Tuesday 31 January 2012

Another brilliant photographer that you may not have heard of....

I guard links on my blog quite jealously.

There has to be a very good reason for me to feature a link.

Justin Sutcliffe has been a friend for more than 10 years, but that is not why I link to his blog and website.

Justin is a super talented photographer of the Photojournalistic genre, and so very much more besides.

He started his career on the South West New Agency, before leaving to set up his own agency in New York City ultimately returning to work on quality broadsheets in the UK.

I used to work alongside Justin on the Sunday Telegraph, back in the day, I considered myself to be a pretty handy news photographer, but when working alongside him in a hard news situation, I never came out on top once.


And so it went that he went on to become the man to send on any of the tough situations around the planet.

I have forgotten more of the mad, bad and dangerous to be in situations he has been in, but here are couple which just spring to mind.

One of the only photographers to get a photograph of one of the victims of the Moscow Theatre siege, where many people were killed by poison gas which was intended to incapacitate the Chechen gunmen.

For this he was nominated for a World Press award.

Pinned down for some hours in Afghanistan with the Parachute regiment and shooting a cracking set of images, this one made the front page of the Sunday Times, and I believe a large print hangs on the wall in their offices too....
A bonkers arrest situation in Pakistan where a very wise journalist thought it would be funny to put her name down as Osama Bin Laden, I received a voicemail from him via a smuggled phone that he was under arrest locked in a shed I seem to recall.

There are no pictures of this but it was quite a story...

Justin is an exponent of the risky, but ultimately rewarding talent of heading the other way from the pack in a news situation too, often getting a different aspect of the news story of the moment, like his striking take of the McCann's facing the massed media in Portugal.

It's not just hard news in which he excels.

Justin's reflective take is what sets him apart from many others.

I mean who would think that two smashed tree stumps would tell the tale so eloquently on the first anniversary of the Indonesian Tsunami.

And his shot of the Alison Lappa sculpture featured in the prestigious Association of Photographers awards.

Praise indeed.

He is pretty damn handy at portraits too.

My favourite being this super dreamy portrait of singer song writer Cerys Matthews. (like myself, Justin is a big fan of the Canon 'L' Series 35mm F1.4)

I wanted to start the day by saluting a single minded and great talent who after more than 20 years in the game is still shooting beautiful, considered and intelligent work.

Keep an eye on his site and blog, more great things are on the way from him.

Monday 30 January 2012

A blast from the past- A very welcome one

My professional and personal photography is like most others I suspect, strictly digital these days.

I have half a dozen boxes of 5x4 sheet film in the fridge which, though currently in date, I'm not sure it will see use before the sell by date passes.

I have a Speedgraphic (somewhere) for which I harbour thoughts of a new as yet unspecified project.

Why film?


It is difficult to come up with a rational reason to shoot it.

Film can and does have a different quality which does stand out but cost, and general faffing around are, to my eternal shame, a little too much for me to bear, for all of its aesthetic benefits.

There is only one kind of Film that would make me change my mind and that is Type 55.

Polaroid Type 55 was a stunning black and white film which gave you an instant print AND a negative of great quality (providing you remembered dip it in a bucket of hardening fixer)

The results it gave would vary, quite drastically, depending on how you stored the film and by the batch you used

It gave you this wonderful wobbly edges on the rebate with little hole punches too.

I never used it in anger but my partner Lucinda Marland undertook a project which was featured in 'The Guardian' Weekend Magazine.

It was about 'The Lebensborn' the children who were the offpring of German soldiers in World War II.

The Lebensborn programme was established by Heinrich Himmler in line with the racial and eugenics policies of the Nazi's.

So a very sensitive subject matter to tackle.

Lucinda set off for Norway in her Citroen ZX loaded with Type 55 and stacks of hardening fixer to shoot some portraits of these remarkable people and tell the story of their fight for recognition and justice since the end of the war.

It could have been possible on digital, but just look at them.

Type 55 is simply another dimension.

But that was 3 years ago, Polaroid no longer make film and Type 55 has gone forever...

Or so it seemed.

Until I stumbled across this amazing and welcome piece of news.

A gentleman by the name of Bob Crowley is trying to bring it back to life, under the name 'New55'

Bob might well be considered by some as mad as a box of frogs by some for attempting this, but not by me.

I see he is reconsidering a kick-starter project.

And judging from the traffic if he did try he would succeed.

I know by the following that this great film had, that if he got anywhere close in terms of quality he would have a hit on his hands.

The last batch of Type 55 was selling for around £300.00 a box.

So I think it could work out.

Why do I care?

Firstly, there is a really big project that I would like to shoot on this new film.

Secondly, it would open many photographers eyes to such wonderful photographic possibilities.

When Lucinda started to shoot 5 x 4 type 55 it was a steep and somewhat fraught learning curve, but she mastered it, in my rather biased opinion.

As Lucinda herself says 'When I started to shoot with it is was so difficult, it did make me slow down and consider every shot so much more carefully, it made me such a better photographer, even when I use my DSLR the type 55 experience is with me'

Perhaps we could all do with a dose of that?

ps if anyone out there is interested, Bob Crowley is seeking someone to make a short video for his kickstarter, if you live anywhere near Boston and you want to help this wonderful project get off the ground do get in touch with him.

Friday 27 January 2012

Infra Red Update from Mike Curry

In response to my Infra 'appeal' to Phase One, London based photographer Mike Curry got in touch via Twitter and told me of an interesting route he had taken and that it WAS actually possible to get a Phase One back which is sensitive to Infra red.

Though it does involve it going back to the factory.

The result is not the true flexibility of the Achromatic but it does deliver some cool results

Mike had his Phase One P21+ modified and this is what the test shots look like so far.

So there you have it, quite some sparkle....

To be honest I had heard of this route before, but I had not expected it to be quite so effective.

Though Mike has put quite a bit of work in experimenting with different lenses.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Summer days- IR from PODAS Weston Park

I have been doing some rather belated filing and I was sorting through some shots from the PODAS workshop at Weston Park late Summer 2011.

It was great to meet some new people who's passion for photography had bought them from the four corners of the world to experience the pinnacle of currently available Medium format photography in the shape of the astonishing IQ180, in surroundings that were considered good enough to be the retreat for the leaders of G8.

If you ever get the chance to go there do take it, Weston park is simply wonderful, with an art collection that includes a Caravaggio or two.

But for all the new photo friends and sublime surroundings, they were not the highlight.

Not for me anyhow.

The highlight for me was that I got further hands on time with the photographic world's equivalent to a limited edition carbon fibre Lamborghini - the Phase One Achromatic+ back.

It is out of this world in so many respects, price (the priciest back that Phase One makes) in rarity (there truly must be more carbon fibre Lamborghini's) oh and yes, in sheer superlative photographic quality.

What is this rare, expensive, exotic back?

To quote Phase One

'Achromatic+ is a 39 megapixel medium format digital back designed specifically for black and white photography, with Bayer filter, and no interpolation'

In other words a digital back which captures 'pure' black and white.

And not just in the visible spectrum, it records all the way from Ultra Violet to Infra Red.

And it is the Infra red spectrum that I like to shoot in, through a Lee 87 Infra Red filter (focusing is a matter of trial and error. 

Why do I love it so much? I have waxed lyrically about it before in other posts and you may have seen a rather fun bts video too

You see things the human eye cannot (which as a matter of interest why I feel we all love super slow mo photography)

This shot is not from Weston but it is one of my favourites....

So why this post?

I will never be able to afford one of these remarkable devices.

So this an appeal to Phase One.

Can you please make a version that has some, but not all of the capabilities of the Achromatic back but at a considerably reduced price.

It would create a generation of shooters of a different kind, and further build the Phase One brand I think.

I know nothing of the technicalities involved and how difficult it would be but this back in hundreds of peoples hands would be wonderful.

One can but dream, unless someone out there knows differently....

Living the dream -31k Portraits for Peace by Diego Huerta

Earlier this week I blogged about Diego Huerta and his highly ambitious and remarkable '31K Portraits for Peace Project'

And yesterday I conducted an interview which him and his producer Dany Gutierrez via Skype where they describe their remarkable journey, share how Diego lit the portraits and how to carry on when people are firing automatic weapons into the ground at your feet...(no joke)

So, brave as well as talented.

Remarkable project, remarkable people, and some really damn fine environmental portraits.

If you want to be truly inspired and learn a photographic trick or two, take time out to watch the interview.

The exhibition opens tomorrow at the Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin, Texas at 7pm

I just see that perhaps modesty prevailed and they neglected to mention that they have been announced as finalists in the SXSW Interactive Awards

Accolades come no higher.

They are looking for more exhibition space at the moment in Europe and the rest of the world too, if you can help do get in touch with them, and be part of something truly special.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

New Canon 5D MkIII or 7d - Out in the wild

I don't normally like to get involved in idle speculation but the post on Stephen Oachs blog is simply too much for a Canon junkie like myself to resist.

For the full story about how Stephen of the Aperture Academy, who most probably is not on Canon's Christmas card list anymore, came across the yet unreleased Canon DSLR out in the wilds of Africa you really must read his blog.

It is almost excruciating.

The Canon employee who was involved in this most unfortunate episode has, one imagines, made a career decision.

So what is it?

A 5DMkIII or a 7D MKII? Or could it be something else?

It is worth pointing out that this may not be the camera in its final form as they can change as they are being developed, but judging by the condition, fit and finish of the camera it looks like a preproduction model from the line, something that is relatively close to launch. Not a hacked about prototype model with temporary decals on the buttons, the likes of which were visible on pre production Canon C300's

Let's have a look at it in forensic detail.....

1. Locking Function wheel, Amen to that!

Photographers were crying out for that from launch, it is possible to get this retro fitted to your 5DMkII, but  it should have been there from day one, it seems Canon have listened.

2. Relocated On/Off Button

This does seem to have been moved to an ergonomic logical and streamlined position, just requiring a flick of your left thumb.

I have a slight reservation though, the current on/off switch on the MKII seems to be in a bit of an odd place, but it is not really possible to knock it to the 'On' position by mistake, I wonder if this is true for this switch?

3. 'Paintbrush' button

Could this be a rapid way of accessing the in camera picture styles?

4. Rate button

One suppose that this is exactly as it says, a fast way of rating images, some people will find this very handy.

5. Mic ?

On back of camera, logical place for voice tagging

6. LED?

Perhaps, could this work with the mic?

7.M/Fn Button

You can never have too many user programable custom function buttons, could this be one of those?

Easy access position too.

8. Video/stills selection button

Like the 7D, this would be a welcome addition to the 5D as it's currently a bit of a 'faff'

9. Q button

Could be another user programable 'Quick' access button

10. Gaffer tape

Why, oh why is there not more of this.....??????

11. Lock

Does this 'Lock' all the settings on the camera with a single switch??? or could it be linked to...


I only commented on this as it makes it clear in my mind at least that it is not a 1 series derivative.

Overall quite a rare and revealing little snap shot of a forthcoming Canon DSLR.

But which one?

Ladies and Gentlemen place your bets.

I have no inside line on what this camera is, or is not

But I strongly suspect it is a Canon 5D MKIII


The MKII was launched in September 2008, 4 years ago this September.

An age ago in the world of digital photography.

The MKII, as good as it is, is surely due for replacement.

What would I like to see on a MKIII?

In no particular order...

Faster and improved Autofocus, faster frame rate ( how about 6fps?) better body sealing (though this has never been an issue for me), more user friendly Codec for the video.

Better connectivity for mic's etc would be nice too.

And when will this come?

Photokina would be a natural place to launch this camera but this camera looks very finished to me, so perhaps before then.

What do you think?

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Which Tripod for the Canon C300?

Currently I use a  Manfrotto 504 tripod which has suited me pretty darned well for DSLR video making and with the Canon XF305.

It is a fast and easy video tripod to use, with very respectable performance.

When Lan Bui and I had the Canon C300 on loan though we started to consider would the 504 be enough.

Considering the C300 is a small compact lightweight package the 504 should be more than man enough for the job, but the C300 is a modular camera that you can add a whole ton of stuff to, depending on your requirements.

We made a short video comparing it to the Manfrotto 509 tripod, a tripod that needs batteries( there is a good reason for this though when you see it's party trick)

Watch for the biting cold taking its toll on Lan and I, with the dog running around the background and a random bonfire in the background  (not a smoke machine on this occasion, I promise)

Monday 23 January 2012

Diego Huerta 31K Portraits for peace project

I first became aware of Diego in July 2010 when he shared a link with me of his excellent set of pictures of Monterrey in Mexico, which was hit by hurricane Alex.

A great peace of proactive work, getting of his backside and recording the efforts of his community.

If you have not seen it, do take a look, truly inspirational.

Well, he has been at it again, this time on rather a grand scale with '31k Portraits for peace'

In Diego's own words

'With the objective to counteract the negative impact of more than 31,000 deaths in the last four years in Mexico, Diego began a project of a lifetime on February 14, 2011.

In order to accomplish his objective, Diego traveled the 32 states in Mexico and was able to photograph 31,000 people with a blue paper dove in their hands named “La Huasteca”.

Hopefully, by doing this, he would achieve one of his goals; to change people minds and turn their negative thoughts into something positive. In addition, the message of “Peace Starts by Believing” to every single person he met.

A mammoth and gargantuan task.

But it's not just about the numbers, using his own one man lighting set up he has taken some truly excellent portraits.

These are just two that jumped out at me.

If you want to learn some great one man lighting field craft have a look at the videos at the bottom of the page.

All of this will culminate in at least one exhibition in Austin, Texas.

I do not have the date to hand.

Diego aso invited me to shoot an image for his remarkable project, I have to admit I was a little slow at shooting it....it took me nearly a year to get round to it.

But this weekend i did it, a portrait of my daughter Georgie, aged 9

It was a windy day, so my technique was a variation of Diego's

I used a Canon 5d Mk1 (my MkII's are of at the cleaners) with an 85mm F1.2, using a Lee 0.9 ND Filter to cut down the ambient light it enabled me to expose the image (hyper sync with Pocket Wizard TT5) 500th/sec at F1.2, and lit Georgie with a single Canon Speedlite 550EX with a solid white vinyl umbrella.

I focussed the camera on a tripod on my Manfrotto 057 Tripod and Manfrotto MH057 tripod head

Holding on to the light so it would not blow over and triggering the Canon with the TC80-N3...arm outstretched.

Processed in Capture One Pro 6....with no adjustments at all.

I'm very pleased with the shot....but I am biased.

Support Diego in any way you can, spread the word, and see what you can learn from him and his remarkable project.

I hope to conducting a Skype interview very soon.

Friday 20 January 2012

Always be ready for that opportunist time-lapse

This was in no way at all planned.

Lucinda and I were having a spot of lunch when we saw the field at the back of our house bing ploughed.

I hesitated for a few moments then I thought it would be a great fun little time-lapse.

I dashed up stairs and worked out the framing to include more sky than foreground as the clouds were superb.

I set the Canon 5d MkII to small jpg, plugged in the TC-80N3, shooting a frame every 6 seconds on my Manfrotto MT057C3 with super stable MH057M0 ball head and let it run for 2 hours.

Oh, I forgot to mention I used a Lee Filter holder with a hard .6 ND Graduated filter on the sky.

I used a 24-105mm 'L'Series lens

It went quite well but I was a little disappointed with the colour so I adjusted the contrast and saturation on all 1500 ish images in Capture One Pro 6, just to make it 'Pop' a little more.

I then made a sequence in Quicktime Pro, and cut it together with this great piece of music by Douglas Black Heaton in FCP X.

Great music makes or breaks a video.

I'm quite pleased with it, as there has been quite a lot going on today in the office.

It goes to show if in doubt shoot it.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

But the moment never comes again.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Drew and Lan's Commentary on the L'Oreal/UNESCO Heather Whitney Video

On workshops I often say to people that if they want to learn cool shots and lighting for their stills or moving images, the directors commentaries which come with some DVD's are worth their weight in gold-truly a master class for free(one of my favourites being for 'Garden State')

Now I'm not putting Lan Bui and I into the great directors bracket, but I'm prepared to bet some of you have been approached to shoot some kind of corporate video.

If this is the case, you will hopefully find this commentary useful.

If you want to see the video without commentary you can find it here.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Faces of British Soldiers Before, During and After Afghanistan

I love smart and clever ideas.

As I have said on many other occasions, the concept is king.

In the past couple of months I saw two different takes on the same idea.

What toll does conflict take on soldiers in war?

I saw a project by photographer Lalage Snow where she shot a series of portraits of soldiers before, during and after deployment to Afghanistan.

You can read a little more about her project here

I asked her about the portraits.

She came up with the idea as long ago as 2007.

When she was struck by the difference between soldiers prior to deployment and after deployment.

Often good ideas take a little time to mature.

In her own words she says the photo's 'aren't technically brilliant'

She used no lighting 'just ambience hence the vast difference in Afghanistan' and a small amount of post production.

'I had a black sheet I bought from John Lewis fabric dept but it blew away in the wind when a Chinook helicopter landed, so I improvised with black bin bags and gaffer tape which was tricky given the sheen on normal bin bags and perhaps is why some of the shots are in flatter light. but you do what you can in these situations and trust to hope it will be okay in the end'

Amen to that.

The lighting may not be as consistent as one would ideally wish but these were not ideal circumstances.

'Lally' really has told a story with these remarkable pictures.

A cracking idea.

I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Rodney Charters New Years Day Chat Part 3- Closing thoughts

So here its is, the third and final part of Lan Bui and I chatting to Rodney Charters, very affable DP of '24' and forthcoming 'Dallas' about the Canon C300 and other matters photographic.

He talks about the possibilities of shooting in stealth mode, without tripod and how good long focal length lenses can lend a different dimension to shooting cinema.

And reliability.

A camera, no matter how good, is nothing without reliability.

Monday 16 January 2012

After the Gold Rush by Tomer Jacobson

Last week I received an email form Tomer Jacobson in Israel.

Tomer sent an image titled'After the Gold Rush'

It is part of a series he has just started which is based on his interpretation of songs that he likes .

This part is very important in my books as when we shoot anything we like, or love, it is always so much better for it.

Needless to say this one is his interpretation of the enigmatic Neil Young song.

Enigmatic in that I don't think Neil Young has ever revealed what the song is about, interestingly he has also never released any of his songs for use in commercials.

Tomer shot this image.....

So, a well executed and lit shot but the clever part for me is the concept.

In the world of 'Me too' coming up with a clever and original idea carries so much more weight and significance, in my eyes at least.

I suspect in the wider world too.

Tomer has posted BTS video of the shoot here.

Its in Hebrew so I can't understand the words, but really there is no need to, you see him getting on with it and doing a great job and working with the light not against it

He ended up using an image shot with available light, I'm not that surprised, smoke machine shots seem to work very well with available light...and a hint of flash

With a little help from my old friend the smoke machine.

Like myself, Tomer chose to buy sooner than rent to save money long term, so I suspect we will be seeing it again in the series.

I look forward to seeing what else Tomer comes up with.

The concept is king

What is yours going to be?

Friday 13 January 2012

Fuji X-1-Pro, Please, Please, Please let the auto focus be up to the job

Rumors abounded last week that Kodak was seeking bankruptcy protection.

The Yellow box seems to be destined for the pine box in the long run.

Fuji also seemed to be wracked by inertia over the past decade, with the occasional glimmer of decent product raising the companies prospects from time to time.

That was until they came up with the X100.

A clever and beautiful camera.

Arguably, for the first time since the advent of digital photography they were leading the game and not playing catch up.

Anyone who has read my blog or indeed many of the others comments on the web that this camera has more than its fair share of quirks.

Hit and miss AF being the big one for me.

I often joke that on occasion, it can take a certain kind of out of focus image.

Like this.

Fly by wire manual focus is not the best, add to that a labyrinthine menu, slow write speed to card and a need to format the card every time you download photos, if you want the camera to start up in less than a minute and it can be deeply frustrating.

As Fuji themselves said in their promo material

'The Professionals choice'

Oh dear.

A year later we are hearing the 'P' word again from Fuji, only this time it is the name of their new X series camera, the X-Pro-1.

It looks quite lovely, with a very promising looking range of lenses too.

On the face of it a winner.

Tempting, very tempting.

But what about the autofocus?

I was going to write this piece without sniffing around on the net (I don't normally do this before I blog, but I made an exception on this occasion)

My initial finding gave me cause for optimism.

With the respected British Journal of Photography saying 'Fujifilm goes back to its professional roots'

Then I read a posting by Gizmodo Australia

'Fuji X-Pro-1 Hands-On:Intoxicatingly Simple'

Sounds good but upon further reading Fuji seem to have taken the whole keeping it simple a little too far by having a similar focusing system to the X-100.

'the autofocus isn’t going to be as snappy as it is on other cameras. Fuji says thats because that’s not what this camera is about. Fine, but it’s going to annoy the hell out of you if you’re used to a good point-and-shoot camera or DSLR'

Now I have not held let alone seen this camera and we cannot take Gizmodo Australia's word as gospel but it might be worth bearing in mind that these words are attributed to Fuji, not Gizmodo.

You can have all the jewel like interchangeable lenses, fantastic build quality in a pretty camera body but if the bloody thing won't focus as it should then it will alway be handicapped.

Fuji in all probability were locked into a research and development cycle which meant they had to retain the X100 like focusing system.

But I cannot help but think that they would have been better off postponing the launch and getting the AF right.

I cannot say they have got it wrong until I have tried the camera myself however.

I suspect when the photography history books are written that the X100 will be known as a beautiful camera with daft focusing which did quite well until another manufacturer came along and did something very similar aesthetically and the focusing worked.

Fuji have a great opportunity with this family, lets hope they do not squander it, I for one want them to have a bright future.

If they wonder what the consequences of getting it wrong are, all they need to do is to look at where Kodak is right now.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Rodney Charters New Years Day Chat Part 2

Here is part two of the chat Lan Bui and I had with DP of '24' Rodney Charters.

If you watched part one you will have some idea of what awaits. If not, it is well worth a watch in my opinion.

Rodney talks about the art of the possible and using the tools we have to make images.

Real world solutions for real world situations.

Wether you are into still or moving images.


Monday 9 January 2012

David Hobby joins the Phase One 'Club'

I see that David has finally taken the plunge and bought a Phase One camera and P25+ back.

I'm not really surprised.

Though I must admit I'm a little surprised and disappointed by some of the harsh comments on his blog.

But whatever your views it is after all just a camera, albeit a very good one.

But what I always say to anyone who is considering taking the plunge into the Phase One world, this camera system is not like so many others that seek to flatter and turn the average shooter into a talented photographer.

I refer to it as the ultimate blank canvas.

Yes, thats right.

A blank canvas.

The sweet spot of the big sensor removing some of the constraints that a DSLR user faces.

A really good pen was not the making of William Shakespeare.

Living life, loving, losing and struggling had more to do with it than the pen.

And so it is with photography.

You may have the best camera in the world but no amount of megapixels, gigabytes and frames per second are going to MAKE the photograph.

Do they help? Well they can but I sometimes think we forget about the end result and focus way too much on how we get there...

To this end I believe Nikon with the D4 and Canon with the 1DX have created two totally brilliant camera's which are aimed at a diminishing end of the market.

The sports and news shooters who need a trazillion frames a second, and autofocus which knows where the subject is going before the subject does.

How much R&D budget has been expended on these giants of the high speed world heaven only knows.

I'm not sure how much they will recoup either.

One can only speculate how much the timing of the release of these camera's has to do with the Olympics this summer.

Make no mistake, this camera is made for AP, Getty and the like, along with the wedding shooters who enslave themselves to an age of post production with 30,000 images from a single wedding...yes my friends they DO exist.

It is all about the right tool for the job.

David decided he did not need a digital chain gun, look at his photography.

In the same breath any sports shooter who sat on the touch line of a ball game with a Phase One might well be asking for trouble.

Very interested to hear he likes Capture One, it is a great piece of software which has matured into a real gem.

And all I was going to blog about was 'Turning Pro'

Next on my list.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Who on earth is Alan Roberts?

Alan Roberts is a name in all probability a name you will not be familiar with.

But he is important

Very Important.

Rewind a year or so and Canon had launched the XF series of video.

On the face of it, the XF series was another video camera offering which was good, but not really a player on the field against the mainstream players of Sony, Panasonic etc?



It did all seem rather unlikely with its unfashionably small sensor (I admit I scoffed at it at launch), but with its high 50mbs bit rate and super sharp optics in a very useable package it was very good.

Canon did at last have a video camera which matched in most area's, and outperformed in others, competitor offerings.

But how to communicate this to a sceptical broadcast world where other manufacturers seemed to have an unassailable grip on the market.

Enter Alan Roberts.

He is not a cameraman but in the words of the 'Guild of Television Cameramen' whom he won an award with in 2009

'A leading colour scientist, working for BBC research and development, he has not only contributed to the technology behind the camera, with a huge number of white papers, but has directly helped untold numbers of TV cameraman to get the best images out of modern digital and high definition camera's'

He has now retired form the BBC but his word clearly still carries much weight.

So imagine the impact of a very positive white paper he wrote on the Canon XF300 and XF305.

It made the BBC approved list of camera's for independent productions.

People sat up and took notice and it sold by the pallet load.

Fast forward to 2012 and Alan Roberts has written a report on the Canon C300, you can find the PDF of his report here

Will it have the same impact as his report on the XF300 and XF305?

Probably not, as the world and his wife are singing it's praises.

An important milestone all the same.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Playing with Fire- best Canon C300 video yet

Well in my opinion anyhow

By Bruce Dorn

Edited by Cadu Medina

Between them they came up with this very clever but beautiful way of showing off the C300.


But quite brilliant

Good job guys.

Friday 6 January 2012

Something for the Weekend

For all of you who follow my blog who's primary interest is stills photography, I appreciate your patience, be assured more stills on the way very soon.

But all of my Canon C300 posting made me recall another rather smart little Canon video camera the X100, the tiny brother of the XF305 which also shoots at 50mbs, and shares the excellent MXF file format.

I used it to shot the BTS of this stills shoot I was doing with the Phase One Acromatic back.

Why the XF100 camera and not my XF305?

Well it is so small it let's me keep a very low profile, but the main reason was that it shoots in infra red at the flick of a switch, no filters required.

Fitting the spirit of the Phase One Acromatic perfectly.

The Palms from drew gardner on Vimeo.

You can read the whole post I put together here.

Forgive me if you have seen the movie before.

Thursday 5 January 2012

How the C300 affects Hollywood and what it means to us.

New Year's start no better than this.

After eating the Turbot we picked up at Billingsgate and seeing in the New Year, we persuaded Rodney Charters, DP of '24' (not that he needed persuading) to have a chat on camera to talk about the Canon C300 and what the implications will be.

When watching the footage back I was struck by Rodney's candour and how this interview style chat has implications for all of us no matter what we shoot on.

As Bill Clinton once said 'Its the economy, stupid' this is a case of 'Its the story, stupid'

This video is the first of three.

Prepare to be inspired, and work out what your next project will be with your DSLR.

And why 8 bit with the Canon C300 is no handicap.....

Why you no longer need tons of lights to shoot a TV programme...

And much, much more.

I hope you enjoy watching this controversial video as much as we enjoyed making it.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Canon C300 - Shooting in Canon Log

I must admit I was daunted when it was recommended by some people in the know that we should shoot with the C300 in Canon's high dynamic range, flat image quality, Canon Log Mode, if we truly wanted to get the best out of the camera.

In Canon's Log game mode it allows you to retain more image information for colour correction and post processing.

Jem Schofield on the Canon USA website has written an excellent and illuminating article on the subject.

It is well worth reading even if you do not intend to buy a C300 as it will give you a good understanding of the subject.(check out the section on 'View assist' where you can set the LCD to give you a predicted display of how the Canon Log will look after post production, sounds a bit bonkers but in practice this works VERY well)

I have to admit I have read it a couple of times.

But why was I daunted?

I was fearful of getting bogged down in post but actually I was surprised how easy basic post processing and colour correction was in FCP X.

When I take delivery of my C300 one of my first tasks will be to have a stab at adjusting the Gamma curve on my Canon XF305 to get somewhere in the same ball park so it will cut in OK.

It may seem an unusual combination to some, as they are very different camera's.

Crucially they both shoot the MXF format at 50mbs

But picture this, a talking head interview much like the one Lan Bui and I did of Dr Heather Whitney

Imagine we had only one operator you could use the C300 as the 'A' camera with the XF305 as a 'B' camera set on a tripod with no operator but with the very smart IAF (Intelligent AF) tracking the subjects face as they move in the frame.

Not ideal, but a solution to a situation that many of us face on a regular basis.

I'm really looking forward to getting my C300 as there are a couple of jobs it will prove very useful for in the very near future.

Stay tuned for avery special video which Lan and I will be posting tomorrow where Rodney Charters give an insight as to how he see's the C300 changing the game in Hollywood.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Ultimate low light test with a Canon C300? perhaps not, but a real eye opener as my eyes were starting to close

Picture this.

Rodney Charters, DP of '24' and DSLR guru Lan Bui round the Gardner house on New Years Eve.

It was a fun day, but by close to 2AM on the 1st January I was fading FAST.

At this point after much, much rambling about life the universe and everything Rodney suggested we do a low light test shot with the Canon C300.

With an iPad

Yes, an iPad as a light source.



Or perhaps not.

You decide

I'm sure you in no way at all will find it amusing that I am falling asleep....

Monday 2 January 2012

Food Glorious food

Readers of this blog will now have gathered that I love cooking.

Even down to the Michaelmas Goose filmed on the Canon C300 by Lan Bui.

Here is a still of the recipe which I shot for the book 'Loose Birds and Game' by Andrew Pern of the the Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire (if you are ever anywhere even remotely close to the Star inn, do pay them a visit, a treat awaits)
I shot this at the chef's table with my Phase One P45+ and 120mm macro lens, supported by my Gitzo GT5660SGT and super precise variable ratio geared Manfrotto 405 head, using available light.

As I say often in my blog, the key to great photography is 'Shoot what you Love' and I cannot think of anything I Love to shoot more than this simply wonderful food.

In the run up to Christmas I was commissioned by the John Lewis partnership to shoot environmental portraits in the the kitchen where they develop new dishes.

It was an eye opener, not for food 'tricks' but for the sheer passion of the team who work so hard to come up with different and divine dishes which grace the shelves of Waitrose.

If you like me, were one of the many unlucky people who failed to get hold of one of Heston Blumental's Christmas puddings with an Orange inside you might take some sort of twisted solace in this shot I did of it.

I think this was one of the mini puddings for one with a tangerine, not an orange inside.

Again I shot this with available light (THE trick when shooting food)

But this time with my Canon 5d MkII and the silly-super-sharp Canon EF 'L' series 100mm Macro lens which feature a very clever hybrid optical image stabilisation system which really works very effectively. Just the job for on-the-fly macro work in rapidly evolving situations.

Coming back to the book 'Loose birds and Game' in which I shot all the main photography, it has collected a bevy of awards.

For a very limited period of time I will be offering the book at the special price of £15.99 plus postage.

The book has an RRP of £39.99

In the unlikely event that you want the book signing I'm very happy to do so.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Farewell 2011

2011 was a very tough year for many people.

It was a mixed bag for me too.

A birth, a death in the family, two house moves and plans for a wedding.

So, the gamut of emotions.

More than anything for me it was a year of sowing seed which will start bearing fruit early in 2012.

The documentary is still in post production, Lucinda and I have a major exhibition in early March in a GREAT Location(more of that in the very near future)

So often in any creative endeavour you feel that you are not getting anywhere at all, even when you are, and through 2011 was no exception.

The best things are worth striving and fighting for.

Success does not come overnight.

In December I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Canon C300, it was a truly a great way to end the year (Quite a few more posts to come on this, as you might imagine.

2012 Will be a very tough year for many of us no matter what we do for a living.

To that end in January I will be launching another digital download titled 'Turning Pro' to arm photographers and would be photographers, with information to advance their careers.

More to the point though I will be sharing my own formula which has bought me success as a Pro photographer for more than 30 years.