I’ve often mention that one of the greatest appreciations I have had for my career in both photography and film has been the access allowed to behind-the-scenes. Few professions touch so many people, places and events in this way.
A few weeks back, Evan, one of our clients at Sony asked us to travel down to Philadelphia to do some filming at the Wills Eyes Institute, a non-profit clinic, hospital and research center dedicated exclusively to the care of eyes. Since 1990, Wills Eye Institute has consistently been ranked as one of the best ophthalmology hospitals in the United States.
Our assignment was to film and photograph a small, HD camera that is integrated into the microscope system used during eye surgery and we were asked to capture some of our images while a surgery was in progress.
After a few painless interviews in the executive boardroom, my assistant, Arion Doerr and I suited up in sterile garb and with the guidance of one of the hospital’s directors, quietly walked into the operating room.
The room was anything but silent. Aside from the normal beeping and whirring of heart monitors and machinery, there was music playing loudly in the background and between the request for surgical instruments, informal chit chat about the weather or the price of gas. We could have been in Starbucks.
The lead surgeon and her assistant were both viewing the operation thru a large, dual microscope, hovering over the patients head. The camera we needed to film was mounted on top of it.
Although the immediate vicinity of the operation was extremely bright, the room itself was fairly dim. No problem for my Nikon D3, but less friendly to Sony’s EX3. Fortunately, the camera was white and there was just enough light to pull off the shots. When surgery ended and everyone left the room, it was easy to move in for some closeups.
In recent years, surgeons at the Wills Eye Institute have successfully planted artificial retinas in patients that have been totally blind since birth, allowing them to experience shades of light and to distinguish basic shapes, such as a door or a table. Pretty incredible.