Timeless advice…

…it never changes.  The process of creating a visual story that is. But then – what should appear online but some helpful hints for visual shooters.

Trouble is – they’re more than ninety-five years out of date.

Or are they?

Thanks to Amanda Emily, here is a list of hints written by Pathe’ News editor Paul Hugon in 1916 – during the birth of the movement of newsreel shooters. Let’s see how those tips stack up.

Right off there’s this advice. Still applicable today.

The object of motion pictures is to show motion. Only things in which there is motion are worthy of the cameraman’s attention.

Then there’s the highly technical advice on exposure using a hand cranked camera.

For each turn of the handle, eight pictures are exposed. The handle is turned twice in one second. Therefore 16 pictures are exposed in one second.

Translated to today’s terminology, most cameras set on auto expose approximately 30 pictures per second. And you don’t have to keep turning the crank to keep exposing new pictures.

Use a tripod (dammit).

It is essential, to preserve the illusion which is the basis of the film business, that the pictures should be absolutely steady.

We’re in agreement on tilts and pans too! It is better by far to visualize and shoot what you see in several strong shots rather than taking the lazy route and panning or spraying the scene.

There should never be a panoram, either vertical or horizontal, unless it is absolutely essential to obtain a photographic effect, and in any case the panoram should be, not from the main subject to others, but from others to the main subject, where theattention will finally rest. It is very much better to take two scenes than one panorammed scene. Panoraming is the lazy man’s remedy.

There’s a lot more there and most of it pretty darn good. Shoot pretty subjects, striking effects of light and shade. A hefty dose of technical advice on iris and shutter. Ummmm…you can skip the sections on protecting the negative and shipping (by slow boat to China in those days).

And the conclusion is his Golden Rule…

Make as good a picture for others as you would like others to make for you.
Nothing but the very best is good enough. Think, and think hard, how you can make the best picture. Put it all down in writing; plan your scenes…
There is plenty of room at the top of your profession, but you will not get there by standing about or just grinding away. Brain work is ultimately the only way to big money. And the money is there waiting for you.

(well maybe those last few lines don’t apply anymore…)
For full text, go to the original article on Amanda Emily’s site.

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Before…

Before the Internet…before TV…and pretty darn near alongside silent movies and radio way back in the early decades of the 20th century there was a breed of men who braved all manner of dangers from dancing beauty queens to crashing zeppelins to bring the news to theaters around the world.

And now Amanda Emily has rounded up their tall tales into a tome of her own – From Behind the Lens: Short Stories of the News Photographers From the Pre-War Newsreel Era. A must read for all who love history, news, both.

Newsreelers were the very first VJs…but this time let’s call them Visual Journalists. Heading out alone or with an assistant (and then a soundman beginning in the late 1920s) they covered the events of their time from serious to sensational. In Amanda’s book you will read the stories behind the news as well as learn about these remarkable men, who were looked upon as heros in their day.

I encourage you to take a look…I know I’m ordering mine tomorrow.

(Transparency: Yep, she’s a bud of mine…but I wouldn’t be posting here unless I believed in her and her book. She’s an old soul in a young body.)

I don’t mention Amanda Emily…

…often enough. She is my computer geek queen and a repository of news history. And she’s blogged about a fascinating behind the scenes story about how a bomber flew into the Empire State Building.

Yes, the storytelling style is hokey…that was the style in those days. But look at the quality of the film itself, listen to how they built the story. And read the back story of the cameramen who shot the film.

Technology (always) changes…style changes…but good storytelling is always compelling.

Golden hour generator…

Well, Amanda Emily has done it again…the techno-geek queen has a calculator that will give you times for the golden and blue hours in your area or any area you are traveling to.

The “Gold” is that time of day – dawn and dusk – when the sun is low and casts a golden light. “Blue” is the period right before dawn/after dusk when the sun is just below the horizon.

Those times are often the best times to shoot scenics or portraits. Knowing your timeframe for shoots can be a timesaver.

This seemingly simple site allows you to enter your location and the month you plan to shoot and then generates the dates for that month along with start/end times for gold and blue.

Now if she could only tie in a weather prediction so we’d know if it would rain or not…

Geeks in the woods/part two…

A stiff wind is blasting off Caples Lake…I’m out in it, as close as I can get to Internet access. Our cabin, while perfect in every other way, is right on the border of access. Amanda Emily can get online fine…Newell and I, with our Macs, are SOL.

Seems like I was designated cook on this trip…must be cause I brought the food. Steaks, lamb chops, baked potatoes and salad last night. Fried potatoes and onions, scrambled eggs, pork sausage, and pancakes for breakfast. Newell’s doing our lunch for the hike in about an hour.

Above are some sunrise photos on the lake. Anticipating light was fun, if chilly. The first rays hit a passing jet far overhead. Next the mountain across the lake…then the high treeline…and finally a blink of light and BOOM! a very fast sunrise.

The lake went from nearly black to rich blue in a matter of ten or fifteen minutes.

Geeks in the woods…

Kathy Newell and I head to the woods to decompress whenever possible.

This weekend we have an added featured guest – geek queen and media history buff Amanda Emily is joining us – wow. I absolutely love her blog, her online mouth, and obvious deep love of true journalism…but she has the ability to understand HOW stuff works. Me, I just use it.

Newell picked up her at the airport last night and we’ll meet at the 8,000 foot level for the first time. Look for postings from all three of us over the next few days.

Thank you Amanda Emily…

…for stating the obvious. The Internet abounds in contests and other such opportunities to make a name for yourself. And that is about all you get for entering…a few moments of fleeting fame, a handshake, and whatever you created belongs to someone else.

Take a read of this posting the articulate Amanda wrote. And her target is none less than Microsoft.

Let me think here…aren’t they one of the biggest, richest……

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