5.05.2017

Art-tropology. Documenting public art as a personal project.


I see more and more of what I call "public art." It's mostly in the form of murals and "invited" graffiti. 
There is some really good stuff being done in the oddest places. The building on which this mural is painted is an older property near the central campus of Austin's community college. The front of the building is on 12th street and this artwork is on the side of the building, facing into their parking lot.

When I document public art I try to find a way to record the entire piece as well as the signature of the artist, then I go tighter and try to create a photographic composition that makes sense to me as a photograph instead of stopping at making a literal documentation. 

I started doing this many years ago, both in Austin and San Antonio, and recently I've found mural treasures in Denver, CO. as well. One of the reasons I walk around the downtown space here so often is that even commissioned public art tends to have a short half life. People "tag" over the original art or general wear and tear eventually degrades the work. If I walk through the areas where I know there is good art on a frequent basis I have a better chance of photographing it while it's fresh. 

Sometimes going to a place on a Sunday, or earlier in the morning yields the advantage of not having to compete with cars and trucks for a good view. For example, this morning I was able to shoot a giant mural of "jeweled" frogs on the side of a downtown building at a time when there were no cars at the parking meters in front of the mural. It was the same with the mural above. Before 8 a.m. you have a fighting chance of getting a clean area in front of the art that allows you to photograph straight in, without having to wiggle your camera to one side or the other in a frustrating attempt to dodge parked cars. 

The commissioned work I see is usually very well produced. It shows the hands and minds of true craftspeople. I love the "circus" images on the back of the building that houses Esther's Follies comedy club. The "Op Art" on plywood fronting a property on Congress Ave., just a couple of blocks from the Capitol is also very nice. It's all worth documenting because, inevitably, it will go away. 

One of the earliest pieces was an ad on the side of an old building in downtown. A building got torn down in order to make way for a newer, plainer building and the demolition revealed a chewing gum ad on the building next door. 

Now, of course, if you are doing this professionally you really will need the absolute latest camera. It must have two card slots because one never knows when the wrecking ball will beat you to the re-shoot should your single card slot fail. You'll probably need a Sony a9 (I'm sure redacted website would consider it mandatory) so you can capture the work at high rates of speed. Buildings move fast. And no building will stand still if you aren't using one of those white lenses (or at least light grey...). As you might imagine, a fast, professional optic is required. In bright sunlight f2.0 might be dicey; better make it an f1.2 instead. This presumes, of course, that you'll have a raw converter built into your professional camera so you can get your "work" up on Instagram while you are still facing the subject of your study. Anything less would be temporally unprofessional. I can only use Canon and Nikon for this sort of work since they now have service trucks (like our food trucks) parked close to the art just in case one of the cameras, operating at speed, drops a cog or runs out of sensor oil. Occasionally I find that I need to borrow a 1200mm f2.8 from one of the "big boys" so I can shoot a mural from across the street. Good to know they are there. 

In all seriousness, this kind of work can be done with just about anything that has a battery that will still hold a charge. My first documentations were done with film cameras but I started photographing Austin murals in earnest with my original Olympus E-1 camera. It worked well. 

It's fun to have a mission in mind when you head outside with your camera. An ongoing mission like the documentation of public art gives me a reason to walk and a reason to bring along a camera. Over time you develop a deeper and deeper inventory of images and, in some ways, you create an archive of the change in your city.

Today I was using the Panasonic G85. That's just because it's my newest toy. My all time favorite camera for this kind of "work" has been the Sony RX10iii. Being able to use so many vastly different focal lengths gives me ultimate flexibility and the really good stabilization never hurts. 































































Lazy Friday. Time to Walk with Cameras. Hello G85.


I woke up this morning fifteen minutes before the alarm on my phone was set to go off. I went into the kitchen and saw this shaft of light hitting the coffee cup that holds our pens and pencils at the ready and I reached for my camera. I also took as the intention of this single ray of sunshine to act as a sign, guiding me in search of coffee. I had two things that I needed to get done today. One was to have lunch with an interesting advertising peer and the other was to go to the theater later in the afternoon and take photographs of dancers and actors for the new production just heading into rehearsal, "In the Heights."

There were other things I need to get done but none as pressing, I thought,  as those two appointments; they were the only ones with hard deadlines. It was early when I pulled out a pair of hiking shoes and pulled on an old, gray sweatshirt to keep me warm against the 52 degree breeze. It's Springtime in Austin and, even though it was a bit on the chilly side, a pair of khaki shorts is de rigeuor. I left the house at 7:30 ready to break in the new camera in the stable; the G85. I was also interested to see just how good (or bad) the 12-60mm kit lens really is.

I pulled the battery I had been using out of the camera and stuck it on the charger. I grabbed two freshly charged batteries, stuck one in the camera and the other in my pants pocket. I made sure there was a clean, fresh SD card inserted in the camera, and I headed downtown. 

I walked around and shot anything that caught my eye for the next hour and a half because I wanted to see what stuff looked like once I processed it and pulled it up on my computer screen. I shot in RAW format so I could mess with the images if I felt I needed to. I was looking for things like: How well does the camera handle basic exposure? (I had it set to Aperture Priority and multi-segment metering). How well does the camera handle auto white balance? What does the camera's rendering of blue sky look like?  How does the camera handle, overall? What's the grip like? How's the EVF?

Here's what I found today: Raw looks good but since I had the noise reduction turned all the way down on the Panasonic G85 I needed to do a little bit of post processing noise reduction even with the slowest ISOs if I did my usual post processing and raised the shadows a bit. I can only see the noise at 100% but....

The camera is very good with exposure. I needed to use the exposure compensation control only occasionally and it was always with darker scenes which could benefit from minus 2/3rds of a stop, or one stop, of compensation. I was very pleased with the auto white balance and find that this is one of the few cameras I've used that even handles tungsten lighting very well. The resulting tungsten lit files were not tinged with orange the way the files from some of the competing cameras sometimes are.

The blue sky is nicely rendered and matches, color and saturation-wise, what I was seeing as I was shooting.  The camera is solid but with the light weight kit lens becomes a very reasonable package to carry around all day long. It's light enough not to be a burden but stout enough to have some mass. And, compared to most DSLRs it's quite small. The EVF has good magnification, significant range in the diopter, and a bright, almost "high eye point" image. 

But here is my one piece of unalloyed praise for this under $1,000 camera today = It has the best shutter sound and shutter feel of any camera I have ever used; including Leica's best film cameras,  Alpas, anything. I would buy the G85 again in a rush just for the tactile and aural superiority of this shutter system. The camera has a silent mode but it seems redundant. The shutter is quiet but beyond that, I can't imagine any human hearing it and not smiling with a sense of satisfaction. It's that good. 

I got back to the house and checked my messages. Oh no! There was one from the theater. Our photo project was well vetted by the marketing people but ran aground with someone in production. They decided, at the last minute, to scrap the shoot we were trying to produce. It's too bad as I was really looking forward to setting up some large (and small) flashes and having fun shooting wonderful actors and dancers with my new camera and lens. I'm sure the shoot will be revived sometime soon. It sometimes happens that way. At least I don't have to pull equipment out of various cases in order to custom pack for the lighting vision I had in my head for later this afternoon.

That leaves a nice hole in my schedule for a nap. I wonder if Studio Dog will share a piece of that couch? It's worth a shot.








Shooting my reflection in a very dirty window.

5.04.2017

I took Caleb Pike's online course about the Panasonic G85 today. Then I shot some video.


I've always had a soft spot for the micro four thirds cameras. 
Above is an EP-2 with a favorite, old Nikon lens on the front.

Caleb Pike has a course about shooting video with the Panasonic G85 on the at DSLRVideoShooter.com and my friend, Frank suggested that it would be a quick way to come to grips with the operation of my new G85 so I paid my $19, pulled up comfortable chairs for me and Studio Dog and we spent a good portion of the afternoon watching a nicely produced and informative presentation that makes me comfortable with the operation of the device. It's not a lot different than the fz2500 and that's a nice thing because there's a lot of comfort in familiarity.

Since I bought the camera, in large part, to do video work I decided, after watching Caleb's video, that I should practice with the camera so I loaded a new battery, set the camera up (nearly) as suggested and started shooting trash video around the studio; mostly on a tripod but also some handheld. 

Here's what I have learned so far: The color straight out of the camera is more pleasing than that of my Sony cameras, but with Andrew Reid's recommended settings (EosHD.com) and the Sony's remarkable setting flexibility I can pretty much match the look of the cameras to each other. But, really, chalk on up to the Panasonic for nailing color at the most basic level. I also learned that, for video I may as well use the touch screen (even though I dislike them philosophically) because it makes life easier. It's also fun to touch the screen and shift focus without touching the lens---a lazy man's focus pull. 

I first tested the image stabilization (in video) with the kit lens (12-60mm) and all of the camera's I.S. prowess engaged. This includes sensor stabilization, lens stabilization and even electronic stabilization in camera software. Altogether they add up to a poor man's instant gimbal. One can handhold the camera for video clips with reckless abandon. It's in the same ballpark formerly occupied by my brace of Olympus EM5.2 cameras. The camera also has a fun, new trick up its sleeve when it comes to stabilizing older, manual focus lenses. When I put one of the older (non-communicative) lenses on the camera and turn it on a menu appears asking me if the lens is the same focal lengths as the camera's last adventure with MF lenses or if a new focal length setting is going to be called for. If you've changed to a new focal length, manual focus lens you have the option of inputing the F.L. right there. Nice. And "nice" is a good way to describe the performance of the system I.S. with ancient lenses. The feature works nearly as well as lens-based stabilization in other systems. 

Manual focusing is  easy with this camera. I'm using the monochrome view for composition and manual focusing and the bigger viewfinder magnification, focus peaking and punch in magnification all work together to ensure that I nail focus with any manual focus lens I happen to put on the camera. I also like the AF, at least I do now that I have the custom range set to work just in the center of the frame. DFD focusing seems fast and sure with the kit lens.

Moving on to audio. I tested the camera's audio capability by attaching a Saramonic SmartRig+ to the camera's microphone jack, setting the audio levels to minus 12 and then using the gain controls on the SmartRig+ to accurately place levels for my tests. In this configuration the pre-amplifiers in the Saramonic are doing most of the heavy lifting and the combination sounds good, and nearly noise free. I used the SmartRig+ because I remembered that it has a headphone jack (no volume control) and it would allow me to at least monitor what the microphone was picking up and what kind of signal it was sending to the camera. I think that if I used the G85 as an "A" camera and was doing an interview I'd go for dual audio instead of flying deaf when it comes to monitoring what the camera is actually laying down in the audio tracks.

It's pretty simple to use the Tascam DR60ii as a combination back-up recorder and pass through device to the camera. And the combination, as tested today, worked well and was also very low noise. I get that the lack of a headphone jack is supposed to propel us upward and into the purchase of a GH5 but I remembered that my Bolex Rex 5, 16mm movie camera lacked any sort of headphone jack either and we seemed to have made that work (in conjunction with a Stellavox quarter inch, portable tape recorder and a clapper...). I'm pretty sure I can make a useable system with the camera and something like the newly announced Sound Devices MixPre 3 mixer/recorder.

The right hand grip of the camera is deep and voluptuous. I like holding on to it.

To sum up: I liked the G85 well enough as a video camera to go ahead and order a nice cage for it and to carve out a little space in my camera backpack so I can take it along with me for a corporate video project in Oklahoma City next week. 

If you've had experience with sound input directly into this camera and you want to share please be sure to comment. I would love to hear your experiences. 

It was good to put the 40mm Pen FT f1.4 back on the front of a camera again. Nostalgic but actually very, very capable.

m4:3 is still sweet. 

5.02.2017

The Panasonic G85. My choice for an all around fun camera under $1,000.

Austin, Texas. I'm always interested in new gear that solves problems in different ways. The latest cameras from Olympus, Panasonic and Sony all have fun stuff in common; stuff that wasn't all readily available in a single camera body until recently. Those features include the combination of really good, 4K video capability, five axis image stabilization and good performance. I was narrowing in on the Sony a6500 as a good addition to the cameras I already own; it would provide a higher level of image stabilization and state of the art 4K video, but I wanted to shop around and see what else was available.

Two things about the Sony a6500 gave me reason to drag my feet: that camera has a reputation for being prone to overheating when operating in 4K video, and a large part of my desire to own the camera was to take advantage of the high quality video. The second thing that dampened my desire was the nearly universal assessment that the while the 4K video is nearly perfect the 1080p (HD) video is soft and lacks detail; even compared to a similar camera (the a6000) that is two generations older. Not every project needs 4K video, many documentary exercises are better solved with HD.

I looked at the Olympus EM-1.2 but I wasn't ready to spend $2,000 on a secondary camera that didn't fit into my collection in a rational way (not saying that rationality holds much purchase in my office...).

The first two cameras led me, in comparative reviews, to a camera that I must say might be the Goldilocks camera of the category, the Panasonic G85.

While the G85 lacks the resolution of the Olympus and Sony candidates (it is only 16 megapixels) it does get high marks for both its 4K performance and the prowess of its five axis image stabilization. With several current lenses the Panasonic is also able to provide even more enhanced I.S. performance by making use of the lens I.S. in conjunction (and in addition to) the I.S. in the body. Additionally, the G85 also scores well for its basic, 1080p, HD video performance.

While the Sony a6500 is about $1400 without a lens and the Olympus is nearly $2000 without a lens, the Panasonic G85 can be purchased new with a fairly nice kit lens; the 12-60mm f3.5 to f5.6. A nice 24-120 equivalent zoom. In the kit format the bundle of camera and lens is right at $1,000. With a current rebate in place the total price drops to $899.

Considering that the lens currently sells for about $500 on Amazon the price of the kit, with rebate, essentially means that one is getting a really good camera body for about $400. Not a bad deal. Of course, it remains to be seen just how good the lens is. Various reviews range from "great for the range and price" to "slightly soft." But, as usual, the only way to really know what a piece of gear can do it so use it in your own processes and weigh your own results.

I bought this camera and lens for two fairly specific reasons. First, I wanted a camera and lens system that I could use to shoot very high quality, hand-held, stabilized 4K video. I'll test extensively but I think this is a good combination. It would also be the small system that I'll attach to a cart for dolly work, or use on a small, portable slider as a supplement to my primary camera.

My second reason for giving the camera a fair trial is that after selling off the GH4s, well over a year ago, I've missed having a good platform for my collection of ancient Pen FT lenses. The 40mm f1.4 and the 60mm f1.5 in particular have been calling out to me from the confines of the equipment cart.

A year ago I would have passed on this camera simply because it lacks a headphone jack. That would have disqualified it in my mind. But once I figured out that I could hook an HDMI monitor to a camera and have a great monitoring source for audio via the monitor I took that argument off the table.

The combination of the fz2500 and the G85 should make a good, low profile team of features and performance for those times when I want to travel light and still come home with great stuff. It's an alternative to both the full frame A7 systems and the one inch RX10 systems. A different choice for different uses. One wonderful note is that the G85 uses the same batteries as the fz2500. No new batteries needed at this juncture.

As far as still images go I've read DPReview's conclusion and am expecting good overall imaging performance; it's perhaps more of a RAW shooter than a Jpeg savant. But with a little manipulation of the profile parameters I'll bet we can get pretty close to what I usually like to see in a file. That's been the case with its sibling....

You can buy one at Amazon with the link below or you can get in touch with Precision-Camera.com and you can order one with a rebate (yes, USA warranty) for about $100 less.

4.30.2017

Finding our footing for the future in Imaging.


Two things kill formerly successful enterprises. The first is loving and holding on to the past too strongly. The second is not leveraging the lessons already learned. Seems contradictory on the surface but the argument is solid in both directions.

First, a simple observation from financial services experts: People are reticent to sell off a stock they've bought even when they are almost certain that the value is dropping, and will continue to drop. Why? because, irrationally, they are already emotionally invested in the stock and hope that it will rally. They are afraid they will lose what they've already invested if they bail out but might win by persevering. History tells us that a hasty retreat often prevents bleeding out entirely over time. People who take early action preserve the capital needed to try again.

An observation from business: Companies often spend enormous money in R&D to create a product which is then found to be unprofitable at the price points (and costs) at which the product should be sold. Most companies are slow to pull the plug on the product because they already have so much invested in the product. They can't bear to "lose" the initial investments. So they ride the product all the way down to bankruptcy. In our industry it now seems prescient that Samsung chose to quickly shut down their camera division in the face of compelling research about the overall sales declines anticipated, market wide.

If a real estate investor happens to get lucky by being in the right place at the right time, and happens to make a ton of money, they translate the "luck" into the idea that they are a superior investor, endowed with foresight, intuition, etc. Historically, most wind up losing their shirts on the next deals -- a result of relying on their subjective point of view about markets instead of hard fact. Witness Nikon's hamfisted entry (and now hamfisted exit) from the ILC mirrorless market. And the "Go Pro - Me Too!" market.

Often, as companies grow, they lose sight of their original mission; their core offerings and core cultures which brought them success in the first place. Kodak came to believe that their business was information technology and film sales. Their core business was really helping people to take better photographs and to help people simplify and enjoy the process of taking "pictures." By focusing on the nuts and bolts of manufacturing and distribution, and the enterprise markets, they missed the pivot to digital that was all to obvious to the bulk of their customers.

Apple Computer faltered when they decided that their market was a share of the commodity personal computer market. They rebounded and enjoy historic success after re-discovering that their real core value is to provide an easier way for people to communicate, work and play. A laser-like focus on the past, and their role as just computer makers, would have doomed them. The realization that they were offering beautifully designed, simple and powerful communication tools to individuals allowed them to look beyond computers to phones, music and entertainment.

I write this because I have been fascinated by the launch of the Sony A9 and the backlash against the A9 by traditional users. In one sense I think Sony is missing the big picture and the opportunity to do what Apple did and to create tightly integrated ecosystem for their imaging products. To optimize the software between camera and camera, and camera and phone and camera, phone and TV. I am amazed that there isn't a huge Sony channel on the internet that allows one to take "micro" courses about the best use of their products and mini-payment courses that help consumers to make better photographs and videos with all products (including Sony's) at their fingertips. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all their tools and menus were seamlessly integrated, and actually fun to interconnect?

On the other hand I am fascinated by the rejection of progress in deference to tradition that I see in the makers (and users) of traditional camera products. And even more amazed at how slowly the most expert and invested camera owners embrace future trends, styles and methods when compared to even the most mainstream users with simple devices like smartphones. The smartphone users have no long  term investment in the traditions of video and photography so they are not concerned that using new type of product to make a new kind of image or program will "rob" them of what they feel they have invested in over the years = mastery of traditional, technique driven methodologies. 

Traditional users continue to make photographs in traditional ways with traditional tools (and I am mostly speaking only about the commercial markets) because they are afraid to confront the implied loss of their knowledge investments. Their love for a reliably unchanged way of doing their processes also fosters the avoidance of new experimentation and hampers their ability to move beyond their current comfort zones; which is vital for keeping up with cultural evolution.  You see it most in traditional business like portrait photography. The advertising (and tradition) of portrait photography revolve around the mastery of studio lighting techniques and rote formulas for lighting and posing. Three point lighting. Softboxes. Monolights. Portrait focal lengths. Portrait Professional Software for skin detail obliteration. Vignetted edges. Sparkly catchlights. Muslin backgrounds.

The average corporate customers (and most potential retail customers)  are currently looking for environmental portraits taken on location. Portraits that might need to be lit but should appear to be done with available light. Portraits that are authentic. They reject many of the traditional poses and lighting schemes in pursuit of a more current visual aesthetic. The slow to adapt portrait photographers are not trying to push their clients into the future, rather the clients seem to be dragging the photographers (kicking and screaming) along for the ride. The photographers fear their loss of the investment they have made in the traditional trappings of their field, long after those trappings have started to lose their cachet.

We really aren't in the business of creating physical photographs anymore. Most of the techniques in that past were aimed at shoehorning the wider dynamic range of film onto the smaller target range of a photographic print, or printed, 4 color reproduction. We are now in a more wide-ranging visual communications business. We create visual content for our clients that is almost uniformly ephemeral and electronic, and its acceptance tracks its use. If we accept that there has been a massive shift in consumer consumption of visual marketing from the printed page and printed photo to the (ever growing) cell phone screen we can understand why clients are looking for tighter and tighter composition (more graphic = more easily readable messaging on smaller screens) and why images with movement are so attractive to our clients as they pursue results in their advertising.

We humans are invested with millions of years of evolution and training as hunters and gatherers. We are hardwired to notice motion, both for our personal safety and, until very, very recently, for the pursuit of edible things. Our stereo vision allows us to see in depth and our eye/brain system is optimized for noting changing patterns and motion. But because motion picture production with film was costly and technical we were "allowed" to ignore it and pursue photography as a "separate" medium. Now the effect of technology is flattening everything; from the way we bank to the way we create and consume visual media, and the people slowest to understand and embrace an obvious technology shift and aesthetic shift are the people who would most likely benefit from its application for clients. It's now as cheap to produce video as it is to produce still images.

There is very little required to make video beyond a good camera and its lenses. A microphone or two and lights that can be used continuously. Other than that one can edit with free software and distribute with free sharing channels like YouTube and Vimeo. If our core business is creating visual content, and the cultural value proposition of visual content is shifting toward video, how does it make sense to ignore it? Why not preserve profitability through continued education, and the application thereof?

I thought about all these things in the context of the A9 launch. To my mind Sony took a marketing step backward with that camera. The succumbed to playing the traditionalist's game. They are out to prove that their camera is "as good" or "slightly better" at doing exactly what the traditional DSLRs already do, and do quite well; tracking fast motion, and shooting quickly in sports and fast moving wildlife situations. Areas that actually have less to do with most commercial photography than the 7/10th of the commercial content creation iceberg we don't read about on popular websites. In competing in exactly those parameters Sony is stepping backwards and actually re-affirming a priority status to those narrow attributes/ feature sets as being vital to the photographer's mission ---- when they are anything but.

Panasonic has the market differentiation much more wisely figured out in their newest cameras. They repudiate the notion of single image capture inefficiency altogether with their 6k capture feature. You are essentially shooting 6K (18 megapixel) video from which you can review and snag the perfect frame from a continuum. Set a high enough shutter speed and you will freeze action. If you shoot sports you could capture long bursts at 24 fps and have precise moments captured. Since you are shooting video frames there is no black out and no buffer consideration. And it's current in cameras that cost less than $2000. It's already a proven technology. But it's a side step instead of a head to head contest. It's almost a way of yawning and saying, "Fast fps still imaging? That's so last century."

Had Sony concentrated on making the A9 a much more video-forward camera, and incorporated something like 6K or 8K video, they may not have won over Nikon and Canon traditionalists who might be ready to move on but they would have solidified the idea that the very nature of shooting fast action is changing and that they (along with Panasonic) own the new paradigm of sports imaging for now and into the near future. But they dropped that ball when they compared what could have been a fuel injected camera against a box full of four barreled carburetor equipped cameras in one of the few contests in which the old guard still hold relevance.

If you are engaged in traditional photography with a traditional camera and you probably either persist in photography strictly for your own pleasure, or you have found a photographic niche that is immune to the progress of media as it relates to popular (commercial) culture. You have no reason to do any soul searching or, in fact, consider moving on from any camera/style/art you currently enjoy. You certainly don't need to embrace video production. In fact, it might even be counter productive for you. But if you are engaged with advertising agencies, large corporations (especially tech and product oriented ones) or even local businesses that have  services and products that can be demonstrated visually then you are already engaged in the battle to stay relevant and to offer a changing menu of content services to your clients, and the companies you would love to have as clients.

I've made a conscious choice to pursue integrating video into the services that I offer. But I am not interested in pursuing video in a traditional manner. I'm not interested in going backward into highly complex and very expensive cameras or methodologies of production that require large crews and large capital expenditures. Those methods are for people who want to make movies and who have access to millions of dollars of production budget. I am much more interested in offering "right-sized" productions that nearly every client can afford, and which bigger clients can afford more and more often.

It's easy to get swept up in the "no holds barred" narrative of big budget movie making and to believe, by extension, that you must compete in your market with the same tools or be perceived to un-professional, but this is an irrational way of approaching your engagement with the medium. The expenditures constitute part of a risk/reward ratio. Movie makers spend millions on production (mostly on salaries and only secondarily on technology) in order to potentially make billions in ROI. They must bring everything imaginable to the table. But most of our commercial clients won't see the same risk/reward ratios in their engagement with the kinds of video that will constitute the work most of us undertake. Our clients will be happy if their CEO looks good and sounds good and doesn't flub his lines. The tech company will be happy if the video you create to show how to install their part in another product is bright, clear and detailed and shows the correct angles, steps and explanatory close-ups at the right times. Our medical client will be happy if we show off their flagship products with real people engaged in Activities of their Daily Lives and we capture some real emotion/excitment/new confidence in their subsequent "testimonial" interviews.

Technology that allows us to do both still photography and video interchangeably is here. The push from the clients to supply kinetic content is here. And the nice thing for us is that it requires mostly continuing education and experience and not huge investments in gear. For the person starting their pathway through the combined media the best "hybrid" camera is probably the one they already own. Whether it's a Canon Rebel, a Nikon D7200 or one of many mirror-free cameras on the market it will probably do a great (or good) job of making 1080p HD video. The tripod you already own can usually be used with the addition of a cost effective fluid head. There are any number of "good enough" microphones on the market for less than $150 that can be used directly, plugged into your camera's microphone socket.

You will spend a few months and a lot of practice editing your video. You will find your still photographs from a typical assignment that calls for both media to be very useful as additional visual content in your finished video. Nothing seems to make a marketing director happier than the act of their "team"  shooting a good, corporate, "talking head" video and then watching their artist click a few controls and then make a beautiful, photographic portrait in the same location...with the same lighting. And the same camera.

All of this is within our reach. All of it will be increasingly in demand from our clients. All of it is profitable.

In a week and a day I'll head out of town to shoot my twelfth video/photo assignment of the year. I won't be shooting it with a $12,000 camera and a $5,000 lens. I won't have a crew of ten. I am sitting here today planning the right way to right size the project for the budget and the targeted results. The video will be used on a corporate share sites in close proximity with dozens of other similar videos of widely varying production value. It will be compressed. It will be seen by a small audience of people who have a keen interest in the subject matter.

I'll go with a crew of two. Myself and an assistant. If we need an additional set of hands, to hold a reflector, we'll have a collaborative client in tow who values good teamwork. We'll be shooting all of the content in 4K video. I'll shoot the interview with two cameras. One will, no doubt, be the redoubtable Sony RX10iii. The second will likely be either a Sony RX10ii or a Panasonic FZ2500. All are quite capable of good performance when used with good light. I'll bring along a Sony A7rii for photographs and I'll bring it with just three primes; the 28, 50, 85 (all inexpensive but capable f1.8 or f2.0 lenses).

I'll bring three or four LED lights, probably a mix of battery powered and plug in models. We'll bring a couple of shotgun microphones and a set of lavaliere microphones (just in case). My total investment in gear, to work on this location, will be less than $10,000. We'll get work done that makes the client happy and ensures we get paid.

When I look into the future of imaging I see a blending of photography and video. Some people will still play in separate and lofty niches. Production companies will favor mostly creating video because the budgets are nearly always bigger. Former stills-only photographers will mix between media with abandon. Everyone will be cognizant that the overall advertising market is changing with the larger share of money now being spent on moving images and a declining amount spent on pure, still photography. Figuring out where you want to be and how you want to get there is the challenge.

I think we're up for the challenge. Change is scary but learning and mastering new stuff is a wonderful motivator. And new mastery keeps us relevant.