Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Video: The Libertines acoustic set

In March 2010 I was lucky enough to be working at MOJO magazine for a few weeks helping out on the picture desk and on my last day there they asked whether I would be interested in going to take photos at the press conference for The Libertines announcement that they were re-forming to play Reading and Leeds festival that year, of course I said yes, definitely!

It was a really exciting experience and I managed to get a really close spot to the band during the conference and then to my amazement they said they would be playing some songs for the press too. I managed to squeeze a little closer at this point as these are more the kind of photos I am interested in taking, as I was snapping away I suddenly remembered I could also record some of it on my camera!

You can probably tell I didn't have much room to move about during this as the rest of the cameramen/women were also trying to get a good angle on the performance!
I can still remember how surreal it felt to put down the camera and realise I was actually there right in front of one of my favourite bands witnessing this performance first person! I think the video portrays a bit like how it was to be there, I was being pushed around a little but had to stand my ground to keep in place, it would have been really useful to have some kind of support for the camera (like a shoulder mount perhaps) to get smoother shots - but i'll expand on that in a future post!

Inspiration: Nocturne by Vincent Laforet

Nocturne is one of the first video's that I came across that really opened my eyes to the potential DSLR's have when it comes to working with moving image. What really struck me was the depth of field and the sharpness of the shots which made me realise the quality that could be achieved with the lenses available.

Nocturne was filmed entirely using available light which really demonstrates the camera's amazing ability to reduce noise even at high iso's, although I do note this was shot with the Canon 1D MkIV which was the most advanced Canon model at the time so it's noise reduction is better than the 5D MkII, but I have also found the noise reduction on that superb.

Nocturne from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Video: The Shutes - Sweet Marie

Here is one of my earliest video's which I shot at a gig on the Isle of Wight where The Shutes were playing,for this video I used the Canon 5D MkII and a Canon 50mm F1.2 L lens. The sound was also recorded in camera which I thought came out surprisingly well considering how loud the gig was! I think the footage could be improved if I'd started recording earlier obviously... and it would definitely look more professional to have smoother shots and better focus transitions! Also I can imagine it would look better to have a wider shot or multiple angles to then edit together in post-production!


For just over 2 years I had been only occasionally trying out the video feature, but I was still having trouble making it keep the settings I wanted it to be shooting at, I'd previously looked online to see how to do this and had found a tutorial on how to sort of trick the camera into keeping the aperture you wanted but locking the exposure but this was a bit hit and miss because it depended on the lighting conditions not being too light as the iso and shutter speed would adjust themselves accordingly - this had always put me off doing much filming before.. I had started to see more and more people producing amazing footage with it and I could see they must have learnt how to make the camera use the exposure settings they wanted!
It wasn't until I saw my friends at Allora Visuals filming that I realised they had full control over the exposure settings and  quickly realised I'd been using the original firmware system for the camera still and had missed a couple of updates which had vastly improved the video capacities.. Definitely felt pretty silly about that but it did really lift my resistance to experimenting with video and it was also nice to know the stunning work I'd seen other producing with these cameras would be a lot more achievable for me now!

This post probably isn't very relevant anymore as most Canon 5D MkII's bought after the firmware update will be installed with a more recent version but it explains the main reason it took me so long to get onto the moving image bandwagon!

Memory Cards...

The first obstacle I came up against when experimenting with the video features was one that meant I could only record for roughly 20 seconds at the time, as I was mainly working with stills and occasionally experimenting with video it took me quite a while to realise this wasn't supposed to happen... I'd initially put it down to the internal computer not being quick enough to write the data to the memory card, but when I thought about it a bit more I realised it may be the memory card I had been using - it was a really basic SanDisk 4GB card I'd had for years - In my photography I shoot quite slowly so I'd never had any need for a quicker card (that also quickly changed after I saw the file sizes of RAW images on the 5D MkII.)

When I tried out a quicker card I found that I could film for as long as the memory card had free space - so that was my first obstacle overcome!

In retrospect I do realise that I would have probably found the solution for this probably if I'd looked in the instruction manual, but I don't often read them and didn't particularly need to use the video functions at this point!

Thursday, 5 January 2012


When I first saw the announcements for the Canon 5D MkII I could tell this camera would be a game changer in the digital photography scene, however I thought the changes that would make the most impact to mine and other photographers workflows would be the improvements made to noise reduction on high iso images and also the 21mp resolution.
Most photographers I heard talking about the video feature thought it would be more of a novelty feature and some of my friends who work in the moving image industry already didn't have much faith in their ability to compete with the existing purpose built video cameras.
It's amazing how much we underestimated the changes the addition of video capabilities to the SLR would make!

I bought the 5D MkII shortly after it was released and was very impressed by the quality and performance it gave. After a while I experimented a bit with the video but with mixed results... at the time there wasn't much instruction to be found online about how to use the video features so there was quite a lot of trial and error involved in learning how to use it, in this blog I will be writing about my continuing experiences about my explorations into the moving imagery world, I will be posting about the different issues I came up with and the solutions I found (some very basic so the more technically adept of you skip these posts if you want!), I'll be uploading some of the videos I've done and linking to resources I've found useful and others work that has inspired me!