Photoessay: Tokyo cinematics I

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The lights of Tokyo always form an irresistible backdrop to some interesting characters; for what must be the fourth or fifth year running, I’m back (I’ve honestly lost count) at what I consider to be the best season – autumn, before the weather gets unpleasant, the skies are still blue, and there’s an orange leaf or twenty. An unusually warm summer this year resulted in not much of an autumn – the leaves weren’t anywhere near as extensive as in 2013, and in 2014 I was a week too late – ah well, the vagaries of nature. Nevertheless, Tokyo is so extensive that I feel as though you could live there your entire life and barely scratch the surface photographically. On this trip, I tried out some different hardware for cinematic work compared to my normal 55/85 Otus – I wanted to see if smaller, lighter could also apply to cinematic work albeit with slightly reduced maximum apertures. I used the Zeiss 1.8/85 Batis (Sonnar) and the Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar, an older Contax design. What I found was the Sonnar actually produced a more pleasing rendering for this purpose – the Batis is razor sharp but I somehow prefer the softer, more rounded properties of the older lens – especially for out of focus foregrounds and skin. It is stronger at middle and close distances because of this; the Batis excels at longer distances because it differentiates between planes more easily. Neither is as good as differentiating as the 85 Otus, but that’s also a faster and better corrected (apochromatic) lens – the price we pay there is occasionally nervous bokeh and some onion rings under certain conditions. I digress: it is of course about applying the right tool to the right situation to get the desired images…enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss 1.8/85 Batis, Contax Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar MMG and Zeiss 2.8/21 Loxia and post processed using the Cinematic workflow in Making Outstanding Images Ep.5. You can also look over my shoulder at the underlying postprocessing in the Weekly Photoshop Workflow series.

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Venetian cinematics and time-lapse

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I’ve been making cinematic stills for a while now, and have had this niggling feeling that they felt too static – after all, cinema implies motion. Sure, it’s possible to capture a pose of dynamic imbalance in a subject where they’re clearly caught mid-step or similar, but that doesn’t always work if the subject isn’t moving much (but obviously isn’t completely still, because humans normally never are). This series is an experiment to do blend motion, mood, and above all, the idea of intransigence and just passing through – which most of the people in Venice are doing.

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