Category Archives: Photography

Test shots of flaming torches

In a month or two, I will be shooting a music video in which a group of people will be running through the woods with burning torches. So to prepare for this we took some test shots this week on the Red Epic camera.

I turned on the camera’s HDR facility (which takes a normally exposed version of the footage and another under-exposed version) and combined them in Photoshop. Here are the results for one frame of the footage:


This was made up from the following two exposures:

A001_C006_0226_Aframe and A001_C006_0226_Xframe

I combined the 2 exposures in Photoshop with a layer mask and then added a curves correction to the lighter exposure.

Day trip to Tangier with cameras

Driving along the Costa del Sol in Spain, the roadsides are littered with hundreds of Portacabins offering tickets for the ferries to Ceuta and Tangier. The problem with buying from them is that each one seems to only sell tickets for a specific ferry company, and so they may not travel at the times you want. Instead it is very easy to buy at the port itself.

09:00 We drove striaght to the port in Algeciras and bought our ferry tickets there, from the company which had a 10am departure. We parked in the “secure” car park for €18 for the whole day. Our open return ferry tickets cost €36. We were given our tickets and both a white and a yellow immigration paper.

What no one mentioned to us was what we were supposed to do with these papers. So we assumed we handed them to passport control on arrival. Big mistake!

10:00 We boarded our ferry and set off

11:30 (10:30 local) We arrived at the port, got off the boat, got in the queue  to show our passports to the police… and were detained because we hadn’t already handed in our white immigration paper in exchange for a stamp in our passport. We were then sent back onto the ferry to get the stamp. To do this we had to join a queue at the reception desk. This was such an inefficient process that the queue took 50 minutes.

12:30 (11:30 local) By the time we got off the boat again, the bus from the ferry to the teminal had gone, so we had to wait another 30 minutes for the next one.

At the terminal, we had to put our backpacks through their X-ray machine. They took an unhealthy interest in our cameras, and seemed very concerned that we might be there either “to make a porno, sexy film” or as journalists. We eventually convinced them that we were neither, and were allowed to enter the country. However by this time, the bus to Tangier had also left!

13:10 (12:10 local) We caught a taxi to Tangier which we pre-agreed a price of €20 each way. We arranged for him to bring us back at 4pm. The drive takes about 55 minutes.

14:05 (13:05 local) We arrived at the Medina in Tangier. After a quick look at the English church of St Andrew with graves of many 20 year olds who had died in WW2, we went for lunch, the highlight of which was a spicy chicken pie with icing sugar and cinamon. Bizarre, but the combination was delicious.

We spent a couple of hours walking around the Medina, looking in the little stores.

17:00 (16:00 local) We got into the taxi for the return trip. “Another €20 for the driver”. Err, no. We agreed the price in advance. This went on for a while until we were about to get out and find another taxi!

18:00 (17:00 local) Back at the ferry terminal, we went to the ticket counter for our ferry company and had our open tickets validated for the 6pm sailing. Then went through passport control. Then the X-ray machine again. And once again, a lot of questions as to whether we were journalists or not.

18:30 (17:30 local) We boarded the boat and waited for it to eventually leave, 30 minutes late. The sun soon set.

20:40 We arrived back in Algeciras, Spain and went for a well earned tapas in Estepona (keeping an eye out for any CIA agents taking a break from their local training base)

Using Red Epic and Canon 5D in Iceland

What an amazing country Iceland is. A paradise for photographers.

Here are a few shots of me at work (taken by Tony Morel on his Canon 60D), and some of my shots taken on both the Red Epic and the Canon 5DII.

This is what I was setting up the shot for (the Eyjafjallajokull volcano):

And here is the down-rezzed shot from the Red Epic, shot at 5k widescreen:

Flying with camera gear

Last week I flew with Icelandair from London Heathrow to Iceland, with the Red Epic, a couple of Canon cameras and lenses, and a notebook PC.

I had this in the fantastic Lowepro 450AW backpack:

The only problem being that Icelandair have a very low 6kg limit for hand luggage. Oh dear. After some negotiation with the manager, we came to a deal where they would allow me to take it to the gate, but that it may have to go in the hold once at the gate. Luckily I was travelling with a friend, so I put the most valuable gear in his bag before we got to the gate 🙂

So… how to get around this?

Thanks to Philip Bloom, I have a solution. The airlines don’t weigh people or their clothing. There is a rather ugly looking, but very practical jacket called the Rufus Roo, which has massive pockets which can even hold a laptop computer!!! As well as many other items. At only £30, I will be buying it and using it on my next filming job in Spain in 2 week’s time.

Essential accessories for film and photo

There is a lot of gear out there for photographers and film-makers, which is either very expensive or totally useless. In this post I will list the equipment which I have found to be very useful and good value.

1. Variable ND filter

ND filters are pretty much essential for controlling the light levels, if you want to use a specific shutter speed and f-stop (this is especially true for digital video cameras, such as the Red Epic). So the choice is, do you buy several ND filters of different strengths or a single Variable ND filter?

If you know in advance what your requirements will be, then it may work out cheaper to buy 1 or 2 individual ND filters. However after much research, I decided to buy the Heliopan Vario ND filter. It is not exactly cheap (£180 was the cheapest I found it) but having used it a lot recently, I can vouch for how good it is optically, and just how easy it makes filming. ( link)

On the Red Epic, I will have a set shutter speed (typically 1/50 second), I will set my f-stop for the depth of field I want, then I just dial in the exact amount of ND for a perfect exposure. Simple.

2. Remote flash trigger

I highly recommend the Yongnuo RF-603c wireless flash trigger for the Canon ( link for Canon)  (they do a similar model for Nikons and other cameras – link for Nikon).

The range of these is amazing. On a recent test, they were still triggering the flash, when I was several hundred metres away. They cost me £20 for 2 (you need 1 on the camera, and 1 for each flash you want to trigger).

3. Portable LED video light

Once again, I went for a product by Yongnuo. The YN-160 LED video light. It cost £40 and is one of the brightest units around. Great for fill light or interviews.

Photo shoot for Robert John Godfrey’s new album

A few weeks ago I went to Northampton to take some photos for the cover of Robert John Godfrey’s new album “The Art of Melody”. At the same time, I took along my video camera and recorded an interview.

You can see the cover of the album already, at:

Some other photos from the session are here:

The video will go online once it has been edited.

UPDATE (14.Feb.2012)

I am absolutely delighted that Robert’s double-single (with the same photo as the album) is at both #2 and #3 in the Classical music Bestsellers list:

UPDATE (15.Feb.2012)

And today they are at #1 and #3 in the Classical music Bestsellers list:

Photo and Video Libraries: the good and the bad

Many years ago, I started selling my photos (transparencies from both 35mm and 6×45 film in those days) with a physical photolibrary, based in London, called Greg Evans International.

I made some sales, earned some money.

Then one day (for reasons which I don’t know) they closed. Despite repeatedly asking for my photos back, I received nothing except promises that they would be sent.

It took me several years to actually track down the elusive Greg Evans (with the help of several other photographers who had the same problem) because he resorted to using false addresses.

At last I got most of my photos back. But he still has several of my best shots.

This agency goes in the “bad” section!

Now for good agencies.

These days almost every agency is online and you only need to send them digital copies of your images. Safe and easy.

So who can I recommend?

Well so far I have only signed up with two, but as I find more, I will add them to this post.

1. iStockphoto

They accept still photos, video clips, illustrations and sound clips.

They pay royalty rates of between 15%-20% to its non-exclusive contributors, and will pay by PayPal.

2. Shutterstock

They accept both stills and video footage.

Image payout rates range from $0.25 to $28.00 USD per download. Footage contributors earn a 30% commission each time a clip is purchased. They will pay by PayPal.

And now for Daylight shots

Today the rain let up and so I took the 2 cameras out for a test of their performance in daylight.

First I shot the pier at 1/100 sec and f11.

Epic, Daylight, straight from camera

Epic, Daylight, processed in RedCine-X

5D, Daylight, processed in ACR

The RedCine-X settings used:

RedCine-X settings

Both cameras do a great job with this shot.

The Epic produces fantastic colours in the sky, whilst the 5D2 is somewhat yellowish.

But in the 100% crop, the Canon 5D2 has the edge in terms of  detail.

Epic 100% centre crop

5D 100% centre crop