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Thursday, December 23, 2010

••◊ Time Lapse on the (semi-) cheap

Let's face it, nothing in photography is cheap. However, time lapse is still one of those things that can be done on limited resources and with software that already comes with everyones' computer.

The more expensive solution, for me at least, is the Canon TC-80N3 intervalometer shown below. As a side note...it is Christmas and it's not too late mom - just saying. These devices go for about $145 new and act as a time lapse control for your camera with a direct connection to the shutter release port. If you're serious about time lapse, you buy one of these.

Now if you're just interested in time lapse, but don't want to dole out the cash there is a cheaper method. Every Canon SLR camera comes with a piece of software called "EOS Utility." When connected to a camera there is a selection available for "Camera settings/Remote shooting."

After you select that option there is a camera control window that comes up. For night time shooting I generally set my camera to small raw output, lock the white balance to "daylight", lock the aperture, lock the lens to manual focus, and use manual mode. Despite what the window shows below, I actually shot the sequence at ISO 1600, 15 second exposure, f/2.8, and manual focus. In the middle right of the window you see a little clock icon button. Click on that.

This brings up a limited time lapse control feature; not as full featured as the intervalometer. You have to be tethered to a computer during the entire shooting sequence, but it does work as long as your laptop and camera batteries keeps going. Note that you can do bulb or interval shooting, however the interval shooting is limited to a 30 second exposure so you can't do 2+ minute deep space exposures. As recommended on timescapes.org, I set the exposure time to half the frame interval; i.e. exposure is 15 seconds so the interval is 30 seconds. This is an optimal setting for later turning your time lapse into video since video cameras typically use a 180-degree shutter angle (in normal 24p a frame is exposed for 1/48th of a second).

As for turning the pictures into video I used Premier Pro, which is slightly overkill but I'm comfortable using this program. Clarence has successfully used Windows Movie Maker ( my face grimacing in pain at the thought) with the results included in my previous post about time lapse with the Pentax K-5. iMovie works equally as well. You just need to be able to drop the pictures into a sequence with each picture representing one frame of video.

Below is just one of the frames of our setup. You can see the 5Dm2 and 7D on tripods, with my camera tethered to a laptop on the passenger seat via USB cable. No, this isn't HDR, just a long exposure at ISO 6400 on the Pentax K-5. You gotta love the lens flair from the moon on the upper left.

Finally, the short video we produced. It's not anything ground breaking - just a bit of experimental fun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

••◊ Quality Social

I think I should preface this post by writing that I was never a party person. I was always the first one to put in ear plugs at a concert or club. Drinking was never my thing either, so chemically induced ear plugs weren't going to happen. Clarence convinced me (bad influence inferred) to go out clubbing with him at Quality Social in downtown San Diego. His friend, DJ Joey Jimenez, was spinning that evening. We, of course, brought our cameras to capture the pre-Christmas hedonistic debauchery.

The first thing you notice, not being a club-er, is that the place smells like Vegas. What exactly makes a place of alcohol guzzling and smoking (outside balcony) smell like stale popcorn, much less a casino? Maybe clubbing people have a hidden underground fetish for popcorn? Floors are sticky - check. Seating near the bar is full - check. Girls wearing impractically short (for December mind you) dresses - check. Boyfriend following girl with impractically short dress - check. DJ pumping fist - check. Glad I don't have a waiter job there - check, check, check.

It's been a while since I shot a live event, so I had to quickly remember the basics.

  1. You're going to have a mixed lighting problem. Color is gonna suck, so just go B&W. "Film grain" at ISO 3200 is supposed to be "artistic" right?
  2. Fortify any picture taking position so people won't bump into you.
  3. Use furniture and permanent structures for rigid support during long-ish exposures - sub 1/100th is a long exposure for me since my hands are as steady as a junky looking for a hit.
  4. Wear ear plugs.

First up, Mark the door man, lead 21+ ID checker, and avid snow boarder. Also a bartender gets in the mood of the season.

DJ Joey and crew...in modern terms, meaning macbook and turn tables. We thought about making a comedy short with Joey showing all the things DJ's have to put up with including, but not limited to requesting the song that the DJ just played.

Finally, the patrons. My personal favorite of the bunch was the girl with the tattoo. I saw her in line waiting for pictures with Santa (yes, even clubs have a Santa) and asked if I could take her picture. Her tattoo reads "Family, more than blood, it's love"... an unexpected sweet sentiment in a club where you anticipate people are looking for "hook ups" and to get drunk after the work week. The police paddy wagon was stationed at the end of the block for the later case.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

••◊ Thrush

I found a video on Vimeo today that won for "best narrative" of 2010 called "Thrush." I just thought I would throw it out here on my blog because the ending felt so true for we photogs - but I'll leave that for you to find on your own.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

••◊ Help Portrait 2010

The Help-Portrait 2010 event is wrapping up about now, except maybe for Hawaii and other Pacific islands. Help-Portrait is about giving people who normally couldn't afford a portrait, a printed portrait of themselves before the holidays. Our group in San Diego hit with the blinding force of a 4800 Watt-second Profoto pack this year at three locations: The Bayside Community Center, St. Clare's Home, and Solutions for Change. An unfortunate fact is that I saw some of the same families come in this year as came in last year. However, we made the families feel as good this year as last year which is what really counts.

Of course, I had to take some behinds the scenes shots just for a blog-worthy keepsake. Short descriptions follow...

Lauren was popping off a shot of one of the massive multitude of babies this year. It was like they were putting something in the water. Even Chiselda, one of our photographers, was pregnant. Chriselda lined up donations of stuffed toys for all the kids and I think her mile high supply was fairly depleted by 4pm.

Here, Renay is shooting and Graham is relegated to the position of head baby entertainer / David Blaine (holding his breath for 20 minutes trick) imitator.

Pol photographs a family using Profoto umbrellas. Unfortunately they weren't Profoto lights. Notice how I caught the lights firing too - pure luck. I guessed at the exposure settings and just happened to nail those too. Somewhere in the universe I've broken a photographic paradox.

One of our three, yeah count 'em, three(!) MUA's at the St. Clare's location. Normally we're lucky to have just one. Each one came with a small arsenal of brush and girly face gunk that I'll never comprehend. That's OK because because I show up with an arsenal of lenses that they don't comprehend (most of the time). Hell, sometimes I don't know why I need all the lenses I do...until I need them.

Finally, one of our fearless leaders Rebecca; except when you point a camera toward her. Like most photographers she has an aversion to being in front of the lens. There's a reason we buy cameras. It puts us safely behind the image sensor. Now if the industry comes up with some type of 3D panoramic lens then we're really screwed. Rebecca and Pol share the credit for pulling off the Solutions for Change location.