Week 52: Solitude

I shot Week 52’s video on my last day in Miami. Right after I shot Week 51’s Wynwood Walls. I hopped in a taxi with my friend Mike and we went down to the beach. I rarely get time to sight see when I travel, so it was nice after a week of 16 plus hour days to have a few free hours.

We got to the beach and walked for about 20 minutes, sat down and put our feet in the sand for another 10. It was a nice end to the week.

52Beach

My favorite place in the world, the beach.

As we walked I figured I’d try and get some shots. I shot everything handheld with my Canon 7D, and my Canon 70-300mm 4 -5.6 lens. I may have used the Tokina 11-16mm for a shot as well, but I can’t remember.

I got the 70-300 as a bonus, I had a coupon and Canon was offering a discount, so it was really cheap. To be honest I’m not that big of a fan of the lens. It’s not as sharp as I’d like, and it’s not as fast as I’d like. I get spoiled with L Series lenses though. That being said, I still use it and it serves a purpose. If you don’t have the budget for a thousand dollar prime, it is a workable option.

52Lens

Canon 70-300mm 4-5.6.

The beach was pretty crowded, but one of the first things I saw was a man looking out over the ocean, he had a pony tail and a hat on. I thought he was an interesting character so I shot him. He was doing what I like to, just sitting there and looking at the ocean. There is a peacefulness to it, a bit of solitude. With that in mind I started thinking that could be my idea for the video. The beach was very crowded though, so it was hard to get a shot of someone alone, looking at the water.

As we continued to walk I saw a lot of seagulls, so I started shooting them as well. This is where I wish I had a faster and sharper lens. I got about 7 or 8 more shots as we walked, and then we headed back to the hotel to get dinner. I wasn’t sure if I had enough to make a video, but at that point I didn’t really care.

52Handheld

Shooting the seagulls.

I didn’t look at the footage until a few days latter. I wasn’t really happy with any of it. Some of it was soft, I didn’t have the best focus on a clip, some of it was a little shaky. I was thinking of scrapping the whole thing, but I decided to try and make something of it instead. Mainly because it was cold out and I didn’t want to go out and shoot in the weather. It’s funny, the day started with me shoveling snow, and ended with me editing footage from the beach.

52Snow

I would rather be back at the beach.

I started thinking of the word “Solitude” and it made me think of black and white. To me solitude is peaceful, but yet has a dark or down side to it. So I thought black and white might play off of that. The problem was that even in Black and White I still didn’t like the footage. That’s when I started playing with some effects. I ended up desaturating the images, then putting a find edges filter on them, then adding a brightness and contrast filter on. I adjusted them until I got a look I liked. Almost like a hand drawn feel. The effects covered up the things I didn’t like in the shots for the most part. And it also allowed me to try something different, which is one of the aspects of the challenge.

I decided not to add music to the piece, I felt the ocean sounds would represent “Solitude” better than any music ever could. I didn’t have a mic with me (other than the internal camera), so I had to add the ocean sounds in post. I got a clip from Digital Juices Sound Effects Library.

I wanted the font to be subtle and subdued. I chose the font Gabriola, and I made it pretty small.

After I posted the video I thought it might be interesting to post the original footage to compare the two. So I made a version without the effects. I graded the clips in Magic Bullets Look Suite. I wanted the footage to be a little flat, a little diffused etc… One, to match the piece, and two, to cover up some issues.

I also decided to add music to the regraded version, just to see the contrast in the two, and too show how music can change things, and what it can add. I picked one of my favorite classical pieces, that to me always puts me in a peaceful mood, Canon in D. I used it with a Creative Commons License from MUSOPEN. It was performed by Steven David Tung.

52MusOpen

That’s it for Week 52. The final week of the challenge. It’s funny, the whole time my idea for Week 52 was to jump out of a plane for the final video. I thought it would be cool, and I thought that doing something like that would fit in with the challenge of trying and doing new things. Unfortunately when I looked into doing it, I was to big to do a tandem jump. You have to be under 6 feet and 230 pounds and I’m neither.

The solitude of the beach ended up fitting. It’s what I needed after a long 52 week challenge.

You can watch Week 52’s “Solitude” here.

And watch the regrade here.

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