A few weeks ago we ventured out on a shoot for Canadian Business Magazine – The issue is currently on stands, so its a good time to put together a blog post and a look into the shoot.
Whats in the post:
• Kim wrote up her experience on the shoot
• Behind the scene vid
• Image Selections
• Tear sheet
“You fly today, you die today.” by: kim a. thomas
These are the words we were greeted with Sunday morning when asking the pilot his thoughts on us flying to the top of a 7300 foot mountain in a blizzard. I can appreciate his honesty, but it did give me an anxious knot in my stomach knowing the pilot wasn’t the one making the decision on whether we’d fly or not. John Buffery was.
At the end of February Darren asked Dustin Senos and myself to accompany him on a snowy journey. We would help him take photos of John Buffery (aka Buff), one of BCs two avalanche experts. The shoot would take place in Nelson, BC on top of a mountain. Excited for an entirely new opportunity, the three of us began our journey out on Saturday morning.
Upon arriving in Nelson we spent the next few hours sorting out the equipment we would need on our trip up the hill. There were many things we had to ask ourselves when deciding what gear to bring. How would we keep the equipment warm and dry? Would the batteries even last in such a cold climate? How much back up equipment did we need in case the batteries didn’t last, or a camera malfunctioned from the cold or the snow? Would we set up flashes? How were we going to film the venture? These were a few of the questions we asked ourselves, and after a couple of hours of testing equipment, charging countless amounts of batteries, we had the gear tightly packed into three different bags, one bag for each of us. We were ready to go and the image was in our head: man on top of mountain, blue skies, flash…
Sunday morning we awoke to a blizzard. Blue skies and off camera flashes were out of the question. Reaching the top of a mountain? We were unsure. Regardless, we headed to the helicopter terminal to meet the Avalanche Expert. We were ready for anything, and how could we not when we looked like sumo wrestlers in all our snow gear?
Mobile Version : http://www.vimeo.com/21184603
This is when we met the pilot who predicted our death if we dare board that helicopter. The change of plans was slightly frustrating – how would we make a photo look like the top of a mountain when really it would probably be on the side of the road? – but really, we weren’t about to argue with the pilot. Our nerves unsettled, a yay or nay was yet to be decided. Leaning on the nay side, Buff led us outside and began giving us the safety rundown on being in a helicopter. With no time to settle our anxious bladders, we were sitting in the helicopter, seat belts in gear.
There are a few things you must know about a helicopter. First, sharp turns towards the ground are normal. To avoid motion sickness, lean with the helicopter. Our natural reaction is to lean the opposite way the helicopter (or car) is turning. No, no, lean with and your breakfast will be saved. Secondly, you are the landing target for the helicopter. Yes, you. You will huddle into a ball in one spot, and opposite of you your friend will huddle. The helicopter will land between the two of you, and I mean right between you, so stay in your ball. It is safer for you to be a landing target then wait for the thing to land, then run over to it. You may not realize the helicopter just landed on a slope, and you just ran into a propeller blade. Thirdly, when the helicopter lands or takes off (and you’re in landing target position), cover your ears and face. The propeller blades will create a wind more intense than you have ever experienced (at least that we had). Lastly, enjoy! The ride really was amazing.
Moving right along, we were snowmobiling the rest of the way up the mountain. Well, actually, Buff and I were snowmobiling up the mountain. Darren and Dustin were later escorted up the hill by some other snowmobile pros after theirs had a little topple (I won’t mention which one was driving). Anyway, we’re snowmobiling up the mountain. On one side there is a cliff, 10 feet over there is a steep and bumpy sled ride that you do not want to take. We arrived at our destination and began getting the equipment ready.
It was cold, the snow was deep, one step in the wrong direction and I was sure I’d be halfway down that mountain. Dustin already had the beginning stages of frost bite on his nose and Darren and I could hardly move our fingers and toes. No matter, it was all business from here and Darren began shooting.
At the end of the day the shoot was a success. No batteries or camera gear failed us and we managed to keep everything dry and protected against the falling snow. Dustin and I took turns handing gear to Darren and keeping the equipment buried in our jackets or the camera bags. Buff was a pro, and Darren shot photos as if he’d spent every day of his life on that mountain. Only an hour later, the shoot was done.
Not only was the shoot a success, the entire experience was amazing. It was the first time any of us had been in a helicopter and years since we had all been on snowmobiles. The views were stunning and the pilots, snowmobile escorts and Buff were all great. For me, the experience was one of my favourites, and I know we’ll all have many more to come.
Thanks to Buff for the experience.
The Performer: Mountain guide John Buffery Video posted on CB Online:http://www.canadianbusiness.com/after_hours/lifestyle_activities/article.jsp?content=20110311_101840_6668
Big Time Thanks to:
Kim & Dustin
Tim Feeny – for his guidance on the BTS video.