Photoessay: After the establishing shot

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You might think the title for this post is curious: that’s because it is. In cinematography, a wider angle is used as an establishing shot to provide the overall context for the scene, location and any human dialogue that is to follow. The tighter head shots are frequently interspersed with equally tight cutaways to detail: it is a deliberate device to focus the attention of the audience very specifically on whatever specific object or action that is desired by the director. These cutaways always serve a purpose as they typically contain explanations or clues to the later storyline. In a way, they form a narrative or logical bridge of sorts. Compositionally/ visually, they are tricky to get right: too much visual texture and the scene is too busy for the audience to instantly register only one thing; too plain and it’s a starkly boring scene. It’s even more difficult to pull off as a candid still for the simple reason that the action is not planned; you have to anticipate and hope you’re in roughly the right place at the right time, then rely on instinct and experience to make any last-minute changes to composition as it happens. It is a slightly lighter photoessay than usual for the simple reason that these images are very difficult to make in practice…Enjoy! MT

Images shot mostly with a Olympus E-M5 II, Zeiss Otus 1.4/85, Zeiss ZM 1.4/35, and Canon 5DSR, post processed with the Cinematic workflow from 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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Photoessay: life in Hanoi, part II

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One at a time, please

The series of images presented today is the conclusion of the cinematic Life in Hanoi set from a couple of days ago. During the curation, two visually very distinct groups of images emerged: the first, which felt a bit more structured and ‘formal’, and the second, which – to my mind – is a bit more freeform and organic, with higher visual density. These hold closer to the ‘story in a frame’ of traditional photography. Personally, when I looked at the scene – and the subsequent images – a caption came immediately to mind – perhaps not the same one as you might have read, but it would be nevertheless interesting to hear the differences of perspective. Enjoy. MT

Images shot mostly with a Olympus E-M5 II, Zeiss Otus 1.4/85, Zeiss ZM 1.4/35, and Canon 5DSR.

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Photoessay: life in Hanoi, part I

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Today’s photoessay is a little out of sequence – it is the first set of little snippets of life captured during the Hanoi Cinematic Masterclass earlier in the year, but which until now have somewhat defied curation into a finished set (I blame that more on my schedule than anything). They are perhaps not cinematic in the traditional dramatic sense, but I do think they do make for interesting standalone viewing. I suppose that’s what unifies them: being a small window into another place. Enjoy. MT

Images shot mostly with a Olympus E-M5 II, Zeiss Otus 1.4/85, Zeiss ZM 1.4/35, and Canon 5DSR. [Read more…]

Photoessay: Motorcycle life, Hanoi

_5R04386 copyMotorcycles are a core part of Vietnamese life – transport, lounge, freedom, place of work, revenue generator – to name just a few functions. It is impossible to go anywhere in Hanoi without having to avoid one, or them avoid you. They are both subject and context and ubiquitous foreground. It amazes me every time that there aren’t more road traffic accidents (but then again, they don’t move that fast) and that anybody can find their bike in the massive ranks after leaving it there for more than a few hours – the ‘backspace’ might well change quite markedly after that time as people depart and arrive.

But that does bring us back to the core function of the bike: to serve the people. It was once postulated that if aliens came from another planet and observed earth, they might well assume cars to be the intelligent life form and us merely parasites – the same is true for motorcycles. We must therefore also not forget whom they are meant to serve…

This series was shot with a Canon 5DSR and Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus or an Olympus E-M5 II and Zeiss 1.4/35 Distagon ZM. [Read more…]

One place available: Cinematic Masterclass with Zeiss: Hanoi, Jul 21-26

_7017983 copy Due to one of the participant’s work commitments, I now have one place open for the Cinematic Photography Masterclass with Carl Zeiss in Hanoi, from 21-26 July – click here to book and for more details! MT After the jump, a few snippets of thought from previous Masterclass participants… [Read more…]

Second session open for the Cinematic Masterclass with Zeiss: Hanoi, Jul 28-Aug 2 2015

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Due to popular demand, I’m taking bookings for the second session of the Cinematic Photography Masterclass with Carl Zeiss in Hanoi (click here to book and for more details) It will run from 28 July to 2 August and follow the same format as the first one – hope to see you there! MT

After the jump, a few snippets of thought from previous Masterclass participants…

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Announcing the Cinematic Masterclass in collaboration with Zeiss: Hanoi, Jul 21-26 and Jul 28-Aug 2, 2015

_7016973 copy The fifth Masterclass will also be the first specialised one, on a topic I’m frequently asked to teach: the cinematic style of photography. It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, from 21-26 of July 2015 inclusive. Better still, Zeiss has agreed to loan us with a suitcase of lenses*. As usual, the Masterclass is limited to just 8 participants, so please confirm early to avoid disappointment; read on to make a booking and for further information. For all of you who’ve been asking me for a Masterclass in Asia, here’s your opportunity 🙂

18/4 Updates: Taking standbys for the first session, second session (28/7-2/8) now open for booking. *More importantly, Zeiss have updated me on lenses – the really good news is we will get the 1.4/55 and 1.4/85 Otuses in Nikon and Canon mounts, along with the 2/135 APO and 2/28 Hollywood Distagon… 🙂 [Read more…]

Photoessay: Hanoi, part two

Here’s an opportunity to compare the difference between a set shot in color, and one shot in black and white – same subjects, same location, same equipment, same time. Which do you prefer? Which do you think works better? There are no right or wrong answers (nor should there be if both sets are executed well enough). MT

This set shot with a Nikon D700, 85/1.4G and 28-300/3.5-5.6 VR.

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Photoessay: Hanoi, part one

Hanoi is one of the more interesting places I’ve been recently – these images were shot during downtime on a business trip about a year ago. It’s a fascinating mix of French colonial and Southeast Asian chaos; juxtapositions abound, and rich textures are plenty – making for great shooting. Part one, in color. I’m told Ho Chi Minh City is a lot more developed an interesting, but I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. MT

This set shot with a Nikon D700, 85/1.4G and 28-300/3.5-5.6 VR.

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Quantum mechanics at work again: the scene changed because the subjects noticed the photographer.

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Feels like France.

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A vomit-inducing ride. Notice passenger on the right hand bike.

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If only I knew what cards she was holding.

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