Movie Unit Promotional Stills Photography

Skies that shoot back!

After being shot at countlessly for years by photographers, the skies above us can grow bored of our antics. Occasionally revolting by firing back at with rain, snow, and other forms of climate based rebellion.

Sometimes a filming day can be pushed back to wait for more suitable weather, but frequently the film crew simply has to soldier on through adverse conditions.

So how exactly can weather make life difficult? Some things are obvious, heavy rain for example can trash anything electrical.

Fortunately, Many DSLR's are hardy and can survive light rain. Lens elements still need protect though.

Fortunately, Many DSLR’s are hardy and can survive light rain. Lens elements still need protecting though.

Aside from forcing crew to wear more clothes, weather can also completely change the visual tone of a scene, even within the space of minutes lighting can change huge amounts and cause large headaches for photographers and cinematographers alike.

Throughout my time on the Tech Hunt set, the Great British weather has thrown everything it can at me! Snow, frost, fog, rain, bitter winds, clouds, even bright sun and blue skies caused issues!

On the drive to location; the welcoming committee arranged by Great British Weather was particularly friendly.

On the drive to location; the welcoming committee arranged by Great British Weather was particularly friendly.

One of the biggest problems with weather is maintaining the continuity of character for the film. The location of the Sun in the sky, the levels of cloud and the amount of haze in the local atmosphere all dramatically change the character of what you’re shooting.

This is especially key in Tech Hunt, where all the camera crew were quietly hoping for wet, miserable weather that mirrors the tone they want to achieve. Grey skies and a dull, downtrodden landscape is key to aesthetic of large sections in the film.

Being in Britain, you would’ve thought that if there was one thing we can rely on, it’s miserable weather. That’s not the case however! Look at all the different characters we got out of just one location!

Cold, so very, very cold.

Cold. So very, very cold. Also dark.

Also cold, but in the bright day.  Note the total lack of shadows and a potentially foreboding fog.

Also cold, but in the bright day. Note the total lack of shadows and a potentially foreboding fog.

Perfect!  Very soft, photogenic shadows, dull colours, flat sky and no fog or haze. Lovely.

Perfect! Very soft, photogenic shadows, dull colours, flat sky and no fog or haze. Lovely.

But wait, what's this? Blue sky? Bright colours?? Contrast?! ARGH!

But wait, what’s this? Blue sky? Bright colours?? Contrast?! ARGH!

Foggy silhouette with a tinge of blue sky. Interesting, if unorthodox. If we zoom in however...

Foggy silhouette with a tinge of blue sky. Interesting, if unorthodox. If we zoom in however…

... and crank up the brightness, it's nearly usable!

… and crank up the brightness, it’s nearly usable!

From the point of that last photo, I would then move my position so that the sun is behind me. That way the shadows are minimised and we still have the grey, hazed, low contrast background for a few hours before the sun overpowered everything by midday.

However, if we wanted to do something different with this lighting, we can use the Sun to create highlights on a subject, and use the haze and a bit of colouring to create a romantic aesthetic:

My ugly mug in far nicer lighting than it deserves.

My ugly mug in far nicer lighting than it deserves.

How did this all turn out for the actual publicity photographs? You’ll just have to wait to find out when the images are released!

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