As you have seen from some of the posted interviews from Photo Plus in New York, recording audio during interviews was a real challenge, thanks to all the ambient noise present in the area. With so many exhibits and people present everywhere, it was nearly impossible to keep our audio microphones pointed at one specific area – audio gear was picking up noise from all over the place. We did not want to mess with big microphones and lavaliers either, since we wanted to film quickly on the spot. Gladly, we found a booth that had the exact product we needed – Sound Shark Audio!
Two months ago, while browsing the web page of an on-line analog photography store in Germany, Fotoimpex, I came across a link to a video entitled, “Silver & Light”, made by a brilliant artist named Ian Ruhter. The video takes the viewer inside the thought process and passion behind one man’s dream to create photographic art using one of the oldest photographic processes ever invented – the wet plate collodion. I found the story tantalizing and inspiring. Given the recent publication from our enthusiastic and talented guest poster, Simone Conti, on a modern-day version of a comparably old photographic process, I thought this video would be of interest to our Readers. Some notable quotes from the video: “If you had been searching your whole life for something you love and you found it, what would you be willing to sacrifice?”, “The only limitations there are, are the ones that I put on myself”, and “I am literally pouring my soul onto every plate.” Please, enjoy.
John Bosley and I have been actively working on producing our second Level 1: Post-Processing Basics video and we have decided to look into getting a shotgun microphone for the studio environment. While our lavalier microphones have been working great for the most part, they tend to collect ambient noise quite a bit, especially when the subject moves or accidentally touches the microphone. Additionally, lavalier mikes can be painful to deal when there is a lot of interference, particularly in a busy urban environment. When shooting in San Francisco, we experienced some sort of interference practically in every channel, which made it difficult to shoot (and that’s considering that we had two different transmitters at completely different radio frequency ranges). So it was time to look for a different solution that gives us good quality sound without the problems of the lavalier microphones. We decided to evaluate a number of popular shotgun microphones and we came up with the following list: Sennheiser MKE 600, Audio Technica AT897, Rode NTG2 and Rode NTG3. While the first three are in the same price range (around $300) and therefore can be considered direct competitors, the Rode NTG3 was a higher-end unit priced at around $700. The big question was – which of the four microphones would win us over? Take a look at our video below:
Drones – often called unmanned aerial vehicles – have become vastly more common over the past few years. In the United States alone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts that more than one million drones will be sold over this holiday season; many more will be sold in other countries across the world. Whether you love or hate the growing prevalence of drones, their popularity has never been greater. In this tutorial, I will share some tips that I have learned over the past few months of using a drone for taking pictures. My focus is on still images, but many of these tips apply to drone video and cinematography as well – particularly for people in the midst of buying their first drone.
Nowadays, it is not unusual to hear about photographers being asked by their clients to do video work for them. For many photographers adding video to their list of services can be a bit intimidating, especially when it could entail making some investments in video-related gear. While it is certainly possible to spend many thousands of dollars on additional gear, most people wouldn’t want to put that much money at risk when first venturing into this area. If you choose gear wisely you can keep your investment at a modest level while adding a significant amount of production value for your clients.
With the release of the much-anticipated Sony A7R II, a number of our readers have been asking about the use of the camera, such as what type of photography the A7R II would be best suitable for, what advantages and disadvantages it has compared to DSLRs and how it can compete with them. Many Nikon and Canon DSLR shooters are actively looking at mirrorless cameras, not just because they are generally lighter and more compact, but also because they offer intriguing technological features that cannot be made available on DSLR cameras. The Sony A7R II is quite an attractive and unique camera, because it features a high resolution 42.4 MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor – something no other camera manufacturer offers at the moment. While Canon’s new 5DS and 5DS R cameras currently hold the resolution crown, we already know that Canon did not drastically improve dynamic range and the cameras themselves are not much different than their 5D Mark III predecessor. So aside from the new 50.6 MP sensor (see more on resolution differences below), Canon did not deliver any other innovations with those cameras, which puts the Sony A7R II in a good position in comparison. Let’s take a look at what the Sony A7R II offers when compared to modern full-frame DSLRs and the type of photography it would or would not be suitable for.
If you’re an enthusiastic still photographer who’s started to dabble with video a bit, you’ve likely run into issues with fine visual footage, but substandard audio. Crappy audio can ruin the viewer’s experience every bit as quick as lousy visuals. It soon becomes apparent that your camera’s built-in microphone records not just your subject, but also the camera’s noises (focus motors, VR, heavy-breathing operator) as well as the nearby highway, airport, dragstrip, playground or pig farm. The first step taken usually involves buying a hot shoe-mounted directional mike, AKA shotgun mike. This is great for emphasizing the sound coming from the direction the camera is pointed, but it gets not just the subject speaking or softly purring, but also the jackhammers in the construction site across the street behind your subject. It is a poor choice if you want to record dialogue. For recording talking subjects, the next step is to add a lavalier microphone system. A lavalier microphone, AKA lav, AKA lapel mic, is a tiny microphone that clips to the user’s lapel, collar, or ZZ Top beard. It is very sensitive to sound coming from very close to the microphone and not to sounds further away. Therefore it is ideal for recording the wearer’s words without too much interference from background noise.
With almost all of our cameras featuring video capabilities (I’m looking at you, Nikon Df), most of you have probably considered going beyond the occasional family video. However, like photography, video requires post-processing for best results, and the prospect of buying After Effects, Premiere Pro, and SpeedGrade just to get your toes wet is daunting for many photographers. What you may not know is that you already have a powerful video-editing program in Adobe Photoshop CC, or CS6 Extended. This is an easy way for photographers to play around with film without purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of software, and is surprisingly effective. I’m certainly not a professional videographer as my example video will show, but I have enjoyed editing a few shorts, just for fun. The two most critical aspects of editing for video (not including cuts/sequencing) are color-grading and sharpening, both of which can be done relatively painlessly in Photoshop using tools you’re already experienced with.
I was a bit disappointed by the Photo Plus Expo this year in New York, because unlike last year, I did not find a lot of innovative products to be excited about. It seemed like the exhibit floor was full of the same things we had previously seen, except this year the organizers did not allow any Chinese companies on the floor (most likely because some of them were selling the exact same products as the bigger companies at a much lower price last year). However, there were a few things that I found that got me very excited and one of them was the Lume Cube. After seeing the product, Roman and I actually went back to see it again next day to find out more about it and to snap some pictures for our readers. So what is Lume Cube and why do I think it is an innovative product? Let’s take a closer look.