2.03.2017

Lighting with HMIs.


I loved using K5600's smaller HMI lights. They sent them to me to test. There is something about continuous light that makes me happier about photographs; portraits especially.

This is my friend, Fadya. I love photographing her because she is so interesting to talk to. We can sit for hours with a few cups of tea and converse and intermittently photograph. What a wonderful way to spend the better part of an evening.


Cityscape with Sony+Olympus Pen 60mm f1.5 #312


I bought something new yesterday. I bought a little Aputure LED light panel. It's daylight balanced, uses generic Sony batteries or double AA's. It rated at 95 CRI and it was all of $59. I bought it because several of my other devices take the same Sony batteries and now that airlines require batteries to ride in carry-on we are sometimes asked to prove that the batteries are batteries by powering something up. Usually the devices that are Sony battery powered are riding in checked luggage. The LED panel is small enough to fit in my equipment backpack and provided a battery demo for the TSA. When not proving my absolute innocence it can also be useful as a backlight or accent light.

It's this one:

Learning how to relax and better enjoy the processes of making video and photographs.

Photograph of Dani taken with a Sony a99 and a Rokinon 85mm t1.5.  Just for fun.

I am anxious person. I worry about stuff I really don't need to worry about. I'm always at the airport three hours early. I have multiple back-up plans. I lay awake in the middle of the night going over my strategy for shooting the next day's project instead of sleeping. I pack as though half my gear will be run through an industrial metal shredder on the way to my next job, to ensure I'll still be able to shoot when I get there...  If something fails on a shoot I tend to feel personally responsible even if there's no one to blame.

It's a tough way to go through work life. The constant buzz of worry is exhausting and building all the "fault tolerant" failsafes into every project takes time and energy, while sapping the will to improvise and the freedom to create at will. If every move must be made bullet proof it's almost impossible to change gears and operate outside the boxes I've carefully constructed.

It wasn't always this way. When I started I had little money and little knowledge of all the possibilities that existed with which to do a project. I used the same camera for everything. I used the same three lenses for everything. I used the light I had on hand and it never occurred to me, in that time, to go out and buy just exactly the right light and modifier to achieve an exact look or style. I spent a lot less time considering what to buy and how to use it and a lot more time pointing the camera at beautiful things and pushing the shutter button.

And now I find myself going through the same (self) destructive process with video. In order to master it I'm spending hours and hours reading about knee, gamma, black point, crispening, vertical and horizontal detail, bit depth, color depth, signal-to-noise ratios, false color, TCLI and much more. I've vacuumed up whole books on digital theory for video and I have three different books on editing, motivated camera movement and audio design. I find myself worrying about whether a super cardioid microphone will record cleaner indoors interview sound than an actual shotgun microphone. But all I really want to do, if I look deep inside, is to compose beautiful shots and tell stories of interesting people.

I hit the wall today. I've been working on non-stressful stuff like general scripting and outlining for a project next week. I've put together an extensive shot list and that's actually a stress reducing process because planning out useful shots is different then dissecting each shot and trying to decide what gear and what techniques have to be mastered to bring the shot to life perfectly. I've diagnosed myself. I am being destroyed by the plague of perfectionism --- as it relates to "state of the art" gear and "presumed" technical proficiency.

I stopped myself from pulling the trigger ( pushing "buy") on yet another microphone. I stopped myself from buying a Sound Devices audio mixer. I pulled back from buying another camera.

I was on the edge of another precipice and I stepped back and took a deep breath. I rolled out an ensolite pad and got down of the floor and meditated. I focused on my breathing. When I felt relaxed again I got up and walked over to the pile gear I was packing for next week. I pulled out two cameras from the four I had packed and put them back into the cabinet. I pulled out two of the five lenses I had packed and put them back in the cabinet. I repacked the audio kit with only the two microphones I knew I would need. I shut off the computer and went to swim practice. Swim practice reminded me that the more relaxed you are the faster you can swim.

It's a struggle to know where the line is between being adequately prepared (and relaxed) and being overly prepared and stressed to the max. The reality is that it's impossible to plan for every contingency. It's impossible for one person to be an expert in everything. Surrendering to this idea that I don't need to master everything feels more like a victory and less like a lost battle. Just being proficient is usually more than enough...

My new goal is to relax enough to get on a plane one day with one camera, one microphone and one script and to land at my destination refreshed and ready to play. Does anyone have a workshop for that? For unwinding all the layers of trying too hard to be too prepared? To be too well equipped? To be too well researched. I've found out the hard way that an obsession with getting everything right is paralyzing. I'm ready for the workshop that teaches me how to have more fun actually doing the work.