12.17.2021

I tried my hand at painting years ago. It was fun. Here's my interpretation of morning coffee.

 


On a 3 x5 foot canvas. Acrylics. I love the color science (that's a joke!).

Mother and son at a café in Rome.


 I'm always amused by people who can't live without autofocus. Who can't photograph without automatic exposure. Who are afraid to photograph strangers. They make photography sound so difficult and daunting. But it's really quite easy if you don't imagine that you are pulling some sort of scam over on your subjects. 

Take your time. Shoot more than one frame. Meet people. Shake hands. Smile. Ask questions. Learn by practicing all the time. 

This was from a vacation I took with B back in days of film. I traveled with an old Hasselblad 500C/M and used mostly a 100 mm f3.5 Planar lens. The image looks like it was shot on film because it was done with Tri-X and printed on double weight paper. In my own darkroom. 

Focusing took time. Getting the exposure took time. But really, what's the hurry? 

I could reminisce but what would it buy us? My goal now is to be as good in the present as I was in the past. A nice goal. Maybe an achievable one. We'll see.

Shoot happier. Don't be afraid. Most people want to be happy.

Revving up for a video shoot tomorrow. After a year of no video I'm scrambling to remember all the settings and gotchas.

 


It's been over a year since I put a camera into the video mode for a client and produced motion content. You get rusty. Or at least I get rusty. I no longer have any of the cameras I was using in the Fall of 2020 to film productions out on the Plaza at Zach Theatre. Some got donated to worthy causes. Some got traded in on newer cameras and some just got sold. So, as I put my kit together for tomorrow's shoot I'm basically starting from scratch. It's a humbling experience somewhat akin to cramming for a final exam. 

Every job is different so I guess I should describe this one. I'll be heading downtown to a theater to do a two camera recording of a one man play. The actor/writer is a person I've known for decades and love working with. His agent is out of Los Angeles and we've done five or six projects together in the last half decade. He's great to work with and leans on my opinion more often than not which is an unneeded boost for my already outsized ego... but always welcome. The lighting on the stage will change frequently and the actor will move all over the place. I'm going to set up one camera as a stationary wide camera. That camera will effectively be an all encompassing "B" camera. While it's not important to get perfect audio for that camera it is important to get scratch audio so the editor can sync up the two cameras. We'll get the good sound from the "A" camera. 

The "A" camera will be tightly composed on the actor (waist up or knees up) and will follow him as he walks about the stage and acts. I'll use a longer lens on this one so I can come in close if there are dramatic moments to capture. This camera will also be the camera recording the good sound. Instead of using a microphone I'll have the house audio engineer run a balanced, XLR cable to the camera position and use a small interface box to match the line out parameters to the microphone inputs. I like having hard volume controls for the audio so my small pre-amp is just right. Since I want a long throw on the "A" camera I've decided to use my camera's APS-C crop. That gives me up to an equivalent of 300mm to work with so I can position myself as far back in the house as I need to. And, of course, I'll be working with both cameras on big tripods. 

The requested format is 1080p shot at 30fps (29.97). That's works great for a program that's going to time out at about an hour and a half. The cameras will both shoot 1080p @ 10 bit, 4:2:2 internally so I'm happy with that. We discussed 4K but the editors seem to prefer the more compact files to work with. I'll set exposures manually and, at least for right now, I'm thinking of trying AF focus tracking with the "A" camera. I'll intercede if it all goes to hell....

At this juncture I'll be using a Panasonic S5 camera as the "A" camera because it's got the best video AF of all the cameras I currently own. I'm planning on using the Leica SL2 as my "B" camera because its newest firmware updates give it most of the features of the newer, video oriented SL2-S and with very nice looking video files. I am currently testing out a loaned SL2-S and may sub that in but so far the SL2 is doing everything I need it to on my test run in the studio. 

I'm heading over to the theater in a few minutes to meet the crew and to block out the geography for the camera placement, do a final check with the sound engineer, and go over final notes with the agent/producer. Then, back to the studio to fine tune the gear package. Belinda laughed at me last night when we were discussing the shoot. I told her I was worried that I wasn't worried enough... She suggested that was why the business runs well. Who knows?

Looking ahead to midday tomorrow it looks like we'll have plentiful rain so I'm adding waterproof covers for the gear luggage to the mix. And a poncho for myself. Gotta get the stuff from the car to the venue without water damage.

We're videotaping at the matinee tomorrow afternoon and there will be a live audience. Vaccine cards or negative Covid-19 tests required. Masks required. I'm going full on, medical N-95 for this.

I wanted to do this job for old time's sake because I have a sinking feeling that Omicron is going to cause wide spread shutdowns in the live theater industry once again. I'd like to get a small taste of the work before it's gone again. 

The secret to ameliorating worry, pre-shoot? A good packing list. And packing twice as much cable as you think you'll need. And batteries. Lots and lots of extra batteries. 

I just hope we don't get lightning in the morning. It wouldn't affect the shoot but lightning and thunder always wreak havoc on our outdoor swim practices and I'd really like to get long, fast workout in before the show. 

Happy Friday.