Photographing Bands: Drummer

     Lately I've been doing more and more band photos and I was asked by a couple people to write how I went about taking those photos. So by popular request, here it is. My thoughts on photographing bands. First post, the drummer. And I have to be honest, I'm starting with the hardest one to shoot.

Things to Keep in Mind

     One might think that photographing a singer (compared to a drummer) is a challenge because of how much they move. Singers tend to move around a lot, making it hard to freeze them. But I would argue that photographing a drummer is even harder, simply because they don't move from their seat. You have to use the lighting, their facial expressions, & their movements to give the photo emotion. Otherwise... it's a snapshot. Other things to keep in mind are:

  1. EARMUFFS: It goes without saying, but drums get loud. This is something to keep in mind if you want to do this full time. Always bring a good pair of earmuffs or earplugs (or both) to protect your ears from the drums.
  2. Make sure the Drumstick isn't in their Face: This is pretty important because of the simple fact that people look for people. And if they don't see the face, the photo loses some emotion.
  3. Photograph them in their Environment: If you were to see a person just sitting and waving sticks around, you'd probably either walk the other direction or call the police. Make sure to get the drums in the photograph.
  4. Introduce Some Motion: As you'll see in a minute, sometimes you don't want to freeze the motion. Introducing some blur could be beneficial to the photo.

     Keep in mind these tips are what I've learned from photographing drummers. They're not fact, but if they help you take a better photo, then I'm happy I could be of help to you.

Live Performance

This was taken @ 1/400's, and notice the motion blur on the right drumstick. Click to see a larger version of the photo.

     Back in January, I had the privilege to photograph BloodTypeG (check out my post about it here) at BRFC (Breaking Records For Charities). While this was my first live concert I shot, I wasn't 100% clueless to what was going on. Since drummers play fast, I needed to be at a fast shutter speed. At first, I was shooting between 1/400's - 1/1000's. This was enough to completely freeze Gustin (the drummer) in mid-air. But after shooting for a bit, I thought perhaps I should shoot at a slower shutter speed. I dropped the ISO (from 320 to 160) and dropped the shutter speed from 1/1000's to between 1/250's - 1/400's. This brought some motion blur into the mix and made for a much more dynamic shot. Plus it allowed me to close the Iris down and get more in focus.

Band Practice

     Band practice is so much fun. You get to see the band as they are, not as they appear to be on stage, and that makes for some awesome candids. And sometimes, you can even direct the photos a little. For example, I was planning on taking an overhead photograph of my buddy Zack playing the drums. But after positioning the flash, I was getting shots like this (different drummer):

     Awesome photograph, but I wanted something different. Fortunately for me, this was my lucky day. Why do you ask? Because just as I pointed the camera down, Zack looked up:

     I can honestly tell you, this is my best band photo that I have taken so far. Don't know what it is about it, but it's literally awesome!

     To sum up, photographing drummers can be extremely difficult. But with enough patience, creativity, and a good pair of earmuffs, your drum shots will improve. Next week, I'm going over how I would photograph singers. Until then, take care. :-D

 

Using What I Have Part 1: Magic Lantern

     As technology advances, we get googly eyed over the newer and enhanced capabilities of cameras, computers etc. And unfortunately, we forget that the gear we already own could produce unbelievable results. So for the next few posts, I'm going to only use gear that I already have to create short films. First up, the Canon T1i w/ Magic Lantern RAW 2.0.

     Lately I have been looking into purchasing a used 60D for my video work. But thanks to modern programming (e.g: Magic Lantern), Cameras like my ancient T1i can shoot extremely high quality DNG (or RAW) video. But to be honest, I didn't know my camera was capable of loading that specific module. I assumed because it was a very old/beginner style camera, it couldn't handle the amount of data DNG files take up. I'm glad I was wrong.

     Shooting of this vignette was extremely simple. I just took my Ti1 & 40mm Pancake w/ me to lunch with my family and shot. The following photos are my settings in Magic Lantern:

I set up MyMenu w/ shortcuts to access these items without hunting for them.

I set up MyMenu w/ shortcuts to access these items without hunting for them.

This is the resolution I was shooting at. To make it 1280 x 720, I had to stretch it vertically 167% in post.

This is the resolution I was shooting at. To make it 1280 x 720, I had to stretch it vertically 167% in post.

This is where I control the FPS of the finished video. I have it set to the standard 23.976ps.

This is where I control the FPS of the finished video. I have it set to the standard 23.976ps.

     After I shot the footage, I needed a way to view it. Fortunately, I came across a post by Cinetic Studios about how to view/edit MLV RAW files. If you have the time, I highly recommend reading it if you use Magic Lantern RAW.

     Once I knew which clips I wanted, I exported as DNG files. One of the reasons I did this instead of ProRes 4444 files is that it's much easier for me to grade DNG files than ProRes 4444. I'm not a colorist, but I am a photographer who deals with RAW files (Canon .CR2), and this is very similar to that.

Screenshot of me grading another sequence soon to come.

Screenshot of me grading another sequence soon to come.

     I finished grading, then I exported the photos as JPEG's and imported them to FCPX. After combining each individual image sequence into a compound clip, I just cut it like I would a normal sequence. And there you have it! A vignette shot on a camera that can't even shoot video.

     Next week I'll be showing how to get cinematic visuals from an iPhone 4S, and my method for editing. Hint: I didn't import any footage into the computer. Until then, take care!

A Bloody Brilliant Moon and the Aquarid Meteor Shower

Good morning everyone!

   Our cameras are amazing. They help us record rare and beautiful objects. And that is why the night sky is an amazing thing to photograph. If you leave the camera on a long enough exposure, you see the stars trailing. If you wake up early enough, you hit the early morning Golden Hour. And if you're fortunate, you could be photographing a rare celestial event.

   Take for example the Blood Moon that happened a few weeks ago. This type of Lunar Eclipse hasn't happened for over 300 years. So you know people everywhere are going to shoot it. For me, I pulled out my old Canon FD 300mm f/4 and put it on my Crop-Sensored T1i. Giving me the equivalent of a 480mm lens on a Full-Frame. I set the Aperture to f/8, ISO 400, and the Shutter Speed to 1 second. And I got this:

Transient

This is my favorite shot I took. Quoting one of my favorite films, b-e-a-utiful.

   Now, on to more current news. This Monday night/Tuesday (night of May 5-6) morning there will be a meteor shower in the general area of the constellation Aquarius. The meteor shower will last from roughly Moonset up until Sunrise for all those living in the continental USA. You can check out the links below for more information. I will be posting on Instagram @gwphotographe that night. So I hope to see you then!

Links for information about the Meteor Shower:

http://neave.com/planetarium/

http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/meteor-shower/eta-aqaurids.html

http://www.universetoday.com/111650/revisit-halleys-comet-stay-up-late-for-tonights-eta-aquarid-meteor-shower/

How to Choose Your Best Shot & Competition Update

I'm here again!

   The reason I posted this today rather than next monday is because I wanted to go over my process of picking my best photo.

   First thing I did was look through my portfolio. Your portfolio should be made of your best images, nothing else. I have had people ask me how many images are in a portfolio. I tell them, "If you only have one good image, then your portfolio is one image. If you have two solid images, you have a slightly larger portfolio." So it just depends, you can click on my portfolio up in one of the tabs to see how many I have.

   After I looked at my portfolio, I narrowed it down to two pictures (Click here to see them). Then what I did was I printed out some 4"x 6" pictures at home and showed them to some people. Some strangers, some friends, and some family. I took a tally of what they all liked and then chose the best one. Now remember, your choosing your best image. They're not choosing it for you, they're just giving you something to think about. Keep that in mind, you make the final decision.

Update on the Competition:

   Unfortunately I didn't make it into the contest. Better try again next time! Take a look at the video below:

   That's all for now. Until next time, George out!

Stop-Motion Mayhem

   So unfortunately I said I would finish two videos for Charlene. And I only finished one. But don't worry, the second video will be ready soon. Check it out:

   I think this video is pretty cool. But it took me a whopping... get ready for this... 5 hours to make. 4.5 hours for the taking pictures. And 30 minutes to do all the stuff in Post-Production.

   The process of making a stop-motion is very simple to do but it requires, patience, a steady hand, and an eye for detail. Almost like painting the mona lisa.

   Here are the tools I used for taking the pictures:

Hardware:

  • Macbook Pro  13"
  • Logitech C910 1080p Webcam*

Software:

  • Photo Booth
  • Final Cut Pro X**

Here are the Steps:

  1. Before I took any pictures in Photo Booth, I made sure that the images were automatically flipped, so that when we do the word in taking the pictures, the image doesn't look backward.
  2. Then I took the pictures and, VERY CAREFULLY, moved the objects until I had enough pictures.^ Now I can't take all the credit for this part because a friend of mine moved the lego's around. Check him out here.
  3. After that I imported the images and place them into the timeline.
  4. Then I export the video to turn the entire sequence of images into a single video.
  5. Then I reimported the video and put markers in where I wanted the titles. I'm Hungry, Time to go home, etc.
  6. I google searched an image reference to make my image in photoshop and have made it downloadable for you guys. Click Here.
  7. I duplicated the PSD file and then typed in what I wanted each one to say.
  8. I imported them into FCPX and then applied a plug in for the video called Alex4D Aged Film
  9. Then for my "Jitter" I set it to 0.21, and for my "Saturation" I set it to -100

And I'm Done. The final product is what you see above.

* I know what some of you Apple guys are wondering. "If I have a webcam built in, why would I need an external?" This is because the internal camera only takes 1280 x 720 images. This webcam can take 1920 x 1080p images. Allowing me to make a Full HD video.

** It's not as bad as people say it was. Like I said, it only took me 30 minutes to Import, Edit, and Export the images and turn them into a film.

^ Now for this project I wanted to make the video 24 fps (frames per second), and I wanted each image to last two frames. This means that for every second of video there is, there are 12 images in it. adding up to a total of 500 images taken.