{ illuma·blogspot·com }

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

••◊ Aerial Views from a Pacific Northwest Winter

This year's Christmas visit was filled with disappointment.  I spent the last three days in bed, sick after a visitor thought it was appropriate to show up to my mom's house with the walking plague.  I hate it when people think *their germs* are clean.  I gave an Amazon Kindle Paper White to my aunt, much to her elation, only to find out that the Wi-Fi was broken on delivery.  On top of that I was supposed to take pictures for my mom's yoga studio, but as the opportunistic morning arrived a large storm rolled in with ominously dark clouds.  That pretty much killed ambient window light.  Lacking artificial studio lights we were sunk even at ISO 1600.  So this year was pretty much a buzz kill.

I also intended to see some great Oscar contenders during the holiday, but I only got as far as seeing Gravity (=awesome!), which was streaming on Alaska Airlines.  I did suffer through a lot of duds including: The Lego movie (really?), Kumare (feel asleep), Dr. Who (classic Brit camp), World War Z (limited selection on Netflix streaming).  I re-lived Wayne's World (party time...excellent!).  Need for Speed wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but mostly because of the car racing.  At least I didn't take the poison pill option (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) on Netflix.  You *know who you are* who added that to the queue!

So the best I have to harvest from this year's trip is a few pictures I took during my travel home.  The picture below is of the port of Tacoma, just south of the SeaTac airport.

Here's a picture of the cascade range with a fresh blanket of snow.

The two pictures below are of Mount St. Helens in southern Washington State.  You can see the top has been blown off.  There's also snow being dusted off the ridge line by strong winds.  The second picture below was taken a few days before during my arrival flight.  I like the swirling cloudscape surrounding the mountain.

Mount St. Helens is one of many volcanic mountains in the Cascade Range.  The other nearby notable volcanos are Mt. Rainier to the north and Mt. Hood to the south.  However Mount St. Helens is most notoriously known for an eruption in 1980 that killed 50 people and reduced the peak by nearly 1000 ft after being triggered by an earthquake.  In the picture below you can clearly see the horseshoe crater to the right side of the peak.  I only have vague memories of Mount St. Helens.  I remember that my grandpa kept a plastic transparent film canister with ash from the eruption for some odd reason.  I also remember seeing piles of ash along I-5 during long drives from Seattle to Portland.  Back in 2000 I did a bike ride up to the crater called Tour de Blast, which was anti-climatic because fog was covering the crater at the observation deck. 

The final picture is what I believe is Mount Hood in Northern Oregon State.  It seems to be missing snow so far this year.

As I settle back in at home (and return the broken Kindle) I'm hoping to take on more projects that build my level of craft this year.  My New Year's resolution starts in two days - and no, it doesn't involve the level of fortitude necessary to sit through Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

••◊ Triggering record on an Atomos Ninja using HDMI timecode

Dom and I recorded a short tutorial for Video Gear last weekend.  This was a tutorial I wish I would have had before the last music video shoot I DP'd.  Hope this helps someone else...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

••◊ Evolution of Craft

I saw this video pop up today with a number of contemporary cinematographers.  Given that it's award season in Hollywood I expect to see more of these potential Oscar nominee videos come online.  One important point I take from the video is that it's no longer about bazillion-"k" video resolution nor having the latest stabilizer.  It's about craft - which for a cinematographer involves knowing where the camera should be and how to light the film for the story.  Both Shane Hurlbut and Vincent Laforet made similar points recently.  Shane talked about it in his Illumination Experience seminar and Vincent recently wrote a long blog post about it.

This year was about taking more risks as a DP.  I've decided that next year it will be more about craft.  The tools I have available are good enough.  I need to do a better job at storytelling.  This involves lighting, camera positioning, and camera movement - all to the end of supporting the story.  If people notice my cinematography then it's a failure.  They should be sucked into the story.

Until then, enjoy this video from The Hollywood Reporter.