1.15.2018

An Early Morning of Packing and Some Notes From the Week.


After the trauma and drama of my family's "holiday" it felt so good to get back to work last week. My first project back was to create video of an interview with Abe Reybold, who is one of the artistic directors at ZACH Theatre. I went "old school" with my audio, running two inexpensive Audio Technica AT70, wired lavaliere microphones into the Panasonic DMW-XLR-1 audio interface and then into the GH5. Say what you will about the miracles of wireless technology but the hard-wired microphones were very clean and the audio from the session is impeccable.

I chose to go with "lavs" because the room we worked in can be noisy and the close proximity of the omni-direction microphones goes a long way toward damping down background noise. There's also an argument to be made that fewer electronics (mic transmitters and receivers) in the pathway of the audio makes for a cleaner sound.

The next day Ben and I headed over to our favorite, big accounting firm to do another flurry of headshots for them. We set up the cordless monolights (Neewer Vision 4) and a neutral gray background and had a very pleasant morning just meeting new people and easing them into the process of looking great.

It was so much fun to have Ben there to help me set up, tear down and cover all the minutia that I find burdensome. From there the rest of the week was about post processing and video editing. We knocked out a two minute rough for one project (with Ben at the editing helm) while creating web galleries for our accounting client (my purview...).

Having distilled my selection of working cameras down to just the GH5's is very liberating. There's no question which cameras and lenses will be in attendance when we head out the door on an assignment. I keep rounding out the lens selection but keep coming back to the 12-100mm Pro and the 40-150mm Pro (both from Olympus) every time I fire up the cameras and point them at profitable subjects. The more recent lenses, and the primes, seem to be my "hobby" lenses.

I photographed an unusual children's play on Saturday. It was done with puppets and puppeteers. It was done in two languages. Again, the 12-100mm was the lens of first choice but I also got some shots from the 30mm f1.4 Sigma that arrived last week. I shot with that lens wide open or stopped down to as low as f2.2 and I was impressed by how sharp the resulting files are. The GH5 is perfectly adept at making good looking photographs at ISO 1600. Not too much noise in the blacks. Not at all.

Sunday was a day dedicated to family stuff. I headed down to San Antonio right after an early breakfast and visited my dad in the memory care facility. That was yesterday. It was a good visit; my dad was sitting in is favorite easy chair and was dressed in pressed slacks, a nice shirt and a sport coat. Yesterday, at least, he was telling me that he is at a very nice conference hotel and has been attending continuing education sessions about hospital management. He was a little embarrassed because he didn't have any cash with him but I reminded him that I had "borrowed" twenty dollars from him and brought the money with me to re-pay him. That was a big relief... His room is well appointed, large and filled with his own stuff. Family photos, books, knick knacks and a small bowl of Hershey's Kisses; his favorite. He seems to have settled into the "perennial" conference quite nicely but would like me to check and see what happened to his subscription to the New York Times.

I spent the rest of the afternoon pulling out bags and boxes of receipts from closets and drawers around the family house in order to get all my parents' financial papers together and stored safely in one of my lockable filing cabinets back in Austin. I think my mother's approach to filing and organizing financial papers was to put everything in a big stack in one room, toss in a hand grenade or two, and then close the door. At least that's the way it seems in the moment.

We've created a process for paper processing the involves three big boxes. One is for trash (store coupons, solicitations, junk mail), one is for financial papers and the third is for "memorabilia" which could be letters from grandchildren or cards or photographs. The last box are things I would normally toss but which need to be seen by my other siblings before any action is taken. Not in the business of generating regrets...

This morning Ben and I are packing up for our three days of tethered shooting. You are reading this because of a personal error I made this morning: I woke up and mis-read my watch. I turned off my alarm clock and took some satisfaction at having awoken without the alarm. I was drinking coffee and looking the news when I glanced at my watch and realized I'd gotten up for my shoot an hour early.

Ah well, I guess that gives me one more hour in the day.

We are packing too much for the shoot. We are setting up at the end of a public hallway, in a Westin Hotel, adjacent to a wall of windows. I asked that the windows be draped so we aren't fighting the sun the whole day but we'll see what happens. Since we are in a public space that can't be secured it seems like I'll be pulling down the set and packing the car for each of the next three days. Every shoot seems to present some glitches but this one has been glitchier than most. It stems from a changing of the guard. The person who booked us was a great client and one we'd worked with for the better part of a year and a half. With changes afoot at the company my ally decided to resign and start his own marketing firm.

The person replacing him was caught, I think, a bit off guard and has a lot on her plate. We have not been able to get the kinds of details we normally get when doing a project of this scope; headshots of large numbers of upper management and sales pros. We're more or less taking the creative reins and implementing our own style. This could mean "course corrections" at any time during the process.

Ben and I practiced our tethering techniques several times last night and Belinda designed us a log sheet that makes organization of the selected photo files a breeze. Now we'll see if the location works and the scheduling is effective. It's all random chaos now but then that's part of our purview: to bring visual order to corporate chaos. We relish the challenge...

A few tech notes: The 12-100mm f4.0 Pro Olympus lens continues to distinguish itself with a blend of flexibility and optical happiness. The Sigma 30mm f1.4 DC DN is as sharp wide open as advertised and super at f2.2, 2.5, and 2.8. Well worth the $339. The Panasonic "Lumix Tether" software works well and is very straightforward. The integration with Lightroom works well too.

The Vizio 32 inch TV/Monitor I bought could be operated while blindfolded and it seems like it will come in handy for all kinds of stuff down the road. A nice addition to the usual set ups.

All of this prep may be undone tomorrow morning when we are expecting ice storms and dropping mercury. The forecast for Tuesday's early hours is: "rain, ice, snow, and temps falling from 32 down to 23." In Austin that means all travel grinds to a halt. Snow tires? Never heard of them. Salt on the roads? Nope; only on the brisket. Fingers crossed......

Keep the coffee flowing and the shutters clicking and we'll settle back into the new normal. Thanks for reading along. I hope all of you have a great and productive day.

7 comments:

Russ Goddard said...

Thanks for this "slice of life", Kirk. It's a nice way to start my day (in the Pacific time zone) - feels like reading a local small-town paper with news of the neighbors' comings and goings . . . I like it!

Don Karner said...

"Not in the business of generating regrets..."

Your blog post today was very interesting, but the quoted line got me thinking and thinking...... Thanks for all your writing. You alone might be worth keeping the internet.

Gato said...

Good luck on the weather tomorrow. If it's the front that came through the Panhandle this morning it's pretty grim. We're expected to be down to 25 by sundown and to wake up to around 11 or 12 tomorrow. But no moisture for us. I'd hate to be trying to get around Austin on ice.

Let us know how the job works out. I'm sure I'm not the only one wanting to know, but as a Panasonic user I'm very curious about how the tethering works out.

Kirk Tuck said...

Our client has moved tomorrow's start time for us to noon. We'll see how the weather progresses.

To all the folks who recommended we use iPads and the Lumix app I'm finding the 32 inch wide screen does a better job displaying multiple images for clients to choose from. The hardwired connections means that we can send full sized files or raw files into the mix at a much faster speed than hotel wi-fi. It's also more stable and we are able to save files in three places concurrently.

Ben agrees.

Stephen Emmons said...

Great post. I enjoyed reading about your visit with your dad.
"Optical happiness." That's a great word pairing!
I second everything Russ Goddard said.

Rob Young said...

Hi,
Your story of your dad being embarrassed because he didn't have any money with him resonated. My dad suffered from vascular dementia. When he first went into the care facility, his biggest concern was that he didn't have any money in his wallet to pay for the meals. So, yes, a $20 note in his wallet settled his mind.

Kirk Tuck said...

Thanks Rob. It's good to be reminded that this is a situation that many experience and it's not just me and my family. Thank you for posting this.