Noellia. Under the Bridge.
I got a lot of very excellent advice from my VSL readers as I put my website together. A reader named, Max, was harsh but he'll notice that I took his advice (and appreciated it...). I abandoned putting all the galleries on one page, got rid of the cutesy tagline on the bottom of the splash page and made all the galleries bigger. It works in Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. I know because I checked all of them. It also works perfectly on my iPad. It's even acceptable on my phone now (in landscape mode) and I made the "about" type work in one column that allows someone to actually read what I wrote on a phone.
I know I need to tweak the site and remove a handful of duplicate images. I also want to figure out how to best add a page of testimonials because my clients were so thoughtful and positive when they wrote them. But for right now the site works well and has passed the test with some of core demographic---art directors who use photography daily in their jobs. I'll make little corrections as time permits and that includes adding a link back to the Visual Science Lab.
Thanks to everyone who contributed feedback and helped me work through my iterations to create something with which I am happy. For anyone who wants a simplified application (Apple only) to make websites with I can whole-heartedly recommend Sparkle. Working with the program I learned more with each revision and in the end decided that it's perfect for someone like me who never, ever wants to sit around and code. The biggest selling point of the software for me was the incredible customer service. If I got stuck or thought something had gone wrong the person in support would respond to my e-mail in minutes. Every piece of advice or instruction offered was right on the money. I hope they keep adding features to their product but I'm not even sure which features I really need.
I have moved on to my next project and times is getting compressed again. My friend, James Webb (incredibly good videographer and artist) is helping me create a 2 minute video like the one I did last year for Asti Trattoria. This year we are doing one for Emmett Fox's newest restaurant adventure, Cantine. We all agreed that we needed to shoot during open restaurant hours to get the energy and kinetics of a working kitchen. But the kitchen is narrow and long and the last thing we want to do is to get run over by chefs with hot pans in their hands. We wanted to be able to shoot without depending on tripods or extra lighting and we needed to work with cameras I already owned (financial constraints) so we decided to go with the Olympus EM5.2s.
James took one away yesterday and came back today stating that they would indeed work for the task at hand. We're shooting in a different way than I did in my previous tests. James suggested that with 8 bit cameras, shooting 4:2:0, that it makes a lot more sense to shoot for the final look than to horse around trying to flatten out the files to emulate what higher performance cameras do via their S-Log files. His contention is that regardless of how much you might want more dynamic range in a file that however you shoot it that's what gets baked into an 8 bit, 4:2:0 file and trying to wiggle and pull on it in post makes it obvious just how little leeway there is in the files for big changes after the fact.
He likens these cameras (and most other consumer based video features) to slide film from the old days. You need to get the color balance and the tonality of the files exactly where you want it because sliding any parameter around is going to cause some sort of compromise somewhere in the mix.
I looked at test files made using a neutral color profile and found myself agreeing 100%. We started filming at the restaurant this morning. We brought along a basket full of lenses. The favorites (from my point of view) are currently the 40mm and 60mm Pen FT lenses. Partly because of the focal lengths and speed but also because they have luxurious manual focusing rings and enviably long focus throws. It's easy to do follow focusing techniques just using the EVF with these lenses. Add to that the ability to stop down or open up while shooting. It makes for a very fluid shooting style. We're hellbent on shooting with longer lenses and with narrow depth of field but every once in a while I'll grab the Olympus 17mm f1.8 for wide shots. I shot against the light a bit this morning and loved the voluminous flare I was able to get. It's a nicer effect than perfection.
James has been working the longer lenses. He's got a Zeiss 85mm that he likes and the last time I checked in he was shooting with one of the Nikon 105s via an adapter. What we both appreciate is the really great image stabilization in the EM5.2. It's just amazing how it smooths out shots, regardless of focal length. I don't have a chart for the exact numbers of image stabilization but I'm willing to say it adds a minus four espressos to your work right off the bat.
We had a nice lunch at Cantine and we're taking a break during the slow afternoon in order to download what we shot this morning and recharge depleted batteries. We're heading back over to Cantine around 5:30 pm to capture more images during happy hour and dinner service. The restaurant has a nice warm glow to it when the sun goes down.
The wonderful thing about shooting videos in restaurants is that the better ones keep you well fed.
I think we'll have plenty of footage for our project by the time we head home this evening but I intend to go back and set up five or six "hero" food shots to shoot in stills and in video with a little movement. Incorporating still shots is great because you can get everything just right and also retouch out bad technique before you commit an image to the program.
James and I are both slammed with other work so the edit will probably take a back seat for a little while but I am looking forward to sharing it with you here. If the Olympus EM5.2 video was designed for one thing I would venture to say that the one thing is handholding the camera with fast lenses. The proof will be in the (tasting of the) pudding; and the pasta, and the fish and the amazing desserts, and the whimsical bar drinks and the ............
In the meantime, go and visit the newly revised (again and again) website. It's right here: