Due to the nature of my work it can be a very, very long time between shooting a photo and it going public for everyone to see. This is one of those short posts where I get to show off photos I shot that have recently(ish) been allowed out in the wild world of the internet. If you like the look of what I shoot, say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a look at more of my work in my Portfolio and Gallery pages.
The Dry Cleaner (Short Film)
Working on film sets I frequently get to see and work alongside some of the best cinematography equipment available today. It’s always comforting to see Arri, Cooke or Zeiss logos floating about the camera department.
I’m a grizzled old camera guy, having seen pretty much anything camera manufacturers can throw at me I don’t get excited by camera equipment very often. I could walk past cameras and lenses that cost many thousands of pounds without really thinking much of it.
However, there are certain lenses for stills cameras that are only spoken about in gasped, reverent tones. Lenses like the alien Nikon 6mm Fisheye lens, or the extraordinary LEICA 50mm f/1 NOCTILUX, that are so rare the photography average consumer will likely never see one face to face.
Today, courtesy of MPB Photographic, a second hand photographic supplier with whom I’ve purchased goods from before, I got to meet a very special beast. The Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6 L lens. A near mythical lens of which no more then 2 dozen are publicly known to be made. (Click any image to embiggen!)
Much like large format photography, there’s not very much concrete information about this lens floating about online, mostly ghostly rumours. So I hope to disperse the clouds of mystery, at least a little bit. Have a look at this beast!
Operating this lens very much echoes using cinematography cameras or my large format camera. You need to use it calmly and ideally planning what you’re shooting in advance. It might even behove the user to have a second person with them to help operation go a little bit quicker / more safely.
I like to get very close to the lenses I use. My Canon 50mm 1.2 L lens has certain characteristics which you need to understand to fully utilise it. If you fail to pay attention to those little quirks you can easily turn an awesome photo into something very underwhelming. The 1200mm lens appears to be no different. The telescopic view is so extreme that very few subjects are actually ideal for it’s usage, and like every other telephoto lens, it isolates the subject so much that a photo can appear context-less and isolated. Focusing is also clearly something that isn’t to be rushed with such a lens. Having only 10 minutes to fiddle with the lens meant that I didn’t get the time I’d like to understand the lens.
This is the 1200mm seen through a Full Frame Canon 1Dx, shot with a 50mm on a 7D. Just look at the power of that magnification! At 24 times more powerful than my 50mm lens, every movement of the lens creates extreme movements in the frame of the image, every vibration makes the image that little bit softer.
So just how good is this lens? Magnification isn’t everything! It could be soft!
The guys were kind enough to let me shove my camera on the lens and give it a quick test drive.
Here is a photo of the London Eye shot with my Canon EF 50mm 1.2 L lens on a 7D body.
Wow! This was shot from a good 200+ meters away! You can even read the warning label inside the capsule! (100 percent cropped image)
At these distances atmospheric distortion is a genuine concern, so the fact that I can read these words from such a long distance really is remarkable.
Next we turned the camera around and pointed it at Big Ben / The Elizabeth Tower. Here it is with the 50mm lens again.
I actually loudly exclaimed “Oh my God!” when I looked through the viewfinder for these images. I’ve never, in all of my days of hanging around the streets of London seen the clock face in such detail.
Finally, here is the view across the Thames again towards the old County Hall. With the 50mm on the 7D again.
Incredible levels of detail for a subject so far away, and yet I can’t help but feel that I was only scraping at the potential quality of the lens. If I was given time to familiarise myself with the optimal operation of the 1200mm lens, I would be able to make these photos much, much sharper. I would kill to have a couple of hours with myself and an assistant on a rooftop in Central London to really find out what I can bleed out of this colossal piece of glass. As long as the security services don’t think I’m trying to spy on someone!
What a beautiful monster!
A couple of months ago I worked with Chris Cronin to produce my first ever short film called “The Gardeners Go To War” on behalf of Roots & Shoots to be displayed at this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Somehow, as if almost by magic and time travel, we have delivered a finished film, despite both me and Chris having worked on-set in numerous other films during the post production of Gardeners.
With it being the first public day of the Chelsea Flower Show, the film has also been released! Have a looksie! Cast entirely of students and staff of Roots & Shoots with no prior acting experience, “The Gardeners Go To War” is a story about how the community surrounding a 1914 era manor house is transformed by it’s men being recruited into the army to fight in World War 1.
I would also like to take a moment to thank the key crew involved, Chris Cronin, Alex Stone, Sheara Abrahams, Lilly Hale, Joel Catchatoor for their hard work on this extraordinary project. Without these people the film would’ve been virtually impossible to pull together. Still looking for more WW1 era goodness? Here’s some more stills for you to eat up at your leisure.
If you have any comments or questions about “The Gardeners Go To War” please feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com
I’ve always dabbled a little bit with the production side of movie making, mostly out of just giving a hand where one is needed in the complex process of making a film. However I’ve never, ever took charge of an entire project. Until now that is. For some reason I answered the beckoning call of endless work and chaos wrangling!
Working with director Chris Cronin we’re creating a <5 minute B&W silent movie that shows the story of a 1914 manor house and how the community handles the loss of it’s gardeners who are sent off to fight in The Great War. The awesome part is that all the cast are students and staff or friends of Roots & Shoots, which gives it a charm that would be difficult to obtain with professional actors.
We’ve just wrapped on Principal Photography and are now in post-production! If time isn’t too hard to find, I’ll write about my experiences of heading a highly non-traditional short production.
In the mean time I’m going to let the power get to my head and enjoy the power of releasing my stills without having to worry! Believe it or not, these photos were only taken in last week! Have a look at this wonderful, beautiful location!
There’ll be plenty more where these came from! Keep an eye out for more news and information!
Any questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Apparently it’s not just film-makers who appreciate my camera waving abilities!
Roots & Shoots – A charity based in Kennington, South London who help young people from Lambeth and Southwark prepare for the world of work – asked me to pop round and photograph some of their flowers and greenery to create some giant prints that will pretty up their conference rooms which are hired out to other organisations.
Seeing as they’re all good people and I’m not one to turn away charitable efforts, I simply had to help.
Spending an afternoon near the end of summer pondering around their property taking pictures of their surprisingly varied, almost hidden, flowers and plants produced some really lovely results. (I might’ve also yoinked one or two from my visit at West Dean.) Take a peek, if you will, at the full set of pictures Roots & Shoots decided to use.
How do they look in real life though? Pretty damn great, I reckon. Most of the time when my photos are printed huge, they’ve been graphic designed to hell and back; it’s pretty refreshing to see a massive 1.5m tall canvas dedicated to one photograph!
Currently, we’re looking at the prospect of selling these prints at various sizes with a profit split between both Roots & Shoots and myself. If you might be interested in such a thing, please let me know!
Alternatively, if you’ve got some space on your office wall, and dream of looking a something other than a beige, texture-less surface, throw me an email, and see if I can stir something special up for you too!
Shilling aside, have a look at how these turned out!
A new day, a new wallpaper!
This particular one is a variant photograph and colouring of the wallpaper I released the other day. I created a small collection of these images, each with a different but equally pleasing colour palette. The digital grain and noise has been left in as an aesthetic choice, grainless images lack character and merely looked like perfect renders of circles rather than interpretations of actual locations.
Have a gander, click the image for a 1920×1080 version.