Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mixing it with the Canon 5DMkII

Good steam is even more fun than smoke machines

Particularly when you get your own locomotive to play with for a day, courtesy of Bill Tyndall and the Talylln Railway in Wales.

I shot this portrait of Bill with a Canon 5DMkII 24-105mm zoom and lit it with two Elinchrom Quadra's, one for Bill fitted with a Chimera Medium softbox, the other on axis in the background as backlight for Bill and the steam, this one with a barebulb head, both triggered via Skyport.

Simple lighting that WORKS.

A shot I'm very pleased with.

But I had to shoot video too......

I talk about shooting stills and motion quite a lot.

Infact I even made a digital download series about DSLR videography with Dennis Lennie.

I have to say though anecdotaly and through various online surveys, notably on dpreview, I think only a tiny percentage of us are using our DSLR's to shoot video.


Fair enough if you just like your stills and you don't want to shoot video.

But I think if you are a pro and you are not shooting video you just might be missing a trick.

With a tidal wave of new talent coming into the business, it pays to be open to new forms of creativity, and the revenue streams that accompany them.

Which brings me back to video.

The Canon 5DMkII was a game changer which ushered in this possibility DOES give an amazing look, filmic and all the rest of it.


Although shooting documentaries and shorts on a 5DMkII is entirely possible, it can be quite a challenge with separate sound, full manual focus all the time.

A BIG handful and if you are shooting with a small crew you need to have your wits about you, as the opportunity for mistakes are many and manifold.

After two years of numerous video shoots with the 5DMkII and with an increasingly heavy video workload I decided on a different approach.

I have a Canon XF305 which is a lovely camera, which I use for all of my main video work.

It has many benefits, including all the high quality audio connectivity you can shake a stick at, and a silly super sharp 'L' Series zoom lens.

Its achilles heel is its very small sensor, which Canon have worked nothing short of a minor miracle wringing the performance they have from it.

But a small sensor brings with it a deep depth of field that there is simply no way around though.


Shoot all the beauty shots and 'B' roll on my DSLR and all the rest on the XF305.

Is this an ideal scenario? Possibly not

But it IS working for me right now, but I do have my eye on integrated video solutions, in the shape of the Sony F3.

But it is quite an investment.

Will I go there ? Can the investment be justified? Time will tell.

Here is the finished video on the John Lewis partnership Website

I'm very pleased with the result.

Can you spot where the 5DMkII is at work? it's not too difficult.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Milk Workshops

Its workshop time again.

But not one of mine.

To get a mention on my blog a workshop needs a twist, and this one certainly does.

Goodness knows we have enough workshops which are run of the mill and very 'me too'

My friend Jarek Wieczorkiewicz, better known to the photographic community for his Arum Light Blog
is holding a workshop based around his brilliant and mesmerising milk photographs.

This has to be worth a look

Jarek is pushing boundaries and creating images which are cutting edge.

I'm rather tempted myself.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Second take on Fuji X100

I still have not quite shot in anger with the cute, if a little pricey Fuji X100.

But I did get hands on with one again after the London Going Pro seminar, courtesy of World Press Photo winning Edmond Terakopian, who came along to the workshop.

He has a pretty interesting blog too.

Here he is, shot on his Fuji X100
Edmond Terakopian  shot on a Fuji X100

We were hanging out in the pub together with a couple of other delegates and we dropped a few beer frames, here is the evidence...this time shot on Edmond's Leica X1.

Pic by Edmond Terakopian          

After my first handling of the X100 at Focus on imaging, I have read the sort of articles a camera manufacturer can only dream of.

Are these articles well founded or not.

Well hands on for a second time, it did seem very impressive

Enough to make me consider getting one.

This shot of delegate Nicola Taylor, who got me thinking of CRM software, gives you a good idea of the kind of detail the camera can deliver.

As sorely tempted as I am by this jewel of a camera nagging doubts remain, in the shape of reports of little quirks in performance.

Such as slow start up, slow write speeds, variable AF performance at close quarters.

Indeed Katrin Eismann returned hers.

Are these criticisms valid? I really don't know as I have not given this camera a proper extended test.

It does have lots of promise though.

Which brings me onto the second part of the X100 blog.

An email from NewPhotoDigest, where Simon Towler gives an overview of the camera

Simon makes some good observations which are spot on, but I'm not so sure about the point he makes by asserting that Pro shooters should not expect too much from this camera.

I DO get where he is coming from but I would just like to say that if a camera manufacturer is going to charge £1000 for a compact camera they had better make sure it is spot on.

This sort of money buys some very capable prosumer DSLR's

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Going Pro 10/05/11

Picture by Edmond Terakopian

I went into yesterday's Going Pro workshop in London with a little trepidation

After all it was my first UK workshop, and my first ever where I was talking about nothing else other than business side of photography, and what has proved successful for me over the years.

Delegates had come from as far afield as Denmark and Spain to hear what I had to say

I need not have been concerned.

The turn out was excellent not just in terms of numbers but with the quality of delegates.

Delegates too who were engaged and engaging.

Which made for great debate and ensured we all got the most out of it, myself included.

We were lucky enough to have in attendance World Press Photo winning photographer and all round good bloke, Edmond Terakopian, adventure and lifestyle photographer Tim Glasby and Petra Exton, who has agency art buying experience and has now turned her hand to photography.

Having delegates with such a wealth of experience was priceless.

I will blog further about this at a later date, but judging by the comments on Twitter it was a hit.

I have space left for the Birmingham seminar tomorrow

I will not be repeating this workshop anytime soon.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Canon 5D MkII CineStyle by by Technicolor

I first heard about this as part of the NAB banter.

A special profile created by Technicolor, the big name from many a Hollywood movie.

Why so special?

Anyone who has shot commercially with the Canon 5d MkII knows that their can be benefits to shooting with relatively flat profiles.

Particularly if like me you are mixing footage from the Canon XF305 with the Canon 5D MkII.

The XF 305 has good but muted colour, whereas the 5D is quite contrasty and the colours rather....vivid.

This can lead to fun and games with the edit, trying to get a consistent look.

So needless to say I have my own settings to make things a little more consistent.

There are other profiles out there, what makes CineStyle so special?

In the words of Technicolor...

'When the Technicolor CineStyle is selected in the camera it puts the standard H.264 REC709 color space into a log color space. Video images are recorded in log space. Still images are also converted into the same log color space. This is the first implementation of its kind for the Canon EOS line of cameras'

So there you have it, worthy of investigation, I will be giving it a go.

Here is Vincent Laforet's take on it.

Crooked Path Films ran a test, which makes interesting viewing.

Technicolor Cine Style - A Quick Test from Crooked Path Films on Vimeo.

The really clever part is that Technicolor has made itself super relevant to DSLR shooters and therefore future film makers.

There are many big companies out there in their Hollywood ivory towers who are not engaging.

They will be the ones who will lose out as the wind of change blows.