Sitting at my computer, editing the pictures from a photo-shoot yesterday afternoon, I look out on what appears to be a beautiful dry, sunny day; frustratingly the total opposite to the weather I experienced trying to photograph yesterday’s industrial installation.
With a lunchtime start following a hazy, blue sky morning the omens looked good for some great pictures, but as I arrived on site the grey clouds were gathering as the mobile crane got into position and the 40 foot chimney it was about to install was reversed into place on a low loader.
Just as the crane operator started to put down the stabilisation arms the rain began, heralding a cry for umbrellas to protect my cameras from the elements.
The sky now proceeded to darken and the rain increase, making everything wet and shiny, it didn’t help that the chimney I was photographing was made from highly polished metal and reflected the grey sky in such a way that there was little or no contrast to define its edge; my anticipated great pictures now looked seriously in doubt.
The light levels were falling at such a speed that my initial slowing down of shutter speed and opening up of aperture were having little impact on exposure; fortunately the camera I use tolerates changes to sensitivity well, so I increased the ISO beyond my usual comfort zone.
Unfortunately, the nature of the shoot precluded any possibility of working on a tripod and the large area to be covered, not to mention the high reflectivity of the subject, meant no possibility of additional lighting.
The other significant problem I faced was, that once installed many of the shots of the positioning work that I needed required that the camera was tilted skywards, the umbrella was in the way and the wind that by now had also increased was blowing the rain onto the lens, my hands too were starting to seize up with the cold.
Finally, I needed to get high level views of the engineers finishing off the installation so the only viewpoint was from the roof of the building, but these were abandoned on the grounds of health and safety, because the roof was too wet and slippery.
Having managed to get pictures of most aspects of the installation, the job was finished and the crane and associated equipment put away, just as the rain stopped and the sky began to lighten, with even the hint of a patch of blue sky; sadly too late for the pictures.
As I drove away from the location I was taunted by an appearance of the sun; the perfect end to a frustrating afternoon’s work and an example of how professional photographers have to cope with all eventualities, which the “do it yourselfers” can opt not to do.