I have not said much the past few weeks as I have been on vacation in Sedona Az, hiking and relaxing. I did however spend quite a bit of time watching some Premiere Pro and After Effects tutorials in the afternoons after the morning hikes.
I have always used Premiere Pro for editing/rendering. I had messed around in after effects a few times but not enough time to learn anything of real use. It was nice having some time to actually learn it. I watched quite a few tutorials on the overall basics, then quite a few on motion tracking and chromakey work. I really wish I had done this sooner, I learned quite a bit of new useful tools that will take things to the next level.
Not much developing on this front. Growing mushrooms is a time consuming process. It takes months from one step to the next. The Blue oysters looked like they may be ready to fruit. I have a few cakes finishing up a cold shock right now, here in a few hours they will go into the fruiting chamber and with any luck i will get some growth and I will know my Blue Oyster substrate is good. So far I have tried fruiting a few other strains and i have not had the best of luck. No biggie though. I expected this to take time, and I am not discouraged easily. I will continue to work on this until i can start producing solid results, in the meantime I can spend more time working on my Choromakey techniques.
Shooting a new plant.
I don’t want to sit around on my laurels, so yesterday I picked up a Salvia plant as well as a small cactus. As seen in the image already shown above I have been playing with chromakey a bit. I have no real plans with this plant other than to play around and get some interesting footage, this is not part of any specific project (of which you will see I am starting to amass in the next section), rather just something I saw at the store that was already starting to bloom which promised of some good footage.
After I had brought the plant home and re-potted it I took it to the Biolapse set and got setup. And shit, I discovered that I had left one of my Nikon-Fuji adapters in Arizona. Not for loss however, i was down there visiting and hiking with my parents, and while i had to fly back Thursday they are driving back in a few days, but for now I am down to a single camera. Wait though, I could always throw some ND filters on a Fuji lens to drag out the shutter and avoid aperture flicker right? Oh yeah. My ND Filters are also in Arizona.
Once I decided on Camera and Lens and got it setup, the first few test shots revealed that the Blue screen for Chromakey work is about useless. For some reason the lighting and camera manages to transform purple flowers into blue flowers. I tweaked around with the white balance and managed to get some relief, but realized that Blue and Green backdrops wont work with this one. So after spending an hour digging through my house with no luck for a solid color backdrop I had to run to the store and pick up some poster board.
Turns out Orange works pretty well.
I am shooting with a 60mm f/2.8 macro on a crop sensor, it is not the widest field of view, so this paperboard works like a champ. If you look back to the first image on the post you will see that the orange keys very nicely. I have learned to take a few test shots and run a basic key on them to see if the shot is going to work or not. Every time I do this process I get a little bit better.
As for the Cactus, I am not going to bother with a picture until it starts to do something. It should bloom out here in the upcoming weeks. I am really looking forward to it.
And for the Big News, this is something that I am incredibly excited about. I cant really talk about any specifics, but the general idea is a network that is producing a documentary series has contacted me about doing some time lapse of some plants native to a specific area.
To say I am excited is a serious understatement. Apparently Carnivora Gardinum has managed to hit the right kind of attention. I have already sold about half a dozen clips off of it for non exclusive licensing which has been nice, but this would be quite a big opportunity for me.
Right now we are negotiating pay/compensation. I am hoping that they like my work and understand exactly how much effort is involved and don’t just try to get me to work for peanuts. There is a degree of leeway I will work with on getting the credit, but my days of working solely for credit are over. No pay, no work. (unless you are a kid doing a science fair thing then generally I donate for free).
You will probably not hear much more about this other than I am working on “the project”. I have not had official word back yet but I have already got the impression that they will not want me blogging about it, showing any footage, or any behind the scenes of the work if i am contracted out. At that point all of the footage will belong to them and I wouldn’t have any real rights to put anything online.
So what about the three people who follow my work and read this obscure unknown blog? Well if I am contracted out I am hoping I can pick up another camera and start examining how much work can be done in a smaller (off to the side) set in the studio where I can work on other side projects. I can also blog about various things such as set upgrades and such. And it will be several months until I would be shooting anyway, so i plan to keep the cameras running 24/7 to get footage stocked up before the 120 day marathon shoot for this project.
I cant think of anything that centers me quite as much as hiking does. I love going for 4-8 mile hikes in the mountains, and getting away from everyone and being in nature. I find it extremely calming, and this is where most of my ideas come from.
While hiking in Arizona I was thinking about how my set is going to be hijacked for months on end, and how that is not very conducive to the creation of the mushroom project, as that will take a lot of time. I wanted something where I could get the footage quickly, and where the set building would be minimal. I pieced together the basic idea for this film, and i could probably even continue shooting it while working on the paid gig. Dandelions seemed like the best choice. They are pretty, already blooming, they bloom all summer long, they grow fast, and they grow everywhere.
I went out to my backyard on Friday and sure enough I already have some dandelions growing. So I used a spade and dug out the roots of the offending plants, cut off the tops, and stuck the roots in 8 small cups with some soil, watered them heavily, and put them in the window above my carnivorous plant collection. 2 days later two of the cups are already sprouting. This is going to make for a very neat shoot, and i cant wait to share it with everyone.
So if you don’t mind I am going to rant about something for a minute. Actually, it does not matter if you mind or not, its my goddamn blog I’ll do what I want. 🙂
A time lapse photographer out of state contacted me about a shoot he was doing involving some plants, and he reached out to me to get some tips, tricks, any advice to make things run smooth. I am always happy to do this. We had quite a few email exchanges about the shoot, environment, and there were even a few real interesting curve balls in this shoot. In the end he accepted my advice and seemed to have a pretty good handle on things.
I don’t want to give any details on his gig, but there was a question of what kind of camera he would be using, and he advised me he planned to use Fuji X-T1’s with Fuji 14mm f/2.8 lenses. I advised against the 14mm fuji lens (it is a brilliant lens, i have one and i absolutely love it) as it is not best suited for this work. I personally prefer the manual Nikon lenses, no worry of aperture flicker.
A few days later he contacts me and said that he would be changing to a different camera system, sony I believe. Perfectly fine in my book, sony makes some excellent cameras but I don’t think the A7 series is the best suited for this work.
He mentioned to me when he was talking to the production team for this project they asked what kind of cameras he would use and he mentioned fuji and they laughed at him. Actually laughed.
If you are going to look for a specialist, or an expert in a certain field, and they mention something that sounds strange to you, maybe you should politely ask a question, then shut the hell up and learn something. Or why do you even have them there?
I don’t shoot with full frame. I will never use full frame for Biolapse. I already have to stop down to f/8 and f/11 in order to get a large enough depth of field to get enough of the plant in focus. I don’t want this to look like tilt shift timelapse. By going with full frame I would be stopping down to f/16 and f/22 and entering the wonderful world of shitty image quality due to our friend diffraction which many people seem to forget about. And no, I am not going through the bullshit of focus staking on timelapse.
Chances are the next camera I get will probably be a m43 for that increase in DOF. I shot with the Olympus OMD EM-5 for a year and the image quality is outstanding.
And as for Fuji, why the hell not? The image quality is exceptional. And lets be honest, this is not 2005. The difference in image quality between Crop and Full Frame which used to be very obvious, is now imperceivable unless you are measuring the depth of field against the aperture. There may be a case to be made of benefits of full frame vs crop, with better high ISO, but these days a majority of photographers cant even tell the difference between a full frame vs crop sensor image, and anyone who says they can are either full of shit, or never shot crop and just think it is superior out of ignorance.
Personally I prefer the smaller cameras. My days of lugging two DSLR’s with 4-5 lenses are over. I can grab 2 mirrorless cameras, batteries, and 4-5 lenses for the weight of a single DSLR and 2 lenses. Nothing wrong with DSLR, but mirrorless fits my needs better. I settled on Fuji after trying Sony NEX and Olympus OMD, all very excellent cameras.
The Fuji X-T1 is a brilliant camera. However, those Sony A7’s look very tempting for general non-timelapse work. I just wished their lens lineup was a little bit more mature.
As for the production company he was dealing with…
If I were in that situation I would probably have just left and told them to contact me when they were ready to be professionals. I don’t expect them to understand my choices in gear, after all I am the expert and they are not, however I would not tolerate such behavior, nor would I want to work with them.
Nothing worse than a Fan boy.