Sunday 24 October 2010

Eddie Jordan

I just watched the post Korean F1 Race analysis on the BBC (still inbox apocalypse from the move, so I did not watch the race...highlights for me, I'm afraid), with the excellent former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan making team owners squrim with his excellent insightful questions and comments.

It made me recall the time I had to shoot a portrait of him in 2004

It was a million miles an hour portrait, ie I had only a couple of minute's with him

So it was a matter of pre lighting the car before he came along and persuading him to sit down next to the car

He was initially reluctant due to time constraints but when I engaged him in a bit of banter about his first season in F1, where I watched Michael Schumacher retire in his debut Grand Prix race in the infamous green cars

I told him how it happened right in front of me at the spectacular Spa Francorchamps circuit (even if you are only halfway interested in F1 do go to the Belgian Grand prix at Spa, it is one of THE most spectacular sporting events)  and he was hooked

I only had a couple of minutes with him but he was on for it, a lovely passionate bloke who is nobody's fool

This portrait was a 3 light set up, all with Elinchrom Rangers, side lighting him with a medium Chimera softbox on him, an on axis backlight at the same ratio with barn doors and one light on the background at about half a stop under the other two lights, picking out the wind tunnel model

Exposed at 60th sec F8 on a Canon 1Ds Mk1 with a Canon EF 'L' Series 70-200 F2.8

I do hope the BBC retain this wonderful sparky man

Tuesday 19 October 2010

One the greatest photographers who you should know about but in all probability don't

He doesn't blog.

He doesn't twitter.

He doesn't do workshops (though I think he should).

In fact the only tweet you will hear will be from his garden.

He is not in his first flush of youth.

He pioneered high speed nature flash photography before you could walk into a shop and buy it off the shelf (he used to make his own shutters and even his own high speed capacitors made from paper dipped in oil...)

He is one of the greatest photographers EVER (don't just take my word for it, he is one of 500 photographers featured in Phaidon's 'The Photobook' )

Stephen Dalton

Here is his photo of a drinking Swallow used on a Mike Oldfield album cover

And shot in the days before Speedlites.

On a Hasselblad.

In a single frame.

In his back garden.

Stephen spent some time working out the path the swallow would take and then set about 'steering ' the swallow gradually over many days so it had to take a route which would go between his remote triggers.

He then had to work out the lag between the time that the swallow broke the beam and the time it was in front of the lens.

Think of it, no 10 frames a second, no 10 zillion ISO, no off the shelf wonder flashes.

Stephen has published many books of his photography over the years, 15 in total, amongst them...

The CPN website interviewed him last year.

My favourites? Well there are simply too many...

I love one of his earliest works, the Barn Owl flying back to the tower and I love the shot of the Rat leaping from a litter bin if you can find them out there, the rat was part of a show at the Tate for a while.

His work for me is where art and science meet.

His passion for the environment and photography still burn brightly, though with a Canon 5d MkII in his hand these days not a Hasselblad.

A pioneer, a gentleman, a kind, generous and wonderful human being.

When I went to see him on Sunday one of his parting shots was 'the trouble with photography these days is that its too easy' well maybe back in the day it was too hard, either way I can't help but agree with him.

To be a successful photographer these days one needs to be so much more than 'just' a great photographer with all of these fancy tools at our disposal.

Which is why I'm always banging on about getting out there and doing it......myself included.

Monday 11 October 2010

'Shelfstackers' F1.2 an F -Stop too far?

The arrival of the Canon 5d MkII nearly two years ago was a great day for anyone wanting to shoot full HD video affordably for the first time

It has made a real positive impact on the world of moving images

A many wonderful projects have been shot on it, including an episode of 'House'

However some TV channels have been and remain sceptical of the Camera's output

I have been and remain a great advocate of the format, and have long held that if used intelligently and one works within the limitations of the medium it is more than up to the job

Last week I watched the new BBC sitcom 'Shelfstackers'

When I sat down to watch it I had no idea It was shot on a Canon 5d MkII, however within a few minutes I did, but for all the wrong reasons

I love shooting wide open on the Canon 'L' Series lenses, particularly the 85mm F1.2 and the 35mm F1.4

But one really does have to chose the right moment and occasion, in other words there is a right time and place for everything

And in my opinion some scenes of 'Shelfstackers' went up to and then well beyond the limit of good use of superwide apertures

I read the interview with Director Dom Bridges, but I still just don't buy it.

This is not the episode of 'house' where wide apertures were used in emotional way, very well too I might add

This was a sitcom, and in some shots, half of the actors face was out of focus, and not in a nice creative way either

And by the end of the programme I was wincing.(To get the full effect do watch it full screen...)

Why should I care? Naked self interest actually.

I can anticipate the scenario where there will a meeting with a TV company and I will suggest using a Canon 5d mkII to shoot a project and they will say they saw 'Shelfstackers' and they don't want their programme to look like that thank you very much, they want it to focus.

Like good Photoshop where one should not see the 'joins' I don't feel it is good to see gratuitous use of F1.2 on sitcom, shouting to the world that 'this programme was shot at a super wide aperture because the budget would not run to any lighting'

I have in all probability watched TV shows which were shot on a Canon 5D MKII and just did not realize it, and I think that is the way it should be

I have considerable sympathy for the makers of Shelfstackers as this is part of the BBC's £1000 a minute experiment for programme output. And understand the scenario, no budget for lighting so push the ISO as far as you dare and then shoot at the widest aperture so enough light hits the sensor

I'm in no position to offer advice as I have never made a TV programme and they have actually made a whole series

I can't help but wanting to suggest that they somehow beg, steal or borrow a couple of 2x2 LED light panels or a Chimera Triolet or something similar, filter it to the same colour temperature as the florescent tubes and use it as fill lighting so they can use F2.8 or even F4, and get adequate depth of field

Good on the makers of 'Shelfstackers' as they have actually done it, but I can't help they have made selling in a Canon 5D MKII project to a TV channel that little bit harder

As for me? I'm trying to raise funding for my own documentary right now

Time to put my money where my mouth is

Friday 8 October 2010

Tethered setup - The Movie

I still get many requests for details about the very handy tethered setup I use

Infact I used it on my latest Forest shoot 'The Zebra' which I shot earlier this week

Brian Worley shot this image of me with the column inverted so I can get close to the ground, it still works a treat

OK, so there is not a Zebra in sight, a bit of a tease!

The images will be released later next month, so keep an eye out for them

In answer to the questions Lucinda shot this video of me using a Canon 5d Mk2

I hope it answers some of the questions

Drew Gardner - Tethered Set Up Tutorial from Manfrotto on Vimeo.

Sunday 3 October 2010

A Docklands Farewell

Docklands Farewell from drew gardner on Vimeo.

So I'm leaving London's Docklands after 5 happy years

New adventures ahead

I made this very short video farewell using Canon 5d Mk 2 and a Canon 550d  (or T2i as it is known in the  USA) and a wide range of Canon EF lenses from a 600mm for the London City Airport timelapse, 300mm F4 and 70-200 F4 for the towers timelapse and video, 85 mm F1.2 for the O2 Dome focus pull (from my bedroom) down to a 24-105mm zoom for the Docklands Light Railway and Isle of Dogs car footage

All aided by murky Autumn weather

I hope you enjoy it