Archive for the Photography Category

Super-ultralight backpacking: recent refinements

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Travel, ultralight techniques on May 26, 2017 by William Hooks

First, there’s my HMG square tarp setup which has evolved to modified pyramid mode as seen above. It requires a minimum of material in addition to the tarp itself- only 1 support such as a trek pole, up to 9 stakes (I use 6 titanium shepherd-crooks and 3 MSR Carbon Cores), 1-2 guylines.. the tarp fits into its original storage bag with total weight of 10 oz. If I include the second guyline it can bolster the first at the front of the shelter as seen, or be used to rig an A-frame setup for example. Here’s a shot of the setup from the side:

Modified pyramid tarp setup (1)

Next, there’s a DIY modification of the reservoir for the Sawyer Squeeze water filter to use as a gravity-fed system. I perforated the bottom with 2 x 1/4″ holes with a paper punch, attached a short black cord, and added a Tedco Tornado Tube from Hobby Lobby [don’t let it get out that I ever go there].  It connects where the sip top is seen at the upper aspect in this image. This system lets the water drain through the filter passively into whatever clean container you like which has a standard connection, such as a Propel or Smartwatter bottle.DIY Sawyer Grav-feed water_20L pad inflator

On the right, there’s a green 20L Sea to Summit silnylon sack which has been converted into an inflator for my Thermarest sleeping pads, by gluing a Thermarest AirTrap outlet at one corner; it has a piece of green tape on it in the upper left. That conduit connects directly to the open valve of the pad, fill the bag with air and compress into the mattress several times. No more blowing up pads by lung…..

I have also added a pair of Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes and matching Darn Tough socks. The shoes weigh 25 oz per pair.

Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (1)Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (2)Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (4)Darn Tough socks_merino_Coolmax

The SUL pack I now use most of the time is from Gossamer Gear, the 2017 version of  the Murmur which weighs 8.5 oz and can be used with removable components- a hip belt w pockets, a rear foam sitpad which gives the pack structure, as shown –

Gossamer Gear Murmur 2017 model (1)Gossamer Gear Murmur 2017 model (2)

One of my favorite features of this pack is the addition of 2 keepers for trek poles. The limitations of this pack must be appreciated: it is not suited for loads > about 18 pounds, bush travel, off-trail desert travel or carrying dense loads such as camera gear or large water containers. If those and relatively bulky items usually associated with winter travel and longer trips with large food bags are not needed, I can get to a total pack weight of approx 11 pounds including food and water.

Full-coverage mode with 8.5 ft HMG square tarp

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on April 7, 2017 by William Hooks
  • Tetrahedral mode (1)Tetrahedral mode (2)Tetrahedral mode (3)Tetrahedral mode (4)Tetrahedral mode (5)Tetrahedral mode (6)

The Rode Newsshooter Kit and my project: THE FIGHT AGAINST TRUMPISAN (2017)

Posted in Audio, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video on February 15, 2017 by William Hooks

newsshooter_sennheiser-me-4n-lav-2newsshooter_sennheiser-me-4n-lav-1

p67601081p67601221p67601242p6760105p67601252p67601253I ‘ve been actively applying the wireless Rode Newsshooter Kit to supplement the 2 Filmmaker Kits I’ve had for some time, allowing excellent ENG sound production directly into my Panasonic GH4 4K mirrorless camera covering major events in California. The latest were 2 protest events in Los Angeles and San Francisco, against the incoming Trump regime. In Los Angeles, I had assistance with handheld mic interviews from one of my still shooters, Carmen Rosales and my old friend Mark Chambers did those honors at San Francisco International Airport, during the anti-Muslim ban event. Jim Garrett was the B-roll GH4 shooter in Los Angeles, and he has collaborated with me on editing and writing.

I was very impressed by the build quality and water resistance of the transmitter unit in driving rain at Los Angeles- I was concerned that the unit would fail at any time due to being soaked for hours, but it never missed a beat and the sound was remarkable when connected to my Sennheiser MD-46 dynamic microphone inside of a plastic bag.

It’s very convenient that the Newsshooter and Filmmaker receivers are identical, so that I can switch between them any time  simply by matching the channels with the corresponding transmitter or lav mic. There ‘s up to 40 v phantom power on the transmitter, more than enough to provide great gain for a Shure SM 58 or the Sennheiser dynamic mics; I can also use my Sennheiser ME-4 N lav mic with the transmitter and actively monitor its output using the headphone jack near the USB power jack. In addition, it can be powered by standard Sony FPS batteries as well as ubiquitous AA batteries.

Because it runs on wi-fi instead of RF, I have found it to be extremely reliable in field use even when surrounded by cell phones and other devices- and no need to manually match any frequencies. I can use up to 8 units at at time on individual channels.

My opinion: if you have $500 to spend on an XLR wireless system, this is by far the best option I have ever seen. Avoiding use of cables in an ENG environment has proven to be a significant advantage from the standpoint of safety, mobility, simplicity and reliability.

We’re going to be using the Newsshooter and Filmmaker Kits extensively, for continuing to document the rise of resistance to the Trump regime over the next several months.

The website and Facebook page for WATER HUNGRY documentary were posted today

Posted in Audio, Photography, Photojournalism, Travel, Video on October 1, 2015 by William Hooks
at the Hollywood anticorporate protest co-sponsored by ANSWER Coalition, Sept 2015

At the Hollywood anticorporate protest co-sponsored by ANSWER Coalition, Sept 2015

Commnal water dispensing station, East Porterville, CA

Communal water dispensing station, East Porterville, CA

Guy Fawkes lives on

Guy Fawkes lives on in protest

Melinda Steffen interviewing a resident dealing with acute water supply issues in East Porterville, CA

Melinda Steffen interviewing a resident dealing with acute water supply issues in East Porterville, CA

 

 

Patricia Magana and family, East Porterville, CA

Patricia Magana and family, East Porterville, CADSC00030

A version of the film's avatar; original artwork by Melinda Steffen

A version of the film’s avatar; original artwork by Melinda Steffen

Please check both our Facebook page and the film website for updates, reference links to information about the crisis over water in the state of California, and background about the process of creating this project.

Covering the ANSWER Anticorporate protest in Hollywood, CA

Posted in Audio, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by William Hooks

This afternoon, there was a protest march against corporate practices across the world held in Hollywood where I conducted several interviews with activists. These included  Navaho native American Paige Murphy representing Therednation.org, Hamid Assian from Food And Water Watch.org based in Wash, DC, and a Pasadena activist from Citizens Climate Lobby, James Waterhouse.

Doug, media coordinator for ANSWER event

Doug, media coordinator for ANSWER event

ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (5) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (6) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (7) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (8) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (10)For solo interview technique I like to use a dynamic microphone running to the Tascam DR-60D DAR unless I anticipate a lot of very loud noise, where the -20dB pads are nice on the Zoom H6. The 17-40mm f/4 L Canon zoom was my default lens, also used the 70-200 mm f/4 L. Love the AT Mx40 headphones for crowd work! They really help isolate the interviewee from the background and are very comfortable.

Page Murphy, co-founder of Therednation.org and Navaho I was using the 4K Panasonic GH4 and Benro S6 monopod for the day. Grateful for overcast weather! And thanks to Ed Flowers for some still shots—

Paige Murphy, co-founder of Therednation.org and Navaho

Documentary filming in the heat of central California

Posted in Audio, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2015 by William Hooks
At Lake Success, CA talking with Donna Johnson from East Portervillie

At Lake Success, CA talking with Donna Johnson from East Portervillie

Setting up to talk with Paul Boyer in west Visalia about the efforts of his company to help residents obtain water

Setting up to talk with Paul Boyer in west Visalia about the efforts of his company to help residents obtain water

I'm monitoring sound before beginning to interview Paul at his office

I’m monitoring sound before beginning to interview Paul at his office

Donna Johnson (16) Melissa Wichnell (8)

James Garrett monitoring video and Melinda Steffen checking audio at Visalia interview

James Garrett monitoring video and Melinda Steffen checking audio at Visalia interview

Melissa Wichnell discussing Visalia, CA emergency planning for water distribution

Melissa Wichnell discussing Visalia, CA emergency planning for water distribution

Melissa Wichnell (13) Melissa Wichnell (15)

Nonpotable water tank near the fire station in East Porterville, CA

Nonpotable water tank near the fire station in East Porterville, CA

We completed a series of interviews with local officials in Visalia, CA and talked with local resident Donna Johnson in East Porterville about what she was personally doing to help neighbors whose wells had gone dry (as was her own).

The level of poverty in East Porterville is intense. Housing prices, already low, are decreasing due to lack of water further burdening residents who might want to leave the area.

We shot with my Panasonic GH4 in 4K 30fps mode, using a Zoom H6 digital audio recorder as well as Audio Technica Pro70 wired lav’s an dRode NTG-4 shotgun in a Rode blimp.Also used a Zoom hypercardioid shotgun mic and when using the Zoom for field notes, the mid-side capsule mic. I was very pleased with the performance of my equipment in very hot conditions, wind and for interior shots with no problems encountered.

There is still much to be done before we begin cutting the documentary’s final look; a tentative title: WATER AND THE LIVES OF THOSE LESS FORTUNATE.

Battery options for powering the GH4, lights, Zoom H6, and monitor

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, monitors, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2015 by William Hooks
Switronix P-tap to GH4 power cable

Switronix P-tap to GH4 power cable

Switronix P-tap to 4-pin power cable

Switronix P-tap to 4-pin power cable

LP90S battery as counterweight, connect to GH4 with power cable on shoulder rig

LP90S battery as counterweight, connect to GH4 with power cable on shoulder rig

closeup of battery, P-tap connection and second P-tap port located on mount plate

closeup of battery, P-tap connection and second P-tap port located on mount plate

The Zoom H6 digital audio recorder is powered from the accessory USB port on the battery, shown above.

It’s a good idea to not allow these batteries to be uncharged for long periods because of their self-discharge property; I mark them each time they’re charged, and aim at less than 6 months before recharging.

And double check to ensure that the terminals of the P-tap connector are properly aligned to the corresponding terminals of the battery plate- if not, there’s risk of short-circuiting the cable (I’ve done it – ONCE).