Saturday 13 April 2013

Keeping up with the Joneses

I'm not one for product blogs, but sometimes amazing things need attention lavished upon them; and Blackmagic's Pocket Cinema Camera is one of those amazing things.

A 1080P HD cinema camera (it captures RAW Wide Dynamic range) with the form factor of a crappy pocket camera. Hang it off the back of a micro 4/3rd lens and throw it on some rigging and you've got a pretty amazing piece of kit.

Blackmagic has already introduced some stiff competition for the 5K Red Epic, with their 2.5K Cinema Camera and new 4K Production Camera, both resembling medium format digital backs. They're dirt cheap too, especially given the other uber-professional competition is keeping prices for 4K/5K gear closer to the £100,000 price point (to clarify, Red and Blackmagic are uber-professional, it's their price points that put them in competition with consumer and prosumer tat).

So, I can pick up a professional grade HD camera, couple it with a LANC remote, pop it on a Freefly MOVI gimbal and hang it off the bottom of a R/C quadcopter or clamp it to the roof of a car without without stretching the credit card (edit: to clarify, I don't have such a credit card with a $20,000 limit, I should probably remove the MOVI from the list, given the full price of it is $14,500, not the $2,500 deposit I believed at first it cost)? That's pretty awesome (edit: it's still pretty awesome).

I'm foreseeing lost sleep on the horizon.

Just as well I have a 4K Red One. That's helps me sleep at night.

Friday 15 February 2013

Architech Phetish

Yes, I'm making words up now.

Architech = Architecture + Technology
Phetish = Photographic Fetishism


Anyway, to the post at hand. - This website is fantastic and well worth a few hours of your time. Peter McCready's gallery/interactive imagery are a 360° snapshot of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, France and document the LHC and the facility at large. Each panorama incorporates the background sound giving a truly fantastic sense of scale and environment.

Continuing on from my last post, I've been trying to understand the subject matter I want to focus on at the moment and seem to have settled upon a few distinct areas:

- architecture - superstructures, infrastructure and the behind-the-scenes processes and operations of modern buildings and structures
- technology - from space labs and satellite construction to industrial equipment and super machines, topped off with robots and control systems
- datacentres - a blend of technology and architecture with emphasis on making the ether we call the Internet, a tangible mass
- industrial design - from prototypes to beautifully ingenious design and engineering

I think that concludes proceedings...

Monday 21 January 2013

New Year, New Plans

The past 18 months have been hectic and pulled me further from my preferred forms of imaging then I'd have liked. Having adapted (for one reason or another) my studio into a lab-slash-workshop, I no longer have the space I would need for fashion or portrait photography (well, I could make space, but I think models would be a little put off by their surrounds).

So an idea formed, inspired in part by my expanding collection of photography books, Wired/Make subscriptions and ever-growing list of favourite photographers, that I should focus (if your pardon the pun) on a range of architectural and technological photography projects.

It makes real sense for me to take the opportunity to explore more of these subjects, as both feature highly in my work, interests and passions. I've spent very little time photographing the subject matter, so I find it an exciting opportunity to learn new techniques and perhaps bastardize others to get a look and feel I'll be happy with.

From robotics to industrial design to skyscrapers to building services, I think I'll enjoy exploring the subjects visually. It also enables me to put a twist on the subjects and to focus (again, pardon the pun) on aspects of architecture and technology that I enjoy and find inspiring. As a hint; a big passion I have is with the workings and mechanics of things, whether it be the cables and pipes of a building or the intricate construction of a satellite's flight controls, I find great beauty in the hidden engineered details.

On one of my many to do lists a year or so back I drafted an idea for a book; a set of works offering a snapshot of the datacentres that power the modern world. My objective, would be to revisit and revise every few years (or major datacentre revolution) to document not only the beauty but the evolution they undergo too. There's a bit of work to undertake in getting the project moving, but this new year I plan to attempt it whether successful or not.

Similarly, I'm keen to improve the quality of the imagery I publish on my blogs - I've lacked anything more substantial than an iPhone for day-to-day photography and sometimes it seems a little overkill to shoot in 56 mega pixels with a medium format camera, so the iPhone had to suffice. Now, I've bought an Olympus PEN with the intent of better documenting my day-to-day works (and random things that seem remotely interesting) I hope to make a conscious effort to improve my blogs. I promise. That said, I do use my iPhone as a camera everywhere and anywhere, so don't be surprised by crappy pictures turning up

Expect lots of retrospective photos added to my previous posts (both this blog and Made by McCoy).

Saturday 10 November 2012

Unnecessary Hero Worship

In the absence of a worthwhile post, I thought it best to do some hero worship and shortlist a handful of photographers who's works I adore.

In no particular order:
One of these days, I'll actually publish more of my works (and maybe even build myself a new website), but for now I'm afraid you'll have to make do with these guy's amazing works.


* Probably NSFW (unless you have a fairly liberal employer) and not for the sensitive.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

About time...

Having been swamped with things over the past few months, I've neglected my blogs and any form of self-promotion (work purposes, I'm not an attention starved sociopath - yet). So, spending a couple of hours this afternoon, I've updated both blogs (I'm afraid this counts as updating this blog), and assembled a very rough Blog-based folio website.

It's not pretty, it's not great, but it's more than nothing.

Perhaps that's todays lesson...

Saturday 5 November 2011


It's rant time.

I'm getting so frustrated by the ever increasing number of devices that rely upon traditional alkaline batteries. And the dumb thing, is that by standardising on these low-grade batteries, actually increases the size of the equipment and mean-time between failures.

My Mamiya 645AFDII takes 6x AA batteries. Why not Lithium? Hell, even Ni-Mh would be better. That's a ludicrously expensive piece of kit. The digital back is lithium powered, but not the body? Reminds me; it's probably leaked already.

I have to credit Apple with making batteries a part of a device, rather than a consumable, but then, I also have to wag a finger at them for the batteries needed in the wireless keyboard and mouse. Okay, they do sell a rechargeable battery and charger set for them, but still.

And that's the problem - wireless devices. Cheap, mostly Chinese-made wireless devices, that are disposable and in turn prop up a massive disposable battery market. Cheap products, cheap batteries. Crappy little IR remotes for your TV (why do they still exist? Will somebody please standardise communications for A/V equipment - if the IT industry can do it, then the A/V industry definitely can).

But it's not even limited to cheap crap either, I can't use my sound system properly at the moment, because I forgot that the detachable control panel takes batteries, and promptly leaked (even though the system has been used continuously). The panel spends 100% of it's life clamped to a device that's constantly powered - if it's going to waste power lighting the standby LED and circuitry, it could at least trickle-charge a control panel that's attached to it. But no. The control panel takes 10x AA batteries.

I've started stripping batteries out of every device I have, and only leave the batteries in the devices I use regularly. I find that it's too easy to let something sit in a draw for six months, and find the batteries have leaked. A classic device is the Wii remote - hardly used, and leaks at the drop of a hat.

So, what do I want? I want manufacturers to stop making power our problem, and find better ways of powering fixed devices, and more intelligent ways of powering wireless devices. Whether it be intelligent use of USB or proprietary data links that charge (like charging a control panel when it's docked), or inductance charging your mouse from a stand or mousepad. This isn't new technology. It's not even technology in most cases, just forethought and effort on the designers' part.

In the meanwhile, I've got to either clean or bin a wooden tray that spare batteries have leaked into (at least it wasn't an expensive device).

Monday 19 September 2011

Shoots & Shits

I really need to sort my day-to-day cameras out... I'm down to my iPhone and a Sanyo (looks like a snub-nose handgun) for my day-to-day snapping, and minus the convenience of the iPhone camera, they're all quite crap. I'm always impressed, and made to feel slightly embarrassed, by the quality of imagery on other folks' blogs, so I feel obliged to make an effort outside the studio...

A big portion of my woes I'll blame on the lighting at home, and to me only having the time to take project snaps in the evening (so plenty of flash required) - the Sanyo doesn't have a great low-light sensor, nor does it take particularly nice shots, it's a convenient camera, not a beautiful camera.

And then there's my Olympus E1 - now aged, with it's 5MP sensor, but it takes a really nice picture... Kind of dumb really, I hardly ever used this camera outside of the studio when I first got it, and kept it as backup when I had my first 22MP digital back, in pieces in my equipment case. Since then, it's found it's way into a small clamshell-like bag, and occasionally is found under a cupboard or in my car. But I'm still keeping this thing pristine, and not keeping this thing to shoot with.

Dumb. But in the effort to protect it, and keep it safe, I may just prolong it's life, but in the same hand, I'm wasting it's value now. You can still get away with a good 5MP picture, but in the next few years, it'll be pointless (probably). I'd still love a tiny Olympus Pen, but frankly, I'd be too frightened to take it anywhere and I'd probably have this same realisation in about 6 years about that camera too.

So, I come full circle back to my favourite little (now broken) camera, a crappy 1MP Sony. It looked like a lipstick case, had a tiny flash, crappy response (in the near tens of seconds) and a horrible LCD. But it was beautiful. I took hundreds and hundreds of truly off-the-hip pictures. I carried it everywhere, because it was tiny - plus it had a lanyard making it easy grab and use. One reason, was that I got it used, and didn't really give a crap about scratching it (I had my E1 then, which was the prized possession).

I'll avoid the psychology of why, and I'll instead summarise, that I'll attempt to make more of an effort with my blog pics...