Lessons from the Field: Shooting Video in the Mountains of Guatemala

by Scott

Lugging video gear in the rain (Chel, Guatemala)

Lugging video gear in the rain (Chel, Guatemala)

I was ready. I packed my Canon 60D, Canon 200mm 2.8 (lens), a 15-85mm 3.5/5.6 (lens), a wireless Senheisser mic set and a tripod. I also had a GoPro and a Flip just in case. I even brought a shower cap to help protect my camera and lens. Maybe not the best item to protect my gear in the rain, but it's what I had. Plus, it's dry season in Guatemala in January, so I hadn't thought too much about the possibility of rain.

We were in the mountains of Guatemala filming coffee growers, hoping to shoot some beautiful footage to illustrate how hard these farmers work for our morning (and afternoon) cups.

We rode up the mountain for a couple of hours from Chajul to Chel, watching our wheels come within a foot of a drop off that none of us really wanted to look at. It was raining and had rained. The roads were washed out in areas.

After we arrived at our village we walked uphill, in the rain, for about 30 minutes to get to the coffee. Before heading up we were all given colorful plastic sheets about 3X4 feet. I got two sheets. One for me and one for my bag of gear. I carried the bag knowing that probably none of the equipment needed to produce my beautiful piece was even going to come out of the bag. I knew this as I walked up the hill in the rain doing all I could to keep my gear dry in the bag.

This is why I love the Flip camera. For one, it's small. Two, it's cheap. Three, it makes good video. Good video. Not beautiful video. The audio is good if you are close to the subject. We were able to shoot what we needed to document the trip and we're going to be able to make good use of it as far as educating and sharing a story.

Hindsight being 20/20, I can look back and think of what could have been done to get the shots I wanted. Rain is rain and that's life. But one simple thing that would have helped would have been an umbrella. We had several people on this trip and surely one of them would have been willing to help me out by holding an umbrella over me. I could have brought my own, much larger, rain jacket to help keep me and my gear dry. I don't think there was much else I could have done without risking my equipment.

What can be done in the future? I can maybe buy a water-proof case. I can buy a water-proof camera. Or at least a camera that has a water-proof casing at a reasonable price.

If there is something to be learned it is that it's a good idea to carry some cheaper gear that won't be missed if it gets ruined. If I didn't have the Flip, I would have come back with nothing. In the end, I went on this journey to tell a story. And that's what is most important. That, and pack a small umbrella from now on.

Anyone else have experience shooting in the rain?

Comments/advice/feedback below.

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Comments for Lessons from the Field: Shooting Video in the Mountains of Guatemala

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Jan 27, 2013
not worth it
by: Lisa M

Dealing with rain is tough. Unless it's a $50,000 job or a major news event, getting that shot in the rain is almost never worth ruining thousands of dollars worth of gear. My vote, reschedule the shoot for a dry day. And if it can't be rescheduled, then yeah, maybe a Flip (or waterproof gopro?) is the way to go.

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