As a teen of the 80s, music videos are burned into my soul. So, with today’s cameras and video technology, it’s inevitable that I would eventually make my own. Today I uploaded a music video for my song “Can’t Look Past Ourselves,” which is the lead-off track on my brand new album, “Up Higher.”
The video was shot using the Fujifilm X-T4 and XF35mm f/2 lens, and assembled the final production together in Final Cut Pro. The motion background was created by Stefania Buzatu.
The nice thing about the X-T4 and X-S10, is that it has the flip-open screen that allows you to see the video if you’re filming yourself. For models that don’t have this, there are a few relatively inexpensive HDMI monitors out there that attach right to the hot shoe.
It’s incredibly rewarding to combine my two passions in life with this kind of creative outlet. Shooting and editing video has been a learning experience for me, and I’m amazed at how accessible it is to do this kind of project. It’s quite easy to make a music video with iMovie and other apps as well. Even if you’re not trying to sync the much to the video, you can still pair video and audio clips together and get some really fun results!
The original song, “Can’t Look Past Ourselves”was produced using Apple’s Logic Pro X, with IK Multimedia software, including Amplitube 5, Syntronik and MODO DRUM sample libraries, and T-Racks5 mixing and mastering plugins, and my trusty Fender Stratocaster.
A commentary on the relevant challenges that we always seem to face in our society, I feel that this is one of, if not the best song I’ve ever written and produced.
Being my third full music video, I feel like I’m getting into a groove. I’m becoming more knowledgeable about the techniques needed to create a production like this, and I’m increasingly conformable in front of the camera.
This means you can stick it on a playlist and rock out to Dan Bailey guitar jams anytime, day or night, or if you’re out exercising or waiting at in line somewhere. Do we even do that anymore…?
Writing and releasing an entire album was a huge momentous creative accomplishment for me, and it blows my mind that I’m able to get it out to the entire world like this. What a brave new world we live in.
So, stream away to your heart’s content, and be sure to share my music with your own friends and followers. I you want to throw some extra support my way, since streaming doesn’t exactly rake it in for independent artists, you can purchase the album on my Bandcamp Artist Page, or hit this little blue “buy” link below.
Either way, thanks so much for your support and your interest in my music. I’m so proud of how this project turned out, so I hope you enjoy it! Stay tuned for some music videos!
I’m excited to announce the release of my brand new album, “Up Higher.”
Featuring eight vocal and instrumental tracks, most of which were written and recorded during the past year, this album is the best, most personal, and most ambitious music project I’ve ever created.
Titled to reflect the positive feel and messages I tried to evoke in the songs, and the fact that two of the songs were written as aerial photography soundtracks,“Up Higher” features a cover image I shot last week with the Fujifilm X-T4 and XF55-200mm lens over the Chugach Mountains.
Heavily influenced by the events of the past year, and the realization that I’m not getting any younger, I dedicated myself to spending much of this past winter and spring writing, recording and mixing a handful of new songs.
I gave myself a deadline of May to finish the album, and so I’m so really pleased to finally have it completed. I hope you enjoy it!
Springtime has long been my favorite time for shooting mountain aerials. With warmer temps, there’s no shoveling, I don’t have to deal with wing covers, it doesn’t take very long to preheat the engine, and with the longer days, and 9:00pm April sunsets, it’s not pitch black when I land.
However, I just discovered another reason why it’s such an awesome time to be up in the sky. The other night, while flying over the Chugach Mountains and shooting aerial stills and video out the window of my little Cessna, I saw something I’d never noticed before.
Groups of ravens were flying and playing right up against the high mountain peaks, at almost 7,000 feet! The were pretty hard to spot, but when I came home and checked out the footage, I was blown away by what I saw!
I immediately put a collection of clips together and then set the piece to original music, and the result is my latest adventure video short, Soaring In The Ravens’ Playground.
Since the initial launch of the X Series cameras in 2011, Fujifilm has continued to add a new film simulation every year or two. Lately, they’ve been on a roll, with ETERNA in 2016, Classic Neg. in 2019 and now with the launch of the X-T4 last year, ETERNA Bleach Bypass.
This process leaves the silver halide crystals and the color dyes intact, with the end result being a black and white image over a color image. The visual effect is even more reduced saturation, but increased contrast and grain, and a look that delivers a color image that looks very close to black and white.
With a dynamic range similar to CLASSIC CHROME, ETERNA Bleach Bypass hits that mark of being “Color that’s Almost Monochrome” that I’ve been searching for during the past few years. In Fuji’s own words, ETERNA Bleach Bypass film simulation,
“delivers hard, serious images that―apart from being in colour―resemble black-and-white photographs.”
I love finding scenes that lend themselves to this look, and with the use of Fuji’s lower contrast film simulations, like Pro NEG Std., Classic Chrome, ETERNA, and to some extent, Classic Neg., to create imagery that lies right on the border between color and black and white. In other words the complete antithesis of rich, saturated Velvia.
In a sense, abbreviation is just another way to describe the “Less is More” aspect of creativity, and in addition to only showing part of, or “removing” subject matter, you can also remove part, or all of the color. Reducing the saturation or removing it entirely by shooting black and white, has a definite effect on the way your viewer sees and interprets the work.
Sometimes just removing the saturation can leave the image looking a little bland. Often times, we make up for this by adding contrast, which helps add drama and restore life to the shot.
ETERNA Bleach Bypass does exactly that. It pulls the color and saturation almost all the way back towards monochrome territory, but retains enough dynamic range to give the shot some additional drama.
You can further accentuate or de-accentuate that with a Shadow Tone Adjustment, as I’ve done for a couple of the shots above. With heavy shadows, this very much has the Velvia look, but with the color pulled all the way back. No other film sim does it this well.
Fuji designed ETERNA Bleach Bypass was primarily as a color space for moviemakers, but it obviously works exceptionally well for still imagery; even better, I think, than regular ETERNA. I love how it looks with the mountain aerials I’ve shot this week.
I look forward to pushing my creativity even more with through out the next few months, and seeing how it responds to different subjects. I encourage you to try it out as well. If you do, let me know what you think!
The FUJIFILM cameras use a specially designed hybrid autofocus that incorporates both contrast and phase detection sensors, as well as intelligent, predictive algorithms. The result is an extremely capable system that offers a high degree of speed and accuracy. They can even be set up to function with back button focus.
Nearly all of the Fuji cameras acquire subjects quickly and are able to track moving subjects and shoot fast action, even at high frame rates. They also have great Face Detection systems that let you shoot portraits and scenes with people without having to move the little focus zone around.
The latest generation of X Series cameras, X-T3/4, X-Pro3, X-T30 X-S10 and X100V have even faster performance. With an increased number of phase detect pixels that cover 100% of the frame, faster processors, custom AF settings and new algorithms, these cameras are now in the same category as some of the highest end DSLR cameras when it comes to autofocus.
I’m utterly amazed at how fast and accurate the X-T3’s autofocus is, even when tracking quick subjects when using long lenses. Having used many cameras in my 20+ career, I can say with confidence that the X-T3 and X-T4 has the best AF system of any cameras I’ve ever owned. I’ve thrown everything at it, and after well over a year of solid use, it’s kept up and done everything I’ve asked of it. The X-T4 is even faster.
(With the latest firmware updates, the X-T3 now has the same AF algorithms and AF speed found in the X-T4)
That said, even the previous generation X Series cameras outperform many comparably priced DSLRs in this area. While they aren’t as fast as the newer models, these cameras are still quite fast and are perfectly suitable for shooting a wide variety of action and fast moving subjects.
Photographing action is one of the most challenging things you do can do with the camera. It takes a lot of practice, knowing your gear, and a specific set of techniques you can depend on.
It’s even harder if you don’t regularly capture fast moving subjects. When a scene quickly begins to unfold in front of you, it’s easy to get caught footed and unprepared, which means you’ll potentially lose some great images.
In my latest video lesson, I share my 4 Essential Tips for Shooting Action and show you my easy “Action Photography Workflow” that I use to configure my camera for capturing moving subjects.
It doesn’t matter if you shoot sports, adventure, kids running, dogs playing frisbee, wildlife or even street scenes. If you like to capture any kind of dynamic motion, these tips will help you become much more proficient with your gear and they’ll help you nail those awesome shots, even if you’re a casual action photographer who doesn’t shoot moving subjects very often.
As always, feel free to leave me a comment on the video and let me know what you think!
Last year, in those waning days before the Covid-19 pandemic fell hard upon the world, I spent a week documenting Rebecca Rusch’s fat bike adventure on Alaska’s Iditarod Trail, and the result is Rebecca’s brand new short film, Distant Dharma: Teachings From the Iditarod Trail.
This was her second time attempting the Iditarod Trail Invitational ultra winter endurance race, it was also my repeat to film and photograph her during this incredibly challenging event.
The previous year, in what was essentially my first professional video project ever, I covered her 2019 rookie ride in the ITI, which earned me a Director of Photography credit in the Outside TV film called Rusch to Alaska: Iditarod Trail Invitational.
For last year’s 2020 race, Rebecca was anticipating a strong start. However, a mere 30 minutes into the race, she made a critical navigational error, which set her back and suddenly shifted her entire perspective and set the tone for the incredibly brutal conditions that she would face during the coming week.
I’m incredibly proud and excited to be such an integral part of Rebecca’s Alaska experiences. In the brief two and half years that I’ve known her, we’ve become close friends and kindred spirits.
Not only is she a fierce competitor who continues to forge a dedicated path, she’s dedicated much of her life and professional efforts these days towards helping make the world a better place by inspiring courage and confidence in her followers. I try to do the same with photography and creativity.
I’ve always loved wide angle lenses. As far as I’m concerned, the wider the better. I also love using fixed lenses, because they’re usually light and compact.
In my latest YouTube Video, titled Why I Love This Lens, I feature my all-time favorite Fuji wide angle lens, theXF 14mm f/2.8. Not only is this my longest owned Fujifilm lens, it’s also my most used X Series lens.
In this concise review, I highlight some of the special characteristics of the 14mm f/2.8 and show you plenty of image examples that illustrate how you can use wide angle lenses to capture eye-catching imagery.
In those 9 years, I’ve found it to be an essential part of my compact, mirrorless photography rig. I’ve taken it on multiple trips and long bike tours, big days in the mountains, and it goes with me pretty much everywhere. If I’m taking more than one lens with me, than the 14 is almost always in the camera bag.
Saturday was a bluebird day. The perfect kind day for flying, so at about 1:30pm, I went over to the airport to start preheating my little yellow Cessna.
This process involves warming the engine with a 20-year old MSR XGK expedition stove and a 4-foot long piece of dryer duct, brushing the snow off the wings, removing the covers and, if there’s enough snow, shoveling out my parking spot.
Fortunately, there was no shoveling needed, so once the engine was warm, I started her up, taxied to the runway, did my final pre-flight and took off, with wheels up at 3:00pm.
With sunset at 5:02pm on Saturday, I gave myself two solid hours to head up over the Chugach Mountains and get ready for the magnificent symphony of light that I was sure would start to appear around 4:30.
With more than enough time before sunset, I figured I’d head out the Knik and check out the gravel strips by the glacier. If there wasn’t too much snow, I thought I might land and shoot a few photos on the ground before heading back up to catch the good light.
However, when I got out there, I saw that entire Knik Glacier valley and all the valleys to the south, including Lake George, Colony Glacier and the Lake George Glacier, were completely covered by a layer of very low cloud cover.
This obviously took away any prospect of landing, unless I wanted to crawl under very low 500-foot ceiling, a prospect that didn’t really strike my fancy. this was further justified when I heard other pilots on the radio who were scud running beneath the clouds and complaining that they couldn’t really see much down there.
So, I did the complete opposite. I started climbing. I began a gradual ascent as I circled over the lower mid section of the Knik Glacier, and looked out over the mountains to the east.
As I gained more altitude, Mt. Marcus Baker came into view. At 13,176′, it’s the highest peak in the Chugach. It was first climbed by the legendary Bradford Washburn in 1938.
The scenery got more interesting as pushed through 7,000′, and although the good sunset light was still quite a ways off, there was no reason to waste these amazing views.
Putting on the Fujifilm XF55-200mm lens on my X-T3, and setting the camera to the ACROS film simulation, I shot a series of black and white photos, capturing these massive, distant peaks in all of their glory.
At one point, I shifted to the WARM/COOL B&W Adj. setting on my Fuji camera and turned normal black and white to a wonderful toned monochrome look, which I think looks great for mountain photography.
I then circled back and headed around, so that I could photograph the peaks of the huge massif that lies just to the south of the Knik Glacier and east of Colony Glacier. This is one of my favorite areas of the Chugach to photograph, and with nothing but clear skies and increasingly bold light, I keep snapping way out of the open window of my little C-120.
I don’t usually shoot aerials with a longer telephoto, I prefer to use normal to short tele ranges, but in the name of trying something different, I was enjoying the compressed, magnified views and incredible details that the 55-200 lens was offering me.
I shot like this for about an hour and a half, and then finally, the magic started to happen. As the sun dipped lower towards the horizon, that wonderful, magical light started to appear.
Switching back to color, I set my Fuji to the Velvia film simulation and began snapping away frame after frame, circling around different formations, sharp ridges and crevasse-filled snowfields.
Shooting nonstop, I grabbed shot after shot as the light turned from a faint warm glow to orange to peach, and finally to bright pink as the final crescendo of sunset played out.
Then, after so much intense visual overload, it was over. With a last breath of fading pink, the sun was gone.
Closing the window, I warmed my hands up, at the rest of my cookies, drank some hot chocolate and flew back to Anchorage, satisfied in yet another magical winter aerial photography outing.
If you’d like to see what this whole winter aerial photography thing is like, you can watch this video below. It will give you the feeling of being right there along with me.
Thanks for reading. I hope you had a great weekend too.