Photography, video, image making and creativity

Archive for December, 2008

Photographing North Vietnam

North Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, World Heritage Site.

Ha Long Bay, North Vietnam

The idea that one needs a huge camera with a billion megapixels to create wonderful images is nonsense.  I took two cameras with me on a adventure of trekking and exploring North Vietnam.  A little Canon A640 and an Olympus OM-4T.  As we trekked through the Hmong Villages and landscapes, walked the streets of Hanoi and ventured on a Junk in HaLong Bay I shot with both but these images were taken with this little camera bought at Costco.  I could post hundreds at this level and quality and have made many prints of the them as well.  Again, the idea that what we photograph and its qualities have virtually nothing to do with the equipment in many cases.  The “story” image is something that our mind, in a fleeting moment, discovers in the 360 degree cacaphony that we live within each moment.

My big Canon 5D Mark II is a huge asset in the commercial world.  But in many ways, its sheer size and bulk makes it a deterent to the images that one find at any particular moment.  The idea is to have the freedom to quickly record an idea…. the small, facile cameras such as the Olympus OM-4T (a film camera) with its tiny jewel like super sharp and fast lenses is one option, but in this case as we struggle through the jungles and floated on the junk the ease of the use of the small Canon A640 was a joy with its flip-out viewfinder.  My perspective is this:  The only thing that Henri Cartier Bresson didn’t know how to do was to put down his camera….

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Oporto, Portugal shot with Canon 5D Mark II

Oporto, Portugal

A few moments away from directing a TV commercial in Oporto, Portugal allowed me to take images of this incredible city from my hotel room on the river.  This is the very old and historic part of the city and it is quite lovely and densely tectured.  I used my new Canon 5D Mark II and am amazed with the almost filmic quality of the imagery.  Given that I am an image maker who has mastered actual film and its enormous ability to reflect contextual complex color palettes I was taken by this digital camera’s ability to come close (but still not close enough) to film.

I shot my wonderful Canon EOS 1V using Fuji Velvia as well but have not had time to scan the images. I have edited them and they are truly wonderful and as expected are still better in my view than those from the digital Canon.  However, all that being said, I will note that this extraordinary digital camera can do things almost as well as film and even though there is still a lot of room for improvement Canon’s sensitive ability to build a camera that is both “filmic” AND amazingly ergonomic are to be lauded.  There are  other aspects of this machine that a film camera can never accomplish such as its ability to shoot HD video with a full sized sensor is a exciting and a terribly useful addition (even though presently somewhat awkward).  We even used it for a few instances of B roll in our TV work… The HD was stunning.  And, if that isn’t enough, it needs to be noted that one has refined control over the images in the arenas of contrast, saturation, sharpness. For example, I shot B&W images that we beautiful and I had the ability to easily determine the filtration (like a red, orange, or yellow filter as well as contrast and so on).  Just amazing, and all on the same chip.

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