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What goes into a photo or video shoot?

Some people might think that I just show up to a shoot, get the shots and deliver them. If only my job were that easy. In reality, a photo or video shoot is much more involved than this. Here are some of the things that go into a shoot when working with Chris Mabey Photography:

  • Initial contact with client to get an idea of what they are looking for
  • Crafting how we will tell the story. How many images it will take, what kind of images, and if we need video.
  • Create a list of essential shots, this shot list will be much more detailed if we are shooting video.
  • Location scout online and in person to determine what shots will happen at each location.
  • Arrange for an assistant if necessary
  • Coordinate shooting schedule with athletes/talent in the shoot.
  • Arrange for an assistant.
  • Write a call sheet of the shooting schedule and distribute it to everyone involved in the shoot.
  • Make an equipment checklist for the shoot
  • Check the weather on the days leading up to the shoot and reschedule if necessary.
  • Confirm schedule with everyone 24 hours in advance

We are almost ready for the actual shoot. On a one day or half day shoot the pre-production time is usually more than the shoot itself. 

Some of the equipment that goes into a typical shoot.

Some of the equipment that goes into a typical shoot.

The night before the shoot:

  • Get all the cameras, lenses, filters, lighting equipment, and sound equipment together.
  • Clean lenses and filters
  • Charge batteries
  • Format memory cards
  • Pack the gear into bags

Finally the day of the shoot:

  • Double check equipment list
  • Check directions and weather
  • Review the goals of the shoot and the shot list
  • Make sure to get to the shoot location early with my assistant

Now its time to make some awesome content shooting stills and video.

After the shoot:

  • Download all the memory cards
  • Backup all the content
  • For a photo shoot:
    • Catalog and keyword all photos
    • Cull the photos down to the "keepers"
    • Make preliminary edits
    • Send proofs to the client so they can select which photos they want to license
    • Make final edits on the proofs
    • Deliver images to the client
  • For video:
    • Organize all the content within the project
    • Cut the interview or voice-over content together
    • Make preliminary cut of the video and send it to the client for approval
    • Work on any changes the client wants
    • Apply any transitions or additional titles
    • Adjust audio levels
    • Send this more final cut to the client for approval before the final color grade
    • Once the client gives approval the video will be color graded to give it that polished look.
    • Deliver final video to the client in the desired format

The whole reason I go through such a detailed process is to ensure that whoever it is I work with gets amazing visuals from my shoots.

 

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Behind the Shot: Stormy Mountain Biking

24mm 1/1000 f/4 ISO 800

When I headed out for this shoot I knew it would either be incredible conditions or terrible, rainy conditions, but in times like that you have to head out because there is a chance you will come back with amazing shots. It started to rain on us on the way up to our shoot location and I got worried that we would have to bag the shoot. Luckily it stopped raining and we were able to shoot for a while before the downpour started up.

To get the really moody storm clouds I underexposed the background by a few stops. In order to light the rider I used an off camera flash across the trail from where I was shooting. I really love my lithium powered flash. It is more powerful than the TTL flash I used to use and it still has high speed sync.

Using an off camera flash in situations like this can produce some amazing results with great detail in storm clouds.

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Don't Forget Anything: The importance of a pre-shoot checklist

How many of you have ever been out shooting some awesome landscapes or some other event and after you're done shooting you realized that you were shooting small jpegs instead of RAW files? Or maybe you got up at 4:00am to get that perfect sunrise only to find out that once you set up your tripod and turned on the camera your battery was dead.

In an effort to be more methodical in my photography preparation I created a pre-shoot checklist. I have been going through a pre shoot checklist in my mind for a while now and most of the time everything turns out great, but I wanted to make sure that I am ALWAYS prepared with what I need. So I created this pre-shoot checklist:

  • Get the gear together and check that you have everything you might need.
    • Camera
    • Lenses
    • Filters
    • Tripod
    • Remote shutter release
    • Headlamp
    • Spare batteries
    • Lighting equipment
  • Check the status of the gear
    • Are the lenses clean?
    • How about your filters? (These two are crucial if you are shooting into the sun)
    • Turn on the camera and check the status of everything
  • By simply looking at the top of the camera or the back screen you can tell a lot about the status of your camera.
    • Is the battery charged?
    • Are you shooting in RAW?
    • What camera mode are you in?
    • What autofocus and metering mode is the camera on?
    • The other thing I always do when checking the status of the camera is reformat the memory card.
  • Pack up the gear into your bag. Every piece of gear should have a specific place in your bag so it will be easy to find when you are scrambling to capture some killer light.
  • Double check the details of your shoot
    • Do you have detailed directions?
    • What time is sunrise/sunset?
    • What time do I need to wake up and leave?

Going through all of this will only take about 10 minutes most of the time but it is well worth it. Nothing is worse than missing the shot because of the wrong camera settings or forgetting a crucial piece of gear.

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Aerial Video

I recently started working with aerial video. It has been a lot of fun and you can get really unique shots that you couldn't have any other way.

Here are two videos of some cycling races I shot.

 

If you need aerial footage for your next video please contact me at chrismabeyphotography@gmail.com

 

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"Daring Greatly"

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
— Theodore Roosevelt

In addition to being a photographer I am also a student in mechanical engineering. I will be finishing my degree in two months and for a long time I struggled with what I wanted to do post graduation. Should I get a job? Go to grad school? I applied for jobs and graduate school, but neither were what I really wanted to do. The idea of going on to get a master's degree became a way I could put off making a long term decision, I could dabble in a few things without having to jump in.

My passion is with photography and visual storytelling, but I also knew that I didn't want to completely abandon my engineering education. Then a little over a month ago with the help of my wife I finally decided on what I would do after I graduate.

I will be continuing my photography and will continue to push my craft to the next level. Second I will be launching a photo and video gear company catering to outdoor photographers and filmmakers. The first product will launch in the coming months. 

At first I felt a little embarrassed to tell people what my plan was. After all engineering is a stable job, has good benefits, and a good salary. Starting your own business is risky and scary stuff, why would you want to do that? Because it is what I'm passionate about. 

I want to tell the stories of the beautiful landscapes of the world and the people that enjoy them. I want to design the equipment that will help me tell those stories better and help others do the same.

It's a big leap for me to take. I'm excited, nervous and a little scared all at the same time, but I'm ready to work hard at what I love. 

None of this would have been possible without the support of my wife and I am incredibly grateful for her support in these endeavors. 

Red Cliffs Preserve, Washington, UT

Red Cliffs Preserve, Washington, UT


Before writing this post I was watching Chase Jarvis Live with Dr. Brene Brown on vulnerability and that it is a good thing. So here I am writing about my future plans that I was afraid to really tell anyone a month ago. You can check out the video below. It's pretty long, but well worth it.


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Behind the Shot: Slopes of Timpanogos

The slopes of Mt. Timpanogos at first light

ISO 200 f/8 1/40s at 82mm

I set out in the morning with a shot similar to this in mind. As I drove along the road that I had in mind the shot was not coming together but I saw a mountain that I could hike up to get a good shot. As I started hiking through the trees I found a small game trail to follow up the mountain. I was scrambling up the mountain and I was running out of time to find a good position, but luckily I found this spot just as the first rays were hitting the top of the mountain.

This was shot with my 70-200mm lens and a 3 stop LEE graduated filter.

 

The slope I set my tripod up on.

The slope I set my tripod up on.

My trusty Subaru from where I was shooting from

My trusty Subaru from where I was shooting from

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Here's to the Unknown

2013 was incredible to say the least. Now I look ahead at what I want to accomplish in 2014 and I don't know how it all will happen, but I will continue pressing forward doing everything I can. In a previous post I talked about a new national park project I have in the works and I'd like to tell you a little about it. 

The trip will be to one of the most remote national parks in the country, Lake Clark National Park. It is a park bigger than the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The park is home to three mountain ranges, two volcanoes, tundra, and coastal regions. There are no roads in and you have to reach the park by bush plane. It is part of the world's largest sockeye salmon run and has an incredible variety of wildlife. 


Why Lake Clark National Park?

Aren't there closer and more accessible parks with beautiful terrain and wildlife? Of course there are. Lake Clark is facing a very large problem. The proposed Pebble Mine would be virtually right next to the park. This mine would become the largest open pit mine in North America. The permanent tailing ponds would be enormous, not to mention the pit itself. Lake Clark contains one of the most pristine ecosystems in the world. There is little doubt that pollutants and contaminants from the Pebble Mine would harm the local ecosystems. I want to tell the park's story. High quality media will help people care about protecting the park.

Why else?

As I have been researching this trip, I realize hardly anyone knows this place exists and there is very little high quality media from it. The story of Lake Clark National Park as a whole needs to be told. 

What will I do?

I am going to backpack through the park with light weight gear I am designing so I can capture a variety of media while being able to cover a large area. My team will be shooting stills, video, timelapses, getting underwater footage, as well as aerial media. By capturing this wide variety of media we will be able to bring Lake Clark National Park to the viewers and create an immersive experience. 

I don't know how exactly I will be able to accomplish this expedition. Chartered flights on float planes into the park are incredibly expensive. I'm in the process of applying for as many photography grants as I can find. If you know of anyone that would be interested in supporting this project please contact me. I feel like this is a story that needs to be told.


I don't know what exactly will happen this year, but I know great things are in store, much like the beauty of a sunrise precedes the events of an incredible day.


Schwabacher Landing at Sunrise

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Year in Review

A year ago I would have never imagined all the amazing places I would get to visit in 2013. It was a wild ride. Because 2013 was all about national Parks for me I decided for my year in review I would post my favorite image from every national park I visited in 2013.

 

I learned so much in 2013 and I hope these pictures inspire you to go visit a national park. There are so many incredible places in this world. To finish things off I'll leave you with my first foray into time lapses, hopefully in 2014 I'll be able to mix in a few awesome time lapses with the rest of my photos.

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Thank you

I thought I would stop and say thank you to all of you who have supported my photography this past year. I am so grateful for everyone who has been encouraging me and supporting me. Photography has taken me to some incredible places in the past year. 

Hopefully the next year will have equally amazing things in store. I'm working on another national park project for 2014. This time in Alaska. Hopefully everything will work out in planning it and finding the grants and sponsors to make it possible.

 

The stars are amazing at the rim of the Grand Canyon

The world is an amazing place that I am very grateful for, get out and experience it.

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Goblin Valley Time Lapse

I started working on a new project. I'm still focusing on landscape and active lifestyle images, but I wanted to try out some time lapses. So over the past month I've been working on a motorized time lapse rig. This was my first attempt at a night time lapse and I was very happy with the results. 

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