Pine Rows

Pine Whirl

The pine woods by the house where I grew up have always fascinated me. I used to go there by myself and wander for hours, padding quietly over the soft floor of needles through the gloom, staring at the crisscrossed fallen branches and the textures in the bark. The trees in this wood were originally planted for lumber, and they stand in surreal ordered lines, like the columns of an ancient church.  They inspired me to write a narrative poem about vikings and a script idea that became my Senior thesis film. In high school I shot a silly horror film there, and I’ve returned several times since to shoot other projects. A while back I returned to these woods to shoot a short demo video with a Sony NEX 5 and a soft focus lens adapter. I love the look I got with this set-up, and I hope to recreate it for a future short film. For now, here’s the demo video.

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What I’ve Been Up To Lately

Mother's Day AT-AT Attacks!

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Variable ND at the Beach

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It was extremely cold and windy yesterday, but nevertheless I headed to the beach to shoot demo footage with the Fotodiox ND Throttle, a lens adapter with a variable neutral density filter built in. This filter allows me to shoot stopped down even in bright sunlight–most of the footage in the video below was shot at f/2.8–giving me an extremely shallow depth of field.

The ND Throttle is available for various cameras and lenses, but I went with the Pentax 645 to EOS model so I could shoot video with my trusty Canon Rebel. I grew up in Waukegan and I have fond memories of playing at Waukegan Beach as a kid. Even though it was cold, windy and sand was blowing everywhere, I really enjoyed this shoot and I look forward to shooting there again. Check out the video below to see what I captured.

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Shooting with the RhinoCam

RhinoCam at Caesars Head

One of my responsibilities as a video producer at Fotodiox is to demo new gear. It’s a valuable exercise because, along with creating demo images to promote our products, it helps me sharpen my photo and video skills.

I was visiting friends and family in Greenville, South Carolina last week, and I brought Fotodiox’s new Hasselblad V to EOS RhinoCam along to do some demo shooting. The RhinoCam shoots multiple images through a single medium format lens. You can then stitch these images together in post. It’s a low-cost alternative to using a digital medium format camera, and a great way to capture super high resolution images and breath new life into old lenses. Here’s the view through the RhinoCam’s composition screen at Falls Park in downtown Greenville–composing upside down is a bit of a challenge : )

Shooting at Falls Park with the RhinoCam

And here’s the image I captured. I used my friend Mike’s Canon 5D mark II and a Hasselblad V Planar f/2.8, 80mm lens. The image is made up of six shots that I stitched together and converted to black and white in Photoshop.

Falls Park

Later that week I went up to Caesars Head State Park with my sister. The view from the overlook is breathtaking, and I had to get a couple shots.

Overlook at Caesars Head

Caesars Head Spyglass

Both images are made up of 12 photos shot with my Canon EOS Rebel T2i and stitched together in Photoshop. I grabbed one more non-RhinoCam image with my 40mm pancake lens before we left.

Overlook at Caesars Head II

Shooting with the RhinoCam is similar to shooting with a large format film camera. It slows you down, makes you think, and it’s pretty relaxing. I’m definitely planning on shooting with it again.

If you’re wondering exactly how the RhinoCam works, here’s a video I made recently for Fotodiox that goes step by step through the entire process. (This video is specifically for the Canon EOS M version of the RhinoCam.)

 

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The Children of Space

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I had the opportunity to teach a film acting class for an after-school drama group this winter, and the result is this film. I’ve always wanted to make an old-school science fiction film with miniature model work in it, so that’s the script I wrote for my class, with the cheesy title The Children of Space. Because I’ve never shot an effects film before, I intentionally went with a 1960’s low budget B-movie aesthetic. That way, even if the effects were sub-par–which they definitely were–they would still work visually. Everything was shot in a small church classroom with a green screen and four LED light panels over the course of six weeks, and the visual effects are a mixture of lo-fi CG models, actual hand-made models and basic compositing in Adobe Premiere. I shot the film with my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and a couple of C-mount prime lenses as well as some Panasonic and Olympus MFT glass. I graded it with Osiris Film LUTs and added a grain filter to get the video closer to a 1960’s film look.

The Children of Space is a far from perfect film, and I consider it a practice project more than anything else. That being said, it was a joy to work with these students, and we all pretty much had a blast. Enjoy!

 

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