Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Wearable camera review: Autographer

This year I saw a competition hosted by Talenthouse called the 'Autographer Creative Invite' for a chance to photograph for Autographer and BBH.

I'd heard of the Autographer wearable camera before and being a photographer myself, I was immediately interested. The entry requirements were:

"'Autography not Photography'. Have you ever felt that you've missed the moment because you were behind the lens rather than truly being in the experience? Do you have that perfect photo that you took by accident but is the perfect blend of atmosphere, unposed subject and timing? These are the images that Autographer was made for, and they are looking for imaginative creatives with a gift for candid capture to express this authenticity.'

So I submitted this image of my little brother and I doing a Via Ferrata climbing route in France that fit the brief:


A few weeks later I got an email saying I'd made it into the final! This time they would send me an Autographer trial device and I had to capture a series of images that told a story whilst also continuing the 'Autography not Photography' theme.

Here's the trial device I received and what it looks like clipped on:

 

Here are some pics taken by the device:






After a few weeks of trying it out here are my impressions:

Pros

- easy to use with simple menu system
- camera intelligently reads the scene with sensors and takes photos automatically
- good to be able to choose a high, medium and low volume of images
- useful 9-shot burst mode for capturing action
- can be clipped on to collar, pockets, sleeves, belts
- can also be worn hanging around neck with strap
- can choose to hide or show LED lights and mute audio
- bluetooth to phone app worked really well and allowed for fast image sharing 
- Autographer software allows you to create slideshow videos of the images captured

Cons

- as you can see from the photo, it's not the smallest device in the world
- when clipped onto collar, device tends to hang down and point at the ground
- photo quality isn't brilliant, moving pictures often blurred
- the lens could be a wider angle to capture more
- slow to turn device on and off

Conclusion

I really enjoyed trying the device out, it was something totally different to what I'm used to - doing photography as both a profession and a hobby, it's my instinct to think about what photo I'm taking, ensure that my camera is set up correctly and do my best to get the perfect shot. With the Autographer, you simply clip it on and let it do it's thing. After a few minutes you actually forget you're wearing it and when you review your images afterwards, it's so interesting to see what pics it took. It really does manage to capture a huge amount of candid, unexpected moments and it's surprising how much you miss with your own eyes. 
I think if the device is smaller, quicker to start up and is given an improved camera, then this will be something a lot of people will go for, including professional photographers.

Check out the Autographer product video here:

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bols Around the World 2014 video 'Pangaean Roots' wins UK final

Pangaean Roots, the video I filmed and edited for Elliot Ball for the Bols Around the World 2014 competition, just won the UK final and sends him to Amsterdam for the World Final.

This was our second attempt at the competition, having attempted last year with our video, The OriGin Fiz.

Check out the video here:



This is the second time one of our videos has got through to a world final - back in 2012 our Siegert's Flip video gained 1st place in the Angostura Bitters Global Cocktail Challenge UK final and Elliot went on to compete in the grand final in Trinidad. Here's the video:

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Mountain Biking World Cup 2014 - Round 2 - Cairns - 26/27th April

Round 1 of the DH Mountain Biking World Cup saw Aaron Gwin and Manon Carpenter take the wins at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Watch the highlights here

This weekend we go over to Australia for Round 2 as Cairns plays host to the World Cup for the first time in 18 years!

Expect brother and sister racers, Mick and Tracey Hannah, 2nd and 6th in Pietermaritzburg, to put in good performances at their local track...

As always, watch the race live on RedBull here:

http://www.redbull.com/bike

Here is Claudio Caluori's preview of the rainforest track:




Thursday, 17 April 2014

How To Film Extreme Sports

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Apple Store on Regent Street in London with Jamie Barrow on 'How To Film Extreme Sports'.

Jamie talked about his background as a Team GB athlete, his injuries and his reason behind wanting to these speed records. I then went on to explain how we go about filming them, the equipment I use and the challenges I face doing this in extreme environments.

The event was really fun and we met some brilliant people - thanks to everyone that came!

Here are some pics from the event:




If you're interested in the content of my section of the talk, here are some notes on the things I talked about:

Planning


So Jamie usually comes up with the idea for the video and we'll then brainstorm as many crazy ideas as we can around the concept.
We then focus on what we want the end result to look like.
We make a Plan A for the video - this is the main reason for the film, what's the message we're trying to get across, what style do we want the video to have?
We then make a back up Plan B - if something goes wrong we can fall back on this.
For each of these plans, we will create a storyboard, a chronological run through from start to finish of what we want to happen in the film.
This storyboard allows us to then create a shot list, a list of every single shot I need to get for the video.
The shot list includes things like interviews, establishing shots, action shots, different angles.
All this is beneficial for Jamie as he can see his video coming together and work out what he needs to do.
It's beneficial for me because I can work out what shots to get, how I'm going to get them and what gear to take.

Gear


Talking of gear - as I said earlier, we make these videos without braking our bank balance. We don't buy or rent the most expensive gear. I own affordable gear or we borrow it from friends.
It's important to take only the necessary gear with you up on the mountain as usually the day involves lots of hiking and skiing. 
Try and get light gear but important to choose durable products as we're working in extreme environments - you don't want your important gear to let you down. I always look for weather sealed cameras.
I use a Nikon DSLR to do most of the filming. Ideally I take two, I borrow one from a trusting friend!
Lenses - kit lens (18-105), zoom (80-200), fisheye (8mm), prime (35mm or 50mm).
Tripod - CamLink, lightweight
GoPro - Hero 3+
DJI Phantom 2 - provided by DJI as they sponsor Jamie
Loupe - really useful to magnify the LCD screen and help you make sure you're in focus.
Audio - iPhone + headphones along with the iTalk app or an external mic like a Rode. 
Batteries and memory cards - at least 3 of each.
Walkie Talkies.
Laptop and case.
Dakine Rucksack.
Glidecam.
Cleaning kit.
Hand warmers.

Filming Tips and Techniques


Have your shot list printed out or on iPhone with you whilst filming.
Filming - 1080p in either 30 or 60fps on DSLR - up to 120fps on GoPro.
Always test both video and audio - audio can ruin a great video if not done correctly.
Stability - tripod with fluid head, shoulder rig, glidecam.
FCPX has a great built in video stabiliser if video is still shaky.
To prevent graininess (noise), use good lighting and a fast lens.

Challenges


The athlete needs to concentrate on what they're doing and I need to be focussed on being ready to go when they are. Learnt this from experience, so have camera set up and ready to go. All the athlete wants to hear when they are ready is that I am ready too, they don't want to have to wait for me to change some settings on my camera.
Really get to know your gear. Be prepared for something to just stop working and have your backup camera/battery/memory card easily accessible.
Communicate constantly with walkie talkies and be clear with messages.
Weather conditions - cold, always carry lens cloth and hand warmers.
Keep hydrated, wear suncream.
Gear - packing, keeping things light.
Getting permission to film.
Funding, Marketing, Sponsorship, Promotion, Social Media.
Backing-up footage.

Editing


Once you have backed up and organised your files, I like to go through all the clips (usually when travelling home) and make an index with the file name and content. The index then comes in really useful during editing.
Import into Final Cut Pro.
Ideally have separate drives for original footage and final cut pro files. I use G-RAID and G-Drive, SSD are ideal, super fast.
Leave edit for a day and look again, get second opinions.
Use things like Dropbox to share edits.

At the end of the day Jamie and I have a great working relationship and we have a lot of fun making the films. It's really satisfying when we've finished editing and we post the videos online and see what reactions they get.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Guardian 'Been There' Photography Competition - Architecture

I entered The Guardian's Eyewitness travel photography competition 'Been There' in March with my photo (below) of Marienplatz metro station in Munich.


As architecture isn't my speciality, I was surprised to get an email from them asking if they could publish the photo to advertise the competition. Here it is in their paper:


Although they published it and it received the second highest number of favourites on the website, it unfortunately didn't get through to the final ten!

Mountain Biking World Cup 2014 - Round 1 - Pietermaritzburg - 12/13th April

Great news downhill mountain bike lovers - the World Cup starts again this weekend, 12th -13th April 2014!

There are seven World Cup rounds, with the last being held in Méribel on 23rd - 24th August, followed by the World Champs in Hafjell, Norway, on September 6th - 7th.

Watch all the rounds live at RedBull.com/bike.

The first round will take place at the Cascades mountain bike park in Pietermaritzburg (PMB), South Africa. Last year, at the World Champs here, Greg Minnaar and Rachel Atherton won, but many people criticised the track for being too flat and pedally. It certainly was a test of the riders' fitness and it spoke volumes that Jared Graves came 3rd on his enduro bike!

Check out the highlights here:



And watch this episode of This Is Peaty for some hilarious behind the scenes footage:

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Behind the scenes video: The making of 'Dedicated' by Corey Rich

I just posted a blog on the new Corey Rich Nikon D4S video, Dedicated, and if you're interested in the behind the scenes of this video, check out the making of from Corey's Vimeo channel:

Nikon D4S video 'Dedication' by Corey Rich

Check out the new Nikon D4S movie called Dedication, by Corey Rich.

Corey is one of the best extreme sports photographers in the world so naturally I've been following him for years. When I attended the UK Photography Show last month, I saw the trailer for this video and couldn't wait for the full version to be released.

Here is the full video featuring photographers Robert BeckDave Black and George Karbus.

As you would expect from Corey, it's amazingly well shot and very inspiring, with just the right amount of cheesiness.


Shooting a Daily Vlog During the World's Toughest Adventure Race - Part 1

Earlier this year I got a phone call from Red Bull athlete, Paul Guschlbauer , asking if I was up for shooting and editing a daily vlog wit...