided with our producers that the plan is to be back on the hill at 7am when the sun rises. Waiting. We’ll take a snowcat to the summit and wait some more, until mother nature deems us worthy. Until we get what we need.

We slid off the mountain at dark. And funny enough we gathered–the whole pile of us…20 or more at this time now in the shoot…at Honga’s restaurant for what was supposed to be our “wrap party.” In the event you don’t know what a wrap party is, that’s the party that ends almost every production in our biz…where the crew gets together to celebrate a job well done. If you’re asking why we’re celebrating before we’re done, that’s a fair question….

Recall back, if you will, to the beginning of the shoot–and my first blog post in this series–where I called this out as “an 8 day shoot.” Well, here it is, day 8, and we’re not done. Yet the producers had planned tonight’s for us well in advance. So we’re finding ourselves “celebrating” before the work is complete. For good reason, the mood at the “party” is festive, but subdued. Normally, people are seriously unwinding after a week of 18 hour days like we’ve had. But tonight’s gathering is more like a Sunday dinner with family. No glorious toasts, no pictures, no hooting and hollering. It’s warm and polite, but we all know there is work to be done. A few toasts – mostly in hopes of good weather tomorrow – and just one or two rounds of drinks, and we’re all headed back to the hotel.

Most of us were originally scheduled to fly home tomorrow. But that can only happen if we finish. There’s a lot on the line. Besides all the blood, sweat, tears, and the emotion of the crew, there are thousands and thousands of dollars on the line in for the client in airline change fees, extra hotel, talent, and crew fees etc etc if we don’t finish. Suffice it to say, we’re ALL feeling hopeful that all goes well. It’s not fun watching a client spending more money than they had planned. For anybody.

So… if you’re reading this, now is the time more than ever that we could use all your weather mojo. Send whatever weather chips you’re willing to cash in on us. We need it for tomorrow. If Mother Nature gives us even the hint of a chance with the weather, we’ll nail it. You have my word.

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60 Responses to Diary of a Shoot, Day 8 – Shut Down Again, Extend the Shoot

  1. Bernie March 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    I don’t want to question your decision to not shoot since I’ve never been in that position as an employee. But for those of us that still go out in these conditions–the kind of people that buy REI (and other brands) gear and use it for what it’s intended purpose is and not a brand name label–aren’t these the perfect conditions to shoot in?

    If I’m going to buy a $400 Gor-Tex Jacket, I want to know that it’s going to stand up in conditions like this. And while it’s awesome to see shots of it atop 9,000ft peaks on cloudless days, shouldn’t there also be something to say it can handle the worst?

    Just a thought.

    • Sam. March 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

      Bernie, Imma through this out there, but I don’t think it’s that they didn’t have the stomach to go out there, but more that they couldn’t get the results they required with the conditions as they were.

    • David Dvir March 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

      Bernie,

      It’s true that it would be awesome to get those shots for people to see the gear in use in it’s most extreme situation, unfortunately, it’s just not possible. Those conditions of wind and snow make for pretty poor visibility, if you’re even able to snap an image to begin with, it would be a white/gray haze of a mess with an athlete/model struggling to stand up :P .

      It’s a sneaky industry sometimes and whenever you want to capture those crazy moments, you sadly.. have to fake it. You’d get some high power fans and snow machines so that you can still take the shot. Same way a food photographer uses glycerin to mimic condensation or water droplets on a cold drink.

      But you’re right on in terms of “shouldn’t there also be something to say it can handle the worst?”

      Chase + Team,

      We’ve got beautiful sun just below freezing today.. I’ll pack up what I can and send it your way! Good luck!

      • Craig McDiarmid March 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

        Also, if you read chases post from yesterday, there were continuity issues. They shot a whole lot of stuff on day 6 that had beautiful blue skies as the backdrop, if they went out today and tried to shoot it would look out of place with day 6′s stuff.

    • Ant March 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

      I think it’s more to do with continuity. They shot in sunshine a couple of days ago, and I guess the concept doesn’t allow for such big shifts in weather.

    • Chase March 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      @ bernie. as i mentioned in earlier posts we actually shot in those horrible conditions on sunday monday and tuesday. REI is authentic. I froze out some cameras in the process – we got the shots. But we now needed some sun to complete the range of imagery required for the shoot brief. That’s why we’re waiting.

      • Bernie March 28, 2011 at 9:04 am #

        I guess I misread or wasn’t reading closely enough–my apologies. I worked in the outdoor retail industry (not REI, but a major brand they sell) for 4 years and sometimes got frustrated at the marketing strategies. Of course, that’s also not something left entirely up to you; I can imagine that REI’s directions were pretty specific about what kind of images they wanted. Just hoping that they’re actually going to use a shot or two that shows product in tough weather.

        Thanks for the reply! Getting to hear about this “live” is pretty sweet too.

  2. Tai Gray March 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    I’ll be prayin’ for amazing weather!

  3. Sam. March 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Well Chase, for what it’s worth, my fingers are crossed.

    Hope it happens for you.

    Sam.

  4. Lacy Dagerath March 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Sending some love/prayers/thoughts/good mojo your way! Something is sure to work! ;)

  5. Ivonne March 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    I do hope the conditions for the shooting get better, I know how it feels and it gets frustrating after a while. I know you’re keeping the good mood and the optimism.

  6. Jim Denham March 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Sending good weather vibes your way! Hope you guys get it in tomorrow and knock it out of the park! Good luck!

  7. Tim March 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Dang, best of luck to you guys for good weather for tomorrow.

  8. Eric March 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    How do you keep spirits up and your teams’ as well?

    • Chase March 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

      Humor works. Also, acknowledging that there’s not much you can do is a nice stress reliever to those that are pulling their hair out. chill out now and be intense when it’s time to get the goods.

  9. Callum March 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Thats a fair point but if the snow is dumping so you ant see the athletes through the lens, and they in turn cant spot the landing then its a no go. I mean it also depends on what Chase has planned for that day, and at the risk of sounding like a fan boy – if he cant do it I doubt there are any who can !

  10. Rob March 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Hey Chase,

    I feel your pain, another day at the mercy of Mother Nature. Let’s just say your just coming over the top of the last big drop on that roller coaster of a shoot. You know that feeling where you just want it to slide on home but you just haven’t quite had enough and you just want one more big rush. It’s coming and your gonna nail it!
    I’m doing a crazy weather dance and sending you all my good weather vibes.
    Sun is on the way and the wind is at bay……..

    Kill it!

  11. Shane O' Sullivan March 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Would not like to be hauling a bag of primes and 70-200mm up that hill! And your Macbook, and 2 bodies, oh lord!

  12. Anonymous March 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    amongst all of the chaos, how do you guys manage to keep a track of all the gear you got to the site and make sure its all back to Seattle again?

    and also to get my earlier Q answered, I post it again:

    Quote “Now…how do you manage to protect you gear from all that cold white stuff and the weather. I do know that Nikon and B&H does support you well on that. For for amateurs like me who cant afford spoiling gear…anytips….precautions to be taken.?

    Moreover do you or dont u think that if one has no particular experience in that helicopter stuff…thats a potential risk to gear?” Unquote. :)

    Best,
    Abhi.

    • Scott Rinckenberger March 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

      Abhi,

      Thanks for the question. As Chase’s first assistant, It’s my job to see that all of the equipment is kept track of and is protected from the elements. We have more gear than Chase, Erik and myself are able to carry around on the mountain on skis, but with the help of a couple of other members of the crew, we can travel around on skis with gear enough for a still and commercial video shoot.

      Each member of the crew is very good at keeping an eye out for each other, to the extent that we all know that a pair of sunglasses laying around goes back to Deb, the stylist, and that a lens cap or memory card needs to make it back to me. This combination of Chase, Erik and myself keeping our things in good order, and a savvy crew taking up any slack keeps our bags tight and gear accounted for. Once the job is done we’ll take mission critical gear for our next project (starting immediately on our return) with us on the plane and ship the rest through an expediting company we’ve worked with many times and with great success.

      As to keeping it out of the elements, it’s a challenge. We use the best gear we can because the magnesium bodies and environmental seals that Nikon markets in it’s high end gear is the real deal. High end pro gear is very good in the elements. That’s not to say that you can’t break it. A member of our crew had a personal SLR camera malfunction on this shoot because water got in the HDMI port, this could just as easily have happened to some of our gear. Because of this, we try to keep gear covered from the elements as much as possible, and carry backups of anything we can’t live without.

  13. Lee March 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Chase,

    A huge thanks to you for publishing this series of blog posts. As an aspiring photographer, it has totally opened my eyes to the kind of commitment and work involved to make it in this industry!

    Keep up the good work, hope the weather gives you a break soon.

    All the best from England.

    Lee

  14. Kate Becker March 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    I will try hard to turn those winds and snow toward NY.

    Good Luck and thanks for once again, sharing everything.

  15. Ant March 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    As someone who has been on the client side of things in this kind of situation, I can feel for you here. It’s nice to hear this perspective for a change. The thing to remember is that the images you can get in the wild should be stronger than what you get in the studio, but in the wild you are subject to mother nature’s whims. I think the client will understand when you deliver an excellent product at the end of the shoot.

  16. Costas March 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Hey Chase
    If you ever come to Europe, please plan a visit to Greece. I promise to show you all the secret spots and take you to all the “Big Blue”-style locations to make it up for you for this ordeal you are getting through. Mother Nature is usually more forgiving here…

    Hope you get it tomorrow_C.

  17. Aleksei Saunders March 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys – hopefully our Denver weather will head your way.

    Cheers,
    Alex

    • Mark Alison March 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      Yes, Aleksei! It has been a beautiful day here in Denver. Chase deserves a break for all he and his team does!

      - Mark

  18. Laurie March 27, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    It must be frustrating being ready to go and just waiting for the sun to pop through. Keeping my fingers crossed, sending good vibes, and praying that mother nature cuts you a break tomorrow.

    Thanks for the updates, Chase!

  19. Lori March 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    I have to admit that I would much prefer the mystery/challenges that you face with the weather being unpredictable/uncontrollable vs. a studio…doesn’t it make for much more excitement/suspense? Plus, the added satisfaction upon success of an awesome capture that you were licking your lips for!!! Just sayin’…

  20. Lori March 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    I have to admit that I would much prefer the mystery/challenges that you face with the weather being unpredictable/uncontrollable vs. a studio…doesn’t it make for much more excitement/suspense? Plus, the added satisfaction upon success of an awesome capture that you were licking your lips for!!! Just sayin’ on the bright side…

  21. Elis W. Alves March 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Wow! Loving the series, Chase! Gives us a real taste of what it’s like!
    I’ve finally been able to read your diary and am praying for good weather for you guys tomorrow! all the best! :c)

  22. Braden Wilson March 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Took down my Christmas tree today to send you some good weather vibes! Best of luck, loving the reality of this series. Keep it up!

  23. TimR March 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    I think a lot of the general public don’t realize photographers aren’t really paid to press the shutter button, they’re paid to keep their cool and head in the game in situations like this. And you and your creative team, Chase, are the coolest around (literally and figuratively at the moment—hoping it clears for you tomorrow!).

  24. mel haynes March 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Chase, I live in Denver. I just washed my car. Im chumming the waters here to bring that shark, mother nature over to my neck of the woods.

    Good luck to you and your crew.

  25. jetgreen1 March 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    More bad for Monday..Tuesday is cherry though!

  26. Pitboy March 27, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    I dialed up and put the order in for Late Monday night; clearing skies, mild wind. Tues mostly clear and low wind, but get-er-dun, cant hold out for Wed. Monday work day is a guarantee sit around day … sorry, read the blog a little late today, too late to change that.

    • Pitboy March 28, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      ok, so I lied, Mon am perfect, its a wrap, and on the flight.

  27. Michael Hurcomb March 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Good luck tomorrow!

    I’m loving this diary! Makes me feel better about the craziness of my shooting schedule this week.

  28. DanielKphoto March 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    I will cross my fingers for good weather man! Good luck :)

  29. Henrik Joensson March 28, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    Im sending all my good weather your way! Hope you get the shots you need.

  30. diala chinedu March 28, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    I keep my fingers crossed for you guys…hope nature is on ur side on the next shoot day!!!

  31. Anne-Marie March 28, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    Ok, I’ll do a Sun Dance for you ;-) Best of luck!

  32. Edmond Terakopian March 28, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    Hope you get a break in the weather and have a full day of perfect conditions mate :-)

  33. Ted McAusher March 28, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    I feel bad saying this, but your bad luck sure makes for an educational read. This is one of those moments it’s impossible to know about unless you’re deep in the business (which I’m not). And it’s just great to read about. I’m hoping for good weather for you all, I really look forward to seeing the product of all your struggles.

  34. Rodman March 28, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    Chase,

    I have tremendous appreciation for your transparency, but I have to admit, putting aside creative genius, that your hours are neither long or stressful. I have the benefit of working in a more lucrative (i.e., monetarily) job and, unfortunately, more demanding in terms of hours and stress; however, I DO find myself questioning whether I should take a shot at a life filled with demanding creativity, freedom, and bravado! Kudos to you, best,

    Chazan

  35. Mathieu Wauters March 28, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    Sending good weather vibes your way!

  36. Rodman March 28, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    BTW, when you and your team feel overwhelmed by exogenous factors I would recommend a little (additional) R&R with Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow…

  37. Ana GR March 28, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    Fingers crossed!
    Sending you some sunshine and a three little white cotton clouds from sunny Spain.

  38. Mark D. March 28, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    Sending you all green lights, Chase. Good luck.

  39. Dmitry March 28, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    Chase, set time(sentry), play themselves in the city, forfeit. cards, checkers, … relax, focus and force you to come in handy! Against nature do not go. Good luck!

    Чейз, поставьте часового, сами поиграйте в города, фант. карты, шашки… расслабтесь, внимание и силы вам пригодятся! Против природы не пойдешь. Удачи!

  40. andreas March 28, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    на хуй на русском?

    • Dmitry March 28, 2011 at 7:14 am #

      потому что по английски пипец как может быть не понятно!!!

  41. Orsi Vilusz March 28, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Hey Chase,

    Sending you some sunshine from Nigeria :) Hope the weather will be on your side tomorrow ;)

  42. Michael H March 28, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Chase, You shoulda hopped over to Snowbird…last week we had alternating days of big pow, then blue skies, then more snow, then more blue bird…

  43. Paul Conrad March 28, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    It reminds me of sitting on a tank gunnery range in Germany waiting for the fog to clear so we could shoot…and waiting….and waiting…. Lots of bonding time! Probably some shenanigans too…when you put that many semi-adolescent dudes together funny things can happen :)

  44. Jesus Hidalgo March 28, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Sending you guys positive thoughts!! Keep up the good spirit. Remember it all be worth it at the end!

  45. bimal nair March 29, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Chase! all you can send out even in the worst of your times is positive vibes! You are a real Hero and your Team too!
    Kudos to you challengers….you guys never bite the dust! :)

  46. fas March 29, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    Weather does play spoilsport but it gives you much needed rest.

  47. Carlo March 29, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    “And we were disciplined as all hell.”

    Love that one

  48. Esther June 24, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    Extremely helpful aritlce, please write more.

  49. erxnnoz June 25, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    j48ATL iziaqxypwtad

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