A Heads Up about what I'm doing this evening and how to watch the program.

It all starts with the battery charging, doesn't it? I've spent my time since August 16th working on a project for Zach Theatre and the big broadcast/reveal happens this evening at 8 p.m. CDT. It's a fund raiser being streamed to YouTube and Facebook channels and a large portion of the two hour show is two guys, live, playing the part of emcees. The next biggest chunk of the show is the video content that I created along with Zach producer, Joshua Cummins. The best stuff is the show opener video right at 8 p.m., the kid's dance performance at about the halfway mark, and the ending number with a famous singer/actor. Here's how to watch: https://zachtheatre.org/support-us/red-hot-soul/  Saturday evening, Sept. 26th, 2020.

Each of the creative dance/music segments were shot using a moving camera on an ever evolving selection of gimbals. On exterior locations and on the stage.  I have learned much. As one of the very young dancers said to me after a long, hot day: "It's fun to see an old, gray-haired man running backwards with a camera in his hand, being chased by fifteen or twenty kids!" To which I would add: over and over again.

We finished shooting the very last of the creative content videos this past Sunday afternoon and Joshua has been editing since way back at the starting line. To date I've delivered about three hundred gigabytes of video, shuttling it back and forth on a portable HD.

One Lumix S1H, Two Lumix S1's with V-log upgrade, one G9
24-70mm f2.8 S-Pro of the "A" camera. 24-105mm S for the "B" camera and the 
70-200mm f4.0 S-Pro for the "C" camera.  A couple of back-up primes for the S cameras.
12-60mm Panasonic/Leica and a Meike 25mm Cinema lens for the G9. 
Some power banks and an Atomos Ninja V for grins.
Heavy bag.

I spent yesterday worrying about and packing for the one and only dress rehearsal we had for tonight's big show. A local company called "Werd" is doing the live-streaming and wrangling the feed from three live cameras (courtesy: Kirk Tuck Photography and Motion) as well as the pre-recorded creative properties. 

Rehearsals for live shows and fund-raisers are critical. Especially when you are working with a shoestring budget. The rehearsal had all the usual bumps and it was "learn on the fly" as far as scripting went. There were many changes to translate the (hastily and not by me...) written script to actual people speak. 

My call was for 5:30pm but, of course, I showed up at 4:00 p.m. since I'd never worked with the production company before and I know from anecdotal evidence that live streaming four sources to two channels can be fraught with peril. I hauled my stuff in (responsible yesterday and today only for three cameras). All lighting and audio is someone else's headache. 

I set up my three tripod mounted cameras and got them all sync'd for frame rate, data rate, etc. Turning off some stuff so it would not show in the final feed and turning on other stuff that should make streaming more efficient. But we can go into that on Monday.

And then the fun started. All three cameras were set identically and all three were plugged into HDMI to SDI converters. My screens were happy and active. The production company's screens were black. Blank. No signal. As I was out numbered all suspicion fell on me. There seemed to be a presumption that this was all the fault of "photo" cameras being used for video. We did that for a while, checking all the settings and connections until I got bored with being the slow guy and pulled out a Ninja V external monitor and hooking it to each camera, sequentially, to show the production kids that we did indeed have alive signal gushing through the pipes. I suggested they restart and let me turn on cameras first. OMG. Worked like a  charm. Live images bouncing around everywhere.

Setting up and framing at 6:30.

I thought yesterday's rehearsal was going to be an "edge of my seat" adventure in which cameras would fail, nerves would fray, fingers would be pointed and hysteria would rise as the night edged on. But we mostly just ran the script, made content changes and massaged the words. I ran all three cameras continuously for just about three hours. It was more or less a drill for me about how to manage power consumption and the possible need for intra-show battery changing but I found that all three models of the Lumix S1x system will run for a long time with one battery. 

When the battery levels the "B" and "C" cameras dropped down under 25% I added an Anker Power Bank (external battery pack) to each of them because the external battery will charge the system while running. Since I was not using AF or I.S. the camera batteries ended up with more charge at the end of the evening. 

I estimate that with two Anker 20,100 external "chargers" we could run each of those cameras for about 9 hours. And, bonus! there is no time limit whatsoever for recording in M4p @1080p. You can go as long as you have space on a memory card (128GB gives you about 13 hours of record time) and an energy source. 

Still in rehearsal at 9:15...
Side shot from the B cam.

Staying with batteries for a moment, I did a different test with the S1H because I'm using it with the battery grip (which will work on any of the three S1 variants). I experimented and found that you can "hot swap" the battery in the grip and not miss a frame. Set the preference for the camera to always try to use the grip battery first. It makes sense since it's the easiest one to access. When the grip battery runs to zero the camera automatically switches over to use the battery in the camera. Once that happens you can open the battery door on the grip, remove the battery and replace it with a fresh one. Once you do that the camera then switches back to suckling from the grip battery. While all this is happening you could also attach an external battery or charger to the camera's USB-C port and recharge the camera body battery. 

With so much power flexibility in place you could easily work continuously until your two SD cards fill up entirely. Nice. Very professional power management. Two thumbs up. 

Center. Seated = Bruce, the teleprompter guy.

We were fortunate to have a teleprompter and a very good operator along for the ride. He'll be here tonight as well. The teleprompter was mounted on the same tripod as the "A" camera and had no effect on its operation. That camera was meant to be stationary which is kind of logical. Works well with a teleprompter on it. Bruce was a consummate pro at the teleprompter with an almost uncanny ability to judge the cadence and speed of his presenters. 

Too much information...

We weren't recording or streaming last night but tonight we'll tighten up a lot. We'll do a custom white balance on all the cameras to make sure the color matches, and we'll make sure to do it after the sun sets so we don't have any light coming through the windows that might add to the overall mix. 

We'll also use the luminance spot meter in the S1H to set exposure and duplicate that  setting across the three cameras. 

I'll be on the "C" camera most of the night because it's the tightest crop and requires the most changes to the comp to follow each of the presenters as they bounce dialog back and forth. Thank goodness for focus peaking and very high def EVFs. I'll try to put an external monitor into the mix but I want to make sure I don't do anything to complicate the signal feed to the switcher.

Flowers everywhere by David Kurio.

This is the longest and most involved volunteer project I've undertaken in years. Joshua and I have collaborated on capturing six or seven involved and highly choreographed dance numbers with dozens and dozens of performers and we've done it under some challenging conditions. A 13 hour shoot during a Texas heat wave. Working on a stage where the primary lights were blown out of commission by a lightning storm, and working with the complexity of so many people's schedules. But tonight is the capper and once we send off the last electrons into the social media void I'll consider it a success. 

One sad note: We now have cameras that are capable of shooting 12 bit raw video at 2,700 mbs (Sigma fp). A camera that can shoot 6K in ProRes Raw (Lumix S1H) and two other variants that are also well endowed for higher end video production but live streaming calls for a very low data rate in order not to exceed the bandwidth of the upstream data caps. Like using Triple Crown thoroughbreds to pull a plough. 

I can hardly wait for the client who asks, with a straight face and a good budget: "Just how high a quality video can we make?"

All our creative content was shot in 4K at 4:2:2 color sampling with a 10 bit bit depth. We mostly shot in Long GOP at 150 mbs but our tap dancing segment was shot in the same set up but in ALL-I. 

ALL-I does handle motion better. I'll be using it more often in the future. It records at 400 mbs.

Watch tonight if you want to. Write a check if you have money to burn and want to support Austin live theater. Or wait until Monday when I start linking just to the actual creative segments here on the blog.

On Monday I'll officially have started the arc reactor in the sub-basement at VSL and we'll be making more content as frequently as we can conceive and produce it. 

Thanks for hanging out and waiting. Now, who in the "When will Kirk Return" pool had Monday the 28th? Winner!



_____ Theatre's "Red, Hot and Soul" coming via live stream on September 26th.

Chanel singing a medley of ________________ songs. Freeze frame from 4K video shot on a Panasonic G9+Pan/Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 mounted on a DJI Ronin-S gimbal. Filmed on the stage at the ______ Theatre. 

More event info: Zach Event

Video production: Joshua Cummins, Producer/Director

Kirk Tuck, Cinematographer, camera operator

Volunteering? Just remember: "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished." 


Thinking I'll take a break from blogging about photography. It's hard to justify the time required. Photography has changed so much in the last 11 years. And so has the internet.

Studio Dog instructed my family in "how to leave on a high note." 

Boy, blogging sure has changed over the last eleven years. We used to talk as much about gear back then as we do now but it seemed more important at the beginning. People were still transitioning to digital from their filmic pasts. Gear was improving by leaps and bounds. Mirrorless cameras were in their infancy and it seemed that DSLRs would rule forever. LED lighting was on very few peoples' radars. Portable flashes were the hot photo topic - that, and full frame cameras. 

Now writing a photography blog seems like a "boomer" activity only. My audience has steadily declined except for those days when I write something about micro four thirds cameras. Comments, which I always take as indicators of interest, have also declined. I liked sharing my knowledge about photography and how I practiced it but our way of life has evolved into something quite different and our need to know trivia and details about the craft have faded significantly as everyone's post production skills have improved.

I'm more interested now, commercially, in video and I fully understand that for many of you who visit here that video is way down on the list of your interests. I think the deepest plunges in readership come on the days when I write something about making movies or the foibles of recording audio. As I fall deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of video I see myself writing less and less about new photography gear and new picture making practices. And spending less and less time waxing nostalgic about how we "used to do it in the old days." 

I have recently (finally) come to grips with the whole concept that, in what's left of the commercial imaging world, you can do quite well with a smart phone and a suite of programs to enhance your smartphone photos, with less hassle and less time spent than "doing them the right way." 

When commercial photography was thriving the blog seemed like an important way to keep connected. When I had books to share it seemed like a good way to point toward the books' mini-sites on Amazon.com. But now I have nothing to sell, little to share that I haven't already shared, and little reason to continue on in the current milieu. A break is in order.

Belinda and I are looking forward, after the vaccine or some other future miracle, to doing a lot of traveling while my deepest interests lie in shooting photographs just for myself and also making little black and white movies with my ever-changing collection of cameras.

Most of the people that I know are now more comfortable sitting back and watching someone entertain and (mildly) educate them via "internet television" than they are sitting down with a cup of coffee and (God Forbid!) reading a longer form blog post. 

Funny, I've shut down the blog before after particularly harsh and confrontational encounters with trolls on the web but this time there is no antipathy, no vendetta and no awkward push. Just a sad realization that we've run our course here (for now) and have both run out of topical things to talk about and also run out of opportunities, in the moment, to do the kind of work I love sharing. I think we've all had enough graffiti and isolated walks through a shopworn and empty Austin downtown landscape, and the photographic souvenirs from such walks.

I've met a couple of dozen of you over the last decade and enjoyed every encounter. Some of you have become good friends. Some of you were loyal and valuable commenters and, even cheerleaders. 

I think I need a spell of rejuvenation and rediscovery. I'm not interested any longer in writing books. I'm not particularly interested in the nuanced mechanics of blog writing. Or inadvertently serving as a unwitting marketing resource for camera and photo product companies.  I'm not anxious to watch my writing devolve into some personal pathos about lost life opportunities, bad decision making, therapy or diets. Or "how we did things in the golden age of photography."

Finding myself straying from the core mission of pursuing Visual Science is in itself disturbing. But I'm sure we'll all get over it and move on to enjoying other pursuits. If you need more information about swimming you'll find wonderful tutorials at: the YouTube channel: "Effortless Swimming." 

Ming Thein wrote his farewell last week. I'm not so final. I'm just going to say: "See You Around." 

I'll leave the comments open for a week or so in case anyone has questions or comments they'd like to share.
We'll also leave the 4,653 existing posts up in case any particular article resonated with you and you'd like to copy and paste it into your own archive. I'll be back when I'm smarter and more experienced. And hopefully more interesting.

I would say that Michael Johnston might see his readership bump up a bit but the truth is that most people here are already visiting theonlinephotographer as well so there's probably little outside our cozy Venn diagram of readers to harvest. 

I am not retiring from my profession. I am not angry or aggrieved. I am not physically unwell. I am not mentally distressed. It's safe to say that I've just run out of anything interesting (to anyone but me) to write about for now. I'll be back when I've rediscovered my "north star." 

Here are a few of my favorite images posted over the years. Take care of yourselves and enjoy photography however you choose to practice it. My website is: kirktuck.com 

"Give him a week or two and we'll be right back in the mix..." -anonymous commenter.


Having Spent the last three weeks filming moving pictures I decided to buy an appropriate camera. So much more interesting. S1H.

After spending a serious chunk of time making video over the last three weeks I've learned more about what I really want in a video camera. I do want a camera that is big and robust so I never have to worry about it overheating and shutting down. I made frequent use of the waveform feature so that's a must. The camera should not only record nice, Long-GOP files but should also be capable of shooting ALL-I files for those times when I want to keep motion artifacts to a minimum. Or make post production faster and easier.  It has to be able to write 4K, 10 bit, 4:2:2 files, even ALL-I files, directly to internal cards. It needs to have great color profiles; and enough of them for any use imaginable. It has to have good audio capabilities and an easy-to-use audio interface for all those times when I'm doing the one man crew style of shooting. It has to have a great EVF. It has to have a full size HDMI port. And it has to fit in with all my existing cameras and lenses.....because....batteries. 

Nice stuff to have but not absolutely essential for most of the stuff I currently shoot would include: A luminance spot meter, a fan to keep the sensor from getting too hot, big, dedicated buttons to start the video. The ability to output and record color bars and tone. The ability to set video exposures with shutter angle instead of shutter speed menus, the ability to work seamlessly with an Atomos Ninja V monitor/digital recorder and finally, the potential to output crazy, intense, detail rich, and highly malleable ProRes Raw files. For those times when you have to try for the next rung on the ladder. 

I had few complaints about my long day spent with a stock Lumix S1 shooting video last week. The camera, and a smaller, less expensive model (G9) in the Lumix line up, were both sterling performers. I did wish I could have shot some of the scenes that contained lots and lots of movement with ALL-I files but I doubt more than a handful of people would notice the difference in the final mix. I could have shot to the Ninja V and the resulting Pro Res 422 files would be ALL-I but the S1 and the Atomos V don't automatically sync their stops and starts and the last thing I needed was one more thing to think about. Plus our editor works in Premiere and I'm not sure how that program handles Apple's Pro Res files...

Having an S1H wouldn't necessarily make everything "better" image wise but there are enough features in the camera that it would make everything I do with video easier, smoother and in some situations, more self-contained. For example, when shooting ALL-I files I would not have to bring along an external monitor/recorder if I wanted to travel light. 

While an S1H and a bigger lens isn't ever going to be a preferred solution for drone work or use on consumer gimbals it's the perfect camera (when used with dual I.S.) to handhold (nice mass), put on a monopod or use on a tripod. That makes it a great solution for all the interviews we end up doing and just about any narrative project I want to do. 

I was sitting in front of my computer going through last week's files yesterday when I got e-mails from two different P.R. companies; both of which were looking for bids/estimates for video projects that are very similar to the project I'm working on now. The timing seemed fortuitous. I looked forward in time and ruminated on how I'd like to handle those projects and I kept coming back to the S1H. So I hopped into the Subaru and headed to Precision Camera. I walked out with a brand new S1H, sealed in the box.

Of course, I spent a couple of hours messing around with it last night and I'm very impressed. The shutter has a wonderful sound to it. It's big and husky. The menus seem rich but familiar. It's just what I thought I was looking for. 

We've got a few smaller projects to get through this week and I'll use it for video on those. Then, on Sunday, I'm going to be on location on a river photographing a doctor fly fishing. I'll use the S1H as a photo camera then; just to see how well it fills that role. 

I'm happy with the collection of S1x cameras I have in house. With the addition of the S1H I now have representatives of the high res version (S1R), the all-arounder (S1) and the video-centric body (S1H). Each fills a good, functional niche for me. 

Weather: Finally, the heat wave is abating. We've got rain outside for the first time in a good, long while and that's great since we were heading for drought territory. The frog who lives in my French drain will be so happy. The temperatures are supposed to be moderate ( highs in the low 90's) into next week along with ample chances for rain. I even saw a prediction for one day with a high in the 80's and a low around 60°. We'll all be euphoric. 

Swimming: Two good days in a row and looking forward to a noon swim tomorrow. I found a shampoo and body wash that's the first really effective anti-chlorine solution for swimmers. I've been testing it in my outside shower and after a week of having skin that doesn't itch, hair that doesn't feel like burnt grass, and no chlorine cologne smell I went back to Austin TriCyclist and bought out their stock. It's called, Thinksport.

The project is "Shampoo & Body Wash". And their tagline is: Safer Products for Healthier Athletes.
A subtitle on the tube reads: "chlorine remover." It's little stuff like this that makes me happier while the world around us falls apart....

Nothing exciting in the workout today. The main set was 10 x100's where you sprint a fast 25 that progresses through the distance as you progress through the set. So, on the first 100 yard swim you go fast on the first 25 yards and then cruise through the next 75. The next 100 starts with a 25 cruise, ramps up to a sprint 25 and then ends with a 50 just cruising at 85-90 % effort. And the progression continues in the same way, rotating through for a total of 1,000 yards. We had other stuff in the workout but that was the set that stood out for me. 

Today: I'm slowing down today to try to clean and organize my studio space. After weeks of messing around with video gear my office is a mess. A cooler, rainy day seems like just the right time to do some office work. I'm sure I'll get bored at some point and head out for a walk. We'll see how much discipline I have left. 

Work seems to be flowing back. We had planned to be able to retire from working for $$$ now and we've planned well but all of a sudden good, fun clients seem to be bouncing back and offering projects to work on. Seems like too much fun (and optimism) to pass up. Maybe I'll retire next year....

Biggest announcement: As I am turning 65 at the end of October I have just received my Medicare Card in the mail. I hope we can vote the wannabe tyrant out of office in November so my benefits don't get "privatized" (Latin for financial rape) out of existence. Should be fun though to stop paying for private health insurance after 35 years of freelancing. I'll feel stinking rich. Well, relatively speaking. 

Anyway....new camera. New fun stuff to think about.