Time-lapse with the Panasonic GX8

 

Recently I was asked to make a time-lapse video during the creation of Susan Stockwell’s art installation at Hall Place, Bexley.

The installation – Trade Winds – would be made from thousands of coins on which would ‘float’ small ships made with paper money from around the world. I was aware that the installation could take up most of the floor space in the room which was about 8 x 10 metres so the first thing to sort out was where to put the camera. A tripod wasn’t an option as the chances of it being moved by accident were high but luckily there was a small lighting rail on the ceiling which I could use to hang a lightweight camera. I mounted the GX8 with a small clamp – backed up with Gaffa tape and a safety chain just in case the clamp and tape didn’t hold.

I used a 7.5mm Samyang Lens to cover the whole floor with the intention of cropping into the frame for the best coverage of Susan’s work.

The camera has a very good built-in intervalometer which is very easy to set up to shoot a series of images. I shot RAW still frames and didn’t use the in camera conversion to movie (quite frankly the conversion in camera is not very good). I processed the RAW frames in Capture One so I could output as jpegs which were then imported into Premiere Pro. I could then crop the full frame images as necessary to the 16:9 format.

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The Panasonic GX8 hanging upside down from the lighting rail.
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The final installation

It all worked pretty well and was used as both a standalone time-lapse and also as part of a longer video about the installation.

The only real issue I had was with the battery life which lasted  about 180 minutes, maybe a little more. Shooting about 3 frames a minute gave me around 600 frames or so depending on which battery was used. The installation progressed over 5 days so I would be away for much of the time, going in when I could to change batteries.  Sometimes the battery died before I could get in to replace it so there are a couple of points where the time-lapse moves on slightly quicker than it should but overall I think it works.

Susan Stockwell’s work can be seen on Su’s website.

Straight 8, the result

Well, I finally got around to seeing my Straight 8 film last month. To my surprise it was chosen for one of the London screenings, so on June 12th we had a family outing to The Vue Cinema in Piccadilly to go and see the result. Popcorn and all!

I have pretty much never shown unedited film, or even stills, for that matter to anyone. There’s always been some kind of edit, however minimal. Now here I was sitting among strangers – film makers, in a proper cinema, to watch something I hadn’t even seen myself!  Which was filmed with a 35 year old camera I had only used once to check it was working!

Obviously I must like making life hard for myself but that’s the partly the point of Straight 8. It’s not easy to produce something within the constriction of the 3 minute 20 seconds of film without having the luxury to edit afterwards. The only thing I had control over was the soundtrack, and I thought well at least that’s not too bad – people will have something to listen to.

My film was towards the end of the 25 shown so I had time to enjoy the others, the time flew by and then mine was up! The interesting thing was when my film came on I found that I wasn’t particularly nervous – I was more nervous in the pub before. I was just as interested to see if it had worked out as perhaps the rest of the audience were – well my family anyway.

My thoughts on seeing it? Yeah, it’s rough and raw – but that’s Straight 8. It was mostly a feeling of relief that it had kind of worked out something like I planned but really it inspired me to do it again. Push myself with a more difficult theme next time. It’s just a bit of fun so might as well push the limits – I played it a bit safe this time.

You can see my film above and if you want to see the others from the screenings the link is   www.https://vimeo.com/straight8/videos

When Steve met Stevie

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder at The Lanesborough Hotel, London, December 1994.

 

I noticed earlier this week that CBS aired a tribute to Stevie Wonder and it reminded me of the time I photographed him, so I thought that I would offer my own small tribute.

This year I will have been working in photography for 40 years. I decided that I might do the occasional look back over the years in my blog so I thought that I would start with one of the best moments.

It was December 1994 and I was sitting in the bar of the Lanesborough Hotel in London with a journalist, waiting to see Stevie Wonder. I had been around music photography since 1978 so had my fair share of photographing the famous. One of the first albums I bought was by Stevie Wonder, and his show at the Birmingham Odeon in 1968 was one of the first gigs I went to – so this was a bit more than just another job for me! It was a long wait in the bar,  a couple of hours – so no alcohol!  Eventually we were ushered in to the room and met Stevie – and what a great guy he was. One of the few stars that I have met that seemed genuinely interested in our conversation when we chatted before the interview – me mentioning the ’68 gig and him mimicking my English accent and making the atmosphere light and friendly. There were just the three of us in the room and I shot some photographs while the interview took place. We were there for maybe twenty minutes and then the interview was over.

They say never meet your heroes, but sometimes it’s worth taking the chance.

WInston Churchill, Havengore ceremonial

Churchill boat
The ceremonial guard at the front of the Havengore.

 

Back in the city today and I managed to get down to the river  to get a few shots of the start of the ceremonial event for the anniversary of Winston Churchill’s funeral. I remember watching the funeral on TV when I was young and that kind of thing always sticks in the memory so it was interesting to see a recreation of the event.

The boat which originally carried his coffin, 50 years ago today, retraced the route along the Thames – so I thought that I would go and get a few shots for stock. I know the area really well and had a place in mind to shoot from but as I couldn’t get down there until 45 minutes before the event I thought maybe I might have a struggle with crowds – but only a few tourists were around.  Even when the boat passed the crowd was very light and also not many photographers were near my position – always a good thing! Weather was good, bit of hazy sun and not too cold. The boat moved pretty quickly, much quicker than I expected, and from my position it was all over in a few minutes. I had  quite a few shots in the bag so as the boat moved on I packed up and headed for the station.

The fact that there weren’t big crowds did kind of make me wonder about the relevance of the anniversary for the average person on the street. There’s been a lot of media focus on the anniversary, a lot of stuff on TV,  and for those closely involved it’s obviously an emotional event, but as for the general public – many don’t seem to take much notice.  I found that there’s a few  commemorative things going on including an exhibition at the Science Museum which runs until 2016.

There’s also a General Election coming up in a few months – but whatever any of us might think of Churchill, it would be a shame if the anniversary of the death of a major world statesman were to be hijacked for political reasons. That wouldn’t happen would it?

 

The photograph above taken with a Canon 1D3 with 300mm f4 and 1.4x converter.

On the street, Cadillac GWiz

 

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Left – Cadillac, Rue de Rivoli, Paris 1981. Right, a Gwiz electric car, Bread Street, London 2014

When I was younger I used to like wandering around the streets of London ( or where ever I might be) with my camera looking for interesting things to photograph, ‘street photography’ as it’s commonly known.

Now I’m doing that again. I’m in the City of London quite often so now I look around for things to shoot when I’m on my way to a job, or scout out a location to go back to later. It’s something I stopped doing for a long time. I was just concentrating on earning money I guess, it’s an easy trap to fall into, but for a while now I have been shooting more stuff just for myself. Anyway here are a couple of shots, old and new. I have been scanning some old work recently and when I saw the little electric GWiz on the way to a job yesterday I remembered my Cadillac shot (Paris 1981) which I had scanned only a few days ago. Cars that are on opposite ends of the spectrum in just about every aspect.

For the technically minded, the Paris shot was done using an Olympus OM -1 with a 35mm f2 lens, the GWiz with a Canon 5D3 and 24 – 105mm lens.

Rainy night Moonwalk

Designer bras on display at the Walk The Walk event
Designer bras on display at the Walk The Walk event

 

Clapham Common, London, on a very windy and rainy evening in May. It was the night of the Moonwalk. The event organised by Walk The Walk, a charity dedicated to raising money for breast cancer causes.

I had heard about the Moonwalk but this was my first time working at the event –  I was there to photograph the celebrities for Walk The Walk. Great guest tent – tent’s the wrong word – more of a marquee/orangery, styled with trees adorned with fairy lights.

Anyway the event is all about bras – and showing off your decorated bra on the walk, and not just for women as men are encouraged to don a bra and join in the walk too. Mannequins wearing bras decorated by designers and celebrities including Aliza Reger and Charlie Dimmock were on display in the guest tent.

So my evening was spent shooting the celebrities and their bras, including Walk The Walk ambassador, Harriet Thorpe. A very upbeat event – also a  friendly bunch of press photographers to work alongside.

Midnight and the walkers were on their way. I drove  my assistant for the night, Lauren, back to Clapham Common tube station – yep, the tube to Elephant and Castle much quicker than car even at that time of night. I sat in the queue of traffic on Clapham High Street and thought about the walkers. A cold night, still a little rain, and I guess unlike the marathon – no streets lined with cheering crowds to help them on their way. That takes some commitment!

For more information about Walk The Walk go to   http://www.walkthewalk.org

Abbey Road revisited

Tourists on the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing.

It’s been a long time since I have been to Abbey Road, work doesn’t seem to take me to that part of town these days and the last time I worked at the studios was sometime in the early 90’s. My first job there was in 1979 and I worked there quite a few times in the 80’s.

So there I was last week walking up towards the Abbey Road Studios to photograph a party and I saw these photographers taking pics of the tourists on the crossing. My first thoughts were – good little business idea ( I guess they were selling the photos) but surely dangerous! Then I thought, no, it’s actually far less dangerous than having lots of tourists jumping in  front of the traffic with their own cameras. At least these guys understand the traffic and which direction it’s coming from and in the short time I was there they only went out in the road when it was safe. Can’t imagine what it must be like in the summer – manic! This was 4pm on a grey, cold and rainy January day and there was a small queue forming! So I didn’t interrupt them and went on my way to the party, looking forward to working in Studio 1 and Studio 2 again.