I have to laugh at this title because in the video my reference was “cinegraph”. The term “cinemagraph” was coined in 2011 by two US photographers - Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck. It didn’t take long for the friendly staff at Interfit Photographic to correct my less than stellar attempt at brilliance. My only excuse… English is my second language!
My interest in this peculiar blend of still and video was started during an interview with Giulio Sciorio on the FotoFacts Podcast back in January 2015. Along with my show partner, Jim Felder, we interviewed Giulio and discovered another world of photography. The combination of these two mediums reminds me of the moving pictures from the Harry Potter movies and can be a glimpse into the future of our profession.
As you can tell from my videos, I like to dabble in some iphoneography because the video quality is easy to achieve without lots of attachments, expensive software or steep learning curve. One thing I’m positive about, when it comes to video, is the need for lots of constant light. Interfit already produces the LEDGO series of LED panels suitable for all skill levels and needs. They are a workhorse that are consistently exercised in the studio’s broadcast production side and when I grip for videographers. Everyone loves these panels, but when I need to produce stills and video on location, we need both sets of lights - flash & LEDs.
The first rumors of the new Honey Badger 320 circulating around the Creative Pros were promising - a compact, dependable and affordable studio flash with built-in receiver compatible with the current flagship S1. I liked the idea and believe there is a market just waiting for a high quality unit like this to kick start their indoor shooting projects. I got more excited when the news was confirmed it was 320 watts of power with a 1 second recycle time and digitally controlled power. What I wasn’t expecting was the LED modeling light! I get everything needed in a stable studio flash system and a high powered constant light? You got to be kidding me.
Receiving my allotment of Honey Badgers for testing was a special day indeed. I remember constantly checking the delivery online status, hoping to jump right into the mix with the new light. Funny thing about working full time as a photographer, if you are wanting some play time with toys, all your clients will call almost at the same time needing something. Hey, I’m not complaining about the work but I still wanted to get the lights out and play.
During this time of all out madness, the Honey Badgers sat patiently at the home office awaiting the moment for playtime. In the meantime, the other pros in our group were commenting on the built quality, fast recycle time, color consistency and … the high powered modeling light. I’ve been using Interfit lights since about 2005 with the old box style Stellar 300. The modeling light has never been “bright”. It works and it works well to show you thedirection of the light and help you focus in low light. But no one ever brags about it. That was about to change.
Finally getting to open the box during a charity calendar while the models were getting hair & makeup prepared for the shoot. This is going to be my time to get these girls out of the box and run them through the lighting mill. Upon opening the box, I was equally impressed with the previously mentioned traits but I was not expecting that blinding modeling light. OMG! Please never look directly onto the front of the light at 100% power in an attempt to judge the LED power. Oh the models and staff found it funny as I staggered around the stage trying to setup the Honey Badgers while wondering if I would be able to see clearly again. The light is p-o-w-e-r-f-u-l.
The unit performed above par in all areas of the shoot and exceeded my needs for a constant light source. Interfit even added a button to shut down the flash portion of the Honey Badger so you can use just the constant LED light. Yeah, they thought of everything helpful to get your shoot done. I’m not so sure the new studio light is joining the family of Interfit’s lineup or creating a new breakthrough device to satisfy the new crop of mixed media fusion-graphers. Those pioneers of imagery that combine still and motion capture.
Powered by the notion the Honey Badger is a mixed animal of extraordinary powers, I charted a course for my first cinemagraph to prove that I can be as cool as the other kids on the Creative Pro block. With the deadline looming on the return of these lights, I decided to travel to my model’s territory in Ada, OK versus coordinating travel dates for the shoot. A day trip out of the hot, humid Oklahoma City in July is always a great idea special when meeting the girl with multiple cosplay wigs. Yes, she does keep them at the ready in her vehicle and no, I don't ask why. I really don’t want to know.
The idea seemed simple enough, bang through some different color hair and makeup combinations for an edgier portrait session, then switch over to video for some HD moving pics for the cinemagraph. Using a friend’s garage as the home base for this excursion was intentional to prove you don’t need a 3,000 sq. ft. studio space to produce quality imagery. You just need good light, a capture device and a desire to create. Check, check and check. We have a green go light and things are cooking well.
In between the wig changes, my friend - and fellow photographer - Eric Epperly, are dancing around like two guys that just discovered lighting in a bottle. Twice he offered my cash money for my pre-production Honey Badgers and twice I just grinned and gently said “Hell No!”. I was really confused with the fact my S1 lights were in the car as backups. But I wasn’t letting go of either indispensable tool for my craft.
As the shoot continued with changed of hair, clothes, face paint, and expressions, we were both more in love with the capabilities of the Honey Badger and started to plan others shoots for the fall when the garage temperature would be more barely. Oh, in Oklahoma more barely in summer is temperatures below 90F and less than 70% humidity. Here are another two of my favorites of Heather.
Hard to believe but same girl, same light, and different look. We tried all kinds are crazy things with the Honey Badgers. Look at the pink bombshell shot on the right - we even used the “no, no” position from below and Heather still looks great. These are all shot with just two lights!
The moment you have been waiting for if you actually got this far reading this post. The moment for the cinemagraph. Since the Honey Badgers are yellow, I wanted to use the same color on the background as a tribute to the new light and throw in some blue for the Interfit Photographic log theme. I understand that you can special order the units in red for the Canon camera fans out there. Just send a detailed request to Steven at company headquarters.
A quick little setup with my two lights and here is the result - Interfit Honey Badger delight.
It was simple to flip my camera over to video to shoot the HD motion needed for the project and not too surprised the power of the LED modeling light covered my exposure with ease. Yes, you read that right. Switched to video mode, increased my ISO one stop and shot the video.
The trip back to the city was short and filled with joy as I was thrilled to complete my first cinemagraph. The Honey Badger performed very well, the modeling light was something to write about and I loved the color. Win win for me!
At home, my joy was quickly met with the harsh reality of PhotoShop and my lack of skill in this new territory I was venturing into. On the other hand, I learned some very valuable lessons for these kinds of shoots. So with that knowledge, I’m sharing my results with you for judgment. Remember, be truthful but kind.
The resulting file for this project is a looping GIF since I tried to use Photoshop with a high quality still image and a 1080p video file. Blending those together in post was much hard than expected. In any case, I’m still pretty happy with my first attempt and looking forward to trying more projects like this, especially if I can convince Danielle of my constant improvement. If you are feeling generous after this long read, drop them an email and plead my case to keep the lights. You all know I need more practice with this… right?
So here are a few observations from this experiment I can share with you. First of all, hydration is key to balance lifestyle and a better photo shoot. I had the camera on locked down with my Vanguard tripod, the light wasn’t moving either but in the seconds switching to video for the motion part, the model moved. I voting on hydration might have helped since she wavered during the “close your eyes” part. Then again, maybe she doesn’t trust two sweating, giggling photographers in a hot garage either.
The second thing is post processing. Editing your image or video after capture is another part of the creative process. Not the only part, but another chance to voice your style, direction, and voice to the viewer. It’s an important part of the total experience in your ability to communicate the vision. Spend time learning this skill set in PhotoShop, Lightroom and other software so you can tailor your capture for the best possible outcome. If the camera could do it all, it would have different profiles than vivid, standard, monochrome, portrait, landscape, etc. It might have settings like moody, happy, lonely, giddy, ecstatic, lovingly, confident or artistic.
And lastly, believe in yourself with the nature to explore, grow and learn. Everyone has imaginary boundaries and our growth as individuals and creatives is based largely on the expansion of our box as we develop. To gain the wisdom of knowledge, we are driven to experience life itself, the good with the bad, the highs with the lows. This experience is achieved through our failures. Everyone will fail at different times at different attempts, but ultimately your will and drive to overcome will push yourself to be all you were met to be. Never give up.
So that is the end of my story, and I’m excited you actually read the entire post. I hope my added humor picked up a chuckle here and there. My failure breathes life into another explorer’s quest for balance light control. But if you read this review of the Honey Badger and didn’t feel moved to jump over brand loyalty dance with the new girls on the block, please let me sweeten the deal. Order a pair of Honey Badger 320 on the Interfit website, use my social code “TRAWICK10” for 10% of the order and the promise that we will continue to innovate LIGHT together.
Thanks to Interfit Photographic for helping LIGHT my way in my photography since 2005. Let the Christmas Deals begin!