On Christmas Eve we took the girls ice skating for the first time. It was my first time in a long while, and our first time here. It was a great time in the afternoon session: not too cold, snowing, and we had the grandparents to help us with the kids…
Too often photographers put away their equipment when it gets too late or too early, too dark, cold, weathery (not a real word), or all of the above. But some of the best imagery is made under these conditions (sunrise and sunset, extreme conditions or weather or places, times when most people want to sleep or eat meals or just stay warm and dry at home). But in 2011 a focus of mine is going to be to work on the craft as much as I’ve been working on the business, research, equipment, etc. A long story way of saying I just made myself go back out to the rink later for the evening session—and I’m glad I did.
Tip: to view it in the native 1280×720 HD size, click on the full screen button (bottom right) and then turn ‘scaling’ off when it starts playing (upper right).
This is what it looked like in the afternoon with a Sony Cybershot. Luckily I knew a guy there that night, so I was able to get a couple pieces behind the scenes. I stayed up until 6am Christmas morning editing it, and we all got to watch it on our HDTV after opening presents :) The rest is mostly a tech writeup, so if you want to stick around put yer nerd hat on!
The reason I wanted to do this in particular was to begin to test some slow motion options with the Canon 7D. What you see is regular slow motion: 60fps that is conformed (not losing any frames or quality) to 30fps using this script (modified a bit). I conformed all of the clips first to 30, then dropped them in a new 30 timeline in FCE. For a project that I’m planning with Purdue’s swimming and diving teams, I want to be able to go a lot further and do super slow mo. Like this. The other motivator was Phillip Bloom’s piece from Prague. His work is always inspiring, and he does a lot of it with DSLRs. (Of course he has some sweet gear for video though!) Also inspiring is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, which I used to pull all-nighters in architecture school
The basics: Canon 7D, 50mm 1.8 lens, shutter 1/1000, iso1600 to 3200, all motion and focus done by hand and a Manfrotto photo tripod. Edited in Final Cut Express.
You’ll see some hitches in the wide panning shot that I hope to fix with a motor drive (one that astronomers use for timelapse photography? Supposedly it’s cheaper than the ones they sell to photo and video people.) More on that when I find it. The only other complaint I had was that a few shots were too dull/gray/underexposed (too much snow?) — which happens when you’re working fast and trying to hold an umbrella in one hand :)
Other favorite pieces: the slow motion starts at 0:17 when the piano hits. The first 16 seconds are actually normal speed. The skate sparks at 0:36! Sounds like it could be the actual grinder at first… The guy with the santa hat goes by at 1:09, unplanned. The girl in white that I start tracking at 3:08 falls down to a piano flourish at 3:43 :)
One last thing: I love Vimeo! I just finally signed up because I’d had some issues with HD video on my Smugmug account. It’s amazing, and you have full control over everything. The new beta desktop uploader is perfect – you can see everything and even pause it. It just plain works. And I can upload a piece up to 2gigs! Which means better quality. And I can set the size to exactly the width of my blog, and it looks great :) Oh, and you can download the actual file later (read: backed up). I could go on. Here’s my page.
If you liked my Facebook page, you would’ve seen this on Christmas day! ;) Connect with me there, as I post giveaways (like free prints) and other updates and stuff only there.