28/03/08

A belated Easter Egg

OK, here's a late Easter Egg treat for you all. Ages ago I saw the Michael Greco/Michael Scorsese time lapse video, and thought to myself "that looks like a good idea". So I had a go myself earlier this year.



The first attempt was a bit of a washout - I used a cheapy webcam, which, whilst it kept the file sizes down, was such low quality it was unwatchable. Then I tried again with a 1D mark II tethered to the Laptop, and this time I was much more successful.

The shoot was a cover and inside feature shoot for Inside Poker magazine of Tony G, a regular on the international poker circuit. The brief was "Power Play", and we were trying to get as much emotion out of Tony as possible. Given how bloody cold it was in the studio he did a superb job - one of those shoots where once I've set the lights up I can simply point the camera and press the button.

We were shooting at 3 Mills, out in the East End of London, as Tony and many others were there filming some Poker TV show or other. The studio was very accomodating, but there seemed to be a problem with the heating in the room we were using! I had enough time at the end of the shoot to try out a lighting test that I'd been mulling over for a little while. It's not finished yet, but I felt I'd better leave it in the film for the sake of honesty.

I've never edited video before, so it took quite a bit of fiddling in Adobe Premiere to get this together. The jaunty background music is by Kevin MacLeod, and was free to download and use - I think it works rather well. This sort of thing only lends itself to some of the work I shoot - lots of my location shoots just wouldn't be suitable as I move around too much, and would have to keep continually unplugging the camera and laptop.

You can play "I Spy" with the video in the following ways:
  1. The Backdrops/Props didn't arrive until almost half way through. Spot how many times you can see Rich, the art director, on the phone trying to chase them up.
  2. There was no heating in the studio, note how certain people don't seem to take their jackets off the entire time.
  3. Unwrapping the 9ft Colorama offered a challenge to quite a few people. Eventually Juliana won the prize by being the first to tear off the strip that holds it together.
  4. Try and work out the ratio of "setting up and hanging around" time to "shooting" time. You'll find it's heavily skewed in favour of the former.
  5. Count how many times Duncan waves both hands in the air (like he just don't care)
  6. Try and spot Rich playing Cricket - on his own.
Overall I shot 194 frames of Tony, and the timelapse is made up of 901 images, one every 10 seconds from start to finish. I was shooting another Poker cover in the same location the next day, and tried the same trick again. It was less successful this time round, as the player in question didn't quite give us his full attention, or very much of his time, and much of the timelapse is taken up with shots of an empty studio...

If folks like this, I may well play around with it some more, though moving images scare me, and I'm probably going to need a little help!

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27/10/07

A Photographer's Reading List - Technique and Practice

The 2 Bibles of Photographic technique are both by Michael Langford, and rather inspiringly called: Basic Photography, and Advanced Photography. Frankly if you can learn everything in both these books you'll know more than me, and likely most professional photographers as well, at least when it comes to technique.

For a more professional and commercial application, as well as tonnes of insights into the business of photography, you can't do much better than Jack Reznicki's Studio and Commercial Photography, Jack is a very experienced, New York based commercial/advertising photographer and his advice is very explicit and practical - he doesn't shy away from telling secrets about how the business works.

The best book on Photoshop I've ever read is Martin Evening's Photoshop for Photographers. The clue to why this book is so good is in the title - rather than a huge encyclopaedic tome that covers every feature (most of which you'll never use), or a cursory "dummies" guide which covers nothing in any depth, Martin concentrates on the bits that actually matter to photographers. This includes sections on colour spaces, acquiring images, and output in it's various forms.

Lighting.

There's a series of "Lighting for..." books, all of which are written by Steve Bavister which I've enjoyed over the years. I treat them a technical resource - in a magpie way I'll browse the images and borrow a bit of lighting form one picture and blend it with a bit of my own. Some of the images feel a bit dated, though they're all by professional photographers, but since it's not inspiration as much as technical input you're looking for it shouldn't be much of an issue. I own the Glamour, and Still Life ones, though as I recall there are also Portrait, Nude and Night time ones. They would seem to be on limited availability at the moment, so Ebay might be a better bet than Amazon.

Very similar in approach, and, it would seem, currently available is the "Pro Lighting" series by Alex Larg and Jane Wood. Rather than link to a specific title I've linked straight to the author search on Amazon, there's not much to separate the different titles in my experience, so it's just a case of picking the one that you think you'll benefit from most. Both these and the Steve Bavister books contain full diagrams for how each of the shots were lit, as well as a glossary that helps to explain what each piece of kit is and what it does.

Intro, Monographs, Self-Help/Finance, Critical Theory.

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