Archive for photojournalism

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.

First event covered with Panasonic GH4: downtown Los Angeles/ protest at Nestle’ North American HQ

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2015 by William Hooks
GH4 w 17mm f/1.7 Lumix-Summicron AF lens, Zoom H6 DAR and hypercardioid shotgun microphone; JAG 35 tripod baseplate, CF rods and top handle

GH4 w 15mm f/1.7 Lumix-Summicron AF lens, Zoom H6 DAR and hypercardioid shotgun microphone; JAG 35 tripod baseplate, CF rods and top handle

full cinema rig setup on tripod

full cinema rig setup on tripod

side view of cinema rig with GH4

side view of cinema rig with GH4

GH4, cage, part of JAG 35 top handle assembly

GH4, cage, part of JAG 35 top handle assembly

50mm f/1.4 EF with Metabones Speed Booster, 77mm VND filter on 58->77 adapter ring

50mm f/1.4 EF with Metabones Speed Booster, 77mm VND filter on 58->77 adapter ring

rear view of GH4 in cage with attachment points and follow focus visible

rear view of GH4 in cage with attachment points and follow focus visible

top view of assembled baseplate -rods- follow focus setup

top view of assembled baseplate -rods- follow focus setup

audio field gear centered around Zoom H6 digital audio recorder

audio field gear centered around Zoom H6 digital audio recorder

Shot using Cine-D profile at 4K UHD/30, Auto white balance,on a monopod with available light.

I find this setup to be fast and easy to use, stable, and highly functional. The H6 was used as the primary preamp for audio and I minimized the internal preamp of the GH4- excellent audio performance in a difficult noisy setting with adjacent traffic and due to crowds, electronic megaphones. Audio Technica headphones were added for monitoring.

The camera is within a custom cage, attached to JAG 35 components on its center cold shoe for secure carrying and linking to a monopod baseplate. This system is much more compact and lighter than a comparable rig using a DSLR, such as a 5D Mark III. It also allows optional use of a 5″ HDMI monitor, with a micro-HDMI port protector built into the cage.

After reintroducing some contrast in post, I was very satisfied with the files. Wish I still had that rental 12-35mm f/2.8 Lumix AF lens, zooms are so useful for events and other fast action.

First followup review of Panasonic GH4 DSLM camera

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2015 by William Hooks

These are my observations after using the camera for a few weeks.

First, I found that operating the nonprotruding video actuation button was not optimal and ended up adding a $10 Vello 2 ft wired remote. This also allows use of very slow shutter speeds and facilitates macro imaging, and I use it for interviews so that I can stay where I’m interacting with the subject- the same as I already do with my H6 Zoom audio recorder.

With a 64GB U3 rated card I’m getting more than 80 minutes per clip at 4K resolution. No more interruptions to reset the camera for interviews…..

Second, after renting the 18-35mm f/1.8 EF Sigma I think this lens will be excellent for general use especially on a rig with follow focus, but too large and heavy for backpacking and [currently] doesn’t support AF; so I will most likely buy the Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 and 35-100 f/2.8 eventually, and continue to rent this optic.

Third, I’ve settled on Custom settings for the main 3 dial positions= C1 for 4K DCI/24 ‘Cinematic’, C2 for 4K UHD/30 ‘Broadcast’, and C3-1/ C3-2/C3-3 for ‘highest quality ‘ 1080/60 moderate slow motion, ‘smoothest’ 1080/96 slow motion, and 1080/12 undercranked fast motion. NOTE: this camera allows 1080p in slow-motion 96 FPS whether in 30 or 24 cinema modes.

Fourth, as a walkaround lens I ‘m using the Pana/Zeiss Summicron 15mm f/1.7 – a tiny, ultralight lens simulating 30mm perspective in full frame terms. Sharp, easy to maintain relatively great DOF (nice for rapid event action), beautifully integrated with the camera’s capability, easy to carry long distances, and wide without distortion.

Fifth, the Metabones EF to MFT Speedbooster will be a keeper for me as I have 2 Canon FF lenses and it opens the entire Cine and still collection to the camera, as well as lenses from Rokinon /Zeiss/ Olympus/Voigtlander in particular. The ‘free’ additional stop from the adapter has been very welcome in keeping the ISO settings in the optimal range. I find that linking the baseplate/rail system onto the removable Metabones tripod mount provides the clearance I need for attaching the Rokinon 14mm T3.1 and 35mm T1.5 lenses, which have large front elements.

An added bonus is that as long as the adapter is attached, the camera sensor is completely shielded from damage while changing lenses.

Sixth, I’ve evolved a minirig for ENG and light EFP use consisting of an aluminum form-fitting cage, JAG 35 top handle/tripod base plate,carbon fiber 15mm rods, and RedRock Micro spuds/attachment points.

I will be using a $12 basic Nikon F to MFT adapter for AI-S Nikkors for the immediate future, and rent the F/G to MFT Speedbooster when needed.

Entering the 4K universe: Adding the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2015 by William Hooks

Today I made the quantum jump to begin creating video content in 4K Ultra HD, using the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera.

Porque`?

Aside from allowing capture at 4 times the resolution of 1080p [called QFHD or quad-full HD], these are some of the advantages I hope to enjoy while exploring this approach to filmmaking:

Strikingly affordable for its capability- including very inexpensive SD cards at U3 designation

Adaptability of lens mount- can use PL=positive lock, Nikon, Canon, Leica, Zeiss, Sigma, Panasonic, Tokina, Rokinon optics….with excellent Metabones adapters available for Nikon and Canon (the 2 with which I have most past experience)

Very manageable file sizes with compressed 4K/ optional uncompressed 4K: no significant complication of basic postproduction workflow in Adobe Premiere Pro. In fact, it allows expansion of editing choice because of ‘zooming’ into shots to achieve true 1080p derivative shots when needed, after completing of shooting

Practical video capture for very long periods exceeding 29 min US limit (as multiple files), with appropriate media

2 included Cine picture profiles: Cine Like D (flat somewhat like LOG ) and CineLike V (vivid) for relatively painless color grading

Electronic viewfinder (excellent when it’s too bright to see the touch screen, for example) and tilting touch screen control of many functions, very user- friendly features

Small form factor with very light weight and bulk-great for POV, aerials (or just mix files from GoPro Hero 4 and later!), backcountry applications and covering events where mobility may pay substantial dividends- and less stress on monopod heads.

Native monitor features dedicated to video production such as zebras, focus peaking, Synchro Scan, Variable Framer Rate for fast motion and slow motion; timelapse can be created in-camera; stop-motion animation;STMPE timecode; 10-bit option for 4:2:2 HDMI output,luminance and master pedestal level control, advanced audio control and color bars.

Silent control of settings during capture

Fantastic slow motion at up to 96 FPS in Full HD

WiFi control

Option of adding a very capable interface unit beneath the camera, the YAGH, incorporating 2 XLR inputs and 3G-SDI connectors for output

Extraordinary battery life, capture all afternoon on one charge

Highly customizable function buttons

There’s more.. but I ‘m not even going to start on the ‘stills’ side.

So the next journey begins. I rented a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Nikon F mount Metabones Speedbooster for the weekend.

Better living through audio

Posted in Photojournalism, Video with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2014 by William Hooks

This is my setup for basic narration, VO and podcasts.

Thanks to Sam Ash music for the free On Stage desktop mic stand! It’s nice that I could ride a bike to your store, if my bike hadn’t been stolen a couple of years ago…..

AT 8004L dynamic mic on stand_3 ft XLR

Audio Technica M 40X headphones

Basic VO setup

REI Ultrapod supporting Tascam DR-60D DAR

VO components

Variations on a theme- a way to do both ENG and basic EFP on a monopod

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , on June 29, 2014 by William Hooks

ImageImage

ImageImage

ImageImage

This setup allows use of 4×4″ Tiffen ND filters, I have a 3-stop and a 4-stop which fit into the matte box for preserving wide lens apertures. That way, shallow DOF is covered for EFP and occasional ENG applications.Of course, all the other benefits of the matte box apply such as making lens changes fast and easy, and virtually eliminating flare.

The configuration is compact, secure, and very adjustable along the medium-length carbon fiber rails. Critical focus in bright light is achieved with the Hoodman Custom Finder.

As an option, I can add the Manfrotto DSLR remote controller for rack focus and faster ergonomics in starting and ending clips.

The Benro components are much better suited to this kind of arrangement on a monopod than my RedRock Micro components, especially the baseplate assembly. The RRM lacks screw threads for connection to the QR fo the monopod.

Functionally, it’s a little imbalanced from frontloading and the tilt is not as smooth as the pan, but overall I feel that the versatility of the rig more than compensates for these considerations.

It also travels relatively well, because the matte box can be broken down further for packing.

This is not going to yield the degree of camera movement possible with a shoulder rig, but I find it much better for longer ENG recordings since the monopod, and not my arms, support the system. It’s also easy to combine both, if a multicam shoot is desired.

A functional, compact dual-audio ENG rig

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2014 by William Hooks

Canon 5D3_dual lav shotgun audio_monopod

This setup works well for daylight-lit ENG; I usually add a Stellar ST-3000 LED light and a 6″ cold shoe rail when artificial light is needed.

This group fits into a Lowe Pro Flipside 400 pack and includes:

Canon5D3 w 24-105 f/4 L
Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic with deadcat and shock mount, headphones
Tascam DR-60D DAR with 2 x 3.5 mm short cables to run to and from the camera
Audio Technica Pro70 wired lav mic w dead’marble’
2 XLR cables, 6′ each
3X 3″ loupe
batteries

The Benro S6 video monopod goes into its own case to the site of the events.