The horse farm

FEB 2014 Calendar – DC (Free for Personal Use)

Hey folks…I just made this Feb 2014 calendar. Backdrop – shot I took a few years ago after moving to DC.
Feel free to use this as a wallpaper/cover photo, etc. And let me know if you do! :)
High-Resolution image for free download:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uzc/12120867063/sizes/l/

 

 

 

Thumbtack!

For freelancers/service providers looking for assistance in getting work/building up their client base – Thumbtack is an incredibly handy website to assist with this. I just started using Thumbtack  – so far it’s proved incredibly useful in joining service providers with consumers. Thumbtack easily notifies you when individuals are looking for services that you may be able to offer and allows you to securely submit your quote to the individual. Due to the relevant and simple lay-out of Thumbtack’s Request For Quote template, these notifications include all the basic information a service provider would need to provide a basic quote and also allow the service provider to include a short message for the consumer. Quite liking the lay-out and simplicity so far!

My Thumbtack profile:

http://www.thumbtack.com/UZC-Media-Washington-DC/service/798910

The Impressive St. Paul’s

St. Paul's

St. Paul’s Cathedral – my favorite part of the London skyline. Such a dominating and impressive presence.

Details:
8″ / F8 / ISO 100
Canon 5D2
Canon 24-105mm F4.0 L

 

 

NYC Skyline Composite

NYC Skyline Composite

 

It’s time I started getting savvy with Photoshop – haven’t used it much yet. One of the first things I wanted to try with it was to put together a time-lapse composite – basically, choose a number of images from a time-lapse sequence (3, in this case), and blend them together to show the effect of the time change (sun-set here) through the length of the time-lapse. This is a first attempt so it’s noticeably imperfect with the boundaries between the 3 shots but it’s a start. Photoshop’s a great program but since I haven’t used it much I’m finding it has a semi-steep learning curve. At any rate, I’m glad I finally broke the streak and put this first shot together. Back to watching more tutorials and perfecting the technique!

Details:
Location: Gantry State Plaza Park (across the river from Manhattan)
Canon 5D2, 24-105mm F4.0 L lens
3 shots several minutes apart

Photography Lessons – Washington DC Area

I’ve decided to start offering photography lessons to people in the DC / Maryland / Virginia area – the lessons will include:

- 1 ‘class’ session going over photography basics, including your camera settings and other photography lasting approximately 60 minutes
- 1 ‘shooting’ session outdoors lasting approximately 60 minutes

Photographers of all skill levels welcome! Contact me at uzcmedia@gmail.com for more details. Looking forward to starting this ^__^

 

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Flat-Iron Building

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I took this right before winter storm Hercules started dumping snow down on NYC…testing out some long exposure fun!

 

F9.0, 4.0″, ISO 100
Canon 5D2
Canon 24-105mm F4.0 L Lens —

 

London @ Dusk

iPhone Filmmaking

So I had a bunch of video clips from the last few months on my iPhone that I took while traveling around – felt like throwing them together and sharing the traveling theme. Most of the driving scenes are from the route between Washington DC and Illinois/Indiana – with some clips of London/Brussels thrown in. The combination of traveling and good music never fail to put me in that calm/outward mood so conducive to absorbing the traveling experience.

DETAILS:

Title Sequence:After Effects (Globe done with ‘CC Sphere’ effect)

Shooting:
Almost all shots – iPhone 5
2-3 shots – Canon 5D2, 24-105mm F4.0L Lens

Music:
Jab Tak Hai Jaan Poem (Instrumental) from the movie ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’.
Music available for purchase here: itunes.apple.com/us/album/jab-tak-hai-jaan-original/id673998947

Thanks for watching! ^__^

Hiking in the Rockies

I was flying back from Wyoming after finishing pre-deployment training at the same time one of DC’s biggest snow-storms hit – commonly referred to as ‘Snowmageddon’. It delayed my flight back for 4 days so I used the extra time to rent a car and drive to Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park from Denver. I used my digital camera of the time (Sony Cybershot) to shoot this video. For some of the parts where I’m in the video, I would hike ahead, place the camera precariously on a tree branch/rock, hit ‘record’, hike back down, and then hike back up to get the shot. Simple and fun.

Background Music:
“Goa” (The Bourne Supremacy) by John Powell

 

 

The Comeback!

I broke my thumb about 2 months ago. And that started a period of not working out, eating cheeseburgers, and general pathetic-ness. Which is its own fun. But it is time now to rise from the ashes of the slob I’ve become. Yes indeed.

photoThe idea of a comeback excites me. The idea of ‘turning my life around’. This Sunday shall mark the first day of my comeback. A comeback long overdue. Equipped with green smoothies, no eating out, and vigorous training, I shall come back stronger than ever. EVAAAA. Long gone are the 2 previous months where I regularly stuffed cheeseburgers down my throat twice a day. Long gone are the days where I stopped caring how long it had been since my last work-out.

Since I have an all-or-none type of personality, I’ll be an extreme fatty until Sunday. So you’ll find me at Shake Shack, Ben & Jerry’s, Nando’s and the like until Sunday. If I’m not in my Batman workout mode, I tend to spiral out of control eating junk food for each meal everyday.

So. Some of the main strategies I use to achieve that peak health/fitness state, in case any other fitness enthusiasts are interested:

- Tons of water (a gallon on a good day) – and start your day with a bottle of water too. Does WONDERS for me. Yea, you’ll go to the bathroom more than you’re used to, but it’s worth it.

- Lemon water (just squeeze one lemon into a large glass of water. Lemons help with detoxing, immune system function, food digestion, andddd improve the skin)

- 1-2 Green smoothies/day (recipe below)

- No eating out / soda

- Minimize processed foods like hell

- Working OUT

I usually do gymnastics-esque kinda work-outs for a good combination of strength AND balance building – I find solely lifting weights too boring. I’ve included 2 short videos of some of the work-outs I regularly do. The parallel bar/push up grip work-outs in the videos work out several muscles – triceps, chest, back, core, neck, shoulders, forearms, legs, hip flexors, gluts, etc. I also do several exercises on the pull-up bars, working out several of the same areas as well as the biceps. The biggest addition over most other work-outs is that these types of exercises force you to work greatly on your balance and muscle control rather than just muscle strength. Stability is key.

I also run, play frisbee and skydive to switch it up ^__^

- Finally. Watch BATMAN. Few things will get you motivated like watching Christian Bale train with the League of Shadows.

Smoothie Recipe:

Put the following in a blender and liquefy it:

1 cup kale, 1 cup spinach, 2 glasses water

THEN, add:

2 bananas, 1 apple

Tablespoon of nutella (anything to sweeten the taste a bit – OJ/pineapples work as well)

Wheat germ or protein powder (optional, depending on personal goals)

Liquefy it all again. By the end it shouldn’t have too thick of a consistency – so feel free to add a bit of water to ‘thin’ it out if need be. I find that if it’s thinner, it’s easier for me to drink.

Makes 2 large servings (4-5 cups total).

Have at it!

Vilnius: Border Crossing in a Blizzard

uzcmedia:

Really enjoyed this post by Jonathon Cusack on his experiences on the trains through Russia. Appreciated the mysterious/isolated vibe it gives.

Originally posted on see something:

Written By Jono Cusack

There aren’t many border crossings left in the world where you can say “I’m in a Tintin comic strip.” The red haired Belgian reporter travelled throughout Europe in the 30’s and would constantly run into danger, leaving him unconscious in every second frame. Crossing through Belorussia to reach Vilnius in Lithuania is one of them.

I left Moscow at 2pm, climbed into Wagon 14 and took my place in peasant class. I didn’t have a seat but a bed, one of the fifty crammed three or four high as if we were in a submarine. The trains in Russia are a unique experience; the babushka with her packed lunch, the stunning girl with her stilettos and dressed in far too little for this form of travel, and the overwhelming smell of alcohol. With temperatures at a consistent thirty-five degrees celsius inside and the equivalent negative outside…

View original 701 more words

LONDON iPhone-ography

So the reason I even went to London in the first place was the US government shut down. As I’m a government employee I didn’t have anything to do for the first half of October – my agency wasn’t part of the ‘essential services’ that kept operating during the shut-down. So I figured I’d go visit family and hang-out in London during the downtime ^___^ definitely a good spontaneous decision. And, I also thought that I might be able to find some short-term work while in London should the shut-down continue for a while. Luckily, it ended before terribly long.

So, in London. I spent most of the days walking around and soaking in the city – always like doing that for a few days each visit. And of course I made sure I conducted my iPhone photography as I went along.

In case anyone’s curious, here’s a list of the photography (and videography) apps I use on the iPhone in addition to the built in camera.

- Hipstamatic
– PhotoEdit
– Camera!
– Pic Jointer
– 8mm Vintage Camera

I don’t like to use filters all the time, as I value unedited/straight shots from the iPhone camera as well, so I make sure I mix it up. The 8mm app is an awesome video app that lets you choose from a selection of vintage/retro filters to use when taking video – though it can definitely be over-used, it can also add a really nice touch when used appropriately.

One of my friends is currently in London and asked me for my suggestions on sites to see/things to do…I was quite proud when I was able to make up a day-long itinerary for him mostly from memory and in a geographically sensible sequence. Gahhhh. I need to try and find a job in the travel industry. Would love doing something like that for a living!

More of my London shots:

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Westminster Hall

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My 5D2 & tripod set-up

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Westminster Hall

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Westminster Square

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View from under Millennium foot-bridge leading to St. Paul’s

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Tower Bridge

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St. Paul’s Cathedral from various angles

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View from Hungerford Bridge looking east

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Covent Garden

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Trafalgar Square

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Me near St. Paul’s

Star-trails Time-lapse

I compiled this star-stream time-lapse video in last month using a time-lapse sequence I shot in DC last fall. I only recently figured out how to create the ‘star-streaking’ effect using Adobe After Effects’ CC Time Blend function – I’m probably way behind the curve on this one but I was still quite proud that I finally figured it out ^__^

 

For more info on using the star trails effect, you can check out this tutorial that I used:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9lbs6Pxy0o

There’s also more info on Adobe’s Help page about the CC Time Blend function:  http://help.adobe.com/en_US/aftereffects/cs/using/WS09B6A698-8F9E-4a00-8D1B-07FC62FB2D30a.html

 

 

Moon-walking in London

 

I hate the rain in London (which has hung around almost every day of my trip so far) but I’ll admit it definitely makes for some great moon-walking. In the video I’m on the Millennium foot-bridge near the St. Paul’s cathedral area. The rain made the bridge nice and slick for some good moon-walking practice. Hey, gotta make the best of the situation 8-)

LONDON

I made an impromptu decision to go to London for a few days. I love the deep variety and character of the city. I’d already visited the St. Paul’s Cathedral area but had to go back, of course. I love the Millennium foot-bridge across the river. Even though it rained much of the time, we did what we could and tried not to let it limit us. I figured we couldn’t let the rain stop us from walking around otherwise we’d be waiting for days considering London weather. I also realized that the rain made the foot-bridge nice and slick – made for excellent moon-walking.

All these are iPhone shots – for quick posting/blogging I love using the iPhone. So much easier/quicker than throwing the SLR shots online. That always comes a bit later after the editing.

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Darker Side of DC

So I’ve recently been keeping an eye out for the ‘darker’ sites I come across in DC. Basically, local areas within the city limits that, when viewed without their larger ‘context’ surroundings, don’t look like they’re in DC. It’s an interesting game, looking for sites which appear random and unrecognizable without greater meaning – that’s the attempt, at any rate.

I’ve been pointedly trying to limit my selection to sites which have a dark-ish look to them. With a ‘dark under-belly of the nation’s capital’ theme to them. Most of the locations are in South-West DC.

I used the ‘Hipstamatic ‘ camera app a lot – it has a number of lenses with semi retro/’dark’ looks. I actually prefer this app’s filters to Instagram’s – it presents them as separate lenses and also gives you the option to use a few different types of flash if you want.

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Tunnel I walk through on my way to the metro station

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Parking garage

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Exterior of the Old Post Office at 12th and Pennsylvania. Reminded me of dungeons.

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Deserted parking lot full of random equipment

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Back entrance to an apartment complex
Car park near metro station

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Metro station car park

More darkness to come!

Vintage DC

Shot this with the iPhone – testing out the new ‘8MM Vintage Camera’ app. Adds some nifty retro effects to the video, definitely makes it more fun to shoot.

Incidentally, some of the filters/looks also reminded me of how the ‘Walking Dead’ intro was shot – dirty, grainy look to it.

DC Navy Yard Scene – 2

DC Navy Yard Scene

 

Some shots I took yesterday in the area surrounding DC's Navy Yard where the shooting happened. Emergency personnel were working hard to transport the morning's evacuees back home. All the major news outlets were there to cover the unfolding news.  Wolf Blitzer and the CNN crew are visible in the bottom left and top right photos.

Some shots I took yesterday in the area surrounding DC’s Navy Yard where the shooting happened. Emergency personnel were working hard to transport the morning’s evacuees back home. All the major news outlets were there to cover the unfolding news.
Wolf Blitzer and the CNN crew are visible in the bottom left and top right photos.

The Logistical Problems of Being Batman

I’ve often thought about what it would be like to actually BE Batman. As in, living the actual life of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Of course, we’ve all seen the movies, which show the intense/glamorous/badass side of both alter egos. But then my mind does what it often does and started thinking about 1) what would need to actually happen for the events in the movie to be real and 2) where necessary, admitting that certain aspects of the movie just could never be real, logistically speaking, and the specific reasons why. One may think that it’s easy enough to watch a superhero movie and enjoy the experience while at the same time admitting that there’s no way it could ever happen in reality; that’s part of the magic that attracts us to movies in the first place. But if you humor yourself and actually think about the logistical details a superhero (such as Batman) would need to take into account in order to conduct his life (as seen on screen) in our our real world, you’ll often discover a number of amusing facts which otherwise go undetected under the average moviegoer’s radar.

1. The eye make-up

Falconi’s men are looting a bank. The streets are empty. Commissioner Gordon fires up the trusty old Bat-signal, lighting the motherfrackin’ sky up with it. Mr. Wayne excuses himself from a dinner engagement at a five-star restaurant, heads to wherever he has his Bat-suit hidden. And starts applying copious amounts of eye make-up to his face.

Eye make-up?

Hardly something you’d associate with the Bat. Far too feminine and ‘real’ for Batman to have to worry about.

Yet sadly he does. And Bruce can’t rush through it either. Gotta make sure he covers every spot – can’t have any skin showing through. And can’t get any in his eye either, or Batman’s not gonna have a good time. I think – wouldn’t it take him a while to apply his eye make-up? And then put the suit on? In that much time, most crimes would be over for the most part.

What if he puts on his cowl while forgetting his eye make-up? And remembers while en route to the bank being robbed? It’s either save the bank while looking ridiculous, or back to the Bat-cave to throw on the make-up and most likely arrive far too late to catch anyone on-site. Not to mention the amount of time it probably takes to remove that leather cowl. Not as easy as taking off a pair of glasses.

And towards the end of TDK. After Rachel’s death, when Bruce is sitting in his apartment (suit on, but mask off) mourning – he has no eye make-up on. In reality, he most likely wouldn’t have taken time to remove his eye make-up before sitting down in grief, still clad in suit, holding the cowl and all. Far more likely that he would have slumped into the chair, taken the mask off, and just sat there, tears and eye make-up running together into a gooey mess. Alas, that wouldn’t look too good for the cameras though.

2. Collateral Damage

What about all the walls/cars/structures the Batmobile smashes through? What if there’s someone walking on a sidewalk just on the opposite side of a barrier and the 30-ton Batmobile plows through him/her like nothing more than a bulldozer crushing through a box of packing peanuts? Does Batman ever need to compensate the city for the amount of damage his tank has done to the city’s buildings? Judging from the number of objects the Batmobile strikes, this certainly becomes an issue of concern. Not too good for Batman’s reputation, but perhaps an effective measure of population control for Gotham.

3. Gargoyle-ing

How does Batman get to the tops of buildings in shots where we see him ‘watching over the city’ looking menacing and like a sentinel at the same time? Certainly not the elevator. With his grapple-gun? But if so, did he start from the ground? And if so, did he just stash the Bat-bike in an alley, walk down a sidewalk amongst all the pedestrians, pick a spot at random and just shoot that frackin’ grapple-gun skyward? It’s ‘normal’ to see Batman standing at the top of a building, but it seems too ‘real’ and strange to see him on the ground level getting ready to ascend it. All very awkward sounding, if you ask me. Surely there must be a sleeker and more suave method of standing atop buildings. Or perhaps that’s the price Batman would have to pay to live in a real world with real logistics to worry about. Sad (about the real world price, not Batman).

4. Carrying the suit around

Seems like a tight squeeze to carry around in a small back-pack. And I can’t envision the suit like a Tony-Stark style briefcase which practically puts itself on with the touch of a button. And changing? Changing in a car? Far too cumbersome. I’ve changed normal clothes in the backseat of a car, and even that can be a pain in the ass – changing into a Bat-suit would in the car would be a nightmare. Maybe there are mini Bat-caves hidden around the city where Mr. Wayne vanishes to each time the Bat-signal goes up, re-appearing a few minutes later as Batman. A possibility? Perhaps. Likely? No.

5. Surveillance

It seems likely that a curious public and oversight/regulation hungry city government would be eager to use the city’s cameras to track Batman down and learn his identity, especially with facial recognition. Several portions of all 3 movies show us the public is not always a fan of Batman. What if Gotham police scrutinized footage from city surveillance cameras (traffic cameras, security cameras, etc.) over months to find out where Batman goes after he’s done fighting a band of goons? Sure, this may not work every time, but with several crimes occurring in Gotham’s city center, surely by the law of averages, Gotham police would get lucky at least once and be able to follow him back to Wayne manor/current Bat-cave.

6. The basics

At the end of The Dark Knight, while mourning for Rachel, we see Batman (cowl removed) sitting in a chair in his glass apartment while Alfred serves him breakfast. The ENTIRE wall is made of glass and the apartment overlooks Gotham with several skyscrapers surrounding it. With the number of cameras, cell phones, individuals, security/surveillance devices, etc. present today, it seems almost impossible that someone would have seen him sitting there in the unmistakeable Bat-suit.

And. The pilot of the aircraft that extracted Batman and Lau from Hong Kong (1950’s CIA style, Lucius Fox mentions earlier in the film). He would have undoubtedly seen Bruce Wayne swimming up to the aircraft from the boat of Russian ballet dancers and seen that his ‘skyhook’ was scooping up none other than Batman (and a goon). It seems not difficult to put 2 and 2 together to deduce the caped crusader’s identity. Paying him off to keep quiet seems too messy and unreliable for Bruce Wayne. What gives?

7. Declaration of war

Abducting a citizen of Hong Kong (China, jurisdictionaly speaking) and bringing that citizen (Lau) back to the United States could easily be an open act of war in the real world. Of course, this complication isn’t addressed in The Dark Knight, as it would cause entirely too many wrinkles in the storyline and draw focus from the streets of Gotham and the Joker.

That’s all I got for now. Batman’s badass and I’m one of his biggest fans, but at the same time it’s interesting to think about the difficulties Batman would encounter if he existed in our real world.

By the way. This is the first time in a long while that I’ve actually written something half-way creative, and is un-edited/un-reviewed. Go easy on me :)

2013 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fundraising Campaign

Dear friends,

A friend of mine, Roxana Muzzamel, is a candidate participating in the 2013 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year Campaign to help raise money for blood cancer research; attached is a link to her campaign’s introductory video. She is participating in this campaign in memory of her dear father who passed away from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) 2 years ago. She is hoping to raise $50,000 by the end of the 10-week campaign (Mar 28 – Jun 8) to fund a leukemia research grant in her father’s name. Donations directly fund research towards a cure and also help pay costs for cancer patients who can’t afford hospital bills for treatment. If you are able to and willing, please donate and help spread the word by forwarding this message and video to your friends and family. Support from any and all will be most welcome and greatly appreciated. Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

For more information on the LLS fundraising campaign, please visit: http://www.mwoy.org/

 

 

First skydiving lesson!

First skydiving lesson! At Skydive Orange in Orange, VA. 2 instructors jump with you and hold onto you until you pull your chute – they make sure you go through all the checks you’re supposed to up until you pull it.

I did most of it alright – made a few mistakes on technique etc. which I’ll have to work on. The biggest thing is remembering to arch your body – an unnatural position. And I kept looking down at the ground while in free-fall while you’re supposed to be looking ahead out at the horizon. It was awesome experience though – can’t wait to go back again.

Here’s a better video of what the whole thing looked like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai5YKnB0Bj8&feature=player_embedded

DC In Motion Time-lapse

This is a short time-lapse piece on DC – my home for most of the last 5 years.

It took me about 3 months of shooting and plenty of editing to finally finish this project – something I’d been looking forward to for a while. Living in DC and being a photographer and time-lapse fan, my first logical choice was a time-lapse film on DC itself. All the shooting took place from Aug – Nov 2012 and was done with my trusty Canon 5D2 and Dynamic Perception time-lapse rig (a big thanks to the DP guys for making this possible). DC is definitely one of the more difficult cities to film in, given the much higher than usual security and the fact that one is instantly noticeable when walking around with a large camera and a bright blue rig. Nonetheless, shooting this project was definitely one of the most interesting and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a while.

I did most of the shooting on nights and weekends to allow for adequate time for each shoot. As I progressed, my set-up time at each location became less and less, a skill that came in handy when I was trying to avoid attracting attention by staying in one spot for too long. The sequence that sticks out in my mind the most is the hyper-lapse sequence at 0:46. This was the most demanding sequence by far – I walked with my camera/monopod from the Lincoln Memorial all the way to the Washington Monument, taking a shot every step – and by the end, it was over 1400 steps and 3+ hours. Sounds easy, but it definitely wasn’t. Carrying a heavy SLR with your arm in the same position for 3 hours while lining a particular auto-focus point in the camera with a particular point on the horizon for each shot becomes extremely tedious after a while – but definitely worth it. For the sequences at 0:33, 0:53 and 1:28, I chose to go HDR – it definitely helped capture a greater range than a single exposure sequence would have. For the star-sequence at 1:48, I remember sitting in my car dozing intermittently (from 1 am – 4 am), waking up every 15 minutes to wipe the lens as it was October and cold enough for condensation to build up. And during the sequence at 0:28, a cop was breathing down my neck as I tried to reassure him that I would be gone in 10 minutes. Good times. Hope you all enjoy this piece as much I enjoyed making it.

Interesting facts: At 1:58, you can see the shadow of the camera/rig move on the ground as the sun set behind me. Also, I got kicked out of Union Station after spending 30 min setting everything up. Better luck next time!

Music: “Neptune” by Nicolas Major from http://www.premiumbeat.com.

Equipment:

Canon 5D2
Canon 24-105mm f4.0 L / Canon 14mm / Canon 70-200mm f2.8 / Zeiss Distagon 21mm F2.8
Dynamic Perception Stage Zero Rig

Software:

LRTimelapse
Adobe Lightroom / After Effects / Premiere

General Workflow:

1. Import files into LRTimelapse and Lightroom.
2. Initialize metadata in LRTimelapse/use Lightroom to read metadata and make edits to certain key frames/use LRTimelapse to extrapolate edits over entire sequence.
3. Use Lightroom to export video file.
4. Stabilization (if necessary) with After Effects.
5. Video-editing in Premiere.

Credits:

Dynamic Perception (time-lapse rig): https://www.facebook.com/DynPerception?fref=ts
Gunther Wegner (LRTimelapse):  https://www.facebook.com/lrtimelapse?fref=ts
Nicolas Major (Music – “Neptune”): premiumbeat.com

Some BEHIND THE SCENES shots along the way!

Chilling while shooting one of the HDR sequences

Chilling while shooting one of the HDR sequences

Smithsonian Garden

Smithsonian Garden

Testing out the 70-200mm f2.8 at one of the parks along K Street

Testing out the 70-200mm f2.8 at one of the parks along K Street

National Cathedral. Unfortunately I messed this one up and this sequence didn't end up in the final video. Great location to shoot sunsets.

National Cathedral. Unfortunately I messed this one up and this sequence didn’t end up in the final video. Great location to shoot sunsets.

Sunrise on the Mall

Sunrise on the Mall

Shooting the Washington Monument

Shooting the Washington Monument

For maximum portability, I would strap my rig to the bike and take it around like this. A bit cumbersome, but doable!

For maximum portability, I would strap my rig to the bike and take it around like this. A bit cumbersome, but doable!

Navy Memorial

Navy Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Pennsylvania Avenue Time-lapse

Short time-lapse sequence I shot when I was testing out my time-lapse rig about a year ago (Dynamic Perception Stage Zero rig). The sequence was just a test but turned out nice with the exception of some flicker in the background sky, which I’ve since learned to correct.

I’ll be uploading my full DC time-lapse film soon – excited to wrap up the editing and throw it online ^__^

 

Philadelphia & NYC

I visited Philadelphia this weekend for the second time with friends – and as I was the only one who’d been there before I was the default tour guide. So, we hit up the most obvious/famous spots – The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the city center and Art Museum districts. Here’s a few snap shots I took with my iPhone while walking around:

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I also explored some of the East Village in NYC as well, including St. Mark’s church shown below, made in in 1799. Spooky-looking exterior with interesting statues adorning the entrance – it’s used as both a church and rented out as a performance hall on certain days. The church has a small graveyard on site where, among other individuals, also buried was Daniel Thompkins, Vice President of the US from 1817 – 1825. I’d expected to see a more prominently marked for a US Vice President.

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Inauguration 2013 Footage

Here’s the footage I shot on Inauguration Day last month. I shot a few scenes the night before, showing some of the preparation taking place on the National Mall – mostly press/media and security related. I was expecting security to be extremely restrictive even the night before, but that wasn’t the case – if I’d wanted to I could have gone all the way up to Capitol Hill. I shot this with my Canon 5D2 and 24-105 mm f4.0 L lens, along with a Manfrotto monopod with a video-head.

On Monday, I headed out around 11AM – later than I should have, given the huge rush and insane amount of people making their way towards the National Mall. I left my apartment on my bike but had to ditch it soon as there was barely room to walk in the midst of the crowds, let alone ride a bike. It was difficult filming while shuffling along with everyone chest-to-back, but I was able to break away from the crowd a few times and stand on a few barriers and trash cans here and there to get a better vantage point. And, as I got closer to the mall, the crowd thinned out a little, giving me more space to get some shots. As you’ll see in the video, all the streets in the National Mall area had been completely cleared of all traffic, and before/after the inauguration address itself they were packed sidewalk to sidewalk as people were making their way to/from Capitol Hill.

This was the first inauguration I’d attended – all in all, an incredibly unique experience. You don’t usually see close to a million people walking around in your city’s downtown area.

Short Film – Christmas in Stockholm

So, here’s what I consider my first proper video production – a short film on my Christmas trip to Stockholm.

I recently started testing my Canon 5D2’s video abilities – hadn’t seriously used it for video yet even though I’ve had it for about 2 years. I decided to shoot video exclusively during my trip to Stockholm to visit my cousin and her family. I shot most of the video; my cousins also helped out with shooting a few scenes when we went ice-skating. Since I was traveling, I couldn’t carry too much equipment – here’s a list of what I actively used:

Canon 5D2, 24-105mm f4.0 L Lens
Manfrotto Monopod with Video Head (561BHDV-1)
Audio-Technica Pro-24CM Microphone
Hose clamps or controlling focus/zoom rings (pull focus)

Here’s a shot of my camera with the whole set-up (minus the zoom ring, which I didn’t have on when I took this shot):

Camera set-up

Camera set-up

Hose Clamp grip for lens focus ring

Hose Clamp grip for lens focus ring

This was my first time using the monopod extensively and my first time using the microphone/hose clamp grips altogether. I have to say that the whole system worked surprisingly well. The stereo microphone I used wasn’t superb quality and did pick up hiss when ambient audio levels would go down, but it was nonetheless a huge improvement over the 5D2’s internal built-in microphone (which also registers every adjustment made to the lens, since it’s built-in).  The hose-clamp grips, a very home-made and cheap method, worked remarkably well at controlling the focus and zoom, removing the need to touch the lens directly. I might invest in a slightly larger pull focus/grip later to increase the granularity of control – since the ‘arm’ on my pull focus here isn’t that long, it didn’t give me as much ‘resolution’ as far as controlling the focus as a larger pull focus would.

I took the camera out with  me on most days we headed out for long excursions. The monopod base-plate/camera connection is solid, so while walking around I would feel comfortable hoisting it over my shoulder without worrying about the camera falling off.  For a few scenes in the video (the one where the camera is near the car’s tyre, a few inches above street level, and the panoramic of the Stockholm river/coast) I even turned the monopod upside down, dangling the camera with nothing to hold it if it did fall. For the scene where the camera is near the car’s tyre, I just reached out the window and lowered the monopod with camera attached till it was roughly level with the middle of the car’s wheel and tried to keep it as steady as I could. For the shot of the Stockholm coast, I was standing at the edge of this bridge/cliff structure, on one side of which there was a long drop to the street below, right next to the coast. I did the same here, except here I extended the monopod out to near its full length and panned left to right, getting an unobstructed view of the coastline.

I definitely enjoyed shooting video much more than I thought I would. I had never really viewed my camera as a fully capable video camera up till now – needless to say, that has changed. Plan on shooting a lot more in the coming months!

CHRISTMAS IN STOCKHOLM

I wrote this post about a week ago while I was still in Stockholm visiting my cousin and her family – just now getting around to uploading it:

I’ve been in Stockholm visiting my cousin for the last week or so. So far we’ve been sledding most days, exploring the city centre in the icy/snowy weather, and eating plenty of good food. There was about a foot of snow on the ground when I arrived, and more has fallen most days I’ve been here. Luckily the temperature didn’t rise to above 0 degrees C for too long so we didn’t have to deal with too much melting slush. Parts of the city center resemble Venice in some ways, albeit on a much larger scale, and with cars. The similarities manifest themselves in multiple narrow alleyways between tall and historic buildings and the multiple waterways coursing their way through the numerous islands that comprise the city. Even though similarities exist between Stockholm and other major cities in Europe, the city still has its own unmistakable look and culture.

While I was walking around the city center today, I found a good view of the river from the cliff near the Slussen train stop. The road has a steep wall rising on one side in the direction of higher land, and on the other side was a steep cliff dropping away to the water. Since I had my monopod with me (which has been helping me tremendously with taking video during this trip so far), I lowered my camera (5D2) upside down, while attached to the monopod, off the edge of the cliff to get an unobstructed view of the water – it actually worked really well. The monopod I have is a very strong and sturdy one (Manfrotto 561BHDV1:  http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/737980-REG/Manfrotto_561BHDV_1_Fluid_Video_Monopod_W_Head.html). The head has a removable base plate to allow for easy removal of the camera; the mechanism that locks the base plate onto the monopod head is definitely secure – almost too secure as it is difficult to flip down in order to remove the camera/base plate combo. I don’t have any qualms about lowering the camera outside a moving car or off a steep cliff though.

I really enjoyed our visit to the Stockholm Palace’s royal grounds. Since it was snowing heavily on top of a foot of snow that had already fallen, the sea of white blanketing the expansive grounds gave off a serene beauty radiating in every direction. Though I knew my Canon 5D2 was technically supposed to be ‘weather sealed’, I was still expecting some to find some sort of damage later in the day from all the snowflakes falling/melting on the lens and camera body. But, no such thing happened, and the camera proved its rugged reliability yet again.

SHOTS FROM MY TRIP:

On the Stockholm Palace royal grounds during a wet and heavy snowfall

On the Stockholm Palace royal grounds during a wet and heavy snowfall

Lowering the camera off the cliff on the monopod

Lowering the camera off the cliff on the monopod

What it looks like around 3:30 PM in Stockholm in December

What it looks like around 3:30 PM in Stockholm in December

Sledding

Sledding

Stockholm river front

Stockholm river front

Hanging out in the city center with my cousin's family

Hanging out in the city center with my cousin’s family

Winter market in the city center

Winter market in the city center

Skokyrkogarden Cemetery in Stockholm. Reminiscient of Godric's Hollow from the Harry Potter movies.

Skokyrkogarden Cemetery in Stockholm. Reminiscient of Godric’s Hollow from the Harry Potter movies.

Skokyrkogarden Cemetery in Stockholm. Reminiscient of Godric's Hollow from the Harry Potter movies.

Skokyrkogarden Cemetery in Stockholm. Reminiscient of Godric’s Hollow from the Harry Potter movies.

The Making of . . . Or, What We Do When We Aren’t Sitting Around the Apartment

Originally posted on Midwest Roots to Mumbai Shoots:

A make-up dada gets Jo ready for set.

A make-up dada gets Jo ready for set.

I realize that many of you readers out there may not be familiar with what a film shoot actually involves; to be honest, I am not clear what the hell is going on a good deal of the time.  But I thought I would go ahead and give a rough breakdown of what a shoot might look like from our end of things.  And for all of you that have worked in film/media elsewhere, keep in mind that this is the Indian version, and disorder is not only a major part of everyday life, but seems to be a fundamental law.

A recent shoot that we worked on took us to Lucknow, a city in northern India, which we saw almost none of during our stay.  We had done an evening’s worth of rehearsals for this shoot – a particularly Indian-style “item number”…

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