This week's portrait was one that I shot a couple weeks ago in preparation for this week. The description for this week's challenge was this:
"Show a subject in their natural habitat. Their place of work or hobby is a great start. Tell their story with the environment"
I shot this while I was hanging out in Fort Collins Colorado at a local street skatepark. For those that don't know what that means, it is a dedicated skatepark but instead of ramps it consists of stairs, ledges, and handrails.
I figured that if I should show someone in their "natural environment", what better place than a skatepark? So I rolled up there and watched some of the people skate for a bit to see if there was anyone that was any good.
There was a group of dudes hanging out skating that were pretty decent, so I asked if I could film them skating and after an hour of filming, had some good shots but none of them actually landing tricks.
Since they weren't landing tricks, I just found the one shot that was at least the most interesting and included the best failure. Alright, so let's go ahead and watch the video!
In the end, I shot this with my BMPCC out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to see how it handled action sports when shooting at 30fps. Looking back I kind of wish that I had instead filmed on my DSLR at 60fps.
Although I would have had to settle with shooting at 720p instead of 1080, it would have stretched to a nice looking 1080 when stretching for the anamorphic.
So the full details for the shoot were that I filmed in 1080 30P compressed cinemaDNG RAW at 200ASA, 15 degree shutter and at f8.0. I shot this using my B&L Anamorphic projector lens on my Sigma 18-50mm lens.
There were a few guys going for different tricks so it was a bit difficult deciding on which trick to use. I liked this shot because it starts out with the skateboarder very focused on the trick he is about to attempt.
This was the portrait of the whole shot.
One of the biggest challenges that I ran into while shooting this was finding a good focus point. Since I was shooting at a relatively high F-stop,
I had the advantage of deeper depth of field, but the distance that the skaters were going was far enough to range just slightly in focus.
The issue that I have had is that with the minimum focus distance being so far, and the lens I was using have such a small range between infinite focus and 12 feet away, it was not working well when I pulled focus while they skated.
So instead, I focused at the middle point of the distance they were skating and for the most part they stayed in focus, but they got soft at the start and finish of the shots. Despite this, I still really like how the shot turned out.
The other difficulty that I had was keeping a steady shot. The lens was getting some jittering motion when I would first hit record and hit to stop recording.
This made timing a bit difficult if I was hurrying to capture a trick as the camera would continue its shake as I started panning the camera. This is an issue that I have been working on correcting for a while now and I hope to find a solution to implement soon.
In the end this was a good learning experience that although I really do love shooting on the pocket cinema camera for its dynamic range and image quality, it is alas no match for action sports.
If you are participating in a photography or cinematography challenge, please make sure to share you shots in the comments below and come back next week!
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Alan Meyer is an experienced cinematographer, but is no stranger to writing.