Risalo Photo Updates August

I’ve continued to take photos to test out and plan scenes for my puppet film “Risalo“. Here, you can see lighting for a burning village, regular village, early morning in the desert and one small glimpse of a sandstorm.

Fuzon and Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammed Qawwal Party at Grand Performances

What an amazing show. I got to see two incredible musical acts at one of my favorite music venues in Los Angeles; Grand Performances. Thanks to all the hard work that made it possible. It truly is a treat to be in a city where you can enjoy world class musicians from around the world at free concerts, in perfect weather. Next time I need to stop down the lens. Some of the Qawwali photos are glowing a bit. As always, good practice for my puppet film; “Risalo“.

I drew a few sketches of Fuzon and took some photos of the performances. You can see my sketches of Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammed Qawwal Party from a few nights ago here.


Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Qawwal Party Grand Performances Jam

Thanks to Leigh Ann Hahn and the wonderful people at Grand Performances, I got to enjoy a little musicians jam with Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Qawwal Party, all the way from Pakistan right here at Inner City Arts. I’ve enjoyed their soulful music for years and got to see them a few years ago at a concert put on by the Pakistani Arts Council. It was a real treat to see them in such an intimate setting and to spend time and talk to them as well. Did I mention there was delicious Pakistani food catered at this little jam session? How could anyone pass up such an incredible opportunity on all levels.

I can’t thank Grand Performances enough for making opportunities like this possible. Don’t miss their public performance on Sunday at Grand Performances in downtown Los Angeles!

Here are a few sketches I made during the performance.

Kristeen took some photos and video with a cel phone:

You can see where friends Sheila Govindarajan and Sri joined in. Also in that last, unfinished sketch, you can see Tasneem with a saxophone on her lap and a tuba next to her.

Vivitar 28mm f2.0 Komine lens tests

Recently, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with vintage lenses. I admit, I became a bit obsessed with finding all these great ones on ebay, but what good are these unless you use them? I’ve been using them for test shoots for my puppet film “Risalo”, but it is always fun to take them out into the real world and play. So, here are some recent photos taken on my simple Canon T4i using the Vivitar 28mm f2.0 lens. I like these vintage lenses. I have a newer Sigma lens, that is all plastic and I really don’t care for it, compared to these metal lenses that just seem to be built way better.

This one is a bit rarer than most. Thanks to the internet, I was able to research and figure out which one to get. Lenses can be different depending on the year they were made and which factory they were made in. This particular one was made by Komine for Vivitar. Basically, it is a great fast, sharp 28mm lens with wonderful bokeh. I love how easy it is to focus and 28mm gives me a good wide view for photographing in a crowd, or even some landscapes. I guess this would be about a 45mm lens equivalent on my crop sensor camera.

Risalo tests – Beginning with lights

These are photos of some tests from last month for my puppet film “Risalo”. It is fun experimenting with lenses, cameras, lights and these beautiful puppets. Thanks to my friends Peyton Skelton, Michael Levine and Raja Gopal Bhattar for the light kits. I had a couple of soft boxes some arri frenels, small leds and some photo lights. Coupled with stands, my own and borrowed, I have a little setup going. I’ve been researching and picking up some vintage camera lenses off of ebay. If you are good with manual aperture and focus lenses, you can get some fantastic lenses for a pretty good price. I do some quick web searches to read up on lenses to see sample photos and get some thoughts on them from other photographers before purchasing.

This way, I’ve been able to pick up some f2.8 lenses for Pentax, Nikon and an M42 mount which I could use on my little Canon t4i with simple adapters. I tried my old Minolta lens, which worked great on my friend Gagan’s Sony A mount, on my Canon with an adapter with some glass in it to make it work. It looked terrible. Wide open, I got a lot of glowing, which defeated the whole purpose for me. I also tried out a little macro tube, but did not find it particularly useful for video. Thanks to Amazon, I was able to get a refund on those.

Besides a few kinds of lenses that don’t work so well adapted to Canon, there are many varieties to choose from that use simple metal adapter rings with no glass. This is what I want. The idea is that if a a type of lens has a distance greater than that of Canon lenses to the sensor, then an adapter can be made for it. Minolta, Sony, Canon FD, MFT and some others do not work at all or require adapters with glass to compensate for the distance to the sensor and I don’t think that works well at all.

I’ve started reading a nice book on lighting called Painting with Light, by Anton. Getting the tools is only a part of the process. The real work is in shaping the light and creating with it. I’m mostly very busy with my job, and it takes time to test, study, order a few selective items and test some more. It takes time to make progress, as I also alternate between working on animated portions of the film, applying for funding and a whole host of other tasks.

I’ve started separating the lights, using angle and barndoors. I have one light illuminating the backdrop, and a key on the character, with other lights added as a rim to pull the puppet off the background and some fill, whether from lights or reflectors. I found that I needed to create more contrast and interest. I took an orange dupatta cloth, which I plan to use for set dressing and held it at a safe distance from the light on the backdrop. That created a really nice bit of contrast and added a great deal of richness to the scene. I put in an order for some simple gels to start working with color.

For the lights, one important task, was to create sandbags so they don’t fall over. Again, I approached this in the usual DIY, frugal, independent filmmaker way. I picked up 150 lbs of sandbox sand from a hardware store for $15 total, some gallon ziplock backs and some empty sandbags for film off of Amazon. A few tedious hours for each batch and I had put together 12 12-15 lbs sandbags to keep all the lights and people/puppets safe on set.