Silence is golden

I’ve been quiet on the old WP blog recently, this is only due to a migration from my old website to a new system with Squarespace, which has allowed me to import my entire blog from here, into my new website!

I won’t be closing this blog/account, so I am still reachable with your messages and comments, but I will be posting from my new website at www.adamplowden.com so please go and check it out!

Keep those creative juices flowing, much love 🙂

Adam and Reikjmuseum Amsterdam

What a few months it has been!

Blimey, my last post was a while ago.. Honestly, since then work has got heavy and much of my time is either spent behind the camera or the screen. One exception was the Manfrotto Pro Backpack50 review, shot by Glen Symes for me where I actually appear in a video!

Manfrotto pro backpack50 review video adam plowden and glen symes videography

Some of the things I’ve been up to range from filming quite a few weddings 

to filming and editing for a series of videos on health and wellbeing.

eebc health and wellbeing video edit adam plowden videography

On the side, I’ve talked at EEHS about going through uni and starting a business, am preparing for my Manfrotto Tour videography seminar and other bits and bobs.. I’m sure if you follow me on twitter or facebook you’ll have an idea of the things!

Going back a few weeks, my main projects have been the EEBC Health and Wellbeing video series, and an animation on Telecare. This is a predominantly piece to camera series, with additional b-roll shots to add to the videos messages which range from stopping smoking, to eating a healthy and balanced diet. The standard production of information videos ensued, editing down from around 45-50 minutes to a concise 2 minutes providing the relevant facts and summaries on prevention. Editing in Premiere Pro, I used the very good Luma Corrector tool for exposure changes and a simple RGB curves adjustment for the colour temperature.

I find the Luma Corrector better to work with, as by adjusting the Gamma control slightly, it removes the washed grey look to push out the prominent shadows and highlights meaning that it is very simple to correct/match shots; especially as I filmed using daylight as my key.

adobe premiere pro screenshot luma corrector effect adjust exposure

As per the clients request I have also added subtitles, which I created using the dynamic link into After Effects (noting at this point that if you’re doing several stages of an edit, to duplicate the sequence you are working on before you start the next stage as Premiere and AE require you to save your work for updates to take place, meaning no Ctrl-Z/Command-Z to get back to a timeline with the clips rather than your ‘replace in AE linked composition’).

premiere pro dynamic link sequence editing

I was also out photographing flowers for a wedding, for the florist Madeleine Pink a few weeks ago too! Taken on a range of lenses with the Canon 5D mkIII (Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14, 35, 85mm cine, and Nikkor 50mm).

Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography button hole Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography button hole 2 Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography brides bouquet Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet silhouette Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet 2 Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet 3 Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet 4

Since then, I ventured into using Lightroom to edit the photos as well, still learning bits and bobs but found a range of fantastic presets here that create some great looks. I’d appreciate your thoughts on the photos and the looks as well, as it’s mostly stab in the dark/emotive based 😛

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of filming Dan and Kelly’s wedding in Ashford + Foxhills where I met the awesome Ash; a unique wedding photographer! Check out the wedding film here

, and definitely check out Ash’s work over at Ash Darling Photography! Highly recommended by me 😀 and I believe I’ll be working with Ash soon on an up coming wedding, really looking forward to it!

 

Believe it or not, I have been doing some videography too! In between editing the health and wellbeing videos, and on the pre-production sketches of the telecare animation I spent a couple of afternoons in The Woodland Garden in Bushy Park; one of my favorite places to go to switch off work mode, relax and shoot some video for personal projects. I’ve named this one ‘Waterhouse’, it’s the name of the part of the garden where a balcony looks over a pond with a waterhouse to the left. It poses interesting thoughts to its original function, the bricks and foundations holding strong throughout years of use and bad weather. Virginia Creepers pursue to edge up its sides, gripping on to reach the sunlight through the tree canopy.

beautiful blooming purple Allium flower photography adam plowden video waterhouse

The edit is complete, but I am now working on a quirky hipster logo/title animation for the beginning of the video so as soon as it has been animated and comped into the footage I will upload!

The kit I used for the ‘Waterhouse’ video include; Manfrotto 755Cx-3 tripod, Edelkrone Slider+ v2, Canon 5D mkIII, Canon 100mm F/2.8 macro (hence why the shake on the slider is slightly more visible than without IS/OS, but I have used Warp Stabilizer where I can). Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14, 35, 85mm cine, Nikkor 50mm. After using the Canon macro lens, I have totally decided to purchase the Sigma 105mm F/2.8 OS macro lens; firstly because of future video productions where a small minimum focus distance is necessary (product, people, detail shots), also it has optical stabilization which I found was needed when moving the camera and lens on the slider, and lastly its around £400.. Bargain!

 

Things I’ve learned so far from doing this kind of work;

  • Shoot with a widespread histogram (unless I wish to isolate the subject from shadows behind).
  • Lightroom is awesome, try playing with the presets I linked to work on the developer tools.
  • Regardless if it has been a long day filming, if you want to talk to someone, always, always, always do it!
  • I want a macro lens for intricate detailed shots, as my current range does not let me get close enough to the subject.
  • Take some hand held lights for kicks and fills; the venue room where the table decorations were photographed was very dark. With a tripod and a couple of lights I would have had much more control over the lighting composition.
  • Dabble in a variety of work types, to keep it interesting and different!
  • I need a slider for cinematic moving shots; I have made my choice; not the Edelkrone! There will be a whole blog post on this coming soon.

Floral Photography for Madeleine Pink

This gallery contains 7 photos.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I am not a photographer, apart from the odd dabble in flowers. Last Saturday I was at Box Hill School for their summer Copacabana Ball, for Madeleine Pink florist Margaret Alldridge to take some photos of the displays for her portfolio and website, my goodness what a display… Read more.

Change of discipline today; photographer!

Madeleine pink table centre piece flowers Madeleine Pink table centre piece at Epsom RAC (Canon 5D mkIII, Samyang 14mm @T/3.1, 1/60’s, ISO 1600).

I am not a yes man. I will never say yes to doing something I haven’t had experience in, as it can just cause anger, frustration and disappointment from both myself and the client, especially if I don’t deliver what is expected.

Photography for me is one of those disciplines. Personally I am not a photographer, I don’t have an education or background in still photography apart from graphics and VFX, so I go against one of my own rules here purely because of the following reasons, that may be applicable to you too!

1) I learned videography and production on broadcast video cameras, transitioning to DSLR through the wedding film job I do; I was heavily trained and now 3 years on my 5D mkIII is my port of call. Many will be in the same position as me here and will follow the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, ISO).

2) While at university, and still now I study cinematic and storytelling techniques (it wasn’t included in my Television and Video Technology BSc. course). Whether it be moving the camera or with a static shot, the composition of storytelling is a present and constant thought in my work.

3) I have prepared myself heavily with the correct equipment and research to use; high speed lenses, a range of lights to compose the image, building mood boards and finding out the clients requirements (as well as any inspiration they have that will add).

4) My client is very happy with what I produce, and if they weren’t they wouldn’t ask me to work with them again.

Note: I never advertise myself as a photographer.

That makes me confident to go out and take some photos of flowers for a florist, which I am doing today!

Madeleine pink table centre piece flowers Madeleine Pink table centre piece at Epsom RAC (Canon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70mm @F/3.2, 1/50’s, ISO 3200).

Transferring the skills from DSLR videography to photography have been easier for me, probably because I always shoot in manual, I love taking my camera out with me wherever I go, and the storytelling techniques of composing images are still present in photos like they are in video.

If however you find it a little more difficult, consult the exposure triangle, and keep a couple of things in mind;

Aperture – Wide open allows lots of light to enter, shallow depth of field. A narrow aperture reduces the light making the image darker, and creating a deep depth of field. Using focus and blur is one of the main tools the director uses to concentrate the audiences attention onto specific details.

Shutter speed – Controls the motion due to how long the sensor is exposed to the light. A fast shutter captures fast motion with minimal blur (sports and outdoor), a slow shutter means the sensor is exposed for longer, allowing the subjects to move in the frame while it is open, creating blur.

ISO – Digital noise added to increase the image exposure. Low ISO results in low noise, crisp images but with no added exposure, where high ISO will increase your exposure but will introduce digital noise that is more visible in dark situations.

Other key points to remember: White Balance/Colour Temperature – make sure your whites are white and your blacks are black. This depends on what light you are using, daylight for example is 5600K, but Tungsten is 3200K.

Make sure your camera is set to capture RAW and JPEG images to allow for greater definition when editing the pictures afterwards!

Madeleine pink table centre piece flowers Madeleine Pink table centre piece at Epsom RAC (Canon 5D mkIII, Nikkor 50mm @F/1.8, 1/50’s, ISO 1600).

It is worth a go if you are confident you can produce the images your potential client is looking for. Being a videographer not a photographer, I do not charge a standard fee to have me out for an hour and to post process the images later. This is for two reasons; I am a new business, and so is my client. Why out price your skills and make it a hard decision for your potential client to use you? Secondly, like I keep mentioning I am not a photographer and although I have rates and targets to meet financially, I see this more of getting out with the camera to be creative for an afternoon rather than a job.

Some points to consider if you are ever approached by someone who requires something different from your usual line of work! Do not forget to do your research though. Unfortunately I have had a number of experiences of photographers embarking on video without understanding the full production process, where I’ve been asked by their client to correct the mistakes.. So if you’re a photographer doing video, again have confidence in that you will be able to produce exactly what is expected, and with the internet being the biggest learning and education network, there really is no excuse nowadays!

 

 

Adams video week roundup!

Blimey lots has been going on over the last week, I hope it has been as hectic for you as it has been for me!

Monday started with continuing the design of the graphics for a recycling animation, a daunting task which put my drawing skills to the test. Bearing in mind I’ve spent the majority of the last year behind a camera, I took my time to learn the techniques I would need to use Illustrator properly. I would usually use Photoshop over Illustrator, but until I recently found out PS is not truly vector, and as I would be using a combination of the Pen tool and others to design the images this was very important, as I would need to transform the graphics later in After Effects.

My best mate Glen came down from Wycombe for a  surprise week to, so I spent plenty of time catching up with him and chatting about work. He gave me so very important advice; “Everything is too complicated these days, you should keep it simple and your audience won’t know the difference, especially if it is moving and animated anyway.” True words, and I took Glens advice which not only sped up the process, but made me more confident with the work I was producing.

Here’s a screenshot to show all of them! (I think I am working on a 10K canvas).

screenshot graphics design drawing art 2d vector create illustrator

The graphics design has been on-going, I practiced when I was first commissioned, but it just shows how familiarizing yourself with the tools and applications can ease your work! A very very important part of this process was to intensively storyboard and plan each scene, so I know what graphics can be generated beforehand, so I spent a good couple of days story boarding and sketching the graphics I would need, followed by a long list of assets I would go on to to create.

Pre-vis sketches:

design plan planning graphics creation motion animation

For the rest of the week I started importing the graphics into After Effects, and setting up the 15 scenes. I am finally starting to see progress! I am still working on this section, and it will take another week or so to complete all the animations. Again, I storyboarded this in the planning, so I know exactly what to produce for which scene which saves so much time. Also, the best thing about this planning part is that it does not have to be a work of art to depict your ideas, just a simple sketch to represent what you will need to create.

graphic storyboard plan pre-production animation motion graphics

On Thursday I joined a crew of fashion designers, hair stylists and models to film a magazine photoshoot for Sherman Hawthorne (the hair stylist and creative director of the shoot) at The Lemonade Factory studios on Queenstown road. With eccentric styles and art direction, I set about to capture high contrast, dramatic footage which will compliment the photos. It was an early start, here I am waiting for my train at Clapham Junction;

video shoot equipment kit list manfrotto camera dslr fashion hair photoshoot lemonade factory

I was a single shooter, I had the pleasure of transporting the equipment to the shoot which included a steadicam vest that I ended up not using. I’ve learned my lesson here not to take extra kit!

My kit list was as follows:

Canon 5DmkIII (A camera), Canon 60D (B camera)

Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC, Samyang 14mm T/3.1 cine, Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine, Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 manual, Samyang 85mm T/1.5 cine, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS

Manfrotto 755CX3, Manfrotto MVH700AH, Manfrotto Hydra arm and super clamp,

CamSmart camera rig + Lilliput field monitor, CamSmart Stabilizer vest, Flycam Nano

Zoom H6, Rotolight Roto-mic.

As with all of these shoots, time runs short so I was restricted to short burst of filming time with the models to capture the specific ethereal and industrial motif, but I also shot around the photographer to maximize my usable footage. I made use of the 50fps slow motion for the moving shots, so that the models movements are exaggerated, as well as stabilizing the shot.

As the props included wire fencing and chicken wire, aliasing was a problem when shooting shallow depth of field, or at an angle to the object. To remedy this I used a lower aperture (F/4-5.6) for some shots, but also I can add a Gaussian blur in Premiere Pro when editing to soften the lines, gently smoothing out unwanted aliasing.

A couple of frame grabs from the shoot!

fashion photo video shoot at the lemonade factory cinematic videography steadicam Here I’m using a moving shot to create a distorted perspective from outside of the set.

fashion photo video shoot the lemonade factory cinematic videography trapped cage bw Here I use a low angle shot, removing the identity of the model to create a ‘trapped’ and ‘mysterious’ feel to the model, and why she is in the box.

Weekends are always working weekend for creatives and freelancers. I spent yesterday working on the animation of the recycling project again, continuing to compose the scenes using simple 2D shapes and animation styles that have become very popular recently.

I also came across this post from Chase Jarvis about how to manage your time properly, its a great post with a detailed outline of 90-minute working slots that should improve your productivity, I urge you to read it if you’re someone like me who can’t stop working, then apply the plan to your working life. I know I will be!

Do Less = Do More by Chase Jarvis

I haven’t had many #videoquestions come in recently, so please keep them coming so I can help with tips for the community of videographers and creatives! Send them over to me @Plowman91 on Twitter.

Finally, ending with a must watch video, check out Philip Bloom’s video shot with the Blackmagic Production Camera, the 4K one at Miami Beach, what do you think of it? Is it worth investing now the Panasonic GH4 is on pre-order and it looks like Sony will have a 4K DSLR announcement coming at NAB2014 too..!!

Philip Blooms Four Corners Miami Beach (Blackmagic 4K camera)

That’s all for now folks! Keep the creative juices flowing!

Video on the Canon 5DmkIII and Samyang Cine Lenses

Many of you intrepid videographers may have come across a unique range of VDSLR Cine lenses from Samyang (Rokinon/Walimex) depending on your region. Have you had thoughts to invest in one, or a whole range of them?

Focusing on video, having electronic focusing and aperture is not essential for me, and in fact gives more control over the light entering the lens due to the de-clicked aperture. You can create smooth transitions between light and dark situations with ease by pulling the aperture.

As I’ve only just got the 5DmkIII and cine lenses, I thought it would be a good idea to test the kit out individually; producing a short video of the results.

I began on the Samyang 14mm T/3.1, an ultra-wide lens that does have barrel distortion if subjects or distinct lines move towards the sides of the frame. Operating the camera handheld on the MODA rig, I was not left much choice but to capture the video in 720p 50 frames per second, to eliminate obvious camera shake. This did work in my favor come later in the day when I was hanging out of a car boot filming!

adam plowden video filming canon 5dmkiii samyang 14mm

To exaggerate the ultra-wide effect, getting close to the ground, walls or your subject will show how wide the image actually is, while offering exquisite sharpness throughout the depth of the image. Moving while operating an ultra-wide also gives a unique changing perspective to the viewer; one that is appealing due to it looking unnatural to our eyes – a great effect for establishing locations in film.

What I did notice was a very strong contrast, even when shooting in Neutral picture style (for a flatter image). This is causing issues in post due to burnt in detail in the highlights and shadows.. So I have adjusted the picture style to my needs by reducing all of the parameters to the lowest level.

Overall, I am ecstatic to finally get my hands on an ultra-wide as I had no way of achieving that perspective with my old kit.

My tips would be to keep the camera stable – use a tripod, shoulder rig or steadicam to operate the camera. This gives you better control and steady visuals that won’t distract the viewer from the awesome visuals.

Judge your highlights and shadows correctly – this is a manual lens, so remember it is easy to stop down to F/6.5 or F/8.3 (uncommon electronic F stops) to expose the image perfectly. With this, always check your focus (use digital zoom!!). The worst thing ever would be to find an awesome flowing shot but it being slightly out of focus.

Experiment using the manual aperture, it will take some time to get used to!

Here is a draft edit that I chucked together from the test day –

On to the Samyang 35mm T/1.5

london filming canon dslr video camsmart moda camera rig

This is a beautiful lens. I’ve only worked with a 35mm F/1.8 for my little Nikon D5000, so as far as experience with 35mm that goes out the window.

What can I say… The 35mm focal distance works so well with the 5D’s full frame sensor, and even at T/5.6 the image was sharp and had a beautiful bokeh. To the other end of the spectrum; I also shot at T/22 to achieve a silhouette effect of Glen and the Houses of Parliament in the background. At this small aperture you would expect loss of detail and softness, but the Samyang 35mm excelled.

Another fantastic benefit of this lens is its minimum focus distance (the minimum distance from the lens to the subject for it to be in focus). It is very small at only 30cm allowing you to get very close to the subject and still achieve pinpoint sharpness and shallow depth of field.

I was filming up in London with my friend Glen, the light was hard when we arrived with strong sunlight beaming through the rain clouds, so to retain good exposure throughout the frame I found myself shooting between T/4 and T/8, varying the ISO depending on the location. For demo purpoes, I also filmed Glen constructing and using the new CamSmart MODA Rig, in innovative new video and photography product aimed at all level of users to achieve exceptional visuals in a cost effective solution.

For this close up, intricate video the 35mm lens was perfect for both wide and close up shots, I get more and more impressed as time passes!

My tips for using the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine lens – get yourself some ND filters, or even better variable ND filters as this will reduce the light entering the lens without changing the aperture, shutter or ISO. If you have a lens that is very fast, like this model at T/1.5, to retain a shallow depth of field in a multitude of locations and light levels ND filters are crucial and should be in your kit bag.

Here is the rough edit of the 35mm film! –

Big shout out to Manfrotto for the 055CF tripod, video head and pro backpack, makes a world of difference to my old 055 aluminium model!

Good luck with your shooting, drop us a comment if you have any questions about using the lenses or kit, and be sure to like, follow and share!!

I've been a busy bee lately

If you follow me on Twitter (twitter.com/Plowman91) you will have seen I’ve been busy keeping up #Indiefilm as well as doing some filming and photography for Manfrotto and Josh! There will be more soon, looking forward to Glen coming back and doing some more awesome work tomorrow!

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