I’m still cleaning out the dust from my shoot in the desert near Las Vegas. I was shooting with strobes in 30+ mph winds, and using an octabank. I shoot in a lot of windy places, and have developed a few tricks that help dealing with the wind. Give these a try on your next windy shoot.
1. Work with a model who can take the punishment! The wind in vegas was strong enough to blow someone over. Most models wouldn’t get out of the car. But Priscilla was tough, she had no problem belly dancing with a python in a dust storm. Honestly, I was thinking of calling it quits, and I’m the crusty mountaineer from Alaska.
2. Use two stands for one light. After adding 40 pounds of sand to my 39 inch deep octabank, it still was blowing over and the light was twisting in the wind. To solve this problem, I added another stand with the bar pressing tight against the light. This kept the light from twisting.
3. Use your packs as sandbags. I often use my Rangers as weights on my light stands, just hook them off a knob on the stand. Or twist the strap around the stand. Without Rangers weighting the other stand down it would have blown over.
4. Use the wind to your advantage. If the wind is really strong, it will determine your shooting angle, don’t fight it. Priscilla had long veils that were blowing in the wind, so I had to shoot from an angle that the veils would stretch across the frame. This shot wouldn’t work straight into the wind.
5. Use cars as a wind break. If you have two vehicles, park them at 90 degree angles and create a calm shooting space in the lee of the cars. This works pretty well at reducing the wind.
6. Have you model get low to the ground. Priscilla tried some poses on the desert floor, and these worked well and eliminated the blowing hair and veil. Once again the wind directed the shoot.
In the end you have to work with the conditions you are given. The last thing to do on a windy day is call it quits. Who knows what unexpected angle will happen. Good images are made in the field, not in the coffee shop wishing the wind would stop. Go out and shoot, you may find the wind isn’t all that bad.