Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 28: deceptively simple, exceptionally delicious

Stir-fried ground chicken on rice. 
(ground chicken, onions, bacon, shitake mushrooms, madeira wine, parmesan cheese, celery, green pepper, tarragon, secret mushroom sauce.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 26: the Sony a65: not bad for a first generation SLT

At the Guelph Arboretum, under tall maples, birches, poplars, and cherries are areas that are flooded in the winter and spring. I came across two U of G students, Joey and Ben enjoying a game of hockey on an unseasonably warm early February day.
The credit for the music should be:
JS Bach, 23 French Suite No. 6, BWV 817, E major_ Sarabande

The Sony a65 was an ambitious camera: an SLT APS-C camera crammed with 24 megapixels. Lowlight was a struggle at ISO1600 but in good light, it had a years-ahead-of-its-time EVF and Live View display that was brilliant and true to life, PLUS, continuous autofocus using phase detect. This was a camera that even now, Nikon and Canon are hard-pressed to match.
So here's a video from 2013 shot with the Sony a65 on full auto.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 25: a rediscovered respect for the Sony a99

Often times, the plethora of new and newer digital developments would led us to believe that yesterday's (last year's) technology was not very good. The Sony a99 was never known for having superior video capabilities. But if you work within its limitations, AND, with good content, the a99 can deliver.
Here's a video from when I was just exploring the a99 for video.

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 24: wedding cake

 January 24th.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 23: Single-Malt

January 23rd.

Depth of Field: explained

A colleague of mine recently asked how to obtain shallow depth of field (DOF) and so for her and others, here are the 4 factors that affect DOF, in order of greater impact to lesser impact on DOF.
1. Lens aperture, or lens f-stop #, e.g., f1.8, f2, f3.5, f4, f5.6, etc. 
A smaller f-stop # = wider opening = shallower DOF. A lens with a smaller f-stop # is said to be a faster lens (lets in more light) and is always more expensive than a similar focal length with larger f-stop #. It will also be bigger and heavier heavier since it will incorporate more glass elements and more exotic coatings, etc. All things being equal (same sensor size, same lens focal length, same camera-to-subject distance), a smaller f-stop # will produce a shallower DOF.
2. Camera sensor size. Cameras come in different sensor format (from largest to smallest) such as Full-Frame (Canon 5DIII, Nikon D800, Sony a99), APS-c or cropped sensor (Canon 7D, Nikon D300, Sony A77II), micro 4/3rds (Olympus EM-D, Panasonic GH4), 1" (Lumix L100, Sony RX10), 1/1.7" (Panasonic LX3), 1/2.3" (all point-and-shoots). All things being equal (same f-stop #, same lens focal length, same camera-subject distance), the bigger sensor will produce a shallower DOF than a smaller sensor. For example, a 50mm lens on Full Frame will have significantly shallower DOF than the same lens on a micro 4/3rds.
3. Lens focal length. All things being equal (same f-stop #, same camera, same camera-to-subject distance), a longer lens, e.g., 100mm will have a shallower DOF than a shorter lens, e.g., 50mm.
4. Camera-to-subject distance. All things being equal (same f-stop #, same camera, same lens focal length), the closer the camera is to the subject, the shallower the DOF.

If it sounds confusing, it shouldn't be. Thankfully, some advanced cameras have a stop-down button, that when pressed, "closes down" the lens to the desired taking aperture (or f-stop) so that one can have an approximate visual idea as to the DOF. (All cameras always have the aperture wide-open until the moment  the shutter is pressed, at which time the aperture "closes down" to the desired aperture.)
There are a lot of samples on the web to illustrate what I have just explained.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 22: Mutt & Jeff & the Lion-Hunter

ISO12800. January 22nd.

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 21: a guest post using the Sony NX30

Almost pitch-black (aside from the wall lights).
I had to use the fastest only camera/lens combination I had in the room: the tiny-perfect Sony NX30 wide-open @ 26f1.8, full gain (+2.0), 1080 24p. Post-processing in Premiere Pro CS6, using Magic Bullet. Audio was from the mounted shotgun mike and a Sennheiser lav mike taped to a stand facing one of the speakers.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 19: light post, road sign, and tall buildings

January 19th

The Power of Video; Instructions on how to use it safely

This morning January 9, at about 9:00 am, I walked into the McDonalds at 119 N Wabash. I encountered a young man of about 23. He was eating and emotionally agitated and crying as he ate, he was complaining because he did not get something with his food. And asking people for help. He suddenly knocked a chair over.

I cautiously walked over to him and asked him what was wrong? I asked him to talk to me. He tried. He had clearly, broken down. He was mentally ill, agitated and I knew by now the police had been called.

He was incoherent, he did not get what he wanted, he needed money. I asked him how I can help. He wanted two dollars. I asked him to sit down and not be disruptive and I and I would help him. I wanted to get him out of the restaurant before the police came and they dragged him off to jail. This is the fate of the mentally ill who have a crisis in public.

I got my oatmeal and brought him my change. He had calmed down. I wanted to talk to him and walk him out of the McDonald’s before the police came. I told him he had to calm down to please hurry eating and I would walk him out.

We continued to talk, two women officers came in. I explained to them, he got a bit excited, but he was ok now. I was just about to walk him out. He was fine now.

One of the officers seemed to accept that. The other officer asked for his I.D. at that point I knew, I had lost. He stood up and he was looking for his ID. Just then, two male officers walked in. A salt and pepper team. Pepper took one look at the kid and said “We're just locking him up". Salt grabbed his wrist and he resisted, saying he had done nothing.

He had knocked over a chair and acted belligerently, and that is prompted the manager to call the police. What he had done was indicative of a mental health crisis. And legal policy is clear regarding mentally ill persons subject to police emergency detention as stated below:

"(a) Authority for the police to take mentally ill and mentally retarded persons into custody in emergency situations should be statutorily defined and limited to the following two classes of persons:

(i) those whose conduct represents a danger to themselves or others; and,
(ii) those who appear so gravely disabled as to be unable to provide themselves with the basic necessities of life.”

My man clearly had exhibited (a)-(i). But I had him calmed down. He was complying to the requests of the women officers, but the testosterone arrived, then amped it up. I was more than a little pissed. But I only talk to the kid to try to calm him down. I knew the more he struggled the more justification the police had to maximize their efforts to restrain him.

Given the present climate, and because of how quick Officer Pepper was to decide to arrest this young man I started shooting his arrest with my phone. Why, because it is necessary that the police know they are under surveillance just and their conduct is be scrutinized by the public. Justice is a partnership.

I try to adhere to an clear code of personal conduct. No declaration of my rights. No verbal engagement with the officer about how they are doing their job. When you do, it is the road to disorderly conduct and a justifiable arrest.

Stand back, do not make any contact with officers. If they move back toward you, move to another position. It they try to obstruct you with anything, move to another position.

Senate Bill 1342 passed the Senate unanimously in April and the House on a 106-7 vote Dec. 3, 2014. It was sent to Quinn on Monday, Dec 9, 2014.

It allows you to record law enforcement officers on duty because it establishes that, in the words of the ACLU, “on-duty police officers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversations in public places.”

What the new law doesn't let you do is secretly audio or video record interactions in which one of the parties has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Talking directly to the officer regarding him doing his duty would have to be contested. DON’T

Do not reply or react to any actions such as blocking the camera, engage in no conversation. Keep your distance and continue filming.

After a number of minutes, they took the young man outside. He was setting himself up for a beatdown and actually kicked Officer Pepper, who ordered his arrest. The police restrained him in the snow on the ground outside McDonalds.

I did not follow because there are cameras in McDonalds, And I wanted those on me. I continued shooting through the window, cautious of not making Skip Gate’s mistake of following the police outside onto the street. Inside there was a crowd, cameras, property to damage that might require liability. They did not mess with me inside did not mean I was necessarily following the out the door. I did eventually go out, careful to not make eye contact or be baited into a conversation.

Another Sony convert: Marc Weisberg

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Death In the Philippines: a video

"Death in the Philippines" is an ethnographic film set in Northern Philippines. The film explores the religious syncretism, i.e. the combining of Colonialist Catholic traditions and local spiritual beliefs. There is no strict divide between the living and the dead in the Philippines, the dead can and still influence the living. It is the job of the living to control and maintain their relationships with the deceased.

The film is in two parts; the first part 'Remembering the Dead' follows one family's preparation and execution of remembrance rituals of the deceased that entwines the Catholic traditions of prayer and the local traditions of ancestor worship and gift giving. 

The second part deals with the removal of bad spirits in the home. Folk beliefs suggest that once a house becomes empty for a while bad spirits come and congregate there. Bad spirits are believed to cause illnesses and sometimes death and so their presence to the living is dangerous. Therefore, it is necessary for the living to remove these spirits, which is also done through a syncretic mix of Christian prayers and localised spiritual chants. 

The films balance each other as the first deals with maintaining a positive relationship with 'good' spirits such as relatives while the second film deals with the threat of bad spirits and how to remove them in such a way, that does not cause too much harm for both the living and the dead.

Filmed and edited by Chloe Evans during the Summer of 2012.

Video shot with the Sony A7S

Daily life in the Indian holy cities of Rishikesh, Haridwar, and Devprayag. This region lies in the foothills of the Himalayas where the Ganges River descends from the mountains. I visited not knowing what to expect, and I was both awed and saddened by the experience. The beauty of nature and the Hindu ceremonies contrasted with the poverty and suffering on the streets. The people I met had a high-spirited resilience that seemed to stem from surviving and maintaining their devotion through a challenging life.

"We Wish It Was Never Light"
Filmed on Sony A7s

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 15: gnome on snow under a tree

January 15th.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 14: two suns

January 14th.


A short clip based on moon shadows, the shadows cast by a cherry tree on snow under a full moon. Caledon, 2007.
A time exposure using a Canon 5D2, 24-105f4L.
Music by Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

the power of video: A Typhoon Haiyan update

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 7: trusty old lens

My vintage Minolta 35-70f4 on a Sony a57,  battered and well-used, taped up and sharper than any other lens outside of Zeiss. I got this as a freebie, and I won't hesitate to use this for paying jobs. Photo was taken with a Blackberry Z10.
"My Struggle" by Karl Ove Knausgaard. taken with the camera/lens combo as seen above. January 7th.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sony Alpha Diaries Day 5: the city at dusk (in layers)

Downtown Toronto. The lens for this post is a beat-up Minolta 35-70f4 with the rotating focusing mechanism bound with black electrical tape. And as I started to do this blog entry, I spilled some heavily-sugared tea on this lens, resulting in some stickiness. 
I got this lens as a freebie, but it has ended up being my go-to lens, very sharp, and suitable for Full-Frame!  January 5th.