Life and News

A couple of years ago I began a thought process surround the relationship between Life, Death and Photography and began gathering various images to supplement my thoughts and feelings surrounding it.

Photography has a responsibility to show, wherever possible, the truth.  To throw off the rose tinted glasses and to show the world in all its glory, even if that glory is something many do not wish to see.

In the past 24 hours my family have seen the safe arrival of mine and my partners new daughter.  Alice entered this world at 11.24pm on the 11th of August 2016 and I had my camera of course.

It’s always important to get those precious moments, those first cuddles and the first meetings with grandparents, but what about the first breaths?  Anyone who has seen or experienced birth knows that it is a messy business but one that can be very humbling indeed.  In my images captured during the birth of my daughter I wanted to show as much of birth as I could ‘warts ‘n’ all’.

This blog post will be one of several studying this area of anthropology however I must warn the reader at this point that some of the images are graphic.  For this post I will leave it at this one image, taken just seconds after my daughter breathed her first breath.  My pursuit is in search of that honest document of Life and Death and its relationship with Photography.

Alice Seconds Old

Shooting a time-lapse

Set is key:

Set up your camera on a tripod and frame the shot you would like, just as if you were setting up for a single photograph.  Set the camera to Aperture Priority (A on a Nikon or Av on a Canon), this will mean the camera sets the shutter speed depending on the lighting conditions at the time, accounting for changes in light from cloud cover or other factors.  Choose a point in the frame to focus on, focus the camera and turn any AutoFocus functions ‘Off’, last thing we want is images with a disparity of focuses.  Finally ensure your camera is set to ‘Fine’ or ‘JPEG’, what! No RAW? That’s right, shoot JPEG.  With the final result being 30fps, the edited video is going to show 30 images every second! The file sizes for processing RAW files, combined with their short screen time, means that shooting RAW is an unnecessary approach.

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The intervals:

For my examples I took a photograph once every 10 seconds for an hour, this will give us a total of 360 images from one hour of shooting and will make a nice smooth 30fps edit at the end.  For timing the intervals a lot of cameras come with an ‘Interval Shooting’ mode (most Nikons do), but if yours doesn’t have one it just means you will need to time and release the shutter every 10 seconds, laborious I know!  An alternative could be to tether your camera to a laptop where many programmes such as Lightroom enable you to shoot at intervals, this does start to depend on other factors though, like needing a fully charged laptop or one that’s going to last a full hour!

Creating the Time-lapse

So what we have so far is a ton of image but no time-lapse, so let’s build!  Different people have different approaches but this is how I do mine.  First every image has to be sharpened and secondly every image needs to be cropped to a ratio of 16:9.  16:9 because that’s a widescreen ratio which is the standard screen ratio of the vast majority of TV’s, Monitors and Screens.  Sharpening because we must always sharpen an image, but how do we do this to 360 images without wanting to pull our eyes out?  Again this is how I do it, open the folder with our images in Adobe Bridge, select all of them, then access File > Open in Camera Raw. 

Next we’re going to select all the images as in the second screenshot.  From here, while all images are selected, anything and everything we do will be applied to all of the images.  We also need to change our cropping ratio to 16:9 and apply the crop to an image. As we shot with a tripod, the parameters of every image are the same anyway so this will easily apply the crop to all 360 images.  Now simply save out the images to a destination of your choosing, keep the file name the same just for ease.  This may take some time depending on how fast your computer is.

Now it’s time to start building the actual time-lapse, a lot of what we’ve done until now has been essential ground work to help it succeed.  To build my time-lapse I’m going to use GoPro Studio which is a free software available from the GoPro website and I find that it works very well.  I’ve tried various softwares in the past, mostly video editing ones, and find them to just be too processor hungry and overly complicated for what we need.

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First we’re going to import the images to our project, followed by selecting the imported set, then ‘add clip to conversion list’, then hit ‘Convert’.  From here the software will convert all the images into a single video piece which operates at 29.97 Frames Per Second (fps).  From here ‘Proceed to Step 2’.

When in the edit step we’re not going to make any changes or faffing, this is just if you’re using GoPro studio to apply filters or type or any other video editing tools.  We’re simply going to drag our project on to the timeline and move on to Step 3.

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Step 3 is simple, give your time-lapse a name and a saving destination and voila! You have your time-lapse video.

As I said before, this is my approach, you might have your own.  Check out the video below, Happy shooting! 

Eastney Harbour Mouth

Fort Blockhouse Officers Mess

Recently when working for a new client I was quite privileged to photograph two Regimental Sergeant Major ‘Dine Outs’ in a row.  To the uninformed these are basically retirement parties for individuals who have spent a very large portion of their life serving in the army, the first was 23 years of service and the most recent was retiring after 25 years!

Amongst the formalities of the evening there were several speeches which I was there to photograph.  Halfway through shooting it dawned on me that I was the only person with a camera / photographing.  The closest thing I can compare it to would be the speeches after a wedding breakfast, in this scenario there would be several other people in the room either filming a video on their phone or taking pictures using a personal digital camera, but in this room I was the only one.  This level of exclusivity was quite humbling and the weight of responsibility came with it.

The lighting conditions were by far the most difficult I’ve ever had to shoot in with candles on the tables kicking out warm light and the fluorescent tubes lighting the paintings of famous sea battles on the walls pushing out cold light.

Asides from these aspects I also considered the importance of being able to photograph in this place.  A non-place which has been stood here for over 100 years and so rarely gets seen by all but an exclusive group of people.  Not like ‘joe public’ can wander in to have a look around.  In the same way that I have photographed in prison cells, or other rarely seen worlds, it is photography’s responsibility to document even the most mundane of things.