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“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm,” Frank Lane

There are many variables that effect getting the perfect shot. The time of the shoot and camera setup chosen are within our control. Many are not. The variable that has the greatest impact on the shot is the weather.

The weather is a critical factor to consider in many forms of photography and cinematography. For a landscape photography, a cloudy day might help the photographer portray a sense of drama. The light of a passing storm could help a cinematographer build suspense. Shooting in less than perfect conditions is often necessary to tell a compelling story. However, when the story being told is that of a perfect place to live or work, the weather most desired to shoot in is clear skies.

The following are what we consider the main criteria that qualify ‘good’ shooting weather and ‘bad’ shooting weather:

Windspeed

Windspeed does not have a huge effect on what is captured but rather the inherent risk of capturing the image. Drones are far more vulnerable to high wind speeds when compared to helicopters. This is the case because drones are smaller, operating lower to the ground where buildings and land formations manipulate the wind into unpredictable vortices. Gimbal systems prevent the turbulence being felt by the drone being transferred to the camera. When the drone starts to be pushed from its proposed flight path/position, the camera can no longer be effectively stabilised. We are certified to operate in wind with gusts up to 25 knots. Some briefs, especially those that require a long shutter or a smooth precise flight path require calmer conditions.

 

Rain

Rain causes visibility to decrease and scenery to appear flat. It also poses a risk to most cameras and drones. We rarely operate in or near rain as the chance of damaging equipment is greatly increased.

 

Cloud cover

While cloud cover is not as critical as rain, it is usually the cause of most of our headaches. Very hard to predict, cloudy skies can change the entire feel of a shot. Patchy clouds cast unappealing shadows on the ground, resulting in shots that feel disjointed and messy. Clouds can add moodiness to shots when the sun is low in the sky, however in the middle of the day they detract from the subject being showcased.

Patchy clouds Brisbane

 

Haze/ Humidity

High levels of haze and humidity decrease visibility. Aerial shots are more effected than ground shots because the distance to the horizon increases with altitude. Helicopters operate at higher altitudes than drones and therefore are more affected by haze and high humidity.

 

Electromagnetic interference

Solar weather also has a influence on getting the perfect shot. Storms and flares on the sun increase the electromagnetic interference that is experienced on Earth. GPS and sensitive electronics are especially vulnerable to this interference. This makes operating drones when there is a high level of electromagnetic interference much more risky than when the interference is settled. Shoots are rarely postponed due to electromagnetic interference.

 

Predicting the weather

With todays technology weather forecasts are still subject to a degree of uncertainty. Using a variety of forecasts helps us to see any trends or uncertainties. However there is still an element of chance involved when predicting the weather.

Summer is definitely Brisbane’s most unpredictable season. A sunny day can turn to a hot cloudy mess in less than half an hour, throwing a spanner in the best thought out plans. Winter is more predicable with less moisture in the air and cleaner skies. However winter is when we experience the windiest days. In the last few years we have noticed the weather behaving more erratically, becoming harder to predict. This can cause issues when there are many jobs to be shot, especially when many require being shot at a certain time of day, in order to capture the perfect lighting.

 

Getting the shot

To get any job shot in Brisbane requires careful planning, a lot of flexibility and several dedicated teams. We have three full time teams, allowing us to take advantage of ideal weather and process photos fast when it is not. Having the right people ready to go when the weather is suitable is key to delivering a high quality product with the shortest turn around possible. In the end though, planning can only take you so far, the rest depends on the weather cooperating.

Rory Broesder