5.24.2019

Just Spending Some Time Reminding Myself What It Was I Really Liked About Medium Format....

 ©Kirk Tuck.


A Few Thoughts About Fuji's GFX100 and Why I Think This Product Will Change the Commercial Photography Industry (while blunting the sale of high end 35mm sensor cameras).

If the GFX100 performs close to its specifications and features list this camera has the potential to change the higher end of mass photography. It's less expensive, in inflation adjusted dollars, than previous flagship cameras from both Nikon and Canon and it also promises a return to greater control over depth of field, focus ramping and other optical signatures that professionals enjoyed when photographing with medium format cameras in the days of film. While it's true that Leica (S series) and Phase One have continued to offer cameras with the same sensor size they've been priced high enough to be out of reach for a vast number of photographers who still struggle to recover from the downturn ten years ago and the more recent collapse of parts of the overall market for images. Getting a camera down into this price point, along with an accessible selection of good lenses, means that photographers who are able to stretch a bit, financially, will have a system that helps to differentiate them from the majority of practitioners.

There are a number of features that make the GFX100 more desirable to more users than the more expensive offerings from Phase One and Leica. These include in body image stabilization that promises up to 5.5 stops of anti-shake improvement. It's the first of the medium format cameras to offer truly useful focus tracking and it also provides a feature that I think has been the "missing link" for current medium format digital cameras; a great EVF. The camera features Fuji's really good color profiles and, while some people might disparage the use of a 100MP camera to shoot Jpegs (in order to use the DR expansion and color profiles) I would say that they are blinded by the megapixel count and overlooking the fact that the real strength of the larger sensor, for most people, is the different look the longer focal lengths give for the same angle of view.

My first question, when looking at the camera specs was, "Is there a reduced raw file size?" I'd love to shoot raw files at half the camera's maximum resolution while maintaining the potential to blow a client's mind with the full 100 MP resolution for highly detailed shots (not portraits) that would be used at very large sizes.

I'm seriously considering scraping together the cash to get this camera to use as a dedicated portrait camera. I would acquire the camera body and one lens; the 110 mm f2.0. With this sensor size that lens is the equivalent (angle of view) of an 85 to 90mm lens on a smaller format camera, like a Sony A7xx.
With a system like this I'd be able to get back to the look I shot for well over a decade when using Hasselblad and Rollei cameras with lenses from 110mm f2.0 (Zeiss Planar) to the 180mm f4.0 (Zeiss Planar) as well as the more esoteric lenses created for the focal plane series of the Hasselblads, like the 150mm f2.8. I'd spend something like $13,000 for the combination but it would put me right into the sweet spot of the style I made a living with for many years.

I'd continue to use the Fuji X series APS-C cameras for all the things that require fast, light cameras with a wide and high quality selection of lenses.

I applaud Fuji for design touches like the virtual control wheels in the top LCD and the permanent base with room for two higher capacity batteries. There are a few things that I'd change; especially if I were to buy the camera in order to do video. The biggest of these would be to make the HDMI socket a full sized one instead of a micro-HDMI. But all in all, from what I've seen and read, Fuji seems to have gotten a lot of stuff right.

We can argue forever about the price but if the camera allows one to market their imaging business as a top line supplier instead of an interchangeable commodity then the camera investment should pay back the photographer in a handful of bigger production projects.

My company had one project last year that would have paid for the camera, a selection of lenses and still yielded enough profit to also pay the mortgage and all the bills.

Will I rush out to buy one the minute the GFX100 becomes available? Naw. I have too much other stuff on my plate right now. I'm spending a lot of time with my father (hospice is great) and dealing with the extended family's business and financial stuff. But once the camera has been out for a while, in the real world, I'm sure I'll stumble into the spiderweb of desire that Fuji is effectively weaving and end up with one on the top of my favorite tripod. In the meantime I'm still trying to become perfectly comfortable with my 90mm f2.0 on the X-H1.

This is a turning point for working photographers. While the GFX has all the gingerbread people want (phase detect AF, Face AF, AF points across the frame, Super High resolution, and IBIS) the reality is that if your real rationale for owning a camera with this sensor size (geometry, not MP) you can dip down in the Fuji line up of three cameras (all using the same lens mount and batteries) and grab a 50R and a great lens for a little over $5,000 and get the same look for portrait work. All of a sudden medium format digital is accessible to a lot more people than it was two years ago. And it may shine a guiding light forward for camera makers like Nikon who desperately need to regain their old position (branding) as tools made for professionals.

The bittersweet part of all this is that the profit in the business has almost been completely sucked out by changes in media, the economy, crowdsourcing, and ever changing advertising and marketing. I guess the real question is, "Will there continue to be a place in paid work of ever higher quality or would we be better off learning how to make decent work with our phones."

Since I'm past the mid-point in my career I'll vote for optimism. Perhaps recklessly exuberant image quality will be the next big trend. It would certainly be novel across most of today's media.

To the last point in my headline: How will this affect Sony, Nikon, Canon and Panasonic with their lines of high resolution, full frame cameras? If the mantra we always hear when full frame users slag smaller formats ("Clients deserve the very best image quality you can deliver!") holds true and the internet is suddenly full of great work from the larger format cameras, more and more aspiring professionals will want to acquire the bigger format cameras to assuage their own self-doubts. Why invest in a format that anyone can own if you can differentiate yourself with a larger format which would prove the point you've been trying to make to APS-C and Micro4:3 users all the time on the forums? (Not that I think this rationale holds water...).

All kidding aside I think people will see a difference in quality and style. Not necessarily driven by more megapixels but by the different optical effects of larger lenses for the same angles of view. That, and with the 50 megapixel MF cameras, a larger pixel size per overall resolution. Being about to buy a 50 megapixel MF camera for the same or a bit more than a Sony A7Riii or a Nikon D850 AND having a clear upgrade path to the higher resolution/ higher performance body should encourage a lot of photographers to make some hard decisions about what might help them drive their businesses forward. I can tell you right this minute that if my choice was between a high res 35mm style camera or a camera with the same res and a bigger sensor for nearly the same outlay I would not hesitate to go with the bigger sensor.

Am I suggesting that VSL readers rush out and acquire one of these new GFX cameras? Only if you want one. I still firmly believe that most stuff can be well photographed with a one inch super zoom camera from Sony. Can be done even better with a good APS-C system and can be done almost as well with a full frame camera (compared to an MF). Technique, vision and creativity continue to be the defining metrics of success. A new camera might give you new ways to express yourself but it's not going to suddenly make everything you currently point a camera at look magically better. That's down to you and your skills.

5.23.2019

If you woke me from a deep sleep and asked me what the best all-around digital camera I ever owned was I think we'd all be surprised at my answer...


The Fujis are super competent and the line of lenses is pretty superb. The Nikons work great, have great color and can be tough as nails. The Canons are great in the hand and some of their 2.8 zooms are best in class. The Leicas are....Leicas. The Panasonics are a traveler/user's delight. The Sony A7 series has lots of resolution... Olympus cameras pack a lot of punch for their size (excepting the newest one....). But the camera that I personally used that was good at more stuff than any other camera, the one that I could press into service for 4K video, for long range telephoto work, for decent theater work and even portraits is the ....




....Sony RX10iii. I played with a Sony RX10IV a few weeks back and it's even better. If this were not the age of mass hypnosis about full frame cameras I think most rational photographers would chuck that closet full of mismatched lenses, unknown battery chargers, horrible owner's manuals, weirdly configured old camera bodies, and just get themselves an RX10XX and be deliriously happy that they were able to get great photographs, great video  and even great audio with their video, without ever having to think about what lenses to select and carry or what accessories to buy (beyond a backpack full of batteries....).  I've used the RX10iii for so many projects of so many different kinds (most in exchange for hard currency) that I've lost track. In a moment of madness, in concert with my retreat from Sony's deeply flawed (haptics, tsk, tsk) A7  series cameras, I sold the "golden baby" along with the bath water. I have no doubt that in the next month of so I'll pick up the new RX10IV and pick up where I left off. It's just too good of a camera NOT to own. There. I've said it. 

Now, what camera would you say is the best all arounder you've ever used?





Some Thoughts About Lighting Equipment and What I Might Buy Today if I Was Just Starting Out in a Photography Business. (Learned from decades of buying the "wrong" stuff...).

Relentless Shopping is the Human Condition in the new Century...

I could make so many smart choices, when it comes to photography equipment (and stocks, and clients, and hairstyles, and diet, and exercise), if I could just hop into a time machine and go back twenty or thirty years while retaining everything I've learned over those decades...

Let's start with studio electronic flash. I learned on big, heavy Calumet units that sat on the floor and had piggy back turbochargers that seemed destined to destroy themselves in a dramatic sound and light show with much drama and danger involved. This was ancient technology, complete with heavy transformers and, I would estimate they actually generated about as much power as a couple of bigger hot shoe flashes today. 

After I quit teaching and could no longer depend on the University to buy and (routinely and frequently) service the aging Calumet behemoths I had to make some purchases with my own money; which, for a photographer entering the commercial market for the first time, was a very scary experience --- financially. Hubris seems to cover most technical missteps at a certain age.

Many of the more experienced photographers I knew here in Austin used Speedotron Black Line electronic flash units and another cohort used Norman's. A few daring and really cheapskate operators took a chance and used the Novatron brand of flash. The cheapest flash system out of China would have been like a Lexus in comparison to the Yugo-Like quality of the Novatron flashes. They were truly dreadful. I know, I owned one.

The reality back in the days of film was that there were no Chinese "innovations" (knock-offs, copies) from which to choose. No monolights priced affordably and, with the exception of the unglamorous Novatrons, no pack-and-head systems that were priced in line for entry level users. Maybe that's why so few amateurs maintained home "studios."

Everything has changed. We have an embarrassment of lighting riches and, frankly, I'm shocked that some of the premium brands from our past are still surviving, given the performance and pricing of many, many newcomers. If you still need 2,000 to 4,000 watt seconds through one or two heads your choices are quite limited. You'll no doubt be looking at Speedotron (4800 W/S = $2900; box only, no heads), Profoto (anybody up for the 2400 W/S, two head outlet Pro-10 Air TTL pack? It'll set you back $14,990 and heads are $2,560 each...), Of course there is always Elinchrom or Broncolor (a bargain if you get their "Senso" kit; 2400 W/S and two heads for a bit less than $7000). 

These all kind of made sense back when I was shooting with a Linhof Technika, a 360mm f5.6 @ f22 or f32 and a film holder with sheets of ISO 64 color transparency film. Now? With clean ISO at 800, 1200, 3200, even 6400? Lunacy. Craziness. Most just specialty gear. I can't imagine dropping that kind of money on electronic flash for use only in the vicinity of a convenient wall socket. Especially for the way clients want to use images now. 

So if Ben, my kid, came and asked me about starting a photography or imaging business (God forbid!!!) right now how would I instruct him in his choices for lighting instruments? What makes sense for someone with a meager budget who is just starting out?

There are four different lighting needs that my business has these days. The first is lighting in the studio. There are sometimes when you just have to use flash and it's great if you can plug your lights into a wall socket and run them all day long. I don't need a lot of power, in fact, 400 watt seconds per instrument is about the most I'd ever need. But I do want good, strong modeling lights. I'd look to a well known Chinese brand like Godox. They have a nice 400 watt second monolight called an SK400 ii with all the power and control real studio workers need. It's fan cooled so it's probably a bit more reliable and it comes with a 150 watt modeling light. That's what I miss when I use battery powered flashes in the studio; a modeling light that's bright enough to focus by and can be left on all day long. This light, with reflector costs about as much as a power cord for a Profoto flash = $139. You can buy three of them for less than $500. This would mean you are set for studio lighting and can now concentrate on finding the right modifiers for your work. The Bowens style mounting ring means your ultra-cheap (but highly presentable) strobes will work with just about every front mounted accessory made. You win.

If you want to leave the studio and do fashion work or commercial work outside and you occasionally need to battle with the sun you'll need one or two lights that can bring the photons while running off batteries. I used to have an 18 pound battery pack with a built in converter for my outdoor flash stuff but that was a super pain in the neck. Too heavy to carry and too heavy to ship. It also made for an ungainly package. When makers started coming out with flashes that had big, built in lithium battery packs I was very happy. I found some by Neewer that I bought over a year ago. They traveled with me on 26 flights last year. They got in and out of rental cars all year long and they even saw duty in a snow storm. They are only 300 watt seconds, which is right on the edge of keeping up with sunlight but at $175 each for a monolight with full controls and an LED modeling light they are a bargain and a good traveling companion. Put two of them into one umbrella and you can even conquer direct, Texas sun. 

Beat the hell out of my battery+converter or my 18 pound, $2700 Elinchrom Ranger RX AS system...

A good, two light location kit for less than $500 with soft boxes and stands? Pretty much perfect for the kind or production work one does as a singleton operator on remote locations. Too many more lights and you won't be able to make weight limits on airlines or be able to drag them up a hillside on your own steam. I've used smaller, speed lights but I need to bundle them to get the levels I want in a lot of situations. Speedlights have their own reason to exist. The best equalizer for direct sun is enough power and also a diffusion grip to fly in between the sun and the subject. Scrims help to pull down the exposure a bit and control the contrast and to make clients happier. (Neewer Vision 4 monolight). 

Sure, you could drag the Godox SK 400ii flashes out into the field but you'll need a big battery pack and an inverter to run them. Either that or a generator. And you only have to haul a gasoline generator somewhere in your car or SUV one time to enjoy that gas smell for the rest of your car's life.... Plus they are loud, heavy, fussy and so not "portable" in the sense that we understand portability in 2019. 

Just get a couple of battery powered units and bask in the joy of having the right stuff for the projects at hand. A pricier by equally proficient solution is the Godox AD200. It's a bit less powerful than the Neewer but you can easily pop two of them into a soft box or umbrella to get the power you need. Smaller to pack. Easy to use. And just a bit more than my ephemeral and fictive $500 budget per light type need. 

If you are the type of photographer I seem to have become you'll need one more different kind of electronic flash device. You'll need a dedicated TTL flash that fits into your camera's hot shoe and can be used to shoot event photographs in big, dark ballrooms, small meeting rooms, portraits on factory floors and all those times when you just need a bit of sparkle in someone's eyes and a light touch of fill light in bright but contrasty situations. Just a speed light. I'd get two. Exact matches. The same controls. 
I've had my fill of $600 flashes from the manufacturers of cameras. They are almost uniformly underpowered, slower to recycle, quick to overheat and expensive to buy. My last Sony flash tipped the scale at nearly $600. That's now outrageous. Just silly. 

I've since been buying much less expensive flashes. I bought a Godox V860ii F for about $170 from a vendor on Amazon.com. It has a large, proprietary, lithium battery that is purported to supply over 400 full power flashes (never checked as that's too many to count...), it has full TTL control with Fuji cameras and also has HSS. I also bought the  Godox XT-1 F trigger that allows for convenient off camera use of the flash. How do I use this stuff? I put the flash on my camera, go to galas, corporate meetings, social events and fun stuff and blaze away with the flash set to TTL -2/3rds stop. I sometimes use a white bounce card to soften the light but sometimes I'm just mean and use it bare. I generally put a daylight to tungsten conversion filter on the front of the flash if I'm working a space that's lit with tungsten and the "drag" the shutter to balance between flash and ambient light. It works great if the colors match.  I also use any powerful, shoe mount flash for exterior portraits if we're working at night or in cloudy, overcast weather. In those situations even a small, white umbrella doesn't suck up so much power than I'm unable to balance between ambient and flash. It's a nice way to work. HSS also allows one to work at larger apertures outdoors. But when push comes to shove I'm always ready to use a more powerful flash and a neutral density filter on the lens......

If you get a couple of the V860ii's for your system you'll spend about $400. Much less that in "the good old days."

My final lighting suggestion is for photographers who've selected the correct answer to the question: "Should I also offer video services?"

I started shooting video when we lit just about everything with tungsten lights. It was a dreadful time of hot rooms, burned hands, triggered smoke alarms and heavy electrical power use. I could hardly wait to try out LEDs. I liked them so much that I wrote a book about them that was published back in 2012.  You can learn more about it here: 

It's the first (and only) book I know of that was all about LED lighting for photographers. In the ensuing years I've played with so many different LED light devices that it would boggle the mind. I've owned LitePanels, Fiilex, Lowell, Aputure, Fotodiox, and Godox lights. The most practical of all the light sources for still photographers who want to do video have got to be the latest Godox SL60W units I've been buying lately. They are a loose copy of the Aputure 120D lights but with a bit less power and a bit less build quality. They do have several strengths though. First of all they are available at a fluctuating price range of between $135 and $160 dollars, depending on who you source them from. This compares very favorably with the $650 price of an Aputure unit. The Aputure 120D does give you the option to use the lights in the field with professional Sony V-Mount batteries or Anton Bauer batteries but it adds a bunch of accessory complexity with a power brick, a control brick and two extra sets of cables. 

While you can only use the Godox SL60W with an A/C power source you get a modern and efficient appliance that has one power cord, directly connected. With either the Aputure 120D or the Godox SL60 W you get the benefit of a small but powerful light source that lives inside a Bowens speed ring mount. Instead of modifying with a panel on a separate light stand you can put a soft box, umbrella or other modifier that works with a speed ring directly on the unit and go to town. No second stand necessary. That is a huge plus for a singleton operator who, at times, has to carry his own luggage. In conjunction with the current crop of cameras (all capable of great image quality at ISO 800 to 1600 and beyond) you'll have more than enough power for just about any interior video project short of stage work. 

The Godox SL60W has all the good specs. CRI is 95+, TCLI is high and red values are strikingly better than previous generations. I've purchased two and am using them both on interior locations all over the place. These are my basic suggestions for any photographer starting out in a commercial field. There will always be outlier projects that will require specialty tools but the lights I've talked about here will most likely get you through 90% of the paying projects that you come across in the first five to ten years of your career. If you stumble into a project that requires super high flash power it's easier than ever to rent the gear you need for a project. The same in video. Nearly every major city has a gear rental facility jammed full of powerful HMIs, Kino Flos, and big tungsten lights for those times when you need to light up the entire town square. And believe me, you don't want to own all those specialty lights that are used once or twice a year; not when you can bill the rental of such units back to your clients. 

That's all I've got for you now. I'd write about light stands but I think that might put most people to sleep. Shoot more, you'll get better quicker.












One more past article ribbing Nikon about recalls. Appropriate given the contemporary recalls of the Z System.

https://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2016/03/nikon-issues-pre-emptive-recalls-for.html

I think Nikon makes great cameras. Sometimes it takes a while to get them sorted out and functioning properly. This is just a playful jab. Don't read too much into it...

5.20.2019

I've changed the day I go to San Antonio to look after/hang with my dad. The Sunday Downtown walks are back with a vengeance.


In the recent past I spent nearly every Sunday afternoon walking around Austin's vibrant and strange downtown, documenting everything I could find that either changed or stayed the same (hmmmmm). That ambulatory pleasure fell to the wayside when my dad entered memory care about a year and a few months ago, victim of vascular dementia. I spent my Sundays bringing him chocolate and the New York Times, hanging out with him and sharing lunches. 

Now we're into a new phase and Sundays aren't the best days to meet with doctors, nurses, administrators and even lawyers. Mondays seem to work better for everyone involved in my father's care and I've re-oriented the schedule. He no longer is interested in reading the newspaper. He hasn't requested chocolates in a while. Nothing that ties me to "Sundays Only." 

Today was typical of the new scheduling, I headed down this morning to supervise the delivery of a hospital bed for him. Of course some stuff got fucked up and I had to jump in and motivate people to get things done in a timely manner. But that's okay; that's one of my jobs right now. But being there on a Monday returned to me the area pleasure of the Sunday walk.... So that's what I did yesterday.

This time I went wildly minimalist. I took only a Canon G15 and a couple extra batteries in the pocket of my khaki shorts. I never needed the extra batteries because I seem not to shoot with the wild abandon I once did. I'm also getting used to finally accepting "dirty baby diaper hold" and using the rear screen on my camera (since the little tunnel finder is less than optimal). Maybe I am more accepting because I finally got a new prescription for my glasses and, with bifocals, I can actually (mostly) see what's on the screen...

But the little camera is surprisingly good. Really good. Well, if your  final target is images on a (very cool) blog or scattered through Instagram. I like shooting with the lens nearly wide open all the time and I keep being amazed at the really good image stabilization that's built into the system. I try to shoot my G15 mostly at ISO 80 but really had no fear popping up to ISO 200 or even 500 to shoot interior spaces (see library pix below). 

Wow. It's so different to carry something the size of a deck of playing cards instead of a brick around one's neck. And still being able to come home and make nice photographs from the raw files.












The image above, and all the images below, are 
from the new Austin Public Library.



 all handheld and unburdened by deep thoughts.

Many, many years ago I bought this big (16 ounces?) coffee cup at my local Starbucks because I loved the deep red....

...now I take it back to Starbucks when I go there for meetings with friends or clients so I don't have to get a paper cup (lined with plastic) along with a plastic lid. I'm skipping the whole recycle thing and going straight for sustainable. If I bring my own cup I get a discount. No matter which size I order the baristas tend to fill it up as far as they can (commensurate with leaving space for half and half...).  My morning cup of external coffee is now about $2.11. And I like the cup.

I photographed my cup with my latest "love affair" the Canon G15. What awesome color for a used camera that cost me $200. Also enamored of the focal range and the close focusing capability. Nice little cameras!

I'm busy with family stuff but I sure like dropping by to share my opinionated points of view. Hope everyone is doing well.

Are you doing your part to cut down on plastic waste? Are you buying any classic old shooters?

-Kirk

5.18.2019

Old Camera. Old Tech. Beautiful Subject.

Mosumi. ©Kirk Tuck.

Camera: Hasselblad
Lens: 180 Sonnar
Film: Agfapan 100

From the studio on San Marcos St.

5.17.2019

A deeper immersion into a theater production than usual. A new play by Terrence McNally. A tight incorporation of ballet. The process of testing a Broadway play "out of town."


©2019 Kirk Tuck, for Zach Theatre.

(Sorry, I can't show the full spectrum of shots yet. Embargoed until 
used by the client. Just seems right. Right?)

I'm having fun with a production that Zach Theatre is putting on in Austin. Actually, the theater is more like a host because the play, "Immortal Longings" was written by three time Tony Award winner, Terrence McNally (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrence_McNally) and he and his team (director and choreographer) are using our regional debut to perfect the whole production before it opens, nationally, in NYC. 

As I understand it plays are really works in progress right up until the maiden performance with an audience, and script, blocking and choreography go through many changes before the first night.

This play is a big deal for the Zach Theatre and we're doing more photography than usual. My first engagement with the play was this past Wednesday. The marketing team arranged for a video shoot and asked me to come shadow the production crew and try to make as many good photographs of: the cast, the action, and the behind the scenes process involved in making a broadcast television spot as possible. 

We worked in one of the smaller rehearsal studios and most of the space was draped in black. There were three ballet dancers from Ballet Austin in the production (I think they are also cast in the show) as well as two of the principal, dramatic actors. The space was sparsely lit and the TV crew used a selection of spotlights to create a hard light look which will match well when they convert the whole video into black and white. But what it meant for the still photographer in the room was that correct exposure was critical and there was no such thing as fill light. 

With this in mind I decided to take advantage of the dynamic range enhancers built into the Fujifilm X-H1 cameras. My first move was to select Jpeg as a file format so I could make use of the 400% DR setting (available only in Jpeg). This feature requires that the ISO setting be at 800 or higher. No problem for this project....  The second thing I did was to set the color profile to Eterna. I know Fuji intends this profile for making videos without having to dip into F-Log but I find it very, very useful in high contrast, stage shooting situations for regular photography. 

I used Jpegs because Fuji's X cameras tend to do a better job than I with noise handling, sharpness and all that stuff. We were basically in a black box and all the lights were traditional tungstens so the need to shoot raw files to have leeway to correct color was totally unnecessary. I'm used to judging exposure on the screen and, in TV production, there is usually ample time to step in with a light meter and get accurate exposure readings. Raw just gums up the works and adds a layer of complexity that I didn't want to deal with in post. 

There was a shooting script for the video but everything was shot without sound. The commercial will run with an announcer track over a music bed, so I didn't need to worry about shutter noise. My biggest worry was trying to stay out of the spotlight beams because crossing in front of a spot would drop the exposure to next to nothing. Which would have made me persona non grata

The video crew was working on a tight scheduled which was dictated by Actor's Equity rules. We had time from 4pm till 6:30pm to photograph the scenes with the dancers and then 6:30-8:30pm to shoot the scenes we needed with the actors. The dancers loved watching the video production and they hung out to the end. That was great, we needed them in the foreground to bring more depth to some scenes. 

I brought two cameras, and a bag full of lenses but only used two. My do everything lens was the 16-55mm f2.8, used mostly at f2.8 to f4.0. My favorite lens of the evening was the 90mm f2.0 and honestly, I tried to shoehorn every shot into that focal length, sometimes standing twenty or thirty feet back just to encompass what I wanted in the frame. 

I shot everything at ISOs between 2,000 and 3,200 and it looked great. I fooled around with Lightroom's new, Texture control and balanced it out with the Clarity slider. Usually 3200 was a low as I could go because I knew that any shutter speed under 1/125th of a second would be too risky for shots with the talent moving. The best compromise speed was 1/250th of a second and that's where I tried to stay for all but the darkest shots. I'd rather give up depth of field than have shots ruined by subject movement. 

A lot of the imagery I photographed was dance. I didn't have the option to freeze anything with electronic flash as I was subordinate to the needs of the video crew. That meant I needed to stay around 1/250th but I also needed to accurately judge the peak of the action because in dance that's when the actor hits a momentary stasis and I had the best chance of freezing their motion with shutter speeds only. 

Since it's difficult to time a peak movement exactly I did something that I rarely do; I moved the camera  off the single frame per shutter press and onto the faster frame rates, settling at 8 fps. I radically overshot and then paid for it the next day in having to sift through nearly 3,000 frames and narrow the take down to a manageable 1,000. I tweaked all 1,000 and uploaded full resolution, max quality Jpeg files to Smugmug.com and the sent along the links to the marketing team. 

Our first project is done. The TV spot is headed for editing and the photos will be used in a first P.R. salvo to get the show on everyone's radar. Now I move on to the second part of our campaign...
©2019 Kirk Tuck, for Zach Theatre.

Tips: Dress in show black, you don't want to be the guy who messed up the dramatic lighting by providing your own fill.

Bring a small flash light and cover the lens with a red filter. In a dramatically lit set you probably won't be able to see inside your camera case with the ambient (non-existent) light and the flashlight will help immensely. The red filter is to keep the light level low key and to preserve whatever night vision you might have ...

While the TV crew is messing with lights don't stand around and watch, enlist the talent to help you get the detail shots that will come in handy; both for P.R. and for additional b-roll content. 

Your turn comes after the video team has their take in the can. Just step in and ask the talent for one more quick take without the video camera front and center. 

When the team breaks to re-light don't stand around and chat with them or the actors,  or pat each other on the back, this is your time to hit the craft service table and get a quick walking dinner (usually sandwiches and veg trays) while everyone else comes down from the momentary adrenaline bump. Don't want to starve if the shoot goes into overtime. If you wait too long all that's left on the table are chips and those dreaded roast beef sandwiches.... (although on this shoot the producer did a great and healthy job with the food).

Use one camera for each lens. Saves you from having to change lenses in the dark. Set them up identically before you get started. Then they are interchangeable when you need something a bit tighter or wider.... Bring a third, identical, back-up camera in case one of the two primary cameras has a hiccup. 

Be nice to everyone. You never know who is going to grow up and become a stellar client, or partner. 

Send your stuff over quick! The video takes a while to wrangle through the process. You can help your client by getting your photos over while there is downtime before the video edits start. Also, you get to be first in line so your stuff will look all new and fresh. 

That's all for now.