The Day After Christmas and We're Back to Work.

Amy. At the ready with the best of Kodak, circa 2002.

I came into the studio today and the first thing I did was click on the air conditioning. It's the day after Christmas and it's already eighty degrees at noon. The humidity is also quite high. Not that unusual for Texas, although we broke a record yesterday morning for the highest recorded morning low on December 25th.

I also had a call from a friend/art director who was just calling to chat. I asked her what she was working on and she chuckled and told me that she was revising a series of ads that we had first worked on 14 years ago. Seems the client (a national pharmaceutical testing company) loves the original images we created back in 2002 and just goes back to update logos and type treatment, as well as written information, every couple of years. The photos seem to be solidly withstanding the tests of time.

The photographs in question were a series of studio still life shots that were a backlit medicine cabinet filled with generic pill bottles and pills, as well as so props to finish out the styling. The images have been used in print ads, on the web and in posters.

The thing that seems so funny to me is that, in this day and age of compulsive camera upgrading (and we always hear the rationale that clients are demanding that we spend money to energize our "hobbies"..."client MUST have the 42 megapixel files!!!!), is that the images were all created with a six megapixel, Kodak DCS 760 camera that had no Jpeg capability (added later via firmware) and the top useable ISO was really the same as the base ISO = 80. The camera specs seem like something from a million years ago. But, in fact, I'm once again amazed at just how well the files stand up even now, in the most modern of times.

This was a funny year. It's the first time in nearly 30 years that I have not rushed to the camera store in late October (my birthday) or middle December (Christmas) to buy myself a new camera. I seem to have broken a cycle. The last new camera I bought was much earlier this year and it was the Sony RX10iii. I've been tempted a couple of times but each time I checked back in with what I already owned and found it at least adequate and most times perfect for the kinds of images I want to make.
In any event, every camera I own is up to the task of making images for clients that are only limited by my own imagination, and ability to translate expressions and lighting into photographs.

Nice to step back in time and realize how much we were able to do even with the most "primitive" of digital cameras. With a Sony A7Rii and a drawer of really, really nice lenses my attention has moved from still photography cameras to the world of dedicated video cameras. But even there, every time I consider purchasing a video camera to use on a project I go out and test a hybrid camera I already own and find that, once again, any limitations in quality will come from my inability to direct or even conceive of the correct visual story to tell. It won't be because the cameras I already have aren't up to making moving pictures that will almost inevitably be compressed several times and showcased on the internet instead of on big screens.

Right now, where video is concerned, the spot I'm working to improve is my facility with recording sound. I get the underlying engineering ideas, it's putting them into fluid practice that needs the work. That, and having support gear that gets the job into the ballpark. I'm loathe to spend a fortune on high end audio gear but at the same time I don't want to be let down by the gear. It's a tricky pathway but one that seems as fun as puzzles at this point.

I hope it's okay with everyone if we spend a little time in the next week or so talking about good, inexpensive microphones of all kinds and about digital audio recorders. It's a source of renewed interests for me. And, well, that's what the blog is all about.

Still a week to go in this old, weathered year. I hope to finish it out with five more good swims, a couple of good runs and some nice family meals with Ben and Belinda. And Studio Dog. Always with Studio Dog.


Art in LA said...

I remember thinking that a 6MP DSLR was my Holy Grail ... I could print 8x10 pics at 300dpi, no problem! I do enjoy the high ISO capabilities of a modern digital camera, that's for sure. For me, cameras from ~2010 and later are more than good enough.

Bill Bresler said...

Interesting, that i was ready to email you about microphones. I'm all ears.

Fred said...

I am waiting with open ears to hear all about your adventures with video sound.

Anonymous said...

Android and iOS devices are small and powerful computers, that also function as cameras, phones and sound players/recorders. Both Apple's App Store and Google Play have sound recording software.

I used FiRe software on an iPod Touch 4G, plus some <$100.00 mics to get good sound in 2011. RØDE bought FiRe http://www.audiofile-engineering.com/fire/ RØDE Rec is $5.99 at the App Store.

If anything there are more mobile sound blogs and YouTube videos, than there are for digital still/video cameras. There is a lot of both good, and bad, info to sift through.

MikeR said...

Audio nut here, eager to go along on your ride.

neopavlik said...

I got the Shure VP64A for Christmas.
I have a Zoom H4N Pro for recorder and assisting the straight to camera record.

I'm looking at the Audia-Technica 4053B for Indoor dialogue (higher priority) and Sennheiser MKE 600 for Outdoor documenting (low priority). Also looking at a used Sound Devices 700 series with a T for recording.