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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Well it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I havn’t posted for some time as I have been down in Lincolnshire visiting family and taking photos at a musical variety show that my stepsister is the director of. I have done a lot of adventure film research, and have heaps of new ideas waiting to be unleashed.

Luckily, my 5d mk ii, 24 -70 and 70-200 lenses arrived a few days ago so I have been on a none stop picture and film taking high. I spent the past few days climbing with my girlfriend and a few friends and will be uploading pictures and video over the next few days. I am however having trouble with the video at the minute, as my Macbook cannot handle Final Cut Pro whilst editing video, or Lightroom and Photoshop when editing large RAW files. I am considering getting myself a new Macbook Pro, but will see what the techys at PC World say tomorrow.

I’ve also got a hellish amount of planning to do, what with being a photographer at the British Bouldering Champs this weekend, the International Bouldering Champs the weekend after, followed by two weeks in Fontainbleau. I will upload some images before I head off to the BBC’s this weekend, and then hopefully put up a few posts before I head away to France.

Well, I have spent the last 48 hours glued to my macbook. It has been raining here in the Lake District and I have occupied my time with hours of film based research and stewed homegrown rhubarb!

There are a few adventure film production companies that have really caught my eye over the last few months, and I took this rainy opportunity to explore thoroughly what they are doing, as well as trying to get a glimpse of how they do it. I have taken over 150 screenshots over the last two days, and after sorting them into folders have come up with a bit of a schedule for the next two or three weeks. For our final film project for our second year of university, a friend of mine built a plywood dolly that would enable us to capture some shots that would have otherwise been shaky and unusable. This initial creation was the inspiration for the research I have carried out.  I don’t want to say much more than that really, other than that I imagine I will create a right mess and will likely cover the neighbor’s barn in shed loads of sawdust and aluminium filings! I will upload photos and videos of the projects as they are carried out.

A significant amount of my time is spent researching the adventure industry. I spend many hours watching videos, reading articles, searching through new equipment and reviews, and trying to gain a further comprehension of how to increase the quality of the media I produce.

Already having a great interest and admiration for the films and works of Alastair Lee, I was keen to obtain a copy of his new book, Lake District Mountain Landscape. Alastair states that his book ‘focuses on the high mountains of Lakeland – a domain filled with many scenic treasures and adventures’ and that the book is ‘about the mountains themselves, their history, geology, ecology and culture you find in and on them’. The book is a refreshingly original twist on the stereotypical Lake District panorama collection, and Alastair makes some very poignant statements. He notes that the problem, for him, lies in the ‘endless racks of clichéd picture postcards in every shop in the district’, and that the ‘plethora of Lakeland artwork, paintings, photography and calendars on display was all remarkably similar.’ I whole-heartedly sympathise with his view, and this is something I have felt since I first began exploring photography and film two years ago. Alastair’s book is a great inspiration for me, and over the last few days has helped my ever-expanding pool of ideas to surge into full flow.

Near the back of the book, Alastair has included a ‘Photographic Notes’ section. This area of the book includes the equipment he used to capture his images, as well as information on his views and ideology with regard to photography. He mentions the use of the Roundshot Super 220VR camera, as well as the Fuji GX617 which is no longer in production. I had not looked greatly into the use of film, panoramic or medium format cameras, and the images within Alastair’s book have inspired me to do research into these areas of the adventure media field. Interestingly, he also describes what he feels to be the technical elements of photography, and how to capture those perfect shots:

“Set the camera up on the tripod, compose your shot, check the horizon is level (spirit level on tripod), check exposure with light meter, set camera accordingly (is it a 90mm lens with a centre spot grad filter? If so push down one stop) keep aperture under F22 for corner to corner sharpness, check focus, take several exposures bracketing shot as experience dictates…”
Alastair then goes on to say that ‘what is difficult about landscape photography is being ‘in the right place at the right time’.’ Every good landscape photographer knows the above rules but I think that for me, it applies to more than just landscape photography. I have spent hours upon hours pondering the correct way in which to capture that perfect shot, whether I am dangling on a rope above an overhanging crag or stood firmly on top of a mountain, taking a photograph or shooting a section of video, and whilst reading Alastair’s photographic notes it occurred to me that this simple ‘ticklist’ that he has conjured includes all of the technical elements that need to be considered. Of course I still need to judge weather conditions, my access/rope/climbing techniques and methods, and how to work alongside other cameramen as effectively and efficiently as possible, but Alastair’s checklist has allowed me to improve my awareness of what it takes to be an adventure cameraman.