Piles of snow
A rare cold front was predicted to roll over the Netherlands. Anticipating snow, I asked for models to volunteer for posing in the snow on my Facebook model group. I did not expect many responses, but some did. Two models proposed to model with their boyfriends, an interesting idea. The first day of the cold front was headline news in the Netherlands: the government issued a weather warning, code red. No-one was advised to travel by car, and being outside for a long time was not advised due to snowfall and chill factor. It sure seemed unadvisable to go out and pose nude.
However, after the first day the weather calmed, and more models volunteered. Charlie knew me from the winter edition of the Nibana festival and had already modelled for a drone shoot in a group, when it was just a few degrees above zero.
We planned to go to the Groote Meer, a nature area where I droned before in summer and autumn. To prepare I asked Charlie to wear appropriate clothing (warm, and easy to put on and of) and I brought 6 heatpacks, a plastic sheet, a blanket to stand on while (un)dressing and hot tea. Charlie did an excellent job in preparing, like a pro. She also agreed on taking additional footage with extra cameras.
Charlie told me that she was planning to do a Wim Hoff cold training, she already practiced cold showers and was planning to do a course that included having an icebath. Modelling in the snow was something she expected to enjoy.
At the location, we were asked to park elsewhere because some workmen with a tractor were doing something. We walked over a small bridge into the nature area and reached the planned area in five minutes. The planned area was a number of hay heaps between some trees. Due to the covering snow, the hay stacks looked like large snow heaps. Very natural, round forms with trees standing near. The heaps were 50 meters from a walking path, but it seemed that no-one was visiting the area.
We discussed the shoot, and I gave Charlie three heatpacks. Charlie would undress on the blanket, walk to the area on shoes, kick of the shoes, toss the heatpacks on the snow and lie on top of them, until she would be too cold. Before Charlie started walking, I started the drone and flew to the location lose no time.
The first session went as planned, Charlie managed to ly perfectly still in an elegant pose, and posed for three minutes. Three minutes seems to be short, but when your skin is in direct contact with frozen snow, that really long enough. During this time I steered the drone up and down and sideways to make various shots. I also managed to make a few shots with the forest in the background. Unfortunaltely it was not possible to photograph Charlie with the lake in the background, that would be beautiful too. Near to the hay heaps, a small stream meandered through the woods.
After her baptizing in the cold, Charlie hurried back to the blanked and covered her feet with the heatpacks. The heatpacks already felt cold, although they normally keep warm for ten minutes or more: the direct contact with the snow cooled them significantly. I think that if the heatpacks would be isolated on the lower side, they may last longer and work better.
Charlie did not feel intimidated by the cold, but already predicted that she would pose twice max. The second shoot was three minutes as well, and was at a slightly higher area on the hay heaps. The sun was shining, which gave a beautiful effect. The settings of the drone was different, I used a positive exposure offset +0.3 instead of the -2 I often use when shooting a model on a dark surface.
After the second shoot Charlie dressed and warmed herself with the heatpacks and tea, and I flew the drone around to explore the frozen nature area. I found intriging patterns on the ice: some circles, arranged in circles. They would be an interesting background for another shoot, but not today. After collecting the 360 camera that made additional photos, I found that it was not operating. Perhaps it stopped working due to the cold, perhaps I did not charge it enough. Bummer.
Finally, we went back to the car, but while walking back we found that the workers had removed the bridge on which we entered the nature area... Which explained why no other people visited the path. Luckily the ice where the bridge used to be was strong enough to carry us and cross the stream back to the car. We wondered why the workers did not warn us.
Lessons learned: bring at least 6 heatpacks per model for such a shoot. Don’t bother with putting on shoes while walking nude to the posing location: speed is more important than warm feet for a few more seconds. Undisturbed snow is beautiful. When workers are working near a bridge, ask them what they plan to do.
To do: plan more of such shoots while there is snow, bring more models, bring more heatpacks. Perhaps contact Wim Hoff enthousiasts.
Ideas for future shoots: another shoot in the snow with more models, and a daring shoot idea would be to let models pose on ice.