More Video Production

Over the summer of 2012, I worked as the General Coördinator for Pembroke College International Programmes. During this summer I also got the chance to help film and produce a wonderful little informational pseudo-documentary (infomentary?) on The Pembroke-King’s Programme. The Pembroke-King’s Programme (or PKP) is a 2 month summer programme run by Pembroke College, Cambridge, which offers an immersive ‘Cambridge experience’ for students from around the world.

This year we decided that a informational video was needed to convey how awesome the programme was (partly because a whole bunch of the competing summer programmes had them), so I got involved with the filming and ideas behind it. I’m mentioning it now because it got put up super recently. So check it out. I did a whole bunch of the interview filming and some of the later clips. Thanks to Jonnie Penn for all the editing, Sarah Eastland for the interview help, and Nick Godfrey for a lot of coördinaion. Enjoy.

How to tie a bow tie instructional video

Did I mention I designed, filmed, edited and produced a little instructional video on how to tie a bow tie recently? I figured every bow tie company had to have one, so I went ahead and made my own for Bowtiful.

It turns out there were A LOT of videos out there a lot like it. Try typing in bow tie instructional into youtube, there are many many results. So, in the spirit of Bowtiful I thought I should try something different. I did the video ‘solo style’ – so just tying the tie on its own. No person’s neck involved. So you can see how a wonderful Bowtiful bow is tied super clearly. It’s also all filmed on my wonderful Canon 5D3 in somewhat gorgeous and shallow depth of field HD. It makes it look a whole lot better than most of the other videos out there. Perhaps have a little look if you get a chance?

I also got round to adding a little segment on Behind The Bow about the making of the instructional video. It kind of details why I made the video like I did and what the rationale behind my doing it was. It’s available here on the Behind The Bow blog at Bowtiful Ties. Consider the video mentioned now.

Goodbye 35

Not that I was getting bored of my 35mm lens, in fact I really like some of the pictures that I was producing using it. But I’ve decided to give it up and move on. I bought it about a year and a half ago, as something other than a 50mm for my crop body EOS350d. 50 x 1.6 was getting close for group shots, so I figured fuck it and bought a fast prime a little wider than 50. Hence the 35. The other options were (similarly) ancient 24s and 28s. The 40 2.8 pancake wasn’t out then, so wasn’t really a factor. But everything else was 2.8. Not 2.0. I wanted that extra almost stop of light.

When you’re sacrificing your legs (or your zoom) over fast glass and better quality, you want to get the damn fastest you can. I was shooting with a oldish camera body at the time. ISOs above 800 were wonderfully unusable, and even 800 pushing it (almost literally, but this ain’t film). So I wanted something fast, and cheap. The 35/2.0 was great in that regard. It was bigger, heavier and even had a focus ring (of sorts) compared to the 50/1.8, but it wasn’t too expensive, and it made damn sharp images (esp. when using only the middle of the potential imaging circle).

But hey. Fast forward to now. I’ve spent a silly amount of money on photography in 2012 and have a few new lenses and a wonderful new body (that isn’t quite as ISO limited as before). The 35mm was feeling old. Its build quality wasn’t up to the other lenses I had (I use a 100/2 and a 50/1.4). It was also a focal length I used a lot, but, at the same time, I didn’t want to use that much because I frankly didn’t feel it as much as the 50 and more so with the 100. Especially for great close-up candid photos, I feel a fast short telephoto is required. Obviously the 35 is no telephoto, but group shots are needed too from time to time, as are bops and other such events that warrant something wider.

So I had a look into getting something new. Something faster perhaps, but something not too expensive. I could go for the 35/1.4L, a fine lens, but it’s big, and expensive. And selling my existing 35 would hardly compensate a fraction of the cost of it. I might consider it one day, but for the moment I needed something more affordable. Canon has recently revamped the f/2 primes (the 24/2.8, 28/2.8 and 35/2.0) with IS, better build quality (involving a more accurate closed loop focussing system when using a new body – see this LensRentals article for more info), and higher price tags to go with it all… All well and good except that they’re expensive, like almost at the price of the 35L expensive. And they’re not any faster, at least in laymen’s terms (ignoring the IS potential…). The 24 and 28 are even slower than the 35 I want to replace. So where does that leave me.

Step in the 28/1.8. It’s faster than my old 35, a whole F-STOP faster than the new 24s and 28s, and has the build quality of the 100/2 and slightly better than the 50/1.4. Ultrasonic focussing, rear-element focusing (no outside elements move!). Wonderful little things. It has mixed reviews. Rockwell kinda likes it, but notes that it’s a little uncontrasty when shot wide open, but it has some hit and miss reviews on sharpness and wide open performance when reading around. Anyway, fuck it, I won one off eBay. Got it for a pretty good price (substantially lower than the Amazon list price (both for new and used)) and so I figured I should try it out.

I’ll try and get some pictures soon, but all in all, I like it. It has a dreamy sorta vibe when shot wide open at objects that are fairly close. Kinda cool, but it’ll take some practice to master. However the conclusion of it all, is that the 35 gets sold sadly. It’s great lens. I’m somewhat sad to see it go, it was a sharp copy, but at the same time it wasn’t always my favourite lens to use. Anyway, I hope the person who gets it realises how much better it is than any kit lens they’ve ever used… AND, as an upshot of selling it on eBay, I had to take a photo of it, and the photo that I took looks legit. Like product photo-eque. Oh the benefits of playing around with ambient light mixed with off camera flash. And it was taken with my new 28. Check it out above.

On LomoChrome

Film photography has been dying. Or rather evolving. Kodak’s going/gone (Kodachrome definitely is). Fuji’s started pulling (certain sizes of) Velvia 50, but there’s one little hip company still pushing the film craze – Lomography. And today they hyped the launch of their new film—LomoChrome—they called it.

I found their little news pre-release a couple days back and got all excited:

Lomography’s mission is to keep film photorgaphy [sic] alive and kicking. To be able to do this, we’ve found an exciting new way to keep your film stocks full of amazing Lomography films. How, you ask? Well, we now have access to a new production facility to produce films at the best prices. Can’t believe what you’re reading? You won’t have to wait any longer because tomorrow we’ll introduce the first in a series of brand new Lomography-developed films! The clue is in this article’s title: LomoChrome.

Last year they managed to revitalise a truly dire yet compact film format—110—and I was surprised. Even in its relative heyday, 110 was always substandard to 35mm. The 13 x 17mm frame size of 110 compared to 24 x 36mm of 35mm. Couple this with the fact that a large majority of the 110 cameras were fairly poorly made and you have the potential for awful photography. However, I shall stay quiet and say no more. Lomo’s revival of the 110 format has been well implemented, and so far well received. First the Orca, then the Tiger, Lobster and even the Peacock. Delighting a whole new generation of film shooters with a reissue of these dinky little cartridges that they just missed by being born in the 90s.

So for Lomography’s next act, I expected something more. They (re-)popularised large format film with Dianas, Holgas and their own contraptions, miniaturised these very cameras to make 35mm counterparts, tried a TLR revolution with a remade Russian Lubitel and then went after 110. What would be next? Would they revive APS? Perhaps popularise photographic plates?

And then I found the above press release. It had the word chrome in it. That could only mean one thing. A Kodachrome revival! They would attempt to make and develop Kodachrome film once again, only 2 years and 1 month after the last roll had been processed. The world of film photographers would rejoice! The wonders of Kodachrome 64 and the mysterious K-14 development process would once again be available to all! Yes. Perfect timing for my finding of 8 rolls of un-exposed Kodachrome 64 and one of Kodachrome 25 in the house clearout.

So the 30th of January came and I checked Lomography to find that yes, LomoChrome had in fact been released. But not as I thought:

Ready for the latest Lomographic Film sensation? We have some fantastic news for you! We’re excited to introduce you to our latest emulsion – LomoChrome Purple. It’s an awesome color negative film which gives naturally infrared results! Limited stock is available for pre-order, in 35mm and 120 formats. Delivery is guaranteed in July 2013 for most countries.

NO. It’s not a Kodachrome revival. It’s not even a slide/transparency film. It’s a faux IR film, based on Kodak’s Aerochrome, called LomoChrome Purple. Way to ruin to my day. And it’s not even available now, you have to pay now to finance the production of the stuff. I guess the last Lomography Kickstarter campaign didn’t totally float their boat, despite it getting totally over-funded. However, this begs the question. “Has any actually been pre-produced?” Are the photos you see on the Lomography site just Photoshop mockups of what happens to a photo if you change the curves radically? This can’t be legit IR film.

I imagine the samples are the real deal, and that the film will be interesting to shoot, develop and admire, but all the while I can’t help feeling cheated. I wanted Kodachrome back. I guess I just have to wait a few more years until Kodachrome becomes trendy again.

What I’ve done so far this year

I owe myself some sort of recap on what I’ve been up to so far this wonderful January. Partly to convince myself that I have, in fact, done something, and party to set a level to base myself off (and obviously do more) for the rest of the year. Having been home in Scotland now for just over a month, I’ve had to adjust to a much different (and in particular slower) pace of life. We’re trying to move house, and so I’ve been involved with a lot of the cleanup, packing and moving boxes around that we all associate with moving. There’s a lot more to go, so I don’t want to get bored quite just yet.


BOPI’ve done a fair amount of photography related things so far this year. More than I think I’ve done probably. I travelled down to Cambridge a week ago to see friends and photograph the BOP. Possibly the best sort of party ever, and it was a change shooting one with my 5D3 instead of my old 350D. Having a 35mm lens that actually is 35mm (and not 1.6 x 35) was a nice change, as was being more knowledgable about playing around with flash settings, knowing what to expect, what I wanted, and how to get that result. The photos are available here.

More along the photography lines, I’ve had a chance to read Syl Arena‘s wonderful book on Speedliting. Not only does it explain wonderfully how and why flash works the way it does, it goes into a suitable level of detail on how digital camera settings can be understood and work together. I knew most of this already, but reading it from his perspective, and seeing it all set out in front of me has only helped my understanding more. On a whim, I went out an purchased a short e-TTL cord so I can put my Speedlite off camera. I haven’t really had much of a chance to put it to use, there being few opportunities for portrait sessions etc, but I plan to soon. I also got hold of a EX580 Speedlite which I can use as a wireless master to trigger my existing flash to create far more wonderful and varied flash effects. I’ve got much more into reading photography blogs and forums as of late too. I think it’s especially great getting angles on products and techniques from totally different parts of the industry.


Braised eggs with spinach, roast tomatoes, sweet potato and yoghurt.

When left alone for a while, I have this wonderful tendency to migrate to the kitchen, cook some wonderful (and sometimes bizarre) dishes, and make A LOT of mess. I’ve had this opportunity this month quite a lot, and so I’ve managed to make some wonderful meals, using both old and new recipes, both from cookbooks and from free-styling. In the last week I’ve taken a little inspiration from Ottolenghi, chopping and changing some of his recipes to get some interesting dishes. These included a warm lentil, danish blue, and roasted tomato salad, Braised eggs with spinach, roast tomatoes, sweet potato and yoghurt, and some interesting mixes of sweet potato, apple, squash, garlic and chill all slow roasted.

Hareiller Chicken

On the meat side of things, I’ve almost perfected Tim Ferriss’ Hareiller Roast chicken, become a hero at grilling lamb chops and slow-roasted the hell (in the best way possible) out of a wonderfully balsamic lamb shoulder. I’ve got my take on Ferriss’ Osso Buko on the cards for this evening. Photos to follow. I’ve also made a few wonderful minestrone soups, using both a generic recipe, and one from Delia, both of which turned out nicely, though somewhat different. After Christmas lunch, and bread sauce making, I’ve started to apply a similar technique to making stock, using lots of cloves and nutmeg. It’s a particular somewhat warming (and vaguely spicy flavour) that I’ve grown to like. I tried applying this further (to roaring success) when making black refried beans. In the part of the recipe where one boils the hell out of the beans (mainly because I don’t have the time, nor the patience, to soak them overnight) I added some cinnamon bark, an onion stuck with cloves, and some nutmeg (in addition to all the wonderful other things). The result – amazing. I now consider myself some sort of demi-god in the refried (black) beans arena. Thankfully my father thinks so too.

Having the space, time and opportunity to cook so much recently has given me a great chance to learn more from others, to appreciate some new (and different) flavour pairings that I hadn’t quite thought of before, and realise that while some cuisines share very similar ingredients, the order and relative quantities of cooking with them can make all the difference.

Flavour pairing wise, I have this great affinity towards this thai hot sauce mixed with thyme on my morning eggs. It’s just wonderful.

Bowtiful Ties

Banner4Earlier this month I mentioned that I’d got Bowtiful running in a little more of an elegant way. With it’s wonderful webstore and twitter/facebook/etsy/folksy accounts, I have my fingers in all sorts of pies. But more on this another time.

And more

I brought my ridiculously dangerous bright orange fixie back up to Scotland when I came back from Cambridge so I’ve now had the opportunity to tear around the streets having a great time. I’ve applied to some wonderful jobs, made/published/converted some brilliant eBooks that will be going up on the Kindle Store soon, and even read some books. Especially Ryan Holiday’s book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, which has thoroughly tainted my opinion of online media. Shame.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

So maybe a year and a half back, Yvon Chouinard’s book-Let My People Go Surfing-popped up on my business-books-to-read radar. I read it, loved the story behind it, bought into the ideology entirely and recommended the book to a whole bunch of friends (who I hope have enjoyed it too). It’s a different kind of book on business, but it’s fantastic. While Chouinard may have started to redefine what it could mean to be an ethical and globally responsible organisation, the attitude and the hunger for change is ultimately the most inspiring part and what I took from the book. Trying to track/map the footprint of the manufacture of each garment has McDonough/Braungart’s Cradle To Cradle ideology all over it. But I feel Yvon’s need to do this was achieved independently and originally, making the idea/concept/process that little bit more powerful.

Now looking back through emails from the last year, I happened to come across one to my father where I justified the purchase of a new Patagonia Nano Puff jacket purely because Let My People Go Surfing was such a great book, painting such a wonderful picture of Patagonia. Here’s what I said:

Also, purchased a light alpine jacket from Patagonia. It’s literally the nicest jacket ever. You will LOVE it. Weighs about 250g, and compresses to fit in its own inside pocket. Entirely windproof and mostly water resistant, very thin, but will keep one warm down to the temperatures where the Canada Goose jacket is required. Even better, on warm days, it’s totally breathable, so you feel the right temperature, not too warm. I only bought it because I read Chouinard’s book (Let My People Go Surfing (though he has a new one now!)) and the company sounded excellent. The book’s a great marketing idea and the jacket surpasses every expectation I remotely had. You should think about getting one similar if you get a chance.

9 months on, I still agree with everything I said then. The jacket is fantastic and one of the best purchases I’ve made in a while. On a slightly related note, I was surprised to find my exact jacket for sale used in Shimo-Kitazawa for more than I paid for it. Talk about great resale value (or a weak Yen?). Nonetheless, if you need a new light jacket, and want something incredible, you now know where to look.

Good Morning Tokyo – a short film

So it seems that since getting back from Japan and not having any immediate work to sink my teeth into has given me a particularly creative spurt. First, I had the launch of Bowtiful Ties, which involved designing and making 5 new lines of ties, developing some packaging and totally revamping and uplifting the website. Now, I’ve had the opportunity to get a whole load of the time-lapse and video footage that I took in Japan and edit it into a short film. It’s by no means epic, but what it is, is a short look into my experiences of morning commuting in Tokyo. It’s the first video I’ve really shot on my 5D, and I like it. The quality, especially when you’re using a nice lens and you have some reasonable light around, is fantastic. Really fantastic. It’s hard at times to nail the focus, especially when moving, but that’s a challenge I’ll have to overcome.

Without further ado: