Just like that the morning is gone.
After a night of drinking and bull shitting, getting up is never in the cards. I usually have to take a solid half day to recover. But not this day. We're gone before I can say keen.
I'm not sure how this spot is what we landed on. We are parked out front of a random house. Someone must've run over and asked if we could shoot on the property, because next thing I know Bruce (@mlnium) is pulling into the driveway.
As Josh sets up the car, I survey the scene. The property is absolutely massive. The road leads up to a humongous brick house via circular driveway, and also splits off to the back side where the garage resides. A small swing set sits to the right, the actual swing nowhere to be found. A soft incline leads to the rest of the back yard, which is actually more of a ranch. Large pens dot the grassy hills. I can see several horses grazing peacefully. An extensive garden complete with overhead sprinklers, several little sheds and an amalgamation of tools rest in their designated spaces. It seems as though the entire property is enclosed by trees, lending to my pre-conceived notion that this place is it's own little world.
It's an interesting day. No rain, thankfully, but the lighting was tricky. Every minute or so a large cloud rolls past the sun, completely changing the conditions in which we were shooting. It's fairly easy to pick an exposure when there's one type of lighting. If it's sunny, expose for the sun or the shaded parts. If it's cloudy, usually one exposure will suffice since the world is evenly lit. But the constant change made shooting a bit of a bitch. On top of that, I had been shooting both photo and video the entire trip. In the past I'd been on trips and wanted nothing more than to make a video of my journey, but every time I'd try it I would just give up in the first day or two. This time I was deadset.
The problem with video is that there are even more restrictions in terms of camera settings. The general rule is, whatever fps (frames per second) you are shooting at, the shutter speed (the amount of time the shutter is open) should be about double. There is a little wiggle room on that, but mostly it's a rule that shouldn't be strayed from without knowing the consequences. And if you know cameras, you know this means the only real option left that will help darken the scene is aperture (or f-stop). The aperture denotes what size the shutter will open to; the smaller the number the larger the opening. Thinking about this logically, we know that the larger the opening is, the more light will be allowed to hit the sensor. Therefore the smaller the aperture number, the brighter the image will be. And vice versa, a large number will ensure a small opening. This isn't all aperture affects though.
Depth of field, particularly shallow depth of field, is also achieved with lower numbers. What this means is the lower the f-stop is, the blurrier the background will be behind the subject (in simple terms). This is how photographers achieve* such buttery smooth photos where the background is mostly out of focus. There are plenty of other factors that go into forming such shots but for now I won't bore you with more details. The point of my teachings is all to explain this. I'm already having to switch exposures constantly to shoot photos. But on top of that, every time I want to shoot a video clip I have to completely switch my settings AGAIN, usually requiring a complete reversal of shutter speed and aperture, which in turn results in me frantically flicking my dials back and forth every damn second. I must look like a mad man. I know there is a way to set settings on different camera modes with my a7iii, but I had not been able to figure out how beforehand. So I was pretty much stuck switching settings manually.
I'm lucky to have cool friends. While we all sit around drinking in the validation of being on scene with the one and only Dated for the official Status video, I'm given the opportunity to try out a few new lenses. I shoot with the aforementioned Sony a7iii, and prior to that I used a Sony a7s. But prior to THAT I shot on a Canon 5d mkii, and as a result had three or four Canon mount lenses. So instead of switching to Sony glass when I bought my first Sony, I made the decision to stick with my Canon lenses (I had some fairly pricey pieces that I didn't want to give up). To do this, I had to purchase a Sony to Canon adapter (Sigma MC-11 if you're wondering, autofocus is pretty great with photo). I shoot only Canon glass on my Sony to this day, which is probably a stupid decision but I'm kinda already in it. One of the good things about having the adapter though, is shooting with other Canon users. Dereck had been shooting all day with his gargantuan 70-200 2.8, and was kind enough to let me throw it on for a few quick shots. I'd only ever shot the f4, but the 2.8 is on a whole new level. Not too long after that, Charley and I swap lenses. He throws on my 85, and I try out the 135 he rented for the trip. Shooting with a new prime lens (ie a lens that has a fixed length) is always an interesting beast. Since there's no zoom, the shooter has to move, and with this lens being so long I have to move quite a bit.
It's often hard to find the right way to use a new lens. Every lens has it's own list of pros and cons. Areas where it excels and well, areas it doesn't. With a prime in my hands I understand what's happening. I can find the limits of the lens quick and adapt it more effectively to my style, as well as the scene in front of me. Zoom lenses, on the other hand, I rarely use. I have a minute frame of reference on exactly what they are capable of. What they lack in depth they often make up for in versatility. It allows the shooter to adapt to their surroundings without needing to run closer or further.
As an early photographer, these nuances are often lost. Lenses are expensive, and rarely available outside of having access to a school or friend with some equipment. So it's hard for many to understand the gravity of having a couple lenses to choose from, and the impossible difference the right lens can make.
Unfortunately, I was not able to reach Bruce for more info on his car. But you can find out more about it in Charley's Status write up over at s-style.vip, along with many more stories and the inspiration behind my whole project.
The location is nice, but also extremely tight quarters. On top of that there's a lot of us here, moseying about. We do the best we can to stay out of the way but there's just too many people, and the group decides to part ways while Josh and Bruce go find another spot to shoot. Charley, Kyle and I head back to the house.