Working in a harsh environment

Speaking of crappy weather (see previous post) we all know that working in Newfoundland and Labrador, especially if it is outdoors, has its physical and technical challenges.  Our fishermen and mariners have been doing it for hundreds of years and it is still one of the most dangerous jobs around. They survive by their wits, experience, ingenuity and the knowledge passed down from their fathers.

Even with today’s survival and safety technology and practises making it possible to work when you would otherwise be forced to retreat you need a healthy respect when working out on the land and especially the sea.

For one of our clients being able to work and conduct advanced engineering and marine operations safely and effectively in a “Harsh Environment” like the North Atlantic in winter, is the central theme to their overall communications message.

To that end I spend a lot of time out in winter storms, on boats, chasing icebergs, bobbing up and down on the pack ice and generally trying not to get too wet and cold in pursuit of that quintessential Harsh Environment image.

I have learned the finer points of high tech survival suits and discovered the wonders of alpaca wool socks. Choosing the right technical clothing for the situation not only makes working more comfortable but could save your life if things go wrong.

It also means making sure your equipment is prepared for the elements. Choosing the right gear for the job and having backups will determine if you come back with the shots or not. You want to take enough gear to do the job but not so much that it becomes a burden adding to the physical demands of the environment.

After you dress yourself don’t forget to dress your cameras and equipment. Rain coats, hot packs, weather proof cases and pouches, extra batteries, chargers, memory cards and hard drives.

Don’t be afraid to leave your gear out in the cold. It will keep working, if you have enough batteries, down to -20C. Those small hand warmer heat packs taped to the camera will keep everything working  when it gets colder than that.

Bringing a camera from the cold into the warm indoors only causes condensation not only on the lens but inside the camera which will eventually mean a nice repair bill somewhere down the road. …or destroy it completely. Let it acclimatize.

It brings new meaning to the term “environmental portrait.” These are a few shots from recent assignments out in the elements of Newfoundland ….and this is spring time!

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