Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Transit of Venus - Voila!

A few posts ago I wrote a little about how I would attempt to film in time-lapse the transit of Venus. Basically or simply, a single polka dot traversing the great b all in the sky we call the Sun.

As it turned out, it seemed to work out far better than I could have imagined. Even though we were literally dying in the heat of about 107 degrees for about 5 hours, we did manage to keep the cameras cool by simply using that aluminum foil wrapping method around the front of the camera body, basically the same method I used for the solar eclipse a few weeks prior.

The one an major difference this time was that I used a solar filter cover over the lens as opposed to using extreme levels of ND filtration along with polarizing filters. Although that may have worked, this time I just wanted to see how this method would look. So on the way to my shooting location I visited my friends over at Starizona. They not only had the materials on hand to create such a filter, but actually helped me by assembling one (custom mind you!) for my 200mm lens. I actually shot at 400mm with the 2x converter attached. Yes, this was really sweet. I literally got the filter about an hour before the beginning of filming Have a look at the image. The filter is the square thing or thin foil on the lens made of a special material designed to view the sun without going blind or burning up your camera's sensor! Again, the guys at Starizona were unbelievably awesome in helping with this project as he assembled the ring from poster board layers wrapped in a circle to match the size of the lens and for a snug fit. He also silicone glued the film onto this "ring" of poster board and voila! Of course the thing dried very quickly due to our heat. So I was in business just in time.

So without further blah blah.. here is some samples of the results:

The Stock Footage:

The Fine Art:

From Mopic Fine Art Gallery 2011-2012
From Mopic Fine Art Gallery 2011-2012
From Mopic Fine Art Gallery 2011-2012
From Mopic Fine Art Gallery 2011-2012
The Promo:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

And now, an Interview with

Fellow stock media artist Martin Ellerbeck of and I did a remote link up interview recently about the stock media arts. I (of course) highly recommend that anyone and everyone watch this as there is some pretty fun stuff here:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why Engineers Should Read my Book!

One of the interviewees from my series "Notes from the Field", Alister Chapman recently posted a link to yet another film maker (F-Stop Academy) that blogged about an interesting topic;

Why it’s harder for Engineers to become film makers…

It didn't take a microsecond for me to figure out what this topic was about! Before I even read it I knew exactly what it pertained to. Why? Simply put and in a nutshell; that is what I am preaching in my book "Shut Up and Shoot!" So if you really want to know the secret to all of this... it's really simple - Just Shut Up and Shoot!

And for those of you that missed the video with me and Alister, here it is:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Calculating the Time Lapse of the 2012 Venus Transit Event

This year is just full of celestial events! We already had our solar eclipse and not a few weeks later comes an event that won't happen again for about a century or so. Basically we won't be here to see the next one in 2117  unless you happen to find the fountain of youth. This event known as the Venus Transit Event or the Transit of Venus is actually quite interesting to see. 

Basically, this is where the planet Venus simply transits in front of the sun. What one should see is an almost perfect black spot transit or travel across or in front of the sun over a period that will take quite a while. The entire event takes about 6 hours to complete*. Of course where I am located (Tucson, AZ), I will only see about 90% of the transit as the sun will set before it finishes. This was also the case with the solar eclipse a few weeks ago. I should be able to capture most of this event provided:

  1. My cameras don't overheat! (We are in the 100's and in the open direct sunlight this is not so cool.)
  2. My batteries hold up. (I have many so this should be okay.)
  3. I don't faint from heat exhaustion. (Gatorade is gonna make some money on this one!)
  4. I actually go out and shoot the event. (Still a maybe as it is in the middle of the week - Tuesday, June 5th, 2012)
  5. I don't forget to bring my aluminum foil for the cameras. (Yes, this actually worked for the Solar Eclipse and kept the cameras nice and cool.)
  6. And last but not least - the weather! The forecast states it should be clear and hot as hell! Did I mention we are in the 100's?

So here are some examples of what was shot just a couple of weeks ago during the Solar Eclipse:

From my 300mm lens:

From my 200mm lens with a 2x converter (basically a 400mm):

WARNING: For those of you that plan on shooting such an event, remember to protect the eyes. Never look straight into the sun. Get yourself some of those sun viewing glasses. In regards to the cameras themselves, always use super strong filtering with as many steps down as possible. The above sequences were shot with 8.6 stops fader ND filters as well as extreme fast shutter speeds (1/1250 for 300mm and 1/4000 for 400mm) and enormously high f-stops (f-22).

Needless to say, stay tuned! Check back frequently to see if everything cooperated and the Venus Transit Authority, ah, I mean the Venus Transit Event was captured by your's truly. 

*If you noticed that there was an asterisk in the above text, then you will realize that there are some calculations that need to be made to figure out just what type of frequency still captures will be needed to accomplish this. I actually created a new spreadsheet that you can download for free that will help in calculating the process for long events such as this. Simply right click here and select "save as" to save this Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to your computer. I call this spreadsheet the Time Lapse Calculator for Long Events. It will let you enter the frame rate you expect in your final time lapse as well as, and of course the event's length in hours and minutes. The end result will tell you the frequency or time between exposures. Oh. And don't forget to order the e-Book by clicking on the link to the top right. This will really help you understand how to successfully accomplish wonderful time lapse production. Just in case you are savvy and read all the way down to here, you can get a 20% discount for simply entering the discount code of "VENUS" (no quotes, just word all caps)! That's a whopping $7.80 off the regular price. Cool.