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The Falcon has Landed – Working with film from the Apollo 15 Moon mission

I recently had the amazing opportunity to work with some very interesting historical media. A retired NASA engineer friend contacted me having found a box of photographic films in his desk drawer. Turns out the box contained two partial rolls and several cut slides of 70mm film from the 1971 Apollo 15 mission! What a find!

According to my engineer friend, these are not unpublished images. They are, however original films from the customized Hasselblad EDC (Electronic Data Cameras) medium format cameras used on the lunar surface, and include numerous images of the astronauts, the Lunar Module �” the �œFalcon” (LM-10), and Lunar Rover (LRV).

There are also multiple images from orbit featuring the Command Module �“ Endeavor (CM-112). As a photographer, I found it interesting that there is one image showing the camera mounted on a bracket on the chest of the astronaut�™s space suit. The cameras were essentially point and shoot �“ whichever direction the astronaut was pointed, it shot.

The actual composition of the film remains something of a mystery, but was reportedly a custom Ektachrome formulation that Kodak developed for the NASA missions. The 70mm sprocketed film was thinner than typical film �“ allowing for more frames per roll. (Imagine trying to change film in a space suit). The team took multiple cameras to the moon, but brought back only the expended film magazines. The actual camera bodies were left behind to conserve weight on the return voyage.

There were a few challenges in photographing the film. The film was in pretty good shape for having been stored in a box in a desk drawer for 40+ years. It has a heavy blue-ish color cast. I�™m not certain if that�™s a function of age, or something unique to the particular film stock. So it required some significant color correction in post.

I digitized the film with a Nikon D810 DSLR / 105 macro lens combo and an LED light panel. I considered scanning, but the scanner�™s 60mm medium format negative carrier would not accommodate the slightly wider 70mm film. However, with a little trial and error, and the help of my son�™s 3D printer, I was able to create a film holder to fit the NASA film that enabled me to capture the entire width / frame numbers, film stock info, etc. This worked great for most of the film, but was not usable with the cut frames since there was no glass to keep them flat. For those remaining images, I purchased a piece of anti-newton glass, and was able to sandwich them between the glass and the LED panel.

How these treasures ended up in my friend�™s desk drawer at NASA may never be determined. But the fact that they�™ve been to the moon and back makes this film just about the coolest thing I�™ve ever had my hands on.

Jon C. Haverstick is professional photographer based in Orange County, California. Having come from a film photography background, he has recently dipped his toes BACK into the waters of analog photography with the acquisition of a pair of medium format film cameras. It�™s the venture back into film photography that ultimately led to the NASA Apollo 15 Film.

You can find out more about Jon on his website, follow his work on Facebook, or reach out to him through LinkedIn. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

7 Cool products in under 7 minutes from The Photography Show

The Photography Show is the UK’s biggest annual show. Held each year at the Birmingham NEC, it attracts all of the well-known brands, and a few newer ones. And while the main focus of shows now for me are the people I get to see and hang out with, you can’t ignore the gear. Because, like most shows, it’s packed to the gills with it.

DIYP went to The Photography Show 2017 last month, and we picked up seven of the most interesting products for your enjoyment:

Think Tank Signature shoulder bags

In the past, I’ve not been a huge fan of shoulder bags, preferring to go the backpack route. In the last couple of years, though, shoulder bags have really started to win me over. This particular shoulder bag drew our attention for a couple of reasons.

When I go out to shoot or travel with the camera, I usually have a couple of tablets with me. Either an Android tablet or iPad for social media and a Windows tablet for more serious work. This bag has pockets galore for these kinds of devices. You could fit two tablets and a laptop in here, each in their own separate pouches. There’s also room for a camera body and 2 or 3 lenses.

One very cool feature is the wide strap on the back that’s open at the top and bottom. This allows you to attach the bag to your roller case handle when you’re wandering around the airport or train station. Very handy when you’ve got to wait around for hours and don’t want to have to stand there with all that weight.

The Signature shoulder bags are available in two sizes and two colors.

Haida Filters

We have a special guest appearance in this one, Melvin ‘Fogbow’ Nicholson. Some of you might remember him for a particular photograph that went somewhat viral last November. Melvin has recently switched over to using Haida Filters for his landscape photography and has since become an ambassador for the company. After having now seen their products in person, it’s easy to see why.

While I didn’t get to go out and play with them (Birmingham isn’t really known for its sweeping vistas), they appear to be extremely well made. But what really caught my attention were the filter holders themselves. What makes them rather unique is how they house the polarizing filter.

Other systems typically have the polarizing filter in front of the holder itself, with NDs or grads in front of that. Where Haida’s system differs, is that the polarizing filter actually sits behind the slots for holding the filters and rotates independently. This means that if you’re lining up a scene with graduated ND filters, you can easily access and rotate your polarizer and without it rotating your grads.

That’s a super handy feature when you’re trying to work quickly on location so you don’t miss light at just the right moment.

Haida makes three variations of their holder system and filters to go with them. One is for small mirrorless cameras, the second for standard 100mm for DSLRs with regular lenses. These hold 2mm filters, but on close inspect, it appears that these can be rearranged to also hold 4mm glass filters if needed. The third size is 150mm for ultrawide and bulbous lenses like the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G.

A set of these are definitely going on my shopping list.

The SPIG 1420 VAL spigot

I was first introduced to the SPIG 1420 VAL spigot a few months ago. After getting one it comes with me on every single shoot. At its simplest, it allows you to turn a very inexpensive painters pole into a lighting boom. It converts the large thread into what you would get on the end of a light stand. This includes the 1/4-20″ tripod thread at the top.

Why use something like this when you can get actual boom arms designed for this purpose? Well, for me, it’s primarily down to cost and versatility. Lighting booms can be very expensive, and I shoot on location, so I’m not too delicate with it all the time. Painters poles are cheap to replace, and you can have a bunch of different sizes for different purposes.

I have a short one that I’ll use for booming microphones overhead during filming. And I have a much longer one that I can use with my Zhiyun Smooth-C gimbal to get stabilized clips from 3-4 meters in the air. Very handy if you want shots over a crowd when you can’t exactly fly a drone.

But it also means you can turn anything into a light stand. I’ve used the SPIG 1420 to suspend speedlights and small softboxes from tree branches on location. When attached to something more substantial like a metal railing, they can easily hold a lot of weight, too.

The SPIG 1420 is one of those things I didn’t really even know I needed until I got one. Before I had one, I didn’t miss not-having it, I just accepted there were certain places I couldn’t put a light and things I couldn’t do. Since getting one, it comes out on every shoot and has saved the day on more than one occasion.

Godox AD200

The Godox AD200 (Pixapro Pika 200 in the UK) is a new breed of light. It’s a 200Ws strobe/speedlight hybrid with interchangeable heads. If you want that speedlight look, it comes with a Fresnel head like you’d find on a speedlight. But, you can also remove that head, and add a bare bulb, just like a studio strobe.

When you consider that it manages to pack everything inside a unit not much bigger than a straightened out Nikon SB-900, it’s extremely impressive. It has its own internal battery, so you don’t need to deal with external packs, like you do with the AD360II. And that battery is a powerful little beasty, too. Offering 500 full power pops on a full charge. But if that’s not enough, it’s interchangeable, so you can carry spares in your bag.

200Ws doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but it’s enough that you can just about overpower the sun depending on the modifier you’re using. I have a pair of Godox AD360II, which are each only about 2/3rds of a stop brighter than the AD200. Inside a 4ft Octabox, I’ve had those beating the sun into submission at only a quarter power. So, the AD200 should easily be able to stand up to the job.

But, this will depend in the kind of distances you need and modifiers you want to use. If you’re using an 81″ Parabolic from 15ft away, it might not feel so powerful. But inside a 4ft Octa from 6ft away? Easy.

Genesis Gear

Genesis Gear is an equipment company based in Poland. They’re available across Europe and are currently expanding into the UK and the rest of the world. They offer a range of equipment for photographers and cinematographers including tripods, heads, camera rigs, stabilizers and other devices. And all of the products I played with at the show felt very well made.

Their products split up into three lines. There’s Base, which is their range for photographers and includes tripods, monopods, heads, macro rails and similar camera supports. I’ve used a lot of cheap and expensive tripod systems over the years, and nothing at that stand felt cheap, by any means. As soon as they get an official UK retailer, I’ll definitely be putting an order in for a few items.

Next is Cruise, which is their line of camera bags and backpacks. I have to admit, I didn’t pay as much attention to their bags at the show as I should have done. But, I’ve got about 15 camera bags, so I’m not really in the market for more. Looking at the bags on their website, though, there’s definitely a couple there that could replace some of what I already have and offer a little more versatility.

The final range of products is the Cine line. This wasn’t really represented highly at the show. But it’s a photography show, not a video show, so it’s not too surprising. There were a couple of items there, though, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of what they offer in the future.

Elinchrom ELB 1200

We’ve shown off some of what the Elinchrom ELB 1200 is capable here on the site before. But this was our first time seeing it in person, and it’s an impressive piece of kit.

The Elinchrom ELB 1200 pack weighs in at 4.3KG. So, it’s not exactly ultralight. But it’s far from being the heaviest portable pack out there, either. For comparison, the Bowens Explorer 1500 weighs a whopping 11.2KG, almost triple. The ELB 1200 is also physically a fair bit smaller than the Bowens, too. But this little pack has one heck of a punch.

While the obvious benefits of massive power on location are important, what’s cool about this for me are its video lighting options. Because it’s an Elinchrom, you can use it with all your favorite Elinchrom modifiers for video. Softboxes, beauty dishes, parabolics, the works. And it’ll give you an hour of 800-lumen video.

Like the strobe, the video light is also daylight balanced. We actually lit this segment of the video with the ELB 1200 inside a white reflective umbrella so you could see for yourself.

You can have one or two heads plugged into the pack, either symmetrically or asymmetrically. You get around 215 full power flashes from the standard battery or 400 from the heavy duty.

It’s still not quite released just yet. It is available to pre-order, but it won’t be shipping out sometime in the next 3 or so months.

Pansonic Lumix GH5

As far as gear goes, this was the thing I was probably looking forward to seeing in person the most. The Panasonic Lumix GH5. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this camera since its initial announcement, and a couple of complaints, and I wanted to see it for myself.

Other than shooting stuff at the shows, I don’t really do much video work these days. I have, however, been convinced to start vlogging, and I definitely need something better than my current options. So, the GH5 has been a serious contender. They let me borrow it for an hour or so to wander off and have a play with.

Despite the fact I’ve never used one of the Panasonic Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras before, it was pretty easy to get to grips with. All the settings were in fairly intuitive places, and even the things that did initially confuse me were still pretty simple to solve. If you’ve used pretty much any kind of interchangeable lens system before, it shouldn’t take too long to adapt.

The camera wasn’t quite shipping yet, and the unit they let me borrow was a pre-production body with the final version of the firmware. It felt very similar in size and weight to holding something like a Nikon D5x00 series camera. When it comes to capability, though, the GH5 definitely wins.

Even though I had an hour with the GH5 all to myself, I didn’t really do any fully extensive tests. The first chunk of my time was taken up just figuring out what some of the buttons did and how to get it taking stills and shooting video. After that I just wanted to see how easy it was to get to grips with. And overall, it was painless and straightforward.

I wish I’d had longer with this to fully explore its capabilities, and I really didn’t want to have to give it back. Fortunately, we had action sports filmmaker and photographer, Steven Clarey, to give us the rundown.

In my brief time with it, I could immediately see the advantages over the current cameras I use for video. But, until I get to really put it through its paces, I’m not sure the cost of making the switch would be worth it for my own needs (I’m not making Hollywood here). If I didn’t already have video-capable DSLRs, though, this would definitely be high up on my list.

Did you go to The Photography Show?

So, that’s it. All in all it was a great show, although pretty quiet on new gear. As I said at the start, though, shows for me are all about the people. They’re about connecting with friends I don’t get to see very often, meeting people I’ve only known online, and entirely new people.

The new equipment and cool toys are great, sure. We need gear to be able to create what we want to create. But don’t get hung up on it. Don’t pine after the stuff you don’t have. Look at what you do have, and then go and make something with it.

This triple lens holder hangs from your waist so that you “Never miss a shot”

You do see some strange things popping up on Kickstarter. This one doesn’t launch for another 17 days or so, but I think it definitely qualifies as a little strange. It’s the TriLens Holder from a company called Frii. On first glance, it might seem quite useful. A neat new idea that could be a valuable time saver if you’re shooting something like a wedding or other event.

You’re not going to be using the same lens all day, and you want to have your other go-to lenses close at hand. It is actually a pretty neat idea, although not a new one. It’s a lot like the Lens Flipper, except it holds three lenses instead of two. And it also attaches to your belt instead of using a strap or attaching to a backpack. But that’s a lot of weight tugging on your pants all day.

So you’ve got one lens on your camera, and three more on the TriLens. Let’s think about the common lenses many wedding shooters use. Say, a 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 100-ish mm f/2.8 macro, and, let’s throw in a 35mm f/1.4.

That means you’ve got between 2,391g (5.3lbs) and 3,220g (7lbs) hanging from your waist all day long. Canon fares a little better on the weight score, with their equivalent lenses coming in at between 2,190g (4.8lbs) and 3,055g (6.7lbs), but it’s still pretty close.

Like I said, it is a neat concept, but I just can’t see it being all that practical over just carrying two bodies with your two most used lenses. Then switch out for the others in a small bag as needed. And what about the people who don’t wear belts? Not all photographers are men, and even dresses that do have belts typically don’t support this kind of weight.

Still, if you like the idea and want one of your own, the product launches on Kickstarter in 17 days. You can find out more about it and sign up for an alert when it goes live on the Frii website. There’s no word on price, yet, though.

This 4K timelapse takes you to all corners of Hawaiian island of Oahu

I love good timelapse videos. When they depict places around the planet, it boosts my desire to travel. I admire photographers who make an effort to create these demanding videos, and this time I�™m presenting you with a timelapse by Chris Biela.

Last time he took us to Chicago, and this time we go somewhere warmer – Hawaii. It features some of the most beautiful places on the Island of Oahu, and Chris was lucky enough to capture rainbows and supermoon as well during his stay. He shared with us some details about making the timelapse, some photos, and of course �“ the video that might just help you decide where to spend your summer vacation.

Chris spent time on the Island of Oahu �“ Hawaii, which is the most visited and well known touristic destination. However, he says that you have to escape the crowds if you really want to experience Hawaiian spirit:

Coming to Hawaii is definitely a special to me. I could stay 24 hours a day and absorb the scenery. It is never enough. Part of my trip I spend on North Shore to explore less known spots. To capture some beautiful sunrises and visit amazing, tranquil places. Love when it rains. There is always rainbow somewhere. On one day I catch six in a row! My personal record. �Ÿ™‚

Chris says that capturing supermoon was one of the highlights of his trip:

Horizon was a little cloudy but moon appeared so large and bright, almost as daylight. This lifetime experience under the palm tree? I call it – spectacular.

Chris feels that Hawaii is very special for him, and wanted to dedicate the whole project as a big �œthank you” to the People of Hawaii, their land and their culture.

I asked Chris some details about his project. First of all �“ how long it lasted and how many photos did he take:

This project took longer than I thought but it was fun to make. I captured over 60K stills in 100 + time lapses. I was taking pictures for two weeks. Processing and editing was another month.

If you�™re wondering about the gear he used, this is his list:

He processed the pictures in LR Time Lapse, Lightroom 5 and edited in Sony Movie Studio 13.

And in case you were wondering about the locations, this timelapse captures more than 20 locations throughout the island: Kaiwa ridge (Pilbox), Lanikai Beach, Diamond Head State Monument, Banzai Pipeline, YMCA Waialua -The Others Village From TV Show Lost �“ to name just a few.

Finally, I asked Chris what the hardest part was, and here�™s what he said:  The hardest part was to capture rainbows since they appear fast and last not too long.

Well, it may have been hard, but he captured more rainbows than I saw for the past ten years.

I like the versatility of this timelapse and the fact that Chris really went all around the island to capture it in all its beauty. If you also like Chris�™ work, make sure to give him a follow on 500px or subscribe to his YouTube channel.

[HI-Lapse OAHU – Hawaii 4K Time Lapse | Chris Biela]

Lighting 103: Using Gels to Shift the Ambient

Abstract: By combining a white balance shift in your camera with a complimentary gelling of your flash, you can easily and efficiently alter the ambient color temperature of an entire environment.

In addition to controlling the color of light from your flash, gels can also allow you to control the color of the ambient areas of your frame. This can allow you to tweak, enhance or drastically an ambient color environment.

The portrait above, done for the Baltimore Sun, is a good example. I shot him as a storm approached, and the light was gray and pretty neutral.

It was okay, but I wanted a stronger color environment for the photo, and I wanted the guy to pop more. So instead of daylight white balance, I shot it on incandescent (tungsten) white balance. This shifted the expected light source from 5600k to 3200k. In essence, the camera was expecting to shoot under tungsten lights.

But since the ambient environment was closer to neutral (a little cooler, even) the white balance setting had the effect of shifting everything way more blue.

I lit the subject with a single speedlight with a cardboard snoot. The snoot would help me to control the spill of the light form the flash.

To balance my flash’s light to my camera’s white balance setting, I had to turn it into a tungsten source by adding a full CTO gel. But I did not want my subject to be neutral, I wanted him to be warm and pop out against the blue. So I added another 1/2 CTO to the flash to overcompensate the color and render him in warm light even with the white balance shift.

This warm-on-cool effect makes him stand out, even though he is pretty small in the frame. In addition to being blue-shifted, the ambient is also underexposed between two and three stops. That helps the fully lit (and warm) guy stand out, too.

For comparison, here is a straight (no color shift or gel) lit version:

It’s okay, but it doesn’t have the color environment that the shifted version does. It’s a subjective choice, to be sure. But it helps my guy, bathed in warm light, to pop out from the scene.
__________

Most of the time when we color-shift the ambient using white balance and gels, we do so along the warm-to-cool scale. And it does not have to be a full-on, change to tungsten white balance shift, either. You can use your Kelvin white balance scale to tweak the warmth or coolness of your ambient light as much or as little as you want.

Then you simply counterract that shift with the appropriate complimentary amount of CTO or CTB gel on your key light. And since gels come in calibrated full and partial CTO/CTB units, this is very easy. In essence, with this white balance and gel combo, you can choose your ambient color at will.

It’s Like In-Camera Photoshop

But there is no reason to limit yourself to warm vs. cool. You can use a white balance shift and complimentary gel to shift the ambient in any direction you want.

Take the portrait of contortioninst Shelley Guy, above. She is lit against a post sunset sky. I can leave it like that or I could shift the dusk light in any direction I wanted.

Shifting the white balance toward magenta, for instance�”and compensating with a complimentary green gel on my flash�”I would get this:

In the end, I stuck with the straight sunset. But the point is that we have the ability to shift the ambient in any direction we want, assuming we can gel our flash in the complimentary direction.

Like the Room? Fine. If Not, Change it.

So remember in the last post where we talked about looking at the scene on daylight white balance and seeing what color the room is giving you? If you don’t like it, you can change it in any direction you want. Just remember to gel your flash in the complimentary direction if you want to zero out that color shift in our white balance.

With our color-graph indicators in the cameras’ white balance controls, and a Rosco CalColor® gel kit, this becomes easy. Just gel your flash in the opposite direction as your white balance shift to compensate.

In the end, the CalColors® are not really so much about coloring your flash as they are about controlling the color of the ambient environment. Use your WB to shift the ambient, then the (complimentary) calibrated gels to bring your flash back as needed.
__________

This technique can save you a lot of flash power, too. For instance, say you are building a night scene and using a lot of blue-gelled lights to establish that feel. Each of those blue gels is gonna cost you a stop or two of flash power, depending on how deeply colored they are. And since you may be lighting large areas with those flashes, they need to be backed up and power will be at a premium.

Instead, flash with white light and shift it all with your camera’s white balance. Then use gels to counter-shift the key light(s) to compensate. These lights will tend to be closer to the subject, and can handle the power loss more easily.
__________

A couple of things to remember:

• If you are not getting the saturation you want or expect from a white balance color shift, try underexposing the ambient. As with the photo at top, color shifts become more pronounced when coupled with underexposure.

• To make the subject stand out from the color-shifted background, try overcompensating with complimentary gels on the key light. For example, if shooting in a tungsten white balance setting, try using a full CTO + 1/4 CTO, or full CTO plus 1/2 CTO. That will make your subject warm against the cool, rather than just neutral.

• Or you may wish to integrate the subject into a color-shifted environment, as in the previous post. In this case, try compensating with a complimentary gel�”but not all the way. In the scenario above, you might choose just a 1/2 or 3/4 CTO on your key light.

ADDITIONAL READING:

In 50 Portraits, Heisler often uses strong, saturated color in his light sources. But he also will tweak the ambient environment in just the way we are talking about above. Since Greg has done the majority of his work in film, he tweaked the overall scene the analog way�”with a physical filter on his lens. He could then compensate with his gelled flashes in the same way described above.

To understand the amount of ambient shift that is being applied, it helps to know the strength of the filters being used. In the double-truck photo of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., on page, 126, that deep blue dusk look was courtesy a Wratten 80A deep blue filter on the lens. A Wratten 80A is the equivalent of a full, daylight-to-tungsten blue shift.

In the double-truck photo of George David, on page 178, a Wratten 80D filter was used. The 80D is a lesser cooling shift than the 80A, as one might do today by tweaking the Kelvin white balance scale on your digital camera.

Either way, the effect was to enhance the color of the ambient environment before applying any flash.

COMING NEXT: Gel Your Lamps

This is the most recent post in Strobist’s Lighting 103 module. New installments publish on the first and third Thursday of each month. If you would like to be notified as they become available, please sign up here.


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