Strawberry Jam

My girlfriend Candra and I went strawberry picking off Highway 54 in Fayetteville, Georgia, last Saturday. I brought my camera with me. It felt foreign in my hands, been awhile since I've used anything but a phone. Candra said I've got my photography blocks—that I can get stuck in a rut for periods of time—my own kind of jam. Maybe this process will help me get out of mine.

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Two months, two minutes: The Blacksmith micro doc


About two months ago, I started filming my first micro documentary. Now I'm just about finished editing all two minutes of it (that's a long time for me), making tweaks here and there until I'm satisfied. Mixing the audio and video may be the best part, because that's when the story comes together. I've got the clips spread out before me, scrubbing through them and trimming the fat, like meat on a cutting board.

My plate of General Tso if there was any doubt. Photo taken by  Candra Umunna

My plate of General Tso if there was any doubt. Photo taken by Candra Umunna

I made General Tso chicken last weekend for the first time. I don't do much cooking, but it is very similar to editing a film. It's all about knowing how much is enough. My girlfriend and I added a lot of spices to the chicken. We coughed, sniffled, gasped for air. I thought it may been ruined, but it tasted really good. Cooking is a little more forgiving than editing; we all have to eat. And if it's pizza, you're golden because even bad pizza is still good.

So I guess I'm saying I hope the documentary turns out just as well as the chicken. Or at least pizza.  

One light and a practical: another test shoot


All right, so really two lights. But I only used one to light my face for this test. I wanted to see what I could accomplish with one bright light. On camera-left, I used a Stella 2000 diffused by a white umbrella, and on camera-right, a white reflector to fill the shadows. Originally, the reflector was hanging from a light stand at a 90 degree angle. It wasn't doing much to fill in the shadows on camera-right, so I had to get creative. I MacGyvered gaffer tape and an extendable flashlight to the light stand to push the reflector up to a 75 degree angle. I used the practical light in the hallway to separate myself from the background. The two different color temperatures work well and give a nice contrast. 



A cabin in the bus

I loathed riding the school bus in high school, all the way up until I graduated. Seventeen-year-old me watched everyone in my grade pass me by in their own cars. But the bus Candra and I discovered in the North Carolina foothills is cool from the back to the front. 

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Film noir inspiration

500 ISO,  f/4

500 ISO, f/4

I read an article on black and white filmmaking a couple weeks ago and felt inspired to try it. I've been practicing lighting, color correction and grading for video because I'm fixing to get out and film more often. This time I wanted to try something different.

For this test, I used a spot light as key and shot between two flags made of black cardboard paper for a narrow spread of light. Cardboard paper is inexpensive (and in my case, free, because they came with a portfolio case) but flimsy. A clamp wasn't enough to keep them from folding. I'm considering ripping apart cardboard boxes and spray painting them black. I placed a small LED behind me and bounced the light off a reflector for the rim light around my ear and neck. In my first test, which isn't pictured, I didn't use two lights, but happy I did for the final shot.