Saturday, January 28, 2012

New RED Cameras - Scarlet & Epic

I recently met up with my old mate Jonathan Lovekin in London and we went to Red Europe to have a look at the the new EPIC and SCARLET cameras from RED. Based in Pinewood studios Red have a UK office where we met Alan who gave us an enthusiastic welcome and showed us both of these amazing cameras. He also gave us a pretty definitive run through about RED CODE and RED RAY, the ground breaking technology which makes the whole RED system possible. His description of how the RED camera came about reminded me of Steve Jobs and Apple. Basically if you cant find what you're looking for then design and build it yourself. Which is pretty much what Jim Jannard of Oakley sunglasses fame decided to do.

The reason we wanted to see them is in a month or two the Epic will start to ship to the rental companies including The Production Depot here in Dublin and for anyone shooting commercials it's a good idea to see what's coming down the pipe. The Epic is about $50,000 for a basic kit without lenses but the Scarlet which shared the same sensor is about $15,000 which makes it much more affordable if you want to step up the quality from say a Canon 5 or 7 D. The reason Epic is more expensive is the processing power of the engine inside. It's my understanding that with Epic higher frame rates of 60 or so are possible at full 5k resolution in RAW format! and 300 fps at 2k. So what does that mean for stills? The sensor in both these cameras is the same,14mp. Okay so thats lower in resolution than the Canon and Nikon cameras that we've been using since 2005 and a lot lower than any of the LEAF, PhaseOne or Hasselblad medium format backs, (80mp from LEAF and PhaseOne now) but considering how fast this technology has evolved since 2006 how long will it be before these cameras shoot 21mp at 100 fps? I dont think too long. When that happens it will mean that finally a frame from a TV shoot on EPIC can just about be used on a 48 sheet and certainly for most magazine and other press. Have a look at the RED website and you'll see how many Vogue covers have been shot on Epic or Scarlet with photographers like Bruce Webber.

I've been shooting a little bit of TV work for stings etc on 5D and plenty of stills for print campaigns during TV shoots which is never very productive for anyone, so I can really see how this is going to help when there is no choice but to shoot TV and print together.

Jonathan has been directing food commercials for Tropicana, Sainsbury's etc for some years now shooting both digital and film and we can both see how the new Red Cameras will most definitely be part of the equipment list in the very near future.

Interesting times.

Jonathan Lovekin, Director and photographer, at home

Epic and Scarlet together -(Scarlet with no monitor)

Looks a bit like An Apollo Hasselblad from above?

remote for controlling all functions off the camera

                                                                                                                             128GB memory

Friday, January 27, 2012

After Sales Service

Last June I was commissioned by Rockey Grenell at Designworks to photograph a group of his clients from ESPION in Dublin. During the shoot I photographed Dermot O'Brien, part of the information governance team at Espion. At the end of the shoot when Dermot was looking through his shots, he asked if I could Photoshop a few pounds off his waistline. My customary response to this question is usually "Hey I'm a photographer not a magician" In this case though I didn't respond. Having been 2-3 stone overweight myself for about 10 years I was in no position to comment. In fact I was in the middle of doing a 20 week Motivation weight loss programme myself so I told Dermot about Motivation and that I thought it was pretty good.

Fast forward to December 2011 and I get an email with the Subject title 'Big thanks for your inspiration'. It was from Dermot, he had joined Motivation and had lost 56lbs! Since he started, his type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure had gone and he felt great. I was so delighted with his progress I asked him to come to the studio and I would photograph him again.

Old and New Dermot - July 20 2011 & January 27 2012

I'm so delighted that what seemed like a two minute conversation about trying to lose weight turned out so well. Congratulations Dermot and good luck with the marathon training!

Now you're just making me look bad!

Friday, January 20, 2012


I thought I'd share some memories about Kodak. The first images that sparked my interest in photography seemed always to have been made using Tri-x black and white film. I don't know how I know, I just do. I guess I must have read about photographers like Eamon McCabe, Don McCullin and various others who used Tri x, in magazines like 'Amateur Photographer'. I loved the beautiful grain of Tri-X and for many years I used it all the time. I processed it myself in the basement of our house and, pushed it to about 1200 ASA in Ilfosol II. As you can probably tell in the picture below, I almost always had a yellow or this case, orange filter screwed to the front of an old F mount non AI 28mm Nikon lens that my uncle John Hart gave me.

This image was shot on Brighton Beach, new years day 1983 with a Nikon FM. It was the first image I had ever enlarged to 20 x 16 inches. It was also the first image I had ever taken that I really loved and I knew that I wanted to do this for ever.

When I started my professional career shooting 5x4 and 10 x8 transparency films with a 10x8 Linhoff, the film I used was Ektachrome 64 (6117 for daylight and 6118 for Tungsten). Same for 120 formats. How I miss those yellow boxes stacked in the dark room.

Photo: Paul Lepreux

I'm sure an investor is out there waiting to further harvest the billions in potential income from the thousands of patents that Kodak own but much more importantly, to continue to make the films and chemicals that have had such a huge part in the history of photography. There are still many photographers who shoot film and will continue to do so but alas the large portion of Kodak's market was always the consumer rather than the professional photographer. Most people now prefer the convenience of digital despite the fact that most of our images are confined forever to hard drive discs on computers or phones that wont last as long as any photograph album. Please everyone back up to prints, DVDs or cloud.

On a final note, one of the best digital cameras I ever had for colour rendition and skin tone was the first one I ever had. The Kodak 14N (below). It's Serial number P14N0-1979 - (I started taking photographs in 1979). Kodak didn't really make any headway into digital cameras for the consumer otherwise they wouldn't be bankrupt, they were however one of the earliest developers (sorry) of the digital imaging and eventually created an amazing sensor. I sent the first 15 images from the 14N to an art director in McCann Erickson for a Coca Cola campaign that I was working on. He thought I'd had 5x4 transparencies scanned on a drum scanner. I did that too of course but the gap seemed to be closing. Kodak Digital had come of age, well in my studio anyway.

My old Kodak 14N from May 2003. One of the first in Ireland.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kenco Millicano TV stings

We recently shot a series of stings for Kenco Millicano through agency DDFH&B . Whilst we have shot for TV before, this was a great opportunity to shoot a food / beverage product in close up. The script required a 5' long tracking shot around the product which we did using track and a rolling spider from the Production Depot. We shot on the Canon 5D MkII with a Marshall Monitor.
Watch the 10' sting here

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