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New site!

I’m moving house! Well, website.

This WordPress page is now redundant. It will still be kept roughly up to date in regards to my credits and public work, however if you want to see more and better things go to www.marchankins.co.uk.

If you need to contact me, either visit my site above, or email me at marc@marchankins.co.uk

Cheers!

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Portfolio! 2015 Edition!

Yup, I’ve taken up the pre-yearly naming scheme of crappy sports games. I’m sure you’ll live.

In a vain attempt to look busier than I am, I’ve decided to sit down, have a look at my portfolio for the thousandth time and decide what to do with my life. This time my mental processes came to the conclusion that I should re-jig my portfolio a little bit and do some winter cleaning.

Have a look! Portfolio! Click it!

If you know me, you’ll know that my portfolio is my greatest enemy. It’s the physical embodiment of my latest, greatest and most beautiful work, however because I’m a stereotypical creative, my huge levels of arrogance are dwarfed only by insufferable levels of insecurity. Even when everything is perfect I’ll still sit and stare at the body of work, treating it like I probably would a tarantula that magically appeared on my desk; paralysed with fear. Fortunately as one gets older, wiser, and uglier more confident, it’s not as hard to decide what works as it used to be.

When I created the 2013 edition of my portfolio, it was a hugely needed overhaul of everything. Today I’m subtly tweaking the core design ethos so that it reflects my own artistic directions. Gone are the thick black borders I used attempt a portrayal of creative authority and the page cluttering production details have been put at the back.

I’ve now opted for “BIGGER PICTURES!”, which rings much better in my head. It still looks cinematic – anamorphic aspect ratios will do that on their own – but it makes a huge difference to raw impact. Pragmatically speaking individual pages will also look much better when they’re scattered around on the internet.

There are a few new additions to the portfolio for the release, however for me it’s also laying the foundations for 2015 when more of 2014’s excellent projects will become public, I want those awesome pictures to stand big and proud for everyone to see!

If you like what you see, let me know! Give me a yell at marc@marchankins.co.uk – especially if you like it enough to hire me, you lovely person you.

Dawson James in "HUD" by Cosmo Leigh

Emma Kenny in "2:AM" by Genesis Flux / Sweet As A Productions


Out in the open!

I love it when films I’ve been a part of are released to the public. Projects can be under wraps for months if not years, so I’m always happy when I can prove that I’ve been a useful person and not just a make believe creative.

Go ahead and get entertained by this delightful homage to the adventure genre by Chris Cronin.

And because, you know, I’m a photographer, here’s some photography! Click to Embiggenate to full size!

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A Blimp What Now?

Photographing a film set has both unique opportunities and boundaries. You’re given total freedom, except when you’ve got none at all!

During a take (recording a performance) the stills photographer is quite rightly on bottom on the list of priorities. Any noise or significant movement is an absolutely terrible offence, taking pictures is a very quick way to make enemies on set.

That is, unless you have a camera blimp!

A what now? A flying camera? How does that help in being quiet and unassuming?

Despite it being a staple piece of equipment for an on-set photographer, many people, even filmmakers don’t know what they are. So, in the vain hope of having to explain myself less often in the future, I’m going to show you what I use to stay quiet on set.

No, it’s not a flying camera.

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A blimp is actually a box that’s designed to encase a camera and render it nearly totally silent while taking pictures. This particular one I own is actually a custom-made blimp that I stumbled onto in ebay. It’s a bit ragged from heavy use by it’s previous owner, however I intend to fix it up a bit and give it a sheen of polish.

Made of metal, with a lining of lead and foam, it’s designed to reduce the slapping noise of the mirror and shutters inside the camera. Here, take a listen!

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Quiet!

For me, the silencing is the least interesting part using this equipment. It does what it says on the tin, makes the camera quiet. Even though you can here it in the video, a shotgun mic turned away will never pick it up over dialogue or environmental noise.

For me, the things worth spending time to think about is how if affects my shooting style and workflow while on set.  There are a lot of small, but important things that will change the way I shoot.

One thing, is that the blimp does not have neck strap loops on it, meaning it can only be handheld. Now I use two cameras on set, because changing lenses is a fantastic way of making sure you miss everything important, a terrible distraction. However that means that at any time there’ll be at least one camera hanging off my body in one way or another.

This now has to change, and now I’m going to be spending time making sure that the blimp is placed somewhere safe when it’s not being used. Film sets are busy, highly dangerous and variable places, even if I plop it between my feet I need to be aware of anyone that might be headed my way in case I need to move it off the ground. The last thing I want is a camera operator or gaffer to trip over my blimp when handling heavy, expensive equipment. A sure fire way of upsetting insurance companies. Additionally, I’ve also had to remove the camera strap from the camera itself to fit it inside the blimp, so even when I’m not using it, I have to worry about a strapless camera.

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Another consideration is that I’m forced to change auto-focusing (AF) habits when using the blimp. By default DSLR’s tie AF to the shutter button, which is fine for casual use, however I deliberately use a custom setting to place AF on a different button, disengaging focusing from shutter release / exposure lock. It gives me extra creative freedoms for little extra complication. With the blimp however, I’m forced to reset that back to the default setting, because only the shutter button is accessible. This means that I must automatically re-focus every time I press the shutter button, a rather frustrating time waster.

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The other minor frustration is the lack of monitor window at the back. To check exposures or focusing of previous images, I need to crack the blimp open. Another time-waster. Fortunately I’m confident enough to not require checking too frequently, however If I have 10 seconds to spare, I’m now far less likely to double check that everything is cool. It’s a bit of a hassle when I’m also tackling a focusing system I haven’t really used in a long time.

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The last issue, is that the blimp is pretty heavy! It easily adds another kilo to an already pretty heavy collection of equipment. This in itself isn’t a huge problem, I could sure do with the exercise. However when you’re outside in a freezing cold winter, or roasting in a small studio that’s filled with cooking hot studio lights, that extra bit of manual labour can seriously detract from my mental sharpness. It means that I’m going to struggle to hold the camera steady for longer, which can be tricky when having to wait for that right moment I need to perfect a picture.

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Fortunately it’s not all negative. Despite all these issues and restrictions, it’s easily worth the ability to take photos during a take. There are many situations that won’t occur when the cameras aren’t rolling. I can take photos of actors giving their best performances with the lighting at it’s most dynamic! It also means that people are less aware of when I’m taking pictures even when we’re not rolling. This helps in reducing self awareness in the subject, and enables me to photograph more naturalistic portraits. Interestingly, when I shoot without a blimp, people tend to block out the incessant clicking, however with one camera in a blimp people will now immediately pick up when I’m using my second camera due to the sudden alien noise in the environment.

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The blimp can also affect the relationship between photographer and subject, especially when the subject is aware of DSLR’s but not blimps. DSLR’s are so common that the cameras themselves carry no sense of authority to the person using them, however I’ve seen that people will pay attention to someone photographing with such a weird piece of equipment. It seems to be that one must know what they’re doing if they’re capable of working with such an odd looking camera!

On the flip side, because it’s so bulky and awkward, it can slow me down, and block my face from the subjects perspective. It makes a physical barrier when I’d rather be spending time communicating face to face with the subject, instead of being a voice behind a black box. If I have time I’d prefer to take the camera out of the blimp to shoot a portrait where I need to communicate with or direct an actor.

So there you go! Camera Blimp! If you found this post interesting and would like to know more, or if you’re suddenly inspired to work with me, fire me an email at marc@marchankins.co.uk – I’d be grateful!

 


The Photos Must Come First

Having been busy working constantly since 2014 rolled over, I’ve unfortunately been forced to divert my attention away from my site somewhat. However there was one thing about my site that was constantly bugging me; my photos were displayed far, far too small.

Films are made to be displayed big, bold and proud! In the cinema they fill your vision and demand your attention, doubtlessly the best way to envelop yourself in something amazing.

The previous design of this site, while stylish lacked impact and was too busy with information that distracted from the reason you visit the site in the first place, amazing photography! It resembled nothing like the displays of cinema that I love so much.

Frustrated by this artistic disparity, I’ve gone ahead and overhauled the design of my site. It comes at the expense of making it harder to read my older Large Format Photography articles, however ultimately, the photography must come first.

If you like what you see, please let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new design, because nothing is concrete. Likewise, if you think something can be improved, I’d love to hear your ideas. Email me your thoughts at marc@marchankins.co.uk


Merry Catmas!

What do you do when you feel like doing a Christmas post while London is facing a one-day monsoon season? You recycle bored cat photos and turn Christmas into Catmas of course!

Undecided as to whether I’ll do a end of year introspective or not, this might be my last post of the year. So I, Atilla, Rama and Nev all wish you all a very merry festive season and an awesome new year!

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The Waiting Game

Want to know the worst part of shooting film? 

Waiting. Apparently I have a terrible sense of timing.

On the way home from the Tech Hunt test shoots, I diverted my route through London by about 15 minutes to drop off the film at the lab whom I decided to process the negatives. I burst through their front door in a way that only a photographer overburdened with multiple bags and boxes of equipment can do. Clanging and bashing every surface with the force of a clumsy titan, making sure every wall and door I encounter will never forget my face through an occult mixture of comedy and horror.

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“Can… rugh. *heave* *gasp* Can I have these developed please?”

“Sure, but the developing machines are being rebuilt from scratch at the moment. Heavy delays, at least a week I’m afraid.”

“Anything to reduce the burden of weight on my shoulders! Take them!”

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I was planning to hold off my next blog post until the film had been developed, so I could talk about how successful / upsetting the results were. Instead a few days ago I was reminded by a friend of mine that I hadn’t updated in two weeks! You poor suckers are clueless about my adventures!

Well, if it helps, so am I. At least until the films are developed. Which with all things being hopeful should be very very soon.

I could have taken my films elsewhere, however I am keen to see how this lab in particular runs. Also this lab is really easy for me to reach, whereas others would require a fair bit more travelling.

If the film isn’t ready within the next day or two, I promise I’ll write articles about other photography related things.

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On an unrelated note, Mr Happy, a short I’m also associated with has nearly reached their kickstarter funding goal. If you like to see good people doing good work, give them some love.