Sunday, April 19, 2009

LR2.3 & Zavier Rudd

Today I sit here typing after spending most of my day doing exercises from my Lightroom 2.3 class at Samys. Zavier Rudd is playing in the background as I write to you now about what I have learnt, while I have drunk my last glass of two buck Chuck (red) for the evening and my husband scurries around the study, trying to work out what he is able to part with. 

What an interesting day! While LA came out to play with the sun shinning, (hopefully) a sign of the summer to come, I eagerly sat myself inside a small dark and very air-conditioned room, to learn the ins and outs of Adobes Lightroom 2.3. Having already sat through the previous online tutorials I found the first half of the class, not as interesting as I would have liked... however, roll on lunch and an inevitable pita bread from "jack in the box"...I know, sounds worse than it was... and I was immersed once again in the possibilities of the digital darkroom. Today, I truly learnt the ramifications of not shooting RAW while in Sydney on my last trip (bad Jasmine!) Never again!

I also learnt how awesome a recovery can be in post for my white balance. Bitches YAY! Stoked or what!!!! I wont lie, I am guilty as charged for shooting B&W in low light situations where I find it hard to colour balance. eg: Clubs, Bars & Restaurants. Yay! There is hope yet. 

I also guiltily confess that until a week ago, I had never heard of the term "Burn!" Yes yes, shoot me, I don't care, I never took photography at school and thus never learnt the awesomeness that is the darkroom (well, till next week anyways), so I am slowly, but hopefully not too slowly, learning the ins and outs of what I can accomplish creatively, in both a dark & light room.

I will spend the week attempting to use my post tools aesthetically... stranger things have happened. Wish me luck. I guess this is where the term Less Is More, will come into play so much. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

New addition to the family

I am most excited, just early this week a special care package arrived from Australia. My "new" canon lenses:) 

1x EF 28-70mm 1:2.8 L 
1x EF 24mm 1:2.8

Put together here with my previous little film kit I had, plus a couple of not so great purchasing decisions (primarily that flash!) it all looks like one big happy family.

I am really excited about having the 24mm lens for some nice wide work, although I am still finding that I love just having that little 50mm on my 5D Mark II. Its small and I can take it anywhere... I have a feeling my L series wouldn't be allowed to some of the gigs/nights out that the 50mm has been too. 

My biggest problem that I am facing... and it is a rather girly one, but I feel its valid- Is fashionable bag for the stylish female photographer. Now before you laugh your head off at me, just have a think. I often take my camera out to nice events, where I am usually a guest at. I take my camera out to bars, clubs, concerts, restaurants and there is something to be said about your camera bag having an air of discretion.

Pulling my DSLR out of a Guess handbang doesn't raise as many eyebrows as say wearing a lowpro backpack to dinner. I don't want to carry two bags. Simple.

I would seriously feel that high end label bags would be worth spending the hundreds of dollars on, if they had TRUE functionality. Say for eg: if Burberry had a compartment inside their stylish bags, that was padded for my DSLR, I would be stoked and spend the dosh. Hell I wouldn't care if it were a bag with no label I purchased downtown, I am seeking a bag I can wear out, in a dress, that I can safely store my baby *ahem* 5D mark II in, with a small 50mm of course.  

Maybe there is something in this... ?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

UFC Undisputed

Friday saw me working with the RED camera again "Justine" as Tedford calls her for UFC- Undisputed, the game, commercial.

Teaming up again with DP Mike Tedford, Producer Jeff Kirshbaum & James Khanlarian, I worked for the first time with fun gaffer Rocky.

The shoot went rather smooth, with time to get some "B roll" shots after working with the talent.

Scott was out main man, most of you would know him more than myself, as I had never heard of UFC till this shoot. Although it does sound really interesting, and Scott was a pleasure to work with.

We used 2 Cookes, 1x 50mm & 1x 135mm... we also used the red zoom for one shot. 

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Out Of The Vault

Here is an oldie out of the vault. NO EDITING. That's right. What you see is what I got. This picture could possibly be one of my first ever successful cityscape shots. The photograph would have been taken around 2003, I was eager and keen to explore what I could do with my new Rebel G that I had purchased in NYC in 2002. I had been blown away years earlier by Ken Duncans panorama work and yearned so much to take colour rich photographs as he did. 

Knowing NOTHING, I researched as much as I could and even went back to visit his gallery in Matchem, NSW, where my mother had taken me as a young woman, to probe and ask questions. It was here that I discovered Velvia. I had a long and loving relationship with Velvia that to this day will never cease. Some of my greatest flukes were achieved on Fuji's Velvia film stock.

I travelled from Berkeley Vale, where I was staying(Central Coast NSW) to Erina to buy this "magical" Velvia, only to find out a week or so later that Fletchers sold it just in the city, near where I lived. At the time of purchase I had a huge shock, it was the most expensive film stock I had ever purchased in my life. It was $20 per roll! Looking back I laugh at myself and feel rather silly.

I was told 2 things from the sales woman at Erina where Ken Duncan processed and printed his work. Keep the ASA down low for maximum colour effect and don't shoot portraits. Velvia is not kind to skin tones. 

I had already been shooting time exposure sunsets and sunrises on regular Kodak 200 ASA consumer stock and had been quite bitterly disappointed. I am not knocking Kodak, I have worked with cinematographers who I greatly admire, who shoot on Kodak and the results are truly lovely. I was simply barking up the wrong tree for the effect that I was after. It was incredibly frustrating to not know where I was going wrong esp since I had no formal training in photography at the time. 

I went out with a friend, Ricky Kang, who worked at the time in Sydney's Animial Logic, who was very kind to show patience with me as we shot the sun going down from North Sydney looking back at the city. It had been a showery day and we were purely experimenting with our exposure. Set to an ASA of 50, the aperture on f22 and the shutter on bulb... we sat and waited and clicked away appropriately. 

I took my film in for developing at Fletchers in either Chatswood or Pitt St (I can't remember now) and my gosh, did I feel like a million dollars when I saw that one photograph that captured colour so dramatically as this. It was worth every crappy shot that I had taken over the previous months. It is by no means a prize winning photograph, but a true moment in my life where I finally felt myself moving forward as photographer, with a chance at taking rather good pictures.

Years later, in 2005, I had the slide scanned to disk by a photographer from Cairns who was printing on Endura paper, this was all new at the time, a metallic paper from Kodak (I hope it was Kodak- sorry if I am wrong). We looked at the levels of the picture in photoshop which he commented that they were rather good, but then he said.. "how about we add a touch of magenta" and the result is what you see above. 

What got me, was how did he know that magenta was the colour to add? Why not red or orange? It still gets me to this day. Hence my determination to go back to the basics and understand colour theory. 

I really do enjoy looking back at this picture, it reminds me how much I have grown as a photographer and how much more there is to learn.

Old on set "Prius" pix

Here is a blast from the past! Well, not too long ago. I had the pleasure last year to work with director Michael Moretti & DP  Graham Futerfas on a spot for Prius & Satchi & Satchi with Group 101.

Using the Phantom HD, we shot images of the Prius moving backwards while at the same time garbage being spilt into the world. Played in reverse, as the Prius passed the frame while the garbage cleaned up. The idea was that Prius helped reduce the garbage in the air. 
It was a two day shoot downtown over the weekend & the final product looks pretty damn spiffy. I found myself still learning the set lingo of the Americans (I find myself learning set lingo every day! LOL) While also having the chance to pull focus on a very high speed camera. 
The Phantom HD was slow to start up. There is no option to "quick- grab that shot" and power up and shoot. Like so many HD cameras, she needs to wake up and have a coffee before she can start thinking. Once you get into the rhythm of the Phantom HD, all is fine. The Phantom HD shoots up to 1000fps. Yes! 1000 fps. Need I say that action shots shown in slow motion for the most part look hot! Life truly does look beautiful when you have the chance to slow it down and have a closer look. With that said, our DIT Mark Weingartner (who was awesome to work with, I certainly learnt a lot from him) had to dispose of the copious amounts of information that we had on either side of the useful part of the footage from the clip. Shooting at 1000 fps and playing back in 24 frames.... you quickly learn what you really need to hang onto and what you don't. 

Overall another great experience on set. As usual, I always find room for improvement within myself as a focus puller, pulling on such a high speed on one of the shots proved to be a learning experience 1'-4' may not seem much, but in the blink of an eye shot at 500 frames... its plenty to draw every ounce of concentration in your system. With that said... soft in this case sux.

Watch the clip at

Click on "Prius" just a note, I also assisted on "Chevy" as 2nd AC

Friday, April 03, 2009

Rocky Schenck, Jelly Fish 2000

I just have to point out an artist that I am drawing a lot of inspiration from for my B&W printing class that is coming up at SMC. Rocky Schenck. He is a really talented artist and a good family friend of the Adams Family (my in-laws, although we need a nice name for my American parents as they are all amazing people) 

There are quite a few pieces of Rockys work that I really like, but this one I love in particular. I don't have rights to the image so I do encourage you to visit this link. The image is of a jelly fish... and it is beautiful... the tones, the composition... I just really enjoy looking at this piece. It is so peaceful. 

Having worked on the Great Barrier Reef I have such an appreciation for these creatures. They are very graceful to watch.

go to MB gallery Los Angeles



Jasmine on Film & Photography will explore my journey in these mediums. In regards to photography I will be working mainly with the 5D Mark II, while learning to apply post tools aesthetically. There is something to be said about using tools like Lightroom & Photoshop with taste.

I am new to digital photography. In the past I have always shot on film, mainly Velvia for the colour rich quality and as a trained focus puller I am very comfortable and feel at home using film cameras. Digital cameras certainly have made their place in film making & photography. Over the last couple of years I have found that I am working on set with digital cameras more & more. As I read once on a cinematography forum... No camera is magical and has all the answers. Each camera is a paintbrush, its own tool with its own limitations & capabilities. 

I use the 5D Mark II because it is the only DSLR that I own. I can not run camera tests along side Nikons or RED... and a hasselblad is just too damn expensive. Besides... my eye is not trained enough yet to spot differences in an image because of sensors etc.

In a few weeks time I will take a B&W printing class at SMC. I really feel that by going back to the darkroom and learning the basics of printing from film, that I will have a clearer understanding of what I can accomplish using post tools for digital images. I am still learning to let go of a digital photographs original metadata and accepting that using products like Lightroom & Photoshop is not cheating.

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do.