Sometimes you just have to deal with dirty wash water

•March 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

When working on a film or commercial set, I almost always will shoot stills, no matter what my actual job title may be on that particular day. One of my recent projects is working on the latest Super Bowl ad for attorney Thomas J. Henry. In early January, I and the crew were in St. Louis, filming at the Old Post Office downtown, which is a historic building, constructed around 1880, if I remember correctly. It was a very cool location, with some interesting features, such as the statues that original adorned the roof of the building, not being shown in the common area, as well as a set of original post office boxes, which we used as one of the backgrounds in the spot.

I’ve been processing the film from this shoot sporadically, and decided to soup a couple rolls earlier this evening. I’m not sure how it happened, but my wash water was fairly dirty, which resulted in a lot of dust spots on some of the frames. I would normally spot the image in Photoshop to get rid of the dust, but in this case, I decided that I liked the look of them because they added a certain “timelessness” to the images. That’s one of the reasons why I left some of them in (but the main reason was that I was being lazy). One distressing thing is that I think my Nikon F2AS needs to go in for an adjustment; some of the images are slightly back-focused, even though I’m sure I was dead-on with focus most of the time. At any rate, a CLA couldn’t hurt. Here are some frames from the shoot in St. Louis:

 

Bobby comes down the stairs of the Old Post Office in Saint Louis, Missouri, Jan. 2015. Nikon F2AS, CineStill 800T film.

Bobby comes down the stairs of the Old Post Office in Saint Louis, Missouri, Jan. 2015.

Dave on set in the Old Post Office in Saint Louis, Missouri, Jan. 2015. Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film.

Dave on set in the Old Post Office in Saint Louis, Missouri, Jan. 2015. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

The Old Post Office was a great location for playing with my Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 fisheye. High ceilings and funky stairs make for some cool perspective shots. In the dark setting, I made a mistake with the CineStill tungsten film by not exposing it at ISO 500 instead of its face-value 800, and I paid the price in lost shadow detail. Lesson learned.

The Old Post Office in Saint Louis, Missouri [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T]

The Old Post Office in Saint Louis, Missouri [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T]

The client on location in Saint Louis, Missouri. The Old Post Office had a number of great-looking settings. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

The client on location in Saint Louis, Missouri. The Old Post Office had a number of great-looking settings. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

Bobby and Nico on Set in Saint Louis. Nikon F2AS, CineStill 800T film.

Bobby and Nico on set in Saint Louis. [Nikon F2AS; TMax 400 film +1]

On set at the Old Post Office in St. Louis, MO. Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film

Andrew and Garrett in the staging area.

One of my favorite characteristics about CineStill 800T film is its ability to handle mixed light & “non-tungsten” light very well. It’s really easy to balance, even if you are shooting without filtration under fluorescent, mercury vapor, or other types of artificial light. It can even be shot unfiltered in daylight and still come out looking good.

waiting on set at the old post office in St. Louis, MO. Photo made with a Nikon F2AS and CineStill film.

Waiting on action. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

On set of the latest Thomas J. Henry Law Super Bowl commercial in St. Louis, Missouri, Jan. 2015. Nikon F2AS. CineStill 800T film.

Nico gets ready to fly the RED Dragon on my DJI Ronin, on set of the latest Thomas J. Henry Law Super Bowl commercial in St. Louis, Missouri, Jan. 2015. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

 

Standing in for the client. [Nikon F2AS; TMax 400 film +1]

Standing in for the client. [Nikon F2AS; TMax 400 film +1]

Rigging the Dragon to fly down a stairwell on my DJI Ronin. [Nikon F2AS; TMax 400 film +1]

Rigging the Dragon to fly down a stairwell on my DJI Ronin. [Nikon F2AS; TMax 400 film +1]

Bobby and Nico in the camera staging area at the old post office. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

Bobby and Nico in the camera staging area at the old post office. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

John in the camera staging area at the old post office. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

John in the camera staging area. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

Nico sits by the Dragon on day three of shooting in St. Louis. [Nikon F2AS; Tmax 400 film +1]

Nico sits by the Dragon on day three of shooting in St. Louis. [Nikon F2AS; Tmax 400 film +1]

DP Nico surveys the frame at the Old Post Office set. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

DP Nico surveys the frame at the Old Post Office set. [Nikon F2AS; CineStill 800T film]

Karissa, taken on set in St. Louis. Nikon F2AS. CineStill 800T film.

G&E super hero Karissa, taken on set in St. Louis. [Nikon F2AS; Tmax 400 film +1]

 

 

 

New-old Nikon 300mm f/4.5 at a Hockey Game

•January 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. I’m resolving to be better about new posts. It isn’t a new year resolution, because those never work. It’s just a resolution.

Recently, I bought an old (late-70s) Nikon 300mm f/4.5 telephoto lens from a local colleague. It’s a cheap, old, reliable, and pretty sharp tele that doesn’t weigh a ton. I just wanted a 300 that wasn’t as huge and heavy to carry around as my Nikon 300/2.8 AF-S, and also one that I could actually stick through the photo port while shooting hockey. At tonight’s game between the Rochester Amerks and the San Antonio Rampage, I had some fun with the new lens on my Fujifilm X-T1. The 1.5X crop is great for getting a lot of punch down-ice. It performed pretty well; better than I expected.

Image made during an AHL hockey game between the Rochester Americans and the San Antonio Rampage, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

Image made during an AHL hockey game between the Rochester Americans and the San Antonio Rampage, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

San Antonio Rampage goalie Dan Ellis. Image made during an AHL hockey game between the Rochester Americans and the San Antonio Rampage, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

San Antonio Rampage goaltender Dan Ellis guards his net during an AHL hockey game against the Rochester Americans, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

San Antonio Rampage head coach Tom Rowe. Image made during an AHL hockey game between the Rochester Americans and the San Antonio Rampage, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

San Antonio Rampage head coach Tom Rowe watches play during an AHL hockey game against the Rochester Americans, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

Image made during an AHL hockey game between the Rochester Amerks and the San Antonio Rampage, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

Down-ice action during an AHL hockey game between the Rochester Americans and the San Antonio Rampage, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 5-3. (Darren Abate/AHL)

Now for my favorite shot of the night, but this was shot with my Nikon D3 and 70-200/2.8 VR II. San Antonio Rampage right wing Bobby Butler, celebrating a goal.

San Antonio Rampage right wing Bobby Butler celebrates a second period goal during an AHL hockey game against the Rochester Americans, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. (Darren Abate/AHL)

San Antonio Rampage right wing Bobby Butler celebrates a second period goal during an AHL hockey game against the Rochester Americans, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Antonio. (Darren Abate/AHL)

First image from the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Fuji X-mount

•June 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I took delivery of my new Zeiss Touit 32/1.8 lens this morning from B&H. I couldn’t wait past the weekend so I had it overnighted. You see, when I’m impulse-buying photo gear, I have no patience. If I make a snap-decision, I want snap-delivery. I like to keep my gratification instant. The little Touit lens is well-built; very solid, as one would expect from Zeiss. And also, as I would expect from Zeiss, even their presentation oozed precision:

Carl Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 X-mount lens

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 X-mount lens

I immediately mounted the Touit onto my X-E1 and ran around looking for something to make a picture of, and finally settled on making a picture of J. as she was having streaks put in her hair by Kim. I have a couple shoots lined up this weekend, so I will be sure to put the lens to the test then, but for now, I have to say that I’m already in love with the Zeiss Touit 32. It’s as sharp as you expect Zeiss to be, and smooth as butter. The AF works well, and is plenty fast enough for me tastes, and I’m used to shooting with Nikon D3 bodies. I’ll see if I can get a few more photos when we go out to dinner with some friends later this evening. Until now, here’s one pic:

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Sample Image - Fuji X-E1

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Sample Image (Fuji X-E1)

On Shooting Sports

•December 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment
OKC Barons goaltender Yann Danis get lit up against the San Antonio Rampage. Photo by Darren Abate pressphotointl.com

OKC Barons goaltender Yann Danis get lit up against the San Antonio Rampage. (Darren Abate/pressphotointl.com)

Younger shooters often ask me for advice about shooting sports, because, well, I shoot a lot of sports. I always say that the most important thing is to know the game, because you essentially have to be able to predict the future. You have to know where the action is going to happen; if you wait for the action to happen, you will usually miss it. This image is a perfect example of that. I had to start shooting as soon as — if not before — the shot was taken in order to catch the puck in the net.

Click the link below to watch a highlight video from the Rampage game last night. This photo illustrates a goal that happened at 1:03 in the video. Watch how quickly it happens. If you wait for it, you’ll never capture it. BTW you can see me shooting thru the photo port in the glass after the score.

 

Photojournalist’s Log – Aug. 24th, 2012

•August 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I was looking forward to wrapping up a very busy week today, but it turned out that the end of my week became the middle, because I picked up a lot of work over the weekend and into Monday. I just wrapped three days of shooting for The Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio Campus, both stills and video. The CIA was holding the grand opening of their new Latin restaurant, called NAO, and wanted full documentation of the event, as well as stills and video of student chefs working in the kitchens, interiors and exteriors of the buildings, and coverage of celebrity chef appearances on campus.

The CIA is a regular client of mine, and I always love shooting there. I love the culinary arts, and if I weren’t a photographer, I would probably be a chef. It’s so interesting to spend time in the skills kitchen, absorbing knowledge while shooting. I always leave inspired to cook more, and then that all ends when I pass the Whataburger on my way home. One of these days, I’ll keep a well-stocked kitchen. Maybe.

Saturday, I have a morning assignment for the San Antonio Express-News, covering a mural project on the city’s West Side intended to cover up gang graffiti. In the afternoon, I’m manning the Glidecam for Sam Lerma’s video shoot for Gridiron, and then it’s more photo and video editing thru Sunday. Monday, I have an assignment for the Los Angeles Times, covering PTSD treatment and training for military dogs returning from service in Afghanistan. I’m really looking forward to that one; it should be very interesting. I can easily see how some spectacular and heartwarming pictures could be made.

For now, it’s back to transcoding and tagging video and photos.

The Switch from Canon to Nikon is Almost Complete

•March 29, 2012 • 1 Comment
AHL - San Antonio Rampage's Greg Rallo and Hamilton Bulldogs' Joonas Nattinen

San Antonio Rampage's Greg Rallo takes down Hamilton Bulldogs' Joonas Nattinen. (Darren Abate/pressphotointl.com)
Nikon D3; Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S

To be honest, the switch is actually complete. I just have a few more items to get to finish out my Nikon collection, and my bag will be full, but for now I’m still borrowing a couple things from friends, namely a 70-200 VR and a flash. I have the rest, though. My second D3 body arrived today, and I shot hockey tonight with both of them.

The two D3 cameras are about 50,000 units apart in serial numbers, but for some reason, they shoot somewhat differently. The older camera handles better, which I thought was strange, as it also has a lot more pops on the shutter. Like, five time more. But, the controls and shutter release is more firm, and the image in the viewfinder is brighter and more neutral than the younger body, which has a warm tone to the pentaprism for some reason. Did Nikon switch components somewhere in the D3 production run? Does anyone know?

I am more happy with the switch to Nikon with every assignment. I find that the autofocus is more accurate on my D3’s than was any Canon I ever owned. I’m not saying Nikon is better, or whatever, but to each his own, and it seems that the Nikons are better-suited to me and my shooting style. I sure like their zoom lenses better, that’s for sure. I never liked Canon’s zooms, except for the 16-35/2.8L II, which was awesome. The Canon 70-200/2.8L IS was a complete dog for sports action. AF was never accurate. Good riddance to it.

So no, my bag holds two D3 bodies, a 17-35/2.8 D, an 80-200/2.8 D, and a 300/2.8 AF-S (which is a tank). I had a 28-70/2.8 D but I sent it back to KEH because I found that they had severely over-rated its condition; the thing wouldn’t even AF to infinity if it was zoomed out to 70mm. I’m still debating whether to order another one or to instead replace that focal length coverage with fast primes. With two bodies, I could probably keep the 17-35 on one and then have a 50/1.4 or 85/1.4 on the other. Maybe I’ll order a D800 when they ship and just have three bodies on me. Yeah, like a “real” photojournalist. Heh.

New Blog Site for Panasonic AF100 Users

•February 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I would like to announced that I’ve started a new blog for users and enthusiasts of the Panasonic AF100 HD video camera. It can be found at http://AF100Central.com

Please come by and share in the knowledge. If you would like to send a link to AF100 footage for inclusion, send an email with  your link to AF100Central (at) gmail (daht) com.

AF100 Central

 
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