A short report from the Toronto area.

I had a good flight from Austin all the way through to Toronto on Delta Airlines. Right on time every step of the way. The baggage handlers seem to have done only minimal damage to the gear. There is one set screw on my fluid tripod head that is bent but the device is still fully usable. The Amazon Basics backpack was perfect for the camera  carry on task and easily held everything I wanted to toss into it. It was even able to fit under the seat in front of me, if necessary.

When I hit the Toronto area the weather service had just announced a "freezing rain" warning. Liquid rain coming down in sub-freezing temperatures. Man, do they do a great job treating the roads! Even as a Texan with little to no experience navigating weather I was able to travel all the way to Burlington, CA. with no issues --- pretty cool.

Yesterday I spent at my client's HQ. I got a good tour of the labs, the warehouse, the training areas, etc. Unlike my more paranoid tech clients these folks were happy to hand me a badge that allowed me all facility access and then the let me do my work unencumbered. (Yes, I have worked in some facilities where non-employees are so supervised that they are escorted to the restrooms when nature calls....

I spent most of the morning and a good part of the afternoon shooting an assortment of video clips that I'll use to flesh out the stories that our interview subjects tell. At Ben's suggestion I've covered ten times more content than I think I'll need in the edits and have tight, medium and wide shots of almost everything.

For this kind of work; a mix of video clips and stills, I used the RX10iii exclusively. Someone asked me to list an important thing I learned from Alexander White's book about the RX10iii and I would immediately say that it was being able to set the focus to toggle between continuous and manual by assigning this the the center button in the four way array on the back of the camera. I set the AF to center focus and place the square over the subject. Once the camera hits focus I push the button and lock focus via manual focus mode. I have a constant indicator as to whether I am in AF or MF mode because in the AF mode the focus peaking indicators appear in the finder. Wonderful.

I am using the RX10 in 1080p for these "b-roll" shots instead of 4K because they will be ancillary to the interviews and will be on screen for seconds at a time. I would go ahead and shoot them in 4K but that limits me to the basic level of image stabilization while staying in 1080p gets me the choice of active stabilization and intelligent active stabilization. These settings make the camera very hand holdable; even at fairly long focal lengths.

The camera is amazing in this kind of work.

The other operational step I'm trying to be very consistent with is the use of a small, Lastolite white balance disk for custom white balancing as I move from area to area. One large room is used for discerning color analysis and it's almost perfect daylight while other areas use various lesser florescent tubes that can range from 3100 to 4300 with various hue shifts. The camera doesn't allow me to set a custom white balance in video mode so I switch to manual mode, do my CWB and move back to movie mode. One extra step but quickly done and well worth it.

I did my first interview yesterday. It was of the CEO. He was great. I had some noisy audio but I tracked down which bad cable was causing it and replaced it. Then I just had to contend with the HVAC cycling on an off for the whole building, as well as the occasional, loud door closure off in the distance. This was definitely a location that begged me to shoot "room tone" for later...

At the end of a long day of work the CEO invited me out for a great dinner at one of his favorite restaurants where we shared stories about photography and business. It was a wonderful way to end the first day of shooting.

I am typing this over breakfast at 6 am and I need to finish up and get back to checking batteries and packing up to go over to Client HQ for our first in a series of "product user" interviews. That, and a lot more of those texture shots  we use for cutaways, etc.  This is a fun project. I only hope the blizzard doesn't slow us down. You can make ice cubes here without even owning a refrigerator....

But I guess all you people who live in the north know this...

P.S. The thermal underwear really works! And my new, thick and furry gloves. And my monster good hat. And my Polartech scarf. And.....  All bundled up for the outdoor shots we'll be doing this afternoon. Projected temp? 12-15 degrees (f). All good. KT

Tim Hortons' Donuts? Discuss!


Anonymous said...

You picked one of the colder periods this winter to come up here.
You won't find any outdoor pools in use. ;~)
Cheers! pete

Mike Mundy said...


Not only do we have to worry about "B-Roll" clips, now we have to worry about "Room Tone" issues. Jeez.

Michael Matthews said...

Hope you got that room tone with the HVAC on and HVAC off. If not, you can double back and acquire that in minutes on your way out.

Looks like a most satisfying assignment. If all jobs and clients were like this one, your inner Henry White could be at ease.

Sherwood McLernon said...

Welcome to Canada Kirk, we're happy to have you here for a visit. Your comments on the various Sony camera's have persuaded me to order the A6500 to replace my long-in-the tooth NEX7 (which I've enjoyed every minute of owning...once I got the menu's memorized).

Fred said...

It sounds like the kind of job to be doing if it is that much fun. With those clothes you are probably good for making snow angels and snowmen. It will be interesting to get your postmortem on the job after shooting it by yourself. I am especially interested in your possible (probable?) use of setting up a second unmanned camera on a tripod for B-roll and how it works out.
We got freezing rain here a couple of days ago, it is all powder last night and today which makes it much easier to clean up and is a lot more fun.

Roland said...

tim horton's NO :-)

YES to incredible ethnic restaurants in Toronto (Polish, Italian, Caribbean, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, far too much deliciousness to mention them all etc etc) But you have those in Austin, right?

but hey #ymmv

...Roland from Vancouver, Canada who grew up in Ontario 1 hour from Toronto

p.s. I love the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario if you have time for museum going!

milldave said...

Tim Horton's donuts?
Fit only for magpies and crows!
And you can pave a road with their coffee.

Carlo Santin said...

Haha, you are shooting outdoors today? Have fun. Better bundle up, the wind coming in from the north can be brutal, it will cut you in half some days. I guess its a good test for the Sony batteries to see how they can handle the cold.

Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution, seriously embedded into the fabric of our culture. Road trips and kids hockey and soccer would not be the same without Tims. In the greater Toronto Area, you are not more than a five minute drive to a Tims. They are everywhere. Tim Horton was actually a hockey player in the 1960s for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He opened the first one in the mid 1960s in Hamilton, which is just a short trip down the highway from where you are staying in Burlington.

Outdoor photo shoots and Tims...welcome to Canada Kirk, sounds like you fit right in. I would love to hear your thoughts on the whole experience when you get back to Austin. I am always curious how Americans react to Canada. Our two countries do have a lot in common, but there are some significant differences I think. Enjoy the rest of your stay. If you are ever back in these parts it would be great to gather a group of Torontonians together for some dinner, there must be a few of us here at the VSL.

rdrowe said...

Kirk, I'll have to respectfully disagree with @milldave - both the coffee and donuts rock. One place I worked (hot, dangerous and overseas) they nearly functioned as currency :-)
ALl the best,

rdrowe said...

BTW, this is what I like about your blog - technique, swimming and coffee. Nice one. Richard

Wally said...

Great article and kudos for Amazon Basics they are one supplier who doesn't jack the price because the product is for "photographic" use.

Bill Stormont said...

Kirk, I hope you take advantage of the long johns weather to shoot a selfie, dressed in your new Monster Hat and those furry gloves, coat, etc. Even a shot like you do in an Austin window, camera in hand, will suffice. You just HAVE to!

JohnW said...

Welcome to the land of the Great White Mr. T. Do try to come back when the weather is warmer. The trees really do have leaves and theres grass under the white stuff.

Tim Horton's? Dunno. I was in a bit of a rush this morning and ducked into the nearby TH for a Carrot Cake muffin and a hot chocolate. Both fine ... as usual. Not a coffee drinker so can't comment on the coffee, but that's not the first time I've heard complaints. I do like their Maple Pecan Danish.

Wesley Hochachka said...

Tim Hortons...would you be referring to the Tim Horton's of my youth, a smaller independent company where doughnuts were baked at every store and served wonderfully fresh and warm, or the Tim Hortons of today that is merely a brand name of a larger company and for which donuts arrive pre-baked and frozen in large trucks and re-warmed to a state of unimpressive averageness?

Diogenes Montesa Baena said...

From the little that I know of you, gleaned through your blogs, you'd fit right in as a Canadian!
(Ideologically, temperamentally, your fitness regime, etc)