Shooting for Green Energy (Part 1)

Green energy is something my wife and I strongly support, so having the opportunity to do a shoot with a great company, that already gives so much to the community, and now also utilizes solar power was awesome, and even better to have my wife on set with me for the first time.

So, last night I did part 1 of a two day shoot with Southwest Ambulance here in AZ. A while back, Southwest Ambulance invested quite a bit of money on 40 new ambulances equipped with solar panels. With solar technology still somewhat rare in the public safety and emergency response field, I was incredibly excited to be able to shoot this.

Continue inside...

Last night, we started just moments before sunset, and there were two shots I needed to nail before we lost the light. We started with rig shots. I set up a D300 on a Manfrotto Magic Arm, attached to two Avenger suction cups, one of the suction cups holding the Magic Arm, the second being a backup, with a safety line attached. I used a ladder to mount the rig on the back left corner of the ambulance's roof, trying to get the solar panel and the Southwest Ambulance branding in the frame. Even at 18mm on the cropped sensor, that proved challenging. I really needed a longer arm, or a full-frame sensor to get the shot I really wanted, but I am happy with the results.

So, with camera mounted, and wireless remote attached, I had one of the medics drive slowly around the parking lot with the lights on, with me walking beside, just out of frame, to trigger the remote. It took 3 loops around the parking, with small tweaks between passes, to dial in the right settings.

With the exception of contrast, and slight level / saturation adjustments, the shot above is straight from the camera. I don't plan much post work for it, but I do wanna flare the lights for more "ambulance" context.

After I was satisfied with the rig shots, we had just enough time for some portraits. I set up two background lights and a main light for the first set, then added a kicker at the end. The gentleman in the image below is actually the man behind Southwest's new ambulances with solar panels, and was excited to be able to have him on set as well. For his portrait, I originally wanted to shoot from very high, and using a lens in the 200mm range, place the roof of the ambulance, and solar panel, in the foreground and have him standing in the background. Unfortunately, time constrictions and lack of a ladder or vantage point high enough, the idea was scrapped. I still am happy with the image, but just wasn't Plan A. After shooting a few frames, we did a few more frames with the medics of that ambulance (the opening image) and wrapped the shoot.

I'm still prepping for tomorrow morning, so I will post again with the second set of images and better update afterward. We're doing a lot of general EMS shots tomorrow, and some more shots of the ambulance and crew. I'm looking forward to the morning!


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