52 Week Anamorphic Cinematography Challenge Week 5: Landscape - High Contrast B&W
This week was fun but challenging. I ran into a few different challenges but the first wasn't such a bad challenge. First I had to decide on where to film. I went through around 5 different locations that I have been wanting to film and finally ended up deciding on this church.
I have lived in the same apartment for going on three years, and in that time I have seen this church at the top of a hill in the distance and have always thought to myself "I bet that would be a beautiful location to film." Yet I'd never even bothered to drive up to it!
I knew even from a distance that this would be a great high contrast location, and it turned out to be better than I even imagined! The way that the shadows cast across the stone of the church and how dark the trees are against the bright sky.
So enough chit chat, let's watch the video!
As all the other weeks went, I shot this on my BMPCC. It was filmed in 1080 30P compressed CinemaDNG RAW, 400ASA, 45 degree shutter, with my vintage Kamero 35mm SLR lens at f16 with the adapted B&L 2X Anamorphic Projector lens attached.
For this shoot I went in late morning so that the sun would be up high enough to cast good shadows across the church rather than just blast the front with harsh but even light. I set this up using my 46 inch slider, ikan hi hat riser, and a Manfrotto 502HD fluid head.
This was the biggest pain in the...I mean challenge that I encountered. As it turns out, shooting with a top heavy tripod head/camera rig on a hi hat all mounted to a cheap aluminum slider does not make for steady movement.
On the contrary, I had to fight to get a single usable shot. Otherwise all I got was bouncy, unsteady shots that looked awful. In the end, I got one really good shot with very minimal movement. This made it easy to stabilize in post.
This is also the reason that I shot at 30fps and finished at 24fps. That 20% reduction in speed did wonders in combination with stabilization to make for a nice smooth shot. This shoot was also the final motivating factor to build myself a nice heavy duty rail slider system.
My favorite thing about this shot though is in fact the camera movement. Since the church was a good 100 yards away but the tree in the foreground was only about 10 feet,
I got a great effect of the church almost not moving at all while the tree seems to be almost the only thing moving.
I also really like how high contrast the clouds turned out. Since the sun was so bright, some of the clouds simply washed away to even white color, while others highlighted the gray that was in them to begin with.
It also created a nice look of the sky coming through in the darker gray created by the black and white color grade.
This color grade was actually something that I created for an actual in color version of the shot rather than black and white. It was only once the grade was done that I simply dropped the saturation to zero and got a fantastic look.
I first tried preset black and white looks that are included in Premiere, but none of them created a look that I liked. They would either crush the blacks or blow out the whites; there wasn't a good balance of color.
As we all know, a good black and white still really relies on the balance of colors to get a good image.
That's it for this week, make sure to come back next week! If you're also doing a 52 Week Photography or Cinematography Challenge, please share you image or video in the comments below, I would really love to see other peoples work!
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Alan Meyer is an experienced cinematographer, but is no stranger to writing.