I've recently been training up SBS Television cadet journalist in the craft of video news camera work. I'm looking forward to seeing their completed feature "news story" produced by them as a part of my Video for Journalists course.
A number of recent visitors have enquired about what they see as a certain "depth" and "mood" in my regular "Good Morning" series of sunrise images. Do I use software filters? It's a question that often pops up. So that you can acheive this, I can break it down into three key practices:
1. Using Manual settings, adjust the exposure level for the brighter regions of the composed image - the brightest cloud for example. Close down the aperture or increase the shutter speed to bring detail and colour saturation into these often blown-out regions of the image. Allow other areas to appear under exposed - don't be afraid of the dark! These shadowy areas can be lifted later, and besides, that's how it is when the sun sits low in the sky. This is how I can convey "mood".
2. Seek out reflections and muted highlights and consider framing the scene from a low angle which additionally can bring depth-giving foreground objects into play. Wet sand and glistening rock surfaces offer subtle and not so subtle bright spots that are truely helpful. This is how I can convey "depth".
3. Importantly, if making adjustments in your editing software (that’s Adobe Lightroom for me), keep the overall brightness level down. Early morning light is different from mid-morning light. Under exposure of the image is far more effective at this time of the day. You won't need software filters.
Please see more of my Good Morning series here
I took this photo recently in a farmhouse not far from Saigon. I wanted to make the point of how a single window as a light source can works so beautifully for your cinematography and photography.
I loved the way the soft window light wrapped around these everyday things. Depth and the perceived sharpness of this image is defined by the shadows that light creates.
A single, ultra-soft light source set at some distance is a way to achieve a similar look. In lighting for the moving image too, you can learn more from looking at a shadow than you can by looking at the light.
A small window is best. Only a narrow shaft of soft light falls on the the table leaving the wall behind in beautiful deep shadow. Setting your exposure based on the lit areas of the composition means that these dark backgrounds and foregrounds stay as shadow, bringing the eye to the sweet spot in the image. Perfect for video sequences also.
I have been delivering a series of cinematography lectures on board Silversea Silver Shadow. Sailing from Singapore with port stops in Ho Chi Min City, Da Nang, Ha Long Bay and finishing in Hong Kong.
I have been delivering a series of cinematography lectures on board Oceania Nautica. Sailing from Cape Town with port stops in Maputo Mozambique, Da Es Salaam, Mombassa Kenya, Zanzibar Tanzania, Seychelles, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand and wrapping up in Singapore.
Please visit my gallery for more images from this assignment.
Some of the finest pro photographers at the BMF agency's amazing Sydney studio, this week took part in my Still to Motion course. BMF took home more awards than any other agency at the 2017 Australian Effie Awards. They also won the Effective Agency of the Year Award. BMF collected one Gold Effie Award, seven Silvers and one Bronze. I'm very proud to be training their staff photographers on ways to further improve their video production skills.
I’ve had a busy schedule these past eight weeks. Assignments in Japan, South Korea, China, Finland and Holland. Now back in Sydney, I'm taking reservations for training sessions into the new year.
Recent activities at my space at the National HQ of the Australian Cinematographers in North Sydney have been a mix of One-to-One training with a number of photographers and cinematographers plus one of my regular camera technical updates for the production unit at Foxtel.
This session featured Sony F65, F55, FS7Mk2, Sony A7R Mk2, Canon C300 Mk2 cameras and the brilliant new Sony RX0 miniature camera. There also was a selection of drones and gimbals. Contributions from Angelo Boutsalis from Dragon Image and Sony Australia's Anthony Kable.
Earlier this year I returned from Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego after participating in a twenty-day expedition to Antarctica. The Homeward Bound Project has gathered the first 76 of a targeted 1,000 women from around the world, all with critical science backgrounds, to undertake a year-long state-of-the-art program to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices.
This article for Content and Technology magazine looks at the range of camera technology used on this assignment.
October 2017: It was a brilliant night in Helsinki. I had the pleasure of presenting the award for Best Cinematography Documentary Films to Polish cinematographer, Lukasz Zal for his work on "Ikon" This is a feature-length documentary portrait of a provincial psychiatric hospital population. For the first time in the history of one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Siberia a film crew could see the daily life behind high walls.
Our other winners on the night were Fabian Wagner BSC ASC for TV Drama, "Game of Thrones – The Winds of Winter" and Seamus McGarvey BSC for the Feature Film "Nocturnal Animals".
Congratulations to the winners and to all the nominees. There was some extraordinary cinematography up on the screen.
September & October 2017: I have been presenting lectures to guests on the US based Silversea cruise ship, the Silver Shadow. The talks centred on my photography and cinematography. This three week assignment included Tokyo, Hiroshima, Shimizu and Ishikagi (Japan) Seoul and Busan (South Korea) Beijing, Tianjing and Shanghai (China).
I've been selected to exhibit two of my images to represent the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) at an international photography exhibition in Poland. To help celebrate the 25th anniversaries of the Camerimage International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography and IMAGO — the Federation of European Cinematographers — a selection of images taken by members will be showcased during the upcoming festival, held November 11-18 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Creating images is the art and profession of cinematographers and many cinematographers are also creators of still images.
This exhibition will showcase how cinematographers from all around the world work with visual artistry in artistic composition, visual motifs, contrast, colour or black-and-white when it comes to still images. https://theasc.com/news/asc-imago-joint-photo-exhibition-to-be-must-see-at-camerimage
22nd April 2017: Bilgola Beach 610am. I used a Sony RX100 Mk4 for this shot.
March & April 2017: Snow blizzards recently blanketed the north east of the United States. I was there to capture and document the beautly of New Jersey in the snowy aftermath. A comination of stills photograpy and video in the countrside and on the streets of New York.
18th February 2017: The Bilgola Beach rock shelf at low tide. I used a Sony A7R Mk2.
October/November 2016: The face of a new generation in Myanmar is this young market girl. Such generous and welcoming people make up this still desperately poor nation. It is a wonderful place to roam with a camera.
1st October 2016: My Still to Motion workshop for Focus photographers has wrapped and it was a great day. Thanks to all those who came along, glad to know you had a great time as well as leaving with new skills. It's also a great way for me to meet new people.
Focus is a community for those who share a passion for landscape and seascape photography. Visit the Focus website
Birds and seals South Georgia - Gold Bay King Penguins, Baily's Head Chinstrap Penguins and Antarctic peninsular landscapes
November/December I travelled to the island of South Georgia and Antarctica on the Polar Pioneer for Aurora Expeditions, my role was as a guest cinematography lecturer. I shot video footage along the way. For this expedition, I chose to forgo my Sony PXW-FS7, taking only Sony stills cameras.
Here are are two short videos, shot in 4K, recorded on the Ninja Assassin and uploaded as HD. My camera/lens kit consisted of a Sony A7R Mk2, Sony A7R (stills only), Sony 70-200mm f/4 G zoom, Zeiss Loxia 55mm f/2, Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f/4, Canon 400mm f/5.6, Sony RX100 Mk4, GoPro 4, Atomos Ninja Assassin, Miller Air tripod/fluid head, Zoom H4n recorder. I used standard gamma settings and the audio was recorded mainly by the A7R's stereo microphone. I used no additional camera accessories. If weight was again a factor, I'd gladly pack the same kit for the next assignment. I was interviewd before leaving on the expedition.
I was recently interviewed by Sarah Kanowski in Brisbane. It was a priviledge to have been asked to be a guest on ABC radio's Conversations. It's one of ABC's most popular regular radio segments with an list of amazing guests who have contributed before me.
Sarah was filling in for regular host Richard Fidler and she made me feel right at home. We talked about work, my assigments, my childhood and as expected, much was left out, so many important collegues momentarily forgotten. I enjoyed my hour long talk - nothing like a hour of live radio to brush away the cobwebs.
A podcast of my interview is available on the ABC Conversations website.
The final day of video training for SBS Television cadet video journalists. Phil Ly plays the the news presenter with a passion for nicking colleague's headphones. A full day shooting news spoofs that will sum up the new skills learnt during the week. Vanessa Jane on the right, Creative Strategist, film-maker and producer and entrepreneur.
I will be joining the SF3 judging panel again this year. Smartfone Flick Fest is Australia’s only international smartphone film festival for filmmakers of all ages and it is now open for entries!
As long as your film is shot entirely on a smartphone or tablet and it is within the six and a half minute time limit your film is eligible for submission. Everyone has a great idea for a short film and a potential movie camera in their pockets so no excuses.
Enter by August 1, 2016 at www.sf3.com.au while there is still time, start planning your entry now.
A selection of photographs taken during my dawn walks at Sydney's Bilgola and Newport beaches over the past year.
From all corners of the country, Seven West Media (Network Seven) cadets skill up on lighting and shooting techniques at my video camera course held at the Australian Cinematographers Society National HQ, North Sydney last weekend.
Video journalism requires some basic knowledge of film language to successfully translate a good story into an engaging video story, however the concentration needed to operate the camera can draw attention away from the story at hand. My aim is to show each participant how to get to the point where the story always comes first.
The January Drop-In night at the Sydney HQ of the Australian Cinematographers Society was a standing room only event and featured two video camera related presentations. Firstly, Anthony Kable of Sony Australia filled in the latest developments within Sony's large frame sensor product range and with many recent model releases by Sony, it was a great opportunity for everyone to get up to speed.
I followed with a talk centering my recent assignment as a cinematography mentor on board Aurora Expedition's Polar Pioneer. In particular, the use of Sony A7R Mk2 mirrorless cameras paired with the Atomos Assassin 4K recorder to cover my 4K cinematography and stills photography during the springtime expedition to South Georgia Island and Antarctica.
This most recent overseas assignment took me to Taiwan, Japan and China. Lecturing on the craft of cinematography on board the Silver Shadow, a luxury ship operated by the Italian cruise ship company Silversea, based out of Fort Lauderdale in Florida. The talks for guests centre on my work as a cinematographer, particularly in the field of documentary. From time to time I shoot short sequences at various locations and screen them at my lectures.
A clear day in China is rare. This short video shows a stunning sunrise unfolding during our slow sail up the Huangpu River to arrive near the centre of the city of Shanghai. Packing a Sony A7R Mk2, I chose a Sony PXW-X70 recording in 4K DCI to shoot this piece and edited it with FCPX.
Anne spent from April 2009 to July 2012 in Jerusalem reporting on the Middle East region. She is an experienced reporter by any measure. As a part of this camera training, I have devised a number of practice assignments, shooting with a Sony PXW-X70 video camera. It's been a great week - her video photography is coming together nicely.
We have some additional sessions planned for early 2016
Journalist Tim Lester has recently finished a solid block of video camera training with me here in Sydney. Since 2014 Tim has been with the Seven Network's political team in Canberra covering federal politics from Parliament House.
Tim is the former political bureau chief & online political editor for Fairfax. He is also a former foreign correspondent for the ABC and has covered events while living in Sydney, Melbourne, Washington, Bangkok, Hobart and Launceston.
As one of Australia's most experienced journalists with a career spanning three decades, Tim has worked with some of Australia's best news camera operators - he also has a great eye.
More Articles ...
- Assignment: Into the Deep Freeze Freeze, South Georgia & Antarctica expedition
- Assignment: A very rare Cape Horn visit
- SBS television cadet journalist training
- Exclusive Photography Expedition - Antarctica & South Georgia
- ABC Canberra journalist Siobhan Heanue
- Assignment: India & Bhutan for Intuition documentary
- September - transition-to-video training in Goondiwindi
- September - Marg & Steve, Red Moon Creative
- August - Network Seven cadet journalists training
- Assignment: an Intuition documentary in the USA
- Top Melbourne Journalist One-on-One training
- Training for observational documentary
- Assignment: My South East Asian cinematography talks
- PDV Cinematography masterclass travels to Tasmania
- Download the Documentary "4"
- My Las Vegas masterclass sessions for Miller Tripods
- Training in the landscape for Upper Lachlan Landcare Org
- Assignment: Filming with singer/guitarist Ruthie Foster at Bluesfest Byron Bay
- The NAB 2015 show in Las Vegas - my series of talks at the Miller stand
- Assignment: Back from Chicago for the "Women in Blues" documentary