Monthly Archives: December 2010

Nikon D7000 Video in the Reel World


I wrapped up the year by doing a little pro bono assignment, through the auspices of the Jonathan Krist Foundation, for a wonderful charter school in Trenton, NJ called the Foundation Academy. They needed a short video piece introducing the work of the school, and I was happy to take a crack at it with my new Nikon D7000 and its great video capabilities.

(Due to more bugginess with the video embed system here–sigh–, to see it, click here and it will take you right to my Vimeo site).

I was mightily impressed with the new camera in video mode…we were up in the high ISO’s regularly and the stuff looked very good. There is a sodium vapor-lit gymnasium that absolutely defied color correction (even by post production experts I consulted )…I haven’t seen lights like those since my corporate-shooting days in the 80s, and I thought they were all but gone, but I guess there are some still kicking. 

But other than that, the camera behaved perfectly.  To maintain aperture and shutter settings whenever possible, I tried using auto ISO for the first time in my life and it worked like a charm. I’m not sure if this is going to be a valid workflow in varying light for video, but I was emboldened to try it because of the new camera’s great performance at high ISOs. In the end, we also used a few clips that my wife Peggy grabbed with a Kodak Zi 8 (a wonderful point and shoot HD video cam) on a previous visit to the school. 

As usual, I stuck to a tripod whenever possible (the tripod is my new best friend in video, I’m all but useless handheld so far), but added the use of a slider, the Glidetrack SD Shooter, whenever it seemed doable. For the tracking shots in the awful yellow gymnasium, son Brian, home for the holidays and assisting, wheeled me around in the school’s wheelchair, which we borrowed from the nurse. 

It’s the poor man’s dolly shot, and it works great. But I strongly suggest trying to find an adult-sized wheelchair, especially if you’re 6’2″ and well up in the 240+lbs range! I damn near had to have the thing surgically removed:-).

Since it was a pro bono gig, I didn’t want to go into four figure debt hiring a real editor, so I decided to do a separate soundtrack: using audio-only interviews with the principal and teachers laid over a music bed (the license to which was generously donated by the artist, Olafur Arnalds‘, management company. He’s an Icelandic composer whose stuff I just love.).

This would allow me to edit the piece the way I do my audio slideshows; by creating the soundtrack first and laying the pictures (or in this case, the B-roll clips) in. This freed me from having to worry about dual system audio for on-camera interviews (although, days after I finished the edit, the DualEyes for Mac beta program was released, which will make all of our lives easier).

I think it was easier for the teachers to express themselves in the interviews too….nothing can clam you up faster than worrying about how you look on camera. Once I did the soundtrack edit, laying the B roll over it was straightforward and I was able to do the whole thing in iMovie 11, (still the only NLE that I am comfortable with…hopefully that will change in the New Year!).

It was a fun way to end the year, and hopefully augurs more good things for 2011…

Have a Happy New Year!

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Washington Crosses the Delaware…again



I was lucky enough to catch this year’s dress rehearsal of the reenactment of George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Day in 1776 (from where he went on to defeat the Hessians in Trenton and turn the tide of the Revolution). The reenactment takes place every Christmas Day at Washington Crossing State Park just down the road from me.

Because of the demands of the crossing and the number of volunteers it entails, they run a dress rehearsal about two weeks before Christmas every year. It’s a little easier to move around and shoot at the rehearsal, because the crowds are much thicker on Christmas Day.

Even the rehearsal is a tough thing to cover, however, because you’ve got to get across the river before they do…thank goodness for bridge they built right next to the launch point in the 20th century!

I shot this with a camcorder I’m trying out to complement my D7000 for video (sometimes, the form factor of a camcorder is just easier to use to cover breaking events), the Sony NEX VG 10. 

It’s an intriguing camera, with a full sized APS-sized chip and interchangeable lenses in a camcorder body. But it’s missing a lot of the manual controls that even a semi-serious videographer like me needs, and the controls that are there are not all that ergonomically well thought out either.

For a company that’s been in the camcorder business as long as Sony has, you’d think they would have had this basic stuff worked out by now….but you’d be wrong! They can use some help.

(Sony, meet Nikon. Nikon, meet Sony—-now you kids go and design a really good, usable hybrid camcorder, okay?  Don’t forget to use the Nikkor glass! Oh, and try to keep the price under what I paid for my first house, too, won’t you?)

Ah well, we can dream can’t we….after all, it is Christmas!

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Bob’s Compact Lighting Kit Explained


Gear Used in BobKrist’s Lighting Kit on Nikon Creative Lighting DVD

In addition to three SB800s, two SU 800 controllers, and two SD 8A battery packs, the non-Nikon gear in the bag is as follows

  1. Bracket:  Morris MTH-202
  2. Smallballhead:  Giotto MH-1004 Mini Ballhead
  3. Cold shoe on ballhead:   Stroboframe General Purpose shoe w/ 1/4 20 mounting screw
  4. Compact lightstand: Bogen Manfrotto 001B Nano Lightstand w/ retractable legs
  5. Collapsible Umbrella:  Westcott 43″ Collapsible Umbrella with Removable Cover
  6. Grids, Snoots, Speedstraps, Colored Gels.
  7. Rolling case: Stormcase iM2500
  8. Reflector: Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc – Gold, Silver, Silver/Gold, White and Translucent – 32″
  9. Gaffers Tape
  10. Alligator clamps–including one large one  with a small ballhead and coldshoe attached


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A different kind of Iraq photography story

Here’s a heartwarming piece from Al JaZeera about Iraq’s youngest pro shooter, 7-year-old Qamar Hashid Sultan.

His dad is a photojournalist, and Qamar is following in his footsteps, except that he loves to take pictures of “old things that are full of character” and shuns the violence.

He’s certified as a pro by the Iraq association of professional photographers and is under consideration from Guinness for the title of “world’s youngest pro photographer.”

Pay particular attention to his photo advice at about the :30 second mark….out of the mouths of babes. Robert Capa couldn’t have said it better!

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That Camera Takes Great Pictures….

Don’t worry, be happy, take the freakin’ picture!
From Panasonic’s Australian ad agency. Brilliant marketing….and a perfect followup to the Hipstamatic!
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