Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I’m going to try and do a video blog entry weekly now. The main topics this week are the Sound Devices MixPre6 and the EOS 5D MkIV.
Watch the full resolution, full length video.
With Canon’s announcement today of the XC10, a compact, prosumer 4K camcorder and a new 4K video format, XF-AVC; I felt inspired to discuss whether I felt video was a good thing for those of us who are primarily still shooters. It is a very complicated issue and one that I do not have a definitive answer to, but will endeavor to tell you about my thoughts on the matter. (I suggest you take a look at the op-ed piece on the XC-10 at dpreview.com,)
There has been much talk in recent years about how video is important to the business model of photographers these days and in the coming years. I have dabbled in video and not had much business success with it. Although admittedly, I have had a little. For example, my stock agent recently licensed a clip of mine to a major motion picture. I’m not sure which one, but I know she licensed many clips from several photographers to “Noah.” However, I do know of at least one local photographer who has been doing a significant amount of directing these days; Carli Davidson, the photographer of Shake, the well known book. Thus, my experience with the business success of video isn’t necessarily indicative of what to expect.
The learning curve is also difficult. It takes a good long while to figure out what looks good as motion. Furthermore, if you plan on doing your own editing, something most photographers will probably need to do, at least in the beginning, the editing software has a very steep learning curve.
One aspect I can guarantee you will only be positive about video though, is it is fun. I know I have had a blast with it. I think most photographers probably have the mindset that we will enjoy any visual medium we can get the hang of. By that I mean, I don’t enjoy drawing or painting that much, because I don’t have the best hand/eye coordination and don’t do this sort of artwork well enough to meet my standards. I’m sure though that if I could, I would have a blast painting.
Anyhow, I can’t tell you whether you should get involved in video or not, but I hope I gave you some things to think about.
Take a look at some of my other video work.
On August 23 and 24, 2013 I attended the Airshow of the Cascades in Madras, Oregon. To give you some idea of how much fun this was, let me start by telling you the only negatives to the experience. We’re sitting out in the sun a lot, so obviously one needs to wear sunscreen. We figured that it wouldn’t last all day, so my dad started to reapply and the spray bottle broke. We were unable to get anymore sunscreen out of the bottle, so the part of my face the sun hit from about 2:30 until the end of the show got a bit burnt. The other negative was when I was sitting my camera down on its lens hood to rest, some tiny little wasp decided the hand grip to my camera was a good spot to rest. Thus, when I went to pick it up to take a shot I got stung on my ring finger. Fortunately, the poison of this type of wasp is either less effective or there was less compared to a honey bee and the pain subsided in about ten minutes.
We left our house in Keizer, OR around 10:00am on Friday and drove up I5 to 212 and then got 26 to go the rest of the way. This made for a pretty good start to our day, 26 is a picturesque drive going through Government Camp and offering fantastic views of Mt. Hood. This also coincided with the Hood to Coast relay race, so we were able to witness some of this big event on our way.
We arrived in Madras around 1:30, giving us some time to relax in front of the TV in our hotel room before grabbing a bit to eat and being at the airport at 4:00pm when the gates opened. I hadn’t been to an airshow in a long time and had never been to one held around the sunset hours. It was really cool to see the performances in the nice light of sunset. It did get a bit dark for aviation photography, but with a little of Lightroom’s noise reduction, it all turned out alright. The show concluded with some fireworks. I’m not a big fan of fireworks, but had always wanted to photograph them. This opportunity led me to discover that what I wanted to do with fireworks was surprisingly easy. I made a shot about ½ hour before the fireworks started to capture some color in the scene to serve as my background. Then when the fireworks started I used bulb mode to capture several bursts. In post, I processed both images separately for good color in Lightroom and then loaded them into Photoshop as layers in one image. I put the fireworks burst shot on top and changed the blend mode of the layer to lighten, this dropped everything out but the fireworks themselves. I had moved the camera a bit in between so I applied free transform to the fireworks layer to tweak it to where it lined up to where it should be. Then I merged the layers down and applied a Color Efex Pro4 Glamour Glow.
Saturday was an early morning to get there when the gates opened. This was fantastic for static and taxi shots in the morning light and limited people wondering in and out of the shots. I also met some of the photographers I knew from the Pacific Northwest Aviation Photographers group on Facebook and it’s always nice to meet these folks in person rather than just on Facebook (in the video you can see me shaking hands with one of these gentlemen.) Saturday was an intense day of shooting culminating in a wonderful photographic event the “Wall of Fire” pass of Tillamook Air Museum’s B17 “Chuckie.”
The result of all this has been a group of photographs that I stare at more than I’ve stared at my photos in quite awhile.
And of course the one I stare at the most, that “Wall of Fire” pass by “Chuckie.”
Yesterday, I posted my first video project in a while, “Tawny: A Day in the Life.”
For this project, I went for a very understated documentary feel. The intent was to get a chuckle from my audience based on the old cliché’s of a “dog’s life.”
How did I do this? Well my shooting was focused on two areas; first, shoot Tawny lounging around a lot, second, catch the main events of her day. Shooting her lounging, I put the camera as close to her as possible with the lens set very wide. Fortunately, she tolerated the camcorder in close to her like that better than she does my still camera. I think this is primarily due to the articulating LCD on the camcorder, which means I don’t need to get all the way down on her level. When I get on her level, she thinks that’s an invitation to play, not to continue what she’s doing and let me photograph her.
For the “big events,” I tried to retain a similar look by lowering the camera to her level and walking along with her. I used my camera’s “dynamic image stabilization” to keep this footage reasonably steady.
When I got around to editing and post processing it was time for Adobe’s new Creative Cloud to shine. I am a new subscriber to this controversial new service. On principle, I’m not really a fan of subscribing to my software. From a practical standpoint however, I think it will all work out essentially the same with some advantages.
First, I ingested all of my footage using Prelude. This appears to be a great program that I did not use to anywhere near its full potential due to my lack of experience. Unfortunately, it looks like it will take a little more work than I hoped for stock footage that I shoot often. The potential for specific projects is huge.
Next I did the bulk of the editing in Premiere Pro. I have experience with this program, but I must say I like the new version. Things seem to work faster and the default work space has much bigger preview screens. While doing this, I created my intro and outro title screens in After Effects. These were so simple however, that I couldn’t really get a feel for any changes in this amazing software package.
Finally, for grading I applied one of the desaturate lumetri looks that came with the software. Then I applied a Luma corrector to most of the interior shots, to get a contrast level that looked right with the exteriors. This “look” was precisely what I wanted for this project, but it’s going to be fun to mess with Speed Grade to create unique looks for me. I have something in mind particularly for aviation videos.
Take a look at some of my other videos.
This month at WAAAM’s Second Saturday, I decided to do something a little different and concentrate on video. I planned for several weeks developing a storyboard in my mind about a specific story of the planes. As the day got closer however, I started hearing troubling things about the weather forecast. WAAAM has had a perfect record on not being rained out on Second Saturday, so I had faith.
This Second Saturday was also to be Studebaker day, so I was also going to produce a video just relating all the fun we had that day.
As it turned out, the weather was fabulous except for being cold and windy. This resulted in the flights being grounded for the day. Thus, the primary video I was planning got scrapped. This video of the other activities, is pretty cool though, it only lacks the really tight narrative that the other would have had. It is still a lot of fun, has beautiful clips and gives a good feel for how much fun the day was.
Video is becoming an increasingly important part of the imaging world as electronic media is taking over and viewers do like to see the moving image when possible.
There’s a lot going on with this topic these days. I have some pretty good experience in some aspects of the current use of video, but am certainly not an expert in all aspects.
There are two basic ways to go about this; the many DSLRs with video, or a standalone camcorder. I do both.
DSLRs have the advantage of being typically less expensive and very useful for stills as well. They also typically produce a better image in regards to the depth of field look, except for cameras like the Scarlet or the new Canon motion camera.
A dedicated camcorder has the advantage of being much easier to use for video and writing to better codecs. I was quite amazed when I acquired my XF300 how much easier it is to shoot video with the proper shooting aids, that are available on most video cameras. I thought motion and stills were similar enough that it wouldn’t make much difference, but once you film for the first time with peaking, a common motion focusing aid, you will see that there is a real difference.
There are three basic uses a photographer can have with his motion; stock, behind the scenes videos for blogs and the like, and producing an actual story piece with the video. Most of my experience up to now is either with stock or behind the scenes. Stock isn’t that much different than shooting still stock, except you really need something to be moving to make it an interesting clip. Don’t go for too fancy regarding camera moves, etc. with stock clips. The only thing that really frustrates me with stock footage is for footage formats that won’t import into Lightroom, there isn’t anyway I know of to deal with the metadata as efficiently as Lightroom. Thus, this whole process is far more time consuming than with stills.
There is much debate whether video will help the photography industry. I’m not sure, I see both sides of the argument. I do know that it can be a rewarding pursuit, however. There are times when I will become almost entirely focused on video and others when I am almost forget I have the capability; depends a great deal on the subjects I’m working.
If you have more interest in this pursuit, I suggest you check out Vincent Laforet.