A couple days ago I ventured out to Jefferson City to shoot pictures for a group my boyfriend is in called One Shepherd. One Shepherd is a leadership training group that offers individuals the opportunity to "explore immersive tactical environments." Tyler, my boyfriend, used to go out to One Shepherd training days under their Student Leadership Program, but now he actually teaches some of the courses.
On this particular day, a few of the guys from One Shepherd decided to do an impromptu, and free, training day. The rallied together a few of the guys and went out to Jefferson City with their instructor, Jay.
Today's mission: Learn how to clear a room.
And where did One Shepherd decide would be the best location for this mission? An abandoned prison off of 63 Highway. I arrived on location and immediately cursed myself for the shoes I had chosen to wear: my favorite black suede boots. They were practical for the mud and debris around the building, but only if I didn't care what I looked like. By the end of the day, my boots were covered in mud, as well as my jeans. At least I had waterproofed them the day before.
Shooting the guys while they were training was fun but challenging at first. The men would stack up outside of an entrance to a room or building and one by one would entered, armed. They would split up and check all of the entrances in that particular area before grouping back together and moving on. They communicated through code, however, so it took me awhile to figure out what "free beer" and other signals meant.
The training was somewhat difficult, especially since the prison was so large: it was a three-story building with multiple staircases, small rooms and odd sections of rooms. It took the boys a while to get the hang of maneuvering through the prison but they improved greatly over the course of a few demonstrations and eventually upgraded to searching for two of the other men who would hide in the building and attempt to ambush the group.
The assignment, though dirty, was very fun. I have always wanted to be a war photographer, so I imagined myself as a photographer who was imbedded into a troop. Although this situation was nothing as serious as a battle, I tried to act as professionally as I would in that situation and really enjoyed the shots I got. I had issues with the lighting, since it was in a building with no electricity and all I had was 4 p.m. window light. However, my new 28-70mm f/2.8 served me well in this situation at 1600 ISO on my original Canon 5D. I had to slow down to 25 every once in a while in incredibly dark areas, so many of my shots are blurry. However, I had many more pictures turned out than I expected, and the blur looked cool in most of the images.
All in all, it was a really fun day and I might shoot for One Shepherd again soon!