The Blacksmith

For the past year, Tedwood Strong has been sharing pictures of bottle openers, spoons, forks and knives, things that he's been forging in his garage. He said, "I've only been doing this for a very short period of time, but I know that I'll be doing it for the rest of my life." And he's gotten good at it. In my micro documentary, I ask Tedwood why he picked up blacksmithing as a skill and why he loves it so much.

The Blacksmith: filming my first short doc

For the past year, Tedwood has been sharing pictures of bottle openers, spoons, forks and knives, things that he's been forging in his garage. He said, "I've only been doing this for a very short period of time, but I know that I'll be doing it for the rest of my life." And he's gotten good at it. It's an interesting hobby. I don't know anyone else who does it and I was curious to learn why someone would want to.

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One light and a practical: another test shoot

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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. 

 

 

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.

Wanderers

A video posted by Mike Eden (@mikeedenphoto) on

Candra and I have been volunteering at the Fulton County Animal Services, taking a dog out for the day. No cheeseburger treat this time, though. We took Khaleesi (cue the Game of Thrones theme) to Arabia Mountain near Lithonia, Georgia. I shot some footage of our hike using my phone coupled with a variable ND filter. It's pretty shaky. Walking on loose rocks is no easy task. Plus I was trying to keep up with a dog experiencing a sensory overload. Read about adoption here.

Filming a promotional video

A little over a month ago I filmed a promotional video for The PINQ House boutique in Fayetteville, Georgia. It went well for a first-timer in the commercial world, but there are things I wanted to change. It was a learning experience. 

Sound over visuals

I placed my camera on the tripod to shoot the interview with the owner Rosha Rackley, A.K.A. Flower. I had her sit on a couch next to a window that was my main source of light. I placed a small LED light on the opposite side to catch some light in her eyes. After watching the footage a hundred times, I wish I had followed the rule of thirds. The picture looked good, but my audio left something to be desired. 

I don't have a microphone suitable for indoor recording. I had to make do with my short shotgun microphone, which would have been all right had the floor not been wood. I should have clapped to     hear how distracting the echo would be in the audio. Now I'm looking at adding a wired lavalier microphone to my arsenal. 

Forgetting to breathe 

When my camera wasn't on the tripod, I walked around the house with it on my shoulder, gathering b-roll to supplement the interview. It's comfortable, and you're supposed to be able to relax more. Yet I had to keep reminding myself that it's okay to breathe, that gentle breathing movements look natural in films. I tensed up and got some shaky footage.  

Despite wishing I had done some things differently, I'm glad I did it.