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Looking for the ideal portable lighting kit? The Litepanels Sola ENG Flight Kit may be it.

I’ve had the opportunity over the last few weeks to use the Litepanels Sola ENG Flight Kit on a few different projects: a series of interviews, a documentary in Alaska, a commercial spot, and a music video. These little lights were  designed as on-board camera lights, but this kit attempts to make them a little more than that. As such, I took them on a few shoots and used them as “conventional” lights, so keep that in mind as I review this kit. (more…)

Note the size of the red sled.

I don’t even know where to start.

Right now I am in the comfort of my hotel room in Fairbanks, AK feeling very grateful to be warm, alive, and connected to the internet. I’m only five days into the shoot, but I can say that the worst is over.  I hope.

I am shooting a documentary up here for a few weeks and the first thing we covered was the preparation and departure of Vern Stickman and his epic run down the frozen Yukon river to raise awareness for suicide prevention. Vern’s son committed suicide a few years ago and, expectedly, has devastated his family’s life. As part of his own healing process, he has decided to do this run from his home in Tanana to “nearby” villages to speak to the youth about suicide prevention and healthy living choices. (more…)

A couple of years ago, well-known photographer Jay P. Morgan asked me to shoot some behind-the-scenes video footage for his instructional photography series called The Slanted Lens. I had mostly forgotten about these projects until I stumbled upon one of them today and then proceeded to dig up a few of the other ones I shot for him.  They’re a great series on lighting and you should check them out for the instruction content as the stuff I shot is mostly utilitarian… with a dash of style ;)  Here they are.  And yes, that is me hanging in a suspension rig pretending to be a soccer player. (more…)

My wife really wanted to participate in a local 24-hour filmmaking marathon competition last weekend so, naturally, she wanted me to shoot and edit for her. From 10am Friday morning until 10am Saturday morning, 30 teams of (up to) five members each made 3-minute films with the following criteria: The theme of the movie had to be “anniversary” and there had to be a cake, and the line of dialogue “I really wanted to…” in the film. “Another Year” is what we were able to create in that time.

With planning and buying the props we needed, we didn’t start shooting until about 4:30pm and wrapped at about 11pm. The shoot was pretty simple but was complicated a bit on my end with the type of lights we were using and the two bokeh-forming-words effect we wanted to do. (more…)

Over the weekend, I shot a short film with a good friend from film school, Michael Sokey. The last time we shot a short was 15 years ago in school. It was great working together again and it was also really interesting to note the differences in the shooting style of the previous shoot to this one.  We shot the last film on Super 16mm black and white film with a crew of maybe a dozen; this time, we shot on a DSLR with just him and me for crew. It’s amazing how technology has changed—allowing us to capture infinitely better photography 15 years later. Maybe 15 more years of experience had some part in it that, as well ;)

I was intending to shoot this project on my 5D but it got damaged earlier in the week so I had to send it to get repaired. There was zero budget so renting another 5D was out of the question. Michael did have a T2i, though, so we shot it on that instead. I was a bit saddened by that because I love the images I get from my 5D and the idea of shooting it on a Rebel was a bit disheartening.  BUT, after slapping my 24-70mm L-series lens on it, we didn’t fare so badly. In fact, I am really happy with what we got. (more…)

This week I’ve been in St. Petersburg, Russia because this is the home of Rembrandt’s paiting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. We have been shooting a documentary about Henri Nouwen and his very interesting relationship with this painting. We were granted the rare opportunity to shoot the actual painting as it hangs in the Hermitage Museum. It’s really amazing to stand in front of it, even more so to work “with” it.

As with many of my projects recently, we shot it with the Canon 5D Mark II.  It was a very overcast day so we didn’t have much light coming from the windows, nor are the gallery lights very bright.  We brought in a small light kit to supplement the exposure a little, but I found myself having to have to use a higher ISO than I wanted.  At 1250 ISO, the images were a bit noisy, but not too bad.  For some shots that didn’t require much movement, I went down to 640 ISO and dragged my shutter a bit down to 1/30th of a sec. (more…)