5.28.2017

An interesting possible solution to the overheating problems many find in Sony's A7X series of cameras.


While the Sony A7 series of cameras brings many great features to the table there are two "flaws" to the camera for many people. The first one is almost universally mentioned; the small batteries don't come close to matching the stamina of the much larger batteries in cameras like DSLR Nikons, Canons and the mirror-free battery champ = the Panasonic GH4. The second, more egregious failing of the series is the tendency for them to overheat; especially when shooting 4K video.

In the first instance there is a cheap and relatively efficient workaround; just buy some extra, third party batteries like the Wasabi Power models. Keep a couple extra in your saddlebag and you're good to go for the day. Unless you are shooting video and then you might want to consider increasing the size of that saddlebag... But, if you stock up on batteries you won't be caught short with a non-working camera.

The second fault is much more vexing for a working photographer, or for any photographer that expects reliable camera operation, and that's the tendency for the cameras to overheat. Once that overheat indicator becomes visible

5.27.2017

The agony of video editing is the fact that there's always something somewhere that could be improved.


I've been working sporadically for well over a week on editing down a 4 minutes and 8 second video project for a corporate client. I haven't spent every hour of every day on it but I've put in way, way more time than I estimated. It's not because there is so much work to do that makes it an amazing black hole process, rather it's the reality that no matter how clean the original material and no matter how meticulous you were at recording sound and getting good video there are always details that can be further finessed.

I've spent the last two hours trying to eradicate a rustle noise from the moment at which our interviewee crossed his arms and created a quick rustling noise with his shirt. I didn't notice it on the first ten passes but on a final review, with the volume turned way up I could hear it plain as day.

After skimming the audio with the timeline stretched all the way out I found the audible culprit and also found that it stretched across two clips. I detached both audio tracks from their video tracks and started blading around the area in order to get just enough of the noise but not so much as to grab part of the dialog. There was a lot of trial and error involved. I watched the waveforms to see just how tightly I could make the cuts. I tried version after version until I got

5.26.2017

If only Sony had taken one more step.... (A7ii).


I've been shooting the A7ii a lot. I've had mine for less than a year and have already put about 25,000 exposures on it. I love the form factor. I love the EVF. I'm very happy with the uncompressed raw files it generates. I'm even neutral about the small batteries.

But there is just one thing I hope they fix when they come out with the A7iii.....I want a quiet shutter like the one in the A7rii. I don't need "silent." I'll take quiet.

The camera they may want to purchase and learn from is the Panasonic G85. It has the nicest sounding shutter of any camera with which I've played. It's sublime.

Please, Sony! I don't need a million frames a second. I don't need ten thousand PD-AF points. Not looking for a buffer deep enough to bury Jimmy Hoffa in. I just want a camera that makes a pleasant sound when the shutter goes off. With 24 megapixels on a full frame sensor. Oh, and 4K video would be nice but I'd settle for 1080p if you could make it 10 bit 4:2:2.

That's all.

Oh, I forgot to mention, my birthday is in late October so if you can get the upgrade in stores by the end of September that would be super.

Thanks, Kirk

P.S. Not kidding around here. KT

Self-Awareness is a constant battle. My own sense of enlightenment is mostly elusive. But I look for it from time to time.

Today.

Today I took out a camera that reminded me of the small but potent cameras we shot in the film days. If you are of a certain age you'll fondly remember the wonderful feel and the great images that we all created with Olympus OM-1's, Pentax LX-1's and MX's. Most of us had something like them, or a Nikon FM or a Canon AT-1, that we kept in our hands whenever we didn't need some weird feature on our bigger "professional" cameras. In a way, my trashed copy of the Sony A7ii, when used with the Zeiss 45mm f2.8, reminds me very much of the Leica CL and the 40mm Summicron I carried around for years. Shooting in a monochrome setting takes me right back to the feel of my favorite Trip-X film.

When I go out shooting with this camera I feel like I did when I was a young instructor at UT walking down the drag at lunch time, channeling one of my previous instructors, Garry Winogrand. I was never in a rush, was endlessly fascinated by whatever I saw in front of my camera, and anxious to capture everything that seemed transient and beautiful in the world directly around me. Deep down, the feel of today's current small, cheap camera in my hands is a direct link to the insouciance and vigor of unfettered youth. And the joy of just existing.

So it's always a moment of jarring self-awareness when I happen upon a mirrored window on the side of a tall building in the middle of downtown and I stop to take a self portrait. The person looking back at me isn't the kid with the long hair and a scraggly beard, or the middle aged man with curly brown hair. It's an older guy. And it reminds me of how long I've been on this road. This process of looking for images and sharing them. The process of spending time with myself; in the darkroom, in the studio, on the street, in a different city.  There is a strand, a string of continuity between all the past selves but each one is a little different and the perspectives divergent. 

At some point I hope to discover and distill what all this photographing means to me. And when I do I hope it brings along some clarity to my images. I still wonder why I do this photography thing and what I ultimately hope to accomplish. Even if it's just the understanding that the only important thing is to enjoy the process. At least the process provides a framework on which to build one part of my existence. 

I know one sure thing. The camera I shoot with has nothing really to do with my expectations for the image I'm shooting and everything to do with my affinity for the way it feels and operates. One thing that having owned and used hundreds of cameras can provide is the enlightenment to know that the camera is just a foil for the process. A reason to enjoy looking. Nothing more. We all grow old. Everything will become "old school." And then, it will get re-invented just the same, a little while later. 

Before.















For the ultimate in quick composition and follow through try a single focal length and manual focusing.

A man running east on Sixth Street. 

Any researcher of brain science will probably tell you that having multiple choices slows thought processes down. When presented with many options the brain would always like to explore them. By the time the exploration is complete, and all the parameters have been locked in, it's a good bet that whatever you were considering doing is now in the immediate past. 

I'm not anti-zoom lens. I am not anti-AF. But I have to say that they fail me, in my quest for immediacy, more often than they deliver the goods. I was thinking about that after I shot the photo above. I was walking with a 35mm frame camera with "normal" manual focus lens on the front. I looked up as I was walking down this pedestrian walkway, just east of Whole Foods, and I saw a bald man running towards me. I thought that the repeating pattern of studs and poles that made up the walkway would make for an interesting photograph if I included the runner. I set the camera's focus distance to about 25 feet. The aperture was set to f8.0. My depth of field was wide enough to convincingly include the closer construction features of the temporary structure while getting sharp focus on the runner. 

He ran by and I turned, put the camera to my eye and clicked at exactly the spot I wanted. 

Now, I am sure that many photographers can set up a camera with fast AF and tracking features, and a zoom lens, and nail a couple hundred decent frames of a scene like this. In the process they will certainly get something akin to the frame I captured. At least I think they will find a close one after they pull their memory card, toss it into the card reader, open Lightroom, and look for the one out of one hundred that they like. 

But as they shoot they will go through the process of micro-waffling about which focal length at which to shoot. Then there is the micro-indecision about where exactly to place the point of sharp focus in order to keep everything sharp in the parts of the composition that wants to be sharp -- close and far (hint: it isn't exactly on the back of the runner...). If they are carrying more than one lens there will be a micro-moment of hesitation as they wonder whether or not they really have the right optic on the front of the camera. 

It's a process and the more available steps there can be in a process the more likely it is the brain will want to investigate them all. And, even if you are stern with your brain and you have more discipline than an Olympic swimmer, the desire to analyze choices is hardwired into your thinking system and there is a friction of decision that interferes with the ability to react without undue hesitation. 

The simpler the system the more streamlined the process. The more streamlined the process the more uncluttered the path is between recognition and action. Perhaps this is why so many of the great documentary photographers of the last century were so happy to find one camera and one lens that resonated with the vision they overlaid on their subjects. 

This may be another reason why time spent mastering the many focusing modes of modern uber-cameras might be an even bigger waste of time. But that's just my simplistic approach.