The End for Australian Independent Photography?: Australian Centre for Photography Closing Its Doors on December 16, 2020

On November 19th, 2020, in ‘Pathway to extinction’: Australian Centre for Photography closes doors Linda Morris of The Sydney Morning Herald reported that:

“The Australian Centre for Photography, critical in launching the careers of Bill Henson and Tracey Moffatt, will close its doors due to a cash crunch brought on by COVID-19 lockdown, the shift to smartphone photography and funding cuts.

The ACP board announced Thursday it had made the “painful decision” to cease its programs at its Darlinghurst gallery and “hibernate” while it restructures the organisation to protect it from “ongoing financial losses”.

Lisa Moore, daughter of photographer David Moore, who conceived the idea of a non-profit cultural centre to advance the medium in Australia in 1970, described it as a sad day for photography….

December 16 will be the last day for the ACP’s four full-time, two part-time staff and 15 casual tutors in what its director and chief executive Pierre Arpin describes as the latest in a series of hard knocks for the arts sector….”

The Australian Centre for Photography later confirmed that report with its news item, Announcement: ACP Hibernation.

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“One of Australia’s leading photographers, David Moore conceived of the idea of a national centre for photography in 1970.” A local café in Turramurra in Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Photograph © copyright Karin Gottschalk 2020. All rights reserved.

The imminent ending of the Australian Centre for Photography in its present form or, possibly, forever, is a major blow for Australian photography and photographers both continuing to suffer from the effects of the mobile phone camera revolution, the reduction in local print magazine production, the loss of professional camera stores and their micro-communities, and the end of the golden era of top-quality newspaper photojournalism in this country in which I was lucky enough to take part.

Who buys and where?

The ACP’s “hibernation” is the second blow to independent photography in Australia in this decade.

Stills Gallery, a specialist photo gallery located in a far-flung part of Paddington, closed up shop in 2017, twenty-seven years after opening in 1991 at the same time I was working on the first few issues of ‘not only Black+White’ magazine with the aim of helping to radically advance the understanding and role of photography as a creative medium in Australia.

I have never sold any of my documentary photographs at gallery shows, hardly surprising given as the biggest collector of Australian photography does not live here.

Besides Elton John who purchased from Stills each time he visited this country, I am not aware of any other consistent and dedicated collector of photographs made by Australians, and certainly not of documentary photographs, and I wonder what the future holds for independent photographers with these two galleries gone.

Some commercial art galleries in Sydney show certain photographic genres so long as they conform to the tropes of contemporary art practice but there is no longer a place one can drop into with the assurance that one will always see well-curated photography shows there.

Thwarted hopes

When I first came to Sydney I had hoped that the ACP might have taken on some of the functions and status of, say, The Photographer’s Gallery in London, as a national centre for photography and related media but such hopes depend on adequate private and public support and without annual funding from a national arts organization such as the Arts Council in England, with its National Lottery grants, such ambitions were doomed never to materialize.

As noted in the captions to my images of the ACP below, the premises occupied by the organization in Oxford Street, Paddington, for forty years limited the size and nature of all that the ACP could do and my irregular long treks there were rarely rewarded with enough to see or do each time.

I never felt welcome much less at home at the ACP despite once being asked to show some urban documentary photographs there while living interstate at the time, and my later experience in 2010 when invited by a famous German fashion photographer friend to attend the opening of a group show curated by the great F. C. Gundlach caused me to feel even less welcome there.

My friend tried to remind the ACP’s organizers of the role I had played in helping advance Australian photography around the world with ‘not only Black+White’ magazine, expecting for me the same kind of respect we had both experienced in the UK and later at photokina where he introduced me to F. C. Gundlach and we attended a Stern magazine reception, but his pleas were ignored.

My friend looked shocked at how I was treated, and then he was shuffled off by his hosts while I stood there shamefaced, then I left the building for the long walk down Oxford Street to Town Hall Station.

I had been hoping to spend some quality time with my friend after not seeing him for over a decade, but I never saw nor heard from him again and I still don’t know why.

I didn’t return to the ACP for quite some time, until a Reportage Festival event where I briefly felt amongst peers once more.

A difficult location

Paddington may have been an enclave of ethnic and working class culture for decades before I first came to Sydney but by then it had become gentrified by and for the upper middle class with pricey boutiques and exorbitant rents, restaurants where lunch cost more than just a pretty penny and too few other reasons to go there.

Given all that I could understand why the ACP’s leadership might consider selling its biggest financial asset to bet the shop on finding better quarters closer to where the real action was, in the city itself or at least in the more inner city locations rather than Paddington close by to Centennial Park.

In reality, though, they missed the boat by a couple of decades.

The better time to up sticks and move was in the early 1990s before Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Redfern began their own gentrification process, when artists and photographers lived and worked in multi-storey renovation-ripe buildings like Silknit House, now Teachers Federation House in Mary Street, Surry Hills.

I narrowly missed the opportunity to move into a residential share studio in Silknit House but competition for places was stiff, the waiting list was ever-growing and I had only recently moved to Sydney so was something of an unknown quantity.

Surry Hills was described as “the city’s backyard” by author Christopher Keating in his book of that name ‘Surry Hills: The City’s Backyard‘ and the suburb hosted other so-called artists’ colony buildings such as a narrow multi-storey building of photographers’ studios in Foster Street, a backstreet colour photo lab and rental studio beloved of fashion photographers and another rental studio offering monochrome hand processing and printing in Elizabeth Street near Opera Australia.

Sun Studios in Alexandria, now owned by Canon Australia, apparently began life as a rental studio in Sydney’s Liverpool Street with more such studios and artists’ colony buildings in nearby East Sydney.

For a time I rented a couple of rooms in a little complex in Sophia Street in Surry Hills which connected to an advertising photographer’s offices fronting onto Foveaux Street when I freelanced for a number of nearby magazine and newspaper publishers including News Corp Australia in Kippax Street, Australian Consolidated Press in Park Street and Fairfax Media west of the Sydney Central Business District.

Developers’ mania for demolishing heritage buildings, turning others into apartment and office blocks and erasing the lesson-imparting past has made these historic Sydney locations unattainable for the creative classes who have been scattered to far-flung suburbs, or have moved interstate or overseas.

The end of inner city creative colonies and studios?

I had experienced similar artists’ colonies and inner-city studios in Perth, Western Australia before moving east and the story was the same there but in miniature, with landlords promising renters hand on heart to never abandon them by selling up but who then succumb to bags of cash brandished by developers lusting to turn the city and its inner city suburbs into soulless money machines.

Sydney deserves better than that.

Australia deserves better than that.

Photography in Australia deserves better than that.

We need an inner city complex for photography and the other digital and screen media, and if that means taking a leaf out of the Soho House organization’s book, with its accommodationrestaurants, event spaces, studio spaces, cinemas, locationsworkspaces and projects, then so be it so long as it is recognized that Australian creatives remain amongst some of the most poorly paid on the planet.

I would love to be able to spend time in such a place with other Sydney-based creatives and especially photographers and filmmakers, but frankly I just don’t know where they all are now.

I need to “connect, grow, have fun, and make an impact” once again, just as I did when I conceived and co-founded ‘not only Black+White’ magazine then moved to London as its European Contributing Editor.

This pandemic isn’t going to last forever and we need something to look forward to when it has run its course.

We need to look forward to being with others with whom we share common interests to cheer reach other on, generate new projects and initiate change for the better and that cannot come too soon.

We need to pursue real diversity and inclusion, going above and beyond the tokenism that still leaves too many of us out in the cold, alone and unwelcome unless we conform and play down the differences that could enrich this nation’s creativity if they were truly respected and permitted to flourish.

Above all, we need to actively embrace those who are different, born different, from different backgrounds, give respect where it is due and make all welcome in a home away from home.

Australian Centre for Photography, Darlinghurst, Sydney on February 25th, 2020 and ACP Workshop at Ted’s World of Imaging, Sydney in October 2018

Links

  • Andrew Bassett Fine FramingBlackwattle History – “Other artists colonies lost in recent years include the Silknit House in Surry Hills, Sylvester Studios in Redfern and Shepherd & Newman in East Sydney. Communities like the Blackwattle studios have been described as important breeding grounds for creative talent and incubators for small business, and in an enlightened city would be considered community assets.”
  • Arts Council, EnglandArts Council National Lottery Project Grants
  • Australian Centre for PhotographyAnnouncement: ACP Hibernation
  • Australian Centre for PhotographyFacebook
  • Australian Centre for PhotographyInstagram
  • Australian Centre for PhotographyTwitter
  • Australian Centre for Photographywebsite
  • Australian TravellerThe Greats of German fashion photography in Australia – Published 03 May 2010 – “On display there will be 188 photographs, selected by curator F C Gundlach from across 39 photographers. The artists range from Helmut Newton, who was one of the most sought-after fashion and advertising photographers of his day, to Regi Relang, Rico Puhlmann, Wolfgang Tillmans and Olaf Martens.”
  • Concrete Playground.Australian Centre for Photography to Leave Paddington – “Sydney’s once vibrant Oxford Street is set to face yet another loss: The Australian Centre for Photography, a cornerstone of Paddington’s creative history for the past 40 years and one of the longest running contemporary art spaces in Australia, is selling up. For ACP, the lack of accessibility along Oxford Street has been the major drawback. Director Suzanne Buljan sees the decision to move the home of Australia’s photo-media community to a more central location as an opportunity to “adapt with our ever changing medium and produce innovative shows that overcome both building and transport barriers for audiences.””
  • John McDonaldFarewell Stills – “Published in The Good Weekend, 24 June 2017” – “There’s no doubt who has been Stills’ number one private collector: “Elton John,” says Freedman. “He’s incredible.” On every trip to Australia, the singer, who is also one of the world’s leading collectors of photography, has gone on a shopping binge at the gallery.”
  • Reportage Festivalwebsite – “Born in a Bondi living room in 1999 when a group of friends took turns showing their latest work, Reportage has grown to become Australia’s leading showcase of international documentary photography…. Since 2014 the Festival has been in hiatus with programs planned for the future.”
  • Soho House – “A members’ club founded in 1995. A home for creative people to come together. Soho House is a place for our diverse membership to connect, grow, have fun, and make an impact.”
  • Stills Gallerywebsite – “Stills Gallery ran from 1991 to 2017. It was one of Australia’s longest running and pre–eminent commercial galleries and one of the few specialising in contemporary photography. Stills opened at 16 Elizabeth St Paddington in Sydney in May 1991. In November 1997 the gallery relocated to 36 Gosbell St Paddington, finally closing its doors in July 2017. Stills supported both emerging and established artists working across the spectrum of photomedia and had a long history of fostering artists throughout their careers.”
  • The Photographers’ Gallery, London – “The Photographers’ Gallery (TPG)  was founded in London’s Covent Garden in 1971 as the first public gallery in the UK dedicated to the photographic medium. From the outset it has been instrumental in promoting photography’s value to the wider world and ensuring its position as one of our most significant artforms.”
  • The Sydney Morning Herald‘Pathway to extinction’: Australian Centre for Photography closes doors
  • The Sydney Morning HeraldReportage uncensored – “These are the images you won’t see at Reportage Photo Festival’s projections during Vivid. Pictures from at least 18 of the 35 photographers selected for the event have been pulled, including those from international guests from prestigious photojournalism agencies Magnum, Noor and Contact. The photos have been deemed unsuitable for a public audience during Vivid Sydney.”
  • The Sydney Morning HeraldWhy the legacy of Sydney’s Stills gallery will live on after its closure
  • Unititled.Net – How I Came Out of the Western Desert and Helped Kill Off the Cultural Cringe – PDF
  • WikipediaF. C. Gundlach

Muse Storytelling: Ninja Filmmaking – Commentary with my own hardware & software recommendations

https://www.ninjafilmmaking.com/minicourse

The current state of the world has posed challenges for all of us. As filmmakers, our challenges have been extra unique. Budgets are reduced, crews need to be smaller, and we are generally expected to work with less resources. That’s why we created the free Ninja Filmmaking mini-course: to show you how to create big results by outthinking your challenges. We’ll break down exactly how to plan out your story and be a far more proactive, stealth and intentional filmmaker.

Commentary

The Muse Storytelling folks have launched a free online short course under the title Ninja Filmmaking that is aimed at helping moviemakers cope and survive if not thrive in this pandemic-affected world.

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The camera that accidentally changed everything. Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM kit zoom lens. Image courtesy of Canon.

If things were difficult enough for independent self-funded documentary moviemakers before the arrival of COVID-19, they are even more challenging now with personal income and resources radically reduced and yet even more need for us to produce compelling visual storytelling to production standards that are constantly growing higher and higher.

Luckily, we are in the post-DSLR filmmaking revolution era, the now well-established mirrorless hybrid era with high quality, affordable cameras that can record excellent stills as well as video footage to current UHD broadcast and cinema projection standards.

Moviemaking remains, however, a predominantly white, middle-class occupation except in places where those of us locked out of the system have banded together in cooperatives with the support of donors and mentors to equip and teach ourselves to tell our own stories.

The last such organization located in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Paddington shut its doors several years ago after charging high fees for equipment rental and training during its later years.

Any free or affordable training by well-qualified moviemakers is welcome and I am for grateful Muse Storytelling’s ‘Ninja Filmmaking’ online course and advice on what for current production standards by one-person bands.

Moviemaking remains costly here

As Drew Turney of Filmism.net shared in a recent newsletter:

We all know moviemaking is an inherently expensive exercise. Even the amount of money we’d consider low (or no) budget filmmaking would be enough to get the average middle class family out of debt for the rest of their lives.

Drew bounces between Perth in Western Australia and Los Angeles, and is doubtless aware that moviemaking is an even more costly exercise in Australia than it is in the USA, with our exchange rates, lack of importer and retailer competition and local unavailability of many key items as well as non-representation of a number of useful, even essential, brands.

Nonetheless the equipment list shared by the Muse/Ninja folks is a good one based on the currently most affordable and versatile feature-quality Super 35 hybrid camera, the Fujifilm X-T4, supported by microphones from Australia’s own world-famous audio equipment maker, Røde Microphones, along with other currently popular lighting and grip products.

Production hardware recommended by Ninja Filmmaking

The list is a useful starting point though I would recommend considering alternatives from brands like 3 Legged Thing, Olympus, Panasonic, Rotolight and many others.

Some alternatives and extras to the above

The Muse Storytelling team’s Ninja Filmmaking gear list is a good one and in the best of all possible worlds would be affordable and findable at local retailers, had COVID-19 not arrived to disrupt supply chains and global air freight not to mention Australian and US postal reliability, or rather, the lack thereof.

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Approved by Netflix for top quality broadcasting production. Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H rigged with Zacuto moviemaking accessories. Image courtesy of Zacuto.

As underlined by the Ninja Filmmaking list’s reliance on Røde Microphone’s products for audio recording, Australian brands such as Atomos, Blackmagic Design and Miller Tripods are highly regarded in video production around the world for their affordability and durability under challenging conditions.

While Fujifilm’s X-T4 Super 35 hybrid camera is an impressive performer and the company’s Fujinon prime and zoom lenses are justly respected by cinematographers, there are other approaches to video production.

Panasonic has been making strides in its S-Series 35mm sensor hybrid cameras with the Netflix-approved Lumix S1H while the recently announced S5 looks like a respectable and affordable lower-specced alternative A or B camera.

Panasonic’s G-Series Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras like the Lumix GH5, GH5S and even the G9 have impressive video capabilities, excellent IBIS and a documentary-style Super 16 4K look and feel, though many moviemakers regret the company’s reliance on DFD contrast-detection autofocus when autofocus rather than traditional manual focus-pulling is becoming increasingly important for one-person bands.

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Meike T2.2 Series 6x Cine lens Kit for MFT + Cine Lens Case, containing Meike cinema prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras.

While Westcott’s Flex Lights are impressively versatile in combination with the company’s Scrim Jim bounce and diffusion system, I have long relied on industry-leading Rotolight’s LED lights for stills and video.

Sachtler’s Flowtech tripods are reportedly fast and efficient to use on location by solo moviemakers while Miller’s solo user tripods are solid performers and prove great investments, lasting for many years in the trenches.

Independent stills and now video tripod maker 3 Legged Thing continues to expand its range with constant innovation in a field where innovation was sluggish for years.

Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus cum fly-by-wire autofocus professional lenses are benchmarks of lens design in any sensor format whereas Meike’s expanding collections of affordable geared cinema lenses show real promise in independent production compared to the exorbitant prices usually charged for cinema primes.

The question is, then, what look and feel, what visual and operating style suits you, your personality and your personal circumstances best?

Hardware and software Ninja Filmmaking forgot

The Muse Storytelling folks have assembled a great core list of hardware recommendations but they left out some essential items of hardware and software for the “proactive, stealth and intentional filmmaker.”

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PolarPro Variable Neutral Density Filter, Peter McKinnon Edition., Combo Set comprising 2 to 5 stops and 6 to 9 stops filters.

To date no hybrid camera other than Fujifilm’s X100 series comes with built-in neutral density filters so one must invest in sets of fixed value neutral density filters or the variable neutral density filters that are most appropriate for one person run-and-gun moviemakers.

Quite a few documentary and video journalism cinematographers have matching variable NDs permanently attached to each lens in their kit to avoid exchanging filters on the spot.

Brands to look out for include Aurora-Aperture, Breakthrough Photography, Formatt-Hitech Firecrest, PolarPro, SLR Magic and many others.

If you are collecting filters with industry-standard diameters of 77mm or 82mm then you need step-up rings to attach them to lenses with smaller filter diameters.

Brands I use and recommend include Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, PolarPro and Sensei, but I lean towards hardened aluminium or better yet brass, and look for knurled step-up rings for ease of use, and fast removal and attachment in the field.

Lastly, whatever camera you are using, you cannot go wrong with Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT Pro system for creating perfect colorimetry and colours indistinguishable from what your eye sees.

Expose your footage using Mr Leeming’s recommended ETTR aka expose to the right method, demonstrated on the Leeming LUT Pro web page, and your footage will be eminently gradable to feature film standards in editing and grading software like Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve.

Other Links

  • 3 Legged Thing – “The most technologically advanced tripod system in the world.”
  • Apple – Final Cut Pro X
  • Blackmagic DesignDaVinci Resolve – “DaVinci Resolve 16 is the world’s only solution that combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects and audio post production all in one software tool!”
  • Fujifilm-X Global
  • Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table (LUT) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading. The Pro II LUTs are designed for perfect Rec709 colorimetry and have a linear luma curve, with an average measured dE(2000) of less than 1, meaning they are visually indistinguishable from reality to the human eye.”
  • Muse StorytellingNinja Filmmaking
  • OlympusM.Zuiko Pro – “With no compromises made, M.Zuiko PRO lenses are amazing in every aspect.”
  • Panasonic Lumix Global
  • Peak Design – “Our products must be innovative, beautifully crafted, and quite literally the best in their category. “
  • Røde Microphones
  • Rotolight – “From the very first LEDs to offer the shoot what you see benefits of continuous lighting and High Speed Sync flash all-in-one, to the brightest 2×1 soft light ever made, Rotolight LEDs streamline the workflows of imagemakers across the world.”
  • Sachtler Flowtech 75 MS

Photographer and Photography Teacher Grant Scott’s UN of Photography is a Must-Read, and His Book “New Ways of Seeing” Will Be Too

Grant Scott, by Matthew Halstead. Permission to publish this link has been sought and I am awaiting response.

When I was living and working in the United Kingdom I was located near the centre of a world of photographic creativity, photography education and commissioning photography the like of which I have never seen in Australia and most likely never will. 

I was constantly exposed to creators, critics, educators, publishers, thinkers and innovators whose activities made me feel alive and excited about photography itself as well as its associated fields of cinematography, design, publishing and exhibiting. 

I did not meet art director, editor, educator, moviemaker, photographer, podcaster and writer Grant Scott back then and I would have loved to have known him, but at least I have easy access to his insight and knowledge via his The United Nations of Photography website and the now three three books he has written. 

Grant Scott’s latest book is ‘New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography’, to be released on the 28th of November 2019, and I am very much looking forward to it.

Those born since the digital revolution, seem to have the hardest time re-imagining the role of photography in the world today. Thinking of photography as a visual language is the approach this book adopts to addresses this challenge.

Considering photography in this way develops the metaphor of ‘learning a language’ when attempting to explain what photography can be, and what it can give a student in transferable creative and life skills. This begins with challenging the pre-conception that successful photography is defined by the successful single image or ‘the good photograph’.

The book emphasises the central role of narrative and visual storytelling through a technique of ‘photosketching’ to develop the building blocks of visual creativity and ultimately to craft successful bodies of photographic work.

New Ways of Seeing explains how to both learn and teach photography as a visual language, appropriate for both professionals and students working today.

When I was thrown into the deep end having to suddenly become a photography teacher while still a student, I had no mentor nor experience of being taught photography and thus no guide as to how to actually do it much less how to do it well.

Instead I cobbled together my own way of teaching based on my own life and experiences, and on my understanding of photography as a visual language, a way of seeing and a documentary medium.

The table of contents of ‘New Ways of Seeing’ is intriguing:

    • Introduction
    • The Narrative Eye
    • 1. How Did We Get Here
    • 2. Speaking in a Digital Environment
    • 3. The Basic Vocabulary of a Visual Language
    • 4. #Photosketching
    • 5. Building the Narrative
    • 6. Developing Fluency
    • 7. Speaking Out

    Meanwhile Grant Scott has made a vast quantity of thought-provoking material available on his The United Nations of Photography website and I highly recommend watching his feature documentary on the late Bill Jay.

I have just enjoyed reading ‘Do Photographers Need a Brief? Was Alexey Brodovitch Right?’ at The United Nations of Photography where Grant writes that “when Brodovitch commissioned photographers he used just two words “Surprise Me!” That was it. No written brief, no visual reference or complicated requirement was placed on the photographer. He trusted the photographer to respond to a situation and gave them space to be themselves. The work that was created was ground breaking and timeless.”.

That is exactly how I commissioned photographers when working in advertising, based on how I would have loved to have been treated as a photographer, and the results spoke for themselves.

Links

  • Bloomsbury Publishing PlcNew Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography – “The book emphasises the central role of narrative and visual storytelling through a technique of ‘photosketching’ to develop the building blocks of visual creativity and ultimately to craft successful bodies of photographic work. New Ways of Seeing explains how to both learn and teach photography as a visual language, appropriate for both professionals and students working today.
  • Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay – feature documentary movie about the life and work of British photography and photography education innovator Bill Jay, made by Grant Scott and colleagues.
  • Grant Scott Photographywebsite – “After fifteen years art directing photography books and magazines such as Elle and Tatler, Grant began to work solely as a photographer for a number of commercial and editorial clients in 2000. His images bring together all of his experience working with some of the greatest photographers of the last century with his graphic and journalistic talents. His aim is to create engaging photographic narratives from every commission. Grant is currently based in the South West of England.”
  • Matthew Halstead Photography – portrait of Grant Scott of The United Nations of Photography.
  • Oxford Brookes Universitywebsite
  • SoundcloudUNofPhoto: A Photographic Life Podcast
  • The United Nations of Photographywebsite
  • WikipediaOxford Brookes University

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Adobe Australia’s ‘The Big Picture’ Free Filmmaker Development Program Needs to be Available Throughout Australia, Not Just Melbourne During 2019’s St Kilda Film Festival

Adobe Australia is presenting an educational program during the St Kilda Film Festival in Melbourne on  Saturday and Sunday the 22nd and 23rd June 2019, and it is, apparently, entirely free of charge. 

The Festival organizers describe the Adobe Presents: The Big Picture program thus: 

The 2019 St Kilda Film Festival‘s two-day filmmaker development program covers everything you need to know about making a short film, from inception to distribution and everything in between.

Sounds great, but I want to see this program or something even better offered all around Australia or at least in Sydney. 

How about it, Adobe? 

When I was a kid growing up in another state of Australia, there were two possibilities there for training in film and television, a film and television institute and the state branch of the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Minorities needed not apply.

The institute was for wealthy, Anglo white boys from the “right” background and the cadetship at the ABC was for not-so-wealthy Anglo white boys from the “right” background or something very close to it.

This was a state still dominated by its Anglo Ascendency and having money and the “right” background remain the prime requirements for getting through the door.

Heaven help you if you were poor, ethnic, indigenous, working class, rural, non-male, of a certain age, a member of the LGBTQI community or some combination of these.

Heaven help you if the stories you wanted to tell fall outside the approved types or genres.

Heaven help you if that meant breaking the rich, white, non-ethnic male dominant narrative which we all perfectly well know is far from the only one that needs to be shared and the near-total dominance of which has lead to the dangerous state of the world today.

Pity if you have been discriminated against all your life, always coming up against closed doors, and yet are still trying to make a positive change for yourself and for those whose stories you need to tell.

Pity if you don’t have the cash or the means to take out a loan to move interstate and get yourself into a course at AFTRS, a university, a private college or some other film, television and digital media training organisation.

Even when Metro Screen in Sydney was operational, its short courses in various production skills were unaffordable for those without the “right” background.

That is why I was pleased but disappointed when I spotted mention of Adobe Presents: The Big Picture on social media.

An overview program like this is certainly better than nothing even if it is not as in-depth and as hands-on as one might like.

An overview program like this is certainly better than the nothing that is accessible to those of us not from the “right” background.

Adobe Presents: The Big Picture – two-day program

 

Links

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MixingLight: Getting To Know Dolby Vision HDR – free-to-read 3-part article

https://mixinglight.com/color-tutorial/getting-know-dolby-vision-hdr-part-1/

“… Try to think about Dolby Vision as a funnel. The HDR grade is the wide end of the funnel: a high dynamic range (HDR), large color gamut, and possibly high resolution and frame rate moving image.

The Dolby Vision process analyzes your HDR grade (in the grading software), creates some metadata, and a Dolby Content Mapping Unit (CMU) reads the metadata produced by the analysis process. The metadata is embedded over SDI and in real-time the CMU creates a Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) version of the project….

… I know this is going to sound funny, but by starting with the HDR grade and deriving an SDR grade from that through the Dolby Vision process, I feel like I’m getting better SDR grades than I would have if I did the SDR version alone….”

blackmagic_egpu_04_1024px_80pc
Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio and Blackmagic Design Blackmagic eGPU for colour grading, with MacBook Pro, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel, LG UltraFine 5K monitor and URSA cinema camera.

Commentary

That MixingLight’s Robbie Carman is achieving better Standard Dynamic Range grades by starting off with a High Dynamic Range grade is not funny at all – this result has been reported for some time before he wrote his still-relevant article.

Although I do not currently have access to the means to shoot or post-produce in Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, Mr Carman’s excellent three-part article is proving invaluable in better understanding the how, why and wherefor of two key Dolby Laboratories technologies that have found their way onto contemporary 4K television sets, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.

Links

  • Help support ‘Untitled’

    blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_04_1024px_60pc
    Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

    Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • 8Sinn Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Blackmagic Design DaVinci ResolveB&H
  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Core SWX Powerbase EDGE Battery for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H

thomas fitzgerald: Capture One Express Fujifilm: An Overview

“In this video I give you a quick walkthrough of Capture One Express for Fujifilm (Also for Sony) to get you up to speed, starting with importing, then some basic editing, and finally how to export….”

Commentary

Now that Phase One has released its free Capture One Express raw processing software for Fujifilm, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

I learned how to use Capture One Pro, the full version that supports hundreds of different cameras and lenses, some years ago by watching free training videos on the Web, and can highly recommend Thomas Fitzgerald as a Capture One teacher as well.

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  • Phase One Capture On Pro 11 – B&H

With Gaps in APS-C and Micro Four Thirds Native OEM Lens Offerings Still, Should I Look at Adapting Manual Focus Prime Lenses?

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before I started looking seriously at the possibility of adapting old and new manual focus lenses to my current and possible future mirrorless APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras for stills photography and cinematography, and particularly the latter.

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Leica worked out the best prime lens focal length line-up for documentary photography and photojournalism in 35mm years ago and it remains the benchmark and role model for other lens makers to this very day. The only focal length missing from this lens collection is 40mm, which Leica made for the Leica CL rangefinder camera which was later taken over by Minolta as the Minolta CLE with 40mm standard lens as well as a 28mm and 90mm lens. Too many contemporary lens makers leave out 28mm and 75mm lenses and their equivalents for other sensor formats. Why? Both these focal lengths are the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism.

There are several reasons.

Using two different mirrorless sensor systems can get costly due to their lack of a common mount.

Mirrorless camera systems as such are relatively new and it takes time to build up a decent collection of native prime and zoom lenses in all the focal lengths that all users need.

It apparently took Canon thirty years to build its current lens collection.

I cannot wait anything like thirty years for Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic, makers of the lenses I currently use, to build fully-fledged lens collections minus the glaring gaps that are really annoying me right now.

Their priorities are not necessarily mine, and as a documentary moviemaker and photographer who learned her trade during the analog era with cameras and lenses that mostly do not exist anymore, I was lucky enough to develop my ways of seeing and working with manual focus prime lenses, and manual exposure and manual focus cameras, and while I appreciate the advantages of auto-everything, am not completely reliant upon it.

Auto-everything can actually slow the process of seeing and shooting down by placing undue reliance on cameras and lenses to do what a well-practised eye and pair of hands can often do faster.

Simplicity has its value especially when allied with speed.

That is why I often recommended new photography students invest in fully manual secondhand cameras instead of high end professional gear when I was teaching photography during the analog era, and why I recommend that friends wishing to learn photography today invest in the closest thing to fully manual digital cameras and lenses that exist today.

That is no mean feat though given that the more affordable digital cameras seem to be the most automated, and that digital cameras only last so many years before too many shutter actuations and too many failed buttons and burnt-out circuitry render them useless.

My best friend asked me the other day for a camera and lens recommendation so she can learn to be a serious photographer after years of relying on cellphone cameras for snapshots and simple visual records.

What is the most stripped down, durable and simple digital camera out there now, one where automation gets entirely out of the way or does not even exist at all?

She told me she may be coming into a little money if some property sells, and so is prepared to spend some decent cash if the deal comes off.

The answer was clear, a Leica M10 or M10-P.

Although I learned to be a photographer using much lower end cameras, in fact incredibly lower end cameras, as a kid in the country, I learned the most and the fastest when I discovered Leica M-System rangefinder cameras by watching an American photographer using one then bought my own secondhand Leica M4-P with Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0 lens.

Another secondhand Leica M4-P followed along with an Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 lens for magazine assignments and I slowly and surely added several other M-System lenses after borrowing a few different lenses from the friendly local Leica dealer in order to understand which focal lengths best fit my needs and way of seeing.

I am not so sure if I want my best friend to go though the long, slow and costly process of trying out different focal lengths to see which best suits her as I did.

Leica lenses are as pricey as Leica cameras, and the secondhand market here is scant in both.

Perhaps I should consider recommending another well-regarded lens maker to her, such as Voigtlaender or Zeiss, whose M-Mount lenses are still made new in a variety of focal lengths?

Both brands are imported by Sydney-based companies and, hopefully, lenses may be available at their premises to see and try before she buys.

Better yet, both brands’ M-Mount lenses are highly regarded by professional users though I have yet to experience using either for cinematography or stills photography.

I need to remedy that lack.

I also need to think further about how to fill the gaps in my own lens collection.

Fujifilm and Panasonic make M-Mount adapters for their cameras as do a number of third party manufacturers.

I have no problem with the idea of using manual-only lenses now that push-button magnification and focus peaking work so well on cameras made by both companies.

Having one set of 35mm sensor format manual lenses that can be adapted for either camera system holds its appeal and its challenges.

My preferred two-camera, two-lens set-up for documentary photography comprises the 28mm and 75mm focal lengths in 35mm sensor format.

In Fujifilm APS-C, that is equivalent to 18mm and 50mm.

In Micro Four Thirds, that is equivalent to 14mm and 37.5mm.

While Fujifilm makes a very nice 50mm Fujicron style lens, its 18mm is, well, disappointing.

Neither Olympus nor Panasonic makes a 14mm lens, or at least not one that appears to be available to purchase any more, and no MFT lens maker has a 37.5mm lens in its collection.

Might I be able to fill the gaps with a 14mm or 18mm M-Mount lenses on the wide end and 35mm, 40mm and 50mm lenses in mid-range?

We shall see.

If quirky turns out to be my best friend’s thing, some of the Chinese lens makers release M-Mount prime lenses as do other third-party lens makers based in Europe and Asia.

There are other options too.

Director/cinematographer Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One fame built up a large vintage prime lens collection by scouting Berlin flea markets for EF-Mount lenses he could stop and rebuild, adding adapters and step-up rings to them so they can easily be swapped in and out of his Panasonic Lumix GH5 cinematography camera rig.

Third-party adapter makers producing X-Mount adapters have begun appearing so Fujifilm’s cameras no longer feel quite so under catered-for.

More research is called for, but it is good to know there are options and that there are alternatives to continually begging Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic to make the prime lenses I need.

Panasonic Releases ‘Lumix GH5 | GH5S | G9 AF Guidebook’ on How to Get the Best Out of Autofocusing the Latest Panasonic Lumix Cameras

Using autofocus on Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5, DC-GH5S and DC-G9 Micro Four Thirds mirrorless hybrid cameras whether shooting stills or video has been a hot topic of debate online for quite some time. 

Panasonic chose to buck the trend began by other camera makers who adopted PDAF aka ‘Phase Detection Autofocus’, instead basing the autofocus system in the Lumix DMC-GH4 onwards upon DFD aka ‘Depth from Defocus’. 

Panasonic’s recent announcement of its Lumix S1 and Lumix S1R 35mm digital cameras mentioned the phrase ‘Deep Learning Technology’, and now the company has shared more information about that as well as how to get the best out of autofocusing its latest cameras with ‘Lumix GH5 | GH5S | G9 AF Guidebook’, an essential downloadable PDF guide book on the subject.

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Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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The Guardian: University guide 2019: league table for film production & photography [Coventry University #1]

https://www.theguardian.com/education/ng-interactive/2018/may/29/university-guide-2019-league-table-for-film-production-photography?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“If you dream of spending hours mulling over snaps in a dark room, or are incapable of sitting through a film without boring your friends with comments about the special effects, a degree in either film production or photography could be for you….”

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Commentary

Congratulations to the film and photography teaching team at Coventry University for being placed at number 1 with a score of 100 for 2019, and especially to its photography teaching team which includes a number of Australians including Anthony Luvera and Gemma-Rose Turnbull.

Coventry University very much sounds like the sort of institution I was so hoping that the university I attended might be but most certainly was not, with film and photography teachers of a calibre that simply did not exist back then in Western Australia.

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