Film making, Cinematography and the Blues Harmonica.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. is an amazing actor and a random photograph I posted of him a few months back still brings loads of traffic to this blog so I couldn't resist doing a full post on him. Here's some trivia, quotes and pictures collected from various sites. (mainly IMDB)

Robert Downey Junior Chilling


Released from jail on $5,000 bail. [2 August 2000]

Released from jail to complete his six-month jail sentence at a drug rehabilitation center. Downey caused a stir when he was freed to work on a movie. [31 March 1998]

He got into fight with another inmate at the Los Angeles County Jail, where he was serving time for a probation violation, and was treated for a cut over his nose. [13 February 1998]

Jailed for 180 days for violating probation. [December 1997]

Probation revoked after continued drug use. [17 October 1997]

Remanded to a secure drug rehabilitation center. [August 1996]

Robert Downey Jr. mug shot
Robert Downey Junior mugshot

During traffic stop for speeding, he was arrested for drunk driving, possession of heroin, and possession of an unloaded pistol in his pickup truck. This was his first reported brush with the law at age 31. He was given a suspended prison sentence of 3 years, and granted probation with requirements of random drug testing and drug counselling. [August 1996]

Names Peter O'Toole as his favorite actor.

Lived with Sarah Jessica Parker for 7 years during the 1980s.

Son of Robert Downey Sr..

Son Indio Falconer Downey, with his first wife Deborah Falconer, was born on September 7, 1993.

Attended Stagedoor Manor.

Sent to a rehab center at the L.A. County jail while waiting for an August 5 hearing. [22 June 1999]

Claims that his father is the one who introduced him to drugs, by offering him a marijuana joint when he was 8.

While drunk, he wandered into a neighbor's Malibu home that he thought was his own, and fell asleep on the bed. He was arrested for being under the influence of drugs, which was a third violation of his probation.

He took daily drug tests during the filming of Two Girls and a Guy (1997).

Once worked as a piece of living art in a SoHo nightclub in New York City.

After Downey's three violations of probation for drug and alcohol abuse in a three-year span of time since he was spared a prison sentence and placed on probation, Malibu Judge Lawrence Mira stated that he was out of options. He was sentencing Downey to prison, he said, to save his life, because he would not take the responsibility of refraining from alcohol and drug use on his own. The Judge invoked the three years' sentence in state prison that had been suspended in 1996. Downey, Dept of Corrections #P50522, spent two weeks in a state prison reception center at Wasco, California, for orientation. On 8/25/99, he was transferred to a Dept. of Corrections prison named "SATF" (Substance Abuse Treatment Facility) for drug dependent prisoners in Corcoran California. Scheduled release date: 11/2/2000. SATF is across the street from the other Corcoran Prison, where inmates were shot to death on the exercise yard during fights in the 1990s. Downey's lawyers have approached the Malibu judge several times in the last 11 months to request Downey's release, but the Judge has refused. [6 August 1999]

Downey's lawyers petitioned the State Court of Appeals in Los Angeles, stating that Downey had already served enough time because the Malibu judge had made errors in calculating his sentence. He hadn't given credit for the several times Downey spent in lockdown rehab units and in pre-sentencing confinement. Downey's lawyers claimed that he should have been released in February 2000.

During his days of drug addiction, Robert once wandered into a stranger's house and passed out on a child's bed.

Downey re-arrested on drugs and weapons charges in Palm Springs, California, at the luxurious Merv Griffin resort, after an anonymous tip to police. Downey was found alone, with cocaine and methamphetamines. He cooperated with police, spent the night in jail, and was released the next morning on $15,000.00 bail. Downey had been on a career upswing with his successful stint on "Ally McBeal" (1997), and his upcoming stage performance as Hamlet, set for January, 2001 in Los Angeles, to be directed by his friend Mel Gibson. [25 November 2000]

Arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance in Los Angeles after he was found wandering in an alley. He was fired from the TV series "Ally McBeal" (1997) by producer David E. Kelley after the arrest. [24 April 2001]

Downey's attorneys advised the judge that they could not reach a plea bargain in his November 2000 drug arrest. [15 March 2001]

Downey pleaded not guilty to the November 2000 drug charges. Next hearing will be on July 16. He is being held in a drug rehab center until his case is decided. [24 May 2001]

Downey pleaded no contest to drug charges. The judge sentenced him to remain in rehabilitation for one year and to three years' probation. [16 July 2001]

Parents divorced when he was 11.

Kept a lot of the authentic vintage clothing he wore in the movie Chaplin (1992).

In a symbolic attempt to bury his decadent 1980s Brat Pack image and begin a new phase of his life and career after filming Chaplin (1992) in 1991, he (literally) buried the clothes that he wore in 1987's Less Than Zero (1987) in the backyard of his house.

As a result of his father's work (Robert Downey Sr. was (and is) an independent filmmaker), Downey the younger spent a great deal of his childhood on the move. He lived at various points in Connecticut, New York, California, London, Paris, and Woodstock.

At the age of 10, while living in London, Robert attended the Perry House School in Chelsea and studied classical ballet.

Married his first wife after dating her for only 42 days.

Dropped out of Santa Monica High School at age 17 and moved to New York to become an actor. First jobs in the city included bussing tables at Central Falls restaurant, working in a shoe store, and performing as "living art" at SohHo's notorious underground club Area.

Downey enjoyed working with the director of the Elton John music video--contemporary artist Sam Taylor-Wood--so much that he suggested that they work together again on an art piece. The result was an art video called "Pietà," made in the manner of Michelangelo's famous Pietà sculpture in Rome. It was included in Sam Taylor-Wood's exhibition "Mute" at the White Cube 2 art gallery in London, November 23 to January 12, 2002.

Starred in Elton John's music video for the song "I Want Love." Downey was let out of rehab for one day in late July specifically to shoot the video (which was filmed in one long continuous take at Greystone Manor in Beverley Hills.) It was Downey's first work since being fired from the TV show "Ally McBeal" (1997) in April 2001.

Starred briefly with his first wife Deborah Falconer in the 1992 Robert Altman movie Short Cuts (1993).

Childhood friend of Richard Hall aka Moby.

He married his second wife, Gothika (2003) producer Susan Downey, at Amagansett, New York, on 27 August 2005.

Was approached to do the part as Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005).

He's the first regular cast member of "Saturday Night Live" (1975) to be nominated for an Academy Award in the category "Best Actor in a Leading Role." Joan Cusack and Dan Aykroyd were also nominated for Academy Awards some years before Downey, but both were nominated for supporting roles.

Was in attendance at Chris Penn's funeral

Met wife Susan Downey on the set of Gothika (2003).

He proposed to Susan Downey on her 30th birthday.

Sting ("Every Breath You Take") and Billy Idol performed at his wedding to Susan Downey.

Before he starred as Iron Man (2008), Downey had done films with three of the actors who played Batman: with George Clooney in Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005); with Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005); and with Michael Keaton in Game 6 (2005).

On the set of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006) he took co-star Adam Scarimbolo under his wing.

Ranked #60 in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the world (2008).

He is of Irish and Russian-Jewish ancestry from his father's side and German-Jewish and Scottish descent from his mother's side.

Close friends with Anthony Michael Hall and Ramon Estevez.

Gave life to the same character (Tony Stark) in two movies in the same year (Iron Man (2008) and The Incredible Hulk (2008)) produced by the same studio (Marvel Studios).

Has worn lifts at his directors' requests in his recent leading man roles, namely Iron Man (2008) and its sequel and in Sherlock Holmes (2009), in order to enhance his height.

Signed on to voice "The Devil" in the animated television series "God, the Devil and Bob" (2000). Shortly thereafter, Downey was jailed, so he was replaced by Alan Cumming.

In order to get over his drug addiction, he began studying Wing Chun in 2003 under Sifu Eric Oram, who served as a fight and martial arts consultant on Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009).

According to an interview he gave to Newsweek in February 2009, when Downey went to Japan for their opening of Iron Man (2008), he was detained on entry because Japanese authorities ran his passport and found it linked to "some incredible criminal activity" (namely Downey's multiple arrests and incarcerations on drug-related charges in the 1990s and 2000s). For failing to disclose these convictions, Downey was interrogated for six hours and was almost barred from entry into Japan. It was finally decided that he could enter Japan for the Iron Man premiere but he is never to be allowed into Japan again.

Godfather of his son Indio Falconer Downey is close friend Anthony Michael Hall.

Was roommates with Kiefer Sutherland in the early '80s.

Attended Junior High School 104 in Manhattan with fellow actors Jon Cryer, Erica Gimpel and Kadeem Hardison.

Filmed his role in Hail Caesar (1994) in one day.

Lives in Venice and Malibu, California.

Is the first, and thus far only, actor to win a Golden Globe for portraying Sherlock Holmes.

Will be honored with the 25th American Cinematheque Award on October 14, 2011 in Los Angeles [May 5, 2011].

Mentioned in a Nov. 2010 interview with Playboy Magazine that he studies Kung Fu at the L.A. Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy in West Los Angeles three times a week for three hours a session.

Robert and wife Susan Downey are expecting their first child, due in early 2012 [August 31, 2011].

Starred in the film, Chances Are (1989), and, years later, sang the Johnny Mathis title song while appearing in the TV series, "Ally McBeal"(1997).

Placed his hand and footprints in concrete in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater in 2010.

Young Robert Downey Jr.

Personal Quotes

I've always felt like such an outsider in this industry. Because I'm so insane, I guess.

The higher the stakes, the happier I am, the better I will be.

I'm not used to feeling like I belong where I am.

A lot of my peer group think I'm an eccentric bisexual, like I may even have an ammonia-filled tentacle or something somewhere on my body. That's okay.

I've become a picky little bitch. I've never bothered to plan projects before. I just used to throw the script across the room and say, "Why do they keep sending me this horseshit?" And then I'd start rehearsals two weeks later.

[on his addiction to drugs]: It's like I have a loaded gun in my mouth, and I like the taste of metal.

It's a blanket statement to say, "That guy's really sharp and amicable and nice," because there's a little bit of a--hole in every nice guy, and there's a little bit of genius in every moron.

I am putting together some ideas for two or three more things I want to do. Maybe a CD of just my kind of standards, which would be Supertramp and Steely Dan covers with an orchestra. I'm deep into old Genesis. I'm sorry, but these are songs that mean something to me. "Follow You Follow Me" is a song that's about something to me. [on his music]

I know very little about acting. I'm just an incredibly gifted faker.

It was so nice to go into this fake courtroom [on "Ally McBeal" (1997)]. I immediately went up into the judge's chair. Nice view. A preferable perspective.

What I usually hate about these movies when suddenly the guy that you were digging turns into Dudley Do-Right, and then you're supposed to buy into all his "Let's go do some good!" That Eliot Ness-in-a-cape-type thing. What was really important to me was to not have him change so much that he's unrecognizable. When someone used to be a schmuck and they're not anymore, hopefully they still have a sense of humor. [on superhero movies]

[on Black and White (1999/I)] A stage slap from Mike Tyson is like a shovel whack from a normally fortified male.

The great thing about "Saturday Night Live" (1975) was being at 30 Rockefeller Center. And having Belushi and Aykroyd's old office. And me and Michael [Anthony Michael Hall] saying, "We want bunk beds. With NFL Sheets. And we want them now." And Michael was like "Man, it's gonna be great, we're gonna be buddies, we're gonna do a show together, we're gonna ..." Then, "I'm gonna do Out of Bounds (1986)" and he left. As for me, I was doing Back to School (1986) and Saturday Night Live at the same time. So I'd fly back to Los Angeles for a couple of days during the week to shoot the movie and then fly back and, "Live from New York, it's a tired young man!"

I had four weeks' work in Baby It's You (1983), and I told all my friends I was now, officially, a major talent and film star. And then they cut my scenes out. You don't even see me except in one scene - you see me in the background until this self-indulgent actress leans forward to try and get more camera time. They cut all my scenes out and my friends go, "Hey, Robert - maybe it's you!" Now I don't tell people that I'm in a film until I see it on videocassette.

Tofu is the root of all evil, and there's only one thing that can change a man's mind, and that's a modified Uzi with an extra-long clip.

I did Air America (1990) for two reasons: to be in a movie with Mel Gibson and to make a bunch of money. And then underneath there was the hope that in doing this formulaic thing I would be launched into a whole new realm of opportunity to do A-list movies. By the time we were done, the only positive thing was meeting Mel Gibson.

Five hundred grand for two weeks. [on why he did Danger Zone (1996)]

[on Restoration (1995)] I just thought [Hugh Grant] was a dick, that's all. And I still do. You know, and that could be something that has to do with me, or it could just be that not everyone in this industry is someone I'd care to hang out with.

[on Weird Science (1985)] I defecated in [Kelly LeBrock's] trailer, much to the chagrin of Bill Paxton and Robert Rusler. It was a real bad scene.Joel Silver freaked. I never admitted it. Joel said, "Downey, did you do it?" and I said I wish I had. Because I'd been threatening everyone that if they didn't treat me right, I was going to take a dump in their trailer, or that I'd go take a shit in Joel's office, on his desk or something.

[on his childhood] I didn't want to talk about what my dad did because it wasn't like he was directing "All in the Family" (1968) or anything. He was doing these crazy films. Mom would pick me up at school wearing this big quilted cape. I felt like I was in a J.D. Salinger story. Dad's Jewish and Irish, Mom's German and Scotch. I couldn't say I was anything. My last name isn't even Downey. My dad changed his name when he wanted to get into the Army and was underage. My real name is Robert Elias. I feel like I'm still looking for a home in some way.

[on Sean Penn] In a relatively short time he was a better friend than some people I'd known for ages. I remember him saying three or four years ago, "You have two reputations. I think you know what both of them are, and I think you'd do well to get rid of one of those reputations. If you don't, it will get rid of the other one." And I was like, "Two reputations, I'll be right back." Just hearing him say that reminded me that I should go score. After that, he was like, forget it. It sucks, too, because someone as honorable as he is, I really should have responded. Jesus, I grew up idolizing this guy. Not only does he consider me a friend, but he's taking time. He's got a family. He's got a career that's going well. He's living his dreams and making time for me, and I'm like, "I can't, I just can't - sorry, busy."

As soon as I started smoking heroin instead of smoking coke, everything was different, and I knew it was. And it happened around the time I was doing Home for the Holidays (1995). Home for the Holidays is, for me, one of the most relaxed performances in the history of cinema. I can't attribute that to the fact that I was at a serene place in my life, or that there was a real warm feeling on the set. This is a problem for me because I glamorize this stuff. I can't say that it wasn't real dark, real evil and real hurtful to those around me. And yet, practically every take of that film was a print. God bless Jodie Foster. When does she have time to do a handwritten letter telling someone how she genuinely cares about them? She said, "Listen, I'm not worried about you on this film. You're not losing it or nodding out, and you're giving a great performance. I'm worried about your thinking you can get away with doing this on another film."

[on Chaplin (1992)] When I accepted the part, they didn't tell me that I also had to do the acrobatic stuff of Charlie. That has cost me a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Though I now can say, 'I did all my stunts myself.' Working on Chaplin was really intensive and cost me years of my life, but if I could do it all over again, no doubt I would do it the same way.

[on Chaplin (1992)] Chaplin was the culmination of an opportunity, and the biggest humiliation I've ever experienced. It was like winning the lottery, then going to prison. I realized that nothing that had worked for me before was going to work here. I'd watch one of Charlie's films, but by the end of it I was wildly depressed, because I realized that what he'd done in this twenty-minute short was more expressive and funnier than everything I've thought about doing my whole life.

[on U.S. Marshals (1998)] Possibly the worst action movie of all time, and that's just not good for the maintenance of a good spiritual condition. You've had a traumatic year, you've been practically suicidal - what do you think would be really healing for you? How about like twelve weeks of running around as Johnny Handgun? I think that if you talk to a spirit guide, they would say, 'That'll kill you.'

[on U.S. Marshals (1998)] I thought maybe there was something I was missing, and what I really needed to do was to be in one of those films that I love taking my kid to. It would end up being really depressing. I'd rather wake up in jail for a TB test than have to wake up another morning knowing I'm going to the set of US Marshals.

I don't want to go all Michael Jackson on you, but I never really had a childhood.

I have a sense of destiny that you are led to the things you are supposed to do

[on Mickey Rourke] He's so good. And he's formidable and he's very much reminding me of that kind of charming, confident guy that we know.

[on Iron Man 2 (2010)] I've never been in a sequel and it's very daunting because I feel the expectation of the millions of people who watched it and enjoyed it and told me that it was a little different than your usual genre picture and that they expected us to not screw it up. So I actually have taken Iron Man 2 (2010) probably more seriously than any movie I've ever done, which is appropriately ridiculous for Hollywood.

Mel Gibson cast me in The Singing Detective (2003), even though an insurance company wouldn't cover it because it was my first film after my release from behind bars. The best part was when Mel gave me a motorcycle while we still had two weeks left to shoot. I go, 'Are you trying to ruin this movie? What if I have an accident?' He goes, 'No, no. I figure if you made it two-thirds of the way through, you can't do anything wrong.'

What do you say, though -- if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan.

[His Golden Globe acceptance speech for Best Actor-Comedy or Musical] If you start playing violins, I will tear this joint apart. First of all, I want to thank my wife Susan Downey for telling me Matt Damon was going to win so don't bother to prepare a speech. That was at about ten AM. I don't have anybody to thank. I'm sorry. Everyone's been so gratuitous, it was a collaboration, we all did this together. Certainly not going to thank Warner Brothers, Alan Horn, and my god, robbing off these guys. They needed me. Avatar (2009) was going to take us to the cleaners. If they didn't have me, we didn't have a shot buddy. What am I going to do? I'm not going to be able to thank Joel Silver. I mean the guy has only restarted my career twelve times since I began twenty-five years ago. I really don't want to thank my wife because I could be busing tables at the daily groom right now if not for her. Jesus, what a gig that would be. Guy Ritchie had a great vision for this film and a lot of great people came together and we worked our asses off. It's just a privilege. The Hollywood Foreign Press has a quote by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a genius by the way, and he said "Art is the blood, Is libel to take to the strongest forms". That is also why I would like to thank, or not thank, the Hollywood Foreign Press because they are a strange bunch of people and now I'm one of them. Thank you.

I thought it was a completely incendiary idea and I blame it all on Ben Stiller and DreamWorks [About his role as an Australian actor playing a black man in Tropic Thunder (2008)]

I have a really interesting political point of view, and it's not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can't go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can't. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics every since. [Downey in [i]The New York Times[/i] in 2008, on why some of his political opinions now lean more conservative than they used to]

[on producer Joel Silver]: Joel just kept telling me. We've got to get your gun in your hand. Joel is one of the few relationships I care to have with a producer. Look he's vast and voracious, and he definitely has the ability to break into a scream about a point he would like to make. But he can also be incredibly warm and generous.

[on winning an Oscar] As long as I stick around I'm going to end up with a bunch of them anyway as they're going to run out of people to give them to. And I'm probably going to win it one year when someone else deserves to win it. Why? Because it's my time, goddamit. And that's the way s**t works around here. I'm just an uptight mutt at the top of his game. Welcome to Hollywood, b***h! I'll see you at the Vanity Fair party and I'll be holding that golden statue you deserve 'cause guess what? It happened to me too!

[on Mel Gibson]: He's a stand-up guy - he's always has been for me - and certainly when I was not hire-able, he put his ass on the line and said, 'I'll take that chance'. He will always have my friendship, and that's just talking about business and Hollywood stuff, which to me is nowhere as important as friendship.

(2010, on his past problems) Sometimes it's necessary to compartmentalize the different stages of your evolution, both personally and objectively, for the people you have to love and tolerate. And one of those people, for me, is me. I have a very strong sense of that messed-up kid, that devoted theater actor, that ne'er-do-well 20-something nihilistic androgyne and that late-20s married guy with a little kid, lost, lost in narcotics-all as aspects of things I don't regret and am happy to keep a door open on. More than anything I have this sense that I'm a veteran of a war that is difficult to discuss with people who haven't been there. I feel for the kind of zeitgeist diagnoses that are being applied to certain of my peers lately, and I think it's unconscionable.

(2010, on landing Iron Man (2008)) I prepared for the screen test so feverishly that I literally made it impossible for anybody to do a better job. I had never worked on something that way before; I was so familiar with six or nine pages of dialogue, I had thought of every possible scenario. At a certain point during the screen test, I was so overwhelmed with anxiety about the opportunity that I almost passed out. I watched it later, and that moment came, fluttered and wasn't even noticeable. But, to me, it was this stretched-out moment of what keeps people from doing theater for 30 years - just an unadulterated fear of failure.

(2010) Discipline for me is about respect. It's not even about self-respect; it's about respect for life and all it offers. And not indulging. I have happily reconsidered my position on a bunch of things I didn't want on my "no" list despite all evidence that I couldn't handle them. At the end of the day, anything I think I'm sacrificing I'm just giving up because it makes me feel better.

(2010) I've noticed that worrying is like praying for what you don't want to happen. I don't worry, but I observe where my mind tends to go. I have such an overwhelming sense that if you're in the right state of heart, which I have been for a little while, the next right thing appears to you.

(2010) I find myself fascinated with shows like "Bad Girls" (1999) and "Jerseylicious" (2010), and also "Inside American Jail" (2007) and"Lockup" (2005). The best one's in the U.K.; I watch it when I'm over there doing Sherlock. It's called "Banged Up Abroad" (2007), which means "locked up". "Locked Up Abroad" is always fun.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)


Due Date (2010)


Iron Man 2 (2010)


Sherlock Holmes (2009)


Iron Man (2008)


Game 6 (2005)


Danger Zone (1996)


Richard III (1995)


Funny video with RDJ's vooice

 Random Photographs


Robert Downey Jr. suit

Robert Downey Junior

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Junior

Blonde Robert Downey Junior

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Macro Photography Artwork Attempt and Monkey

Through Photoshop I decided to create an image from an interesting  photograph I took using macro tubes with my Canon 60D.

Original Image 

Piece created on Photoshop

 And here is my first attempt at photographing my pet Pygmy Marmosets whilst using macro tubes, can't wait to try again when there is more light.

Pygmy Marmoset (macro tube

Let me know what you think, cheers


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Canon 60D Macro Tubes

A couple of weeks back I bought a set of macro tubes for my 60D from Amazon at a ridiculously low price. Paying so little I really didn't expect much but I've fallen in love with this cheap and simple addition to my kit. The general principle behind macro tubes is, by moving the lens further away from the camera's sensor you can greatly reduce the minimum focal distance capable by that lens. The tubes fit to my camera easily and support both my kit lenses with no problems, it goes with out saying just be careful with heavier lenses. When shooting with tubes you need quite a lot of light to work with but handheld shots are attainable outside on a sunny day or with the help of additional lights when shooting indoors. For interior shots though I would certainly recommend a tripod and a shutter release button (also available for a few quid on Amazon) for best results. 

The biggest challenge when using macro tubes is getting your point of interest in focus as your depth of field range is reduced to literally a centimetre of miniature sharpness. I know what you're thinking to increase the depth of field can you not just simply close the aperture on the lens? Yeah it does help but unless you have aperture controls on your lens we run into another problem as the macro tube is separating the lens from the camera and every time you disconnect your lens it resets to a wide setting. Through some online research I did discover a way to stop this lens resetting on the 60D by disconnecting the lens whilst holding down the unmarked button (actually Depth Of Field preview button) found just below and to the left of your lens mount. Obviously closing the aperture will mean you need even more light and this is when a tripod becomes a necessity.

Hand held Wasp in the Garden

Hand held Spider in the garden

Hand held Ladybird in the Garden

Tripod and additional light, Shelley's Eye

Tripod and natural light from window, Scratch Card

Tripod and natural light from window, Charm (for Ebay)

Thanks for checking out my blog and please let me know what you think in a comment. 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Humber Bridge HDR and random Raw photos taken on the Canon 60D

A few HDR photos of the Humber Bridge which is just a couple of miles down the road from me plus a couple of photos edited on Photoshop's Camera Raw program.

Humber Bridge HDR

Humber Bridge HDR

Humber Bridge HDR

Seagull RAW

Me and my bird Shelley's cat Socks

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Jamie Gray Music video

Over the weekend just passed I was asked to help out on my first music video. The video is being made by my good friend Tom Lee for a local artist named Jamie Gray. I was given the role of second camera as Tom who is also a keen cinematographer was on first. This really suited me though as it allowed me much more creative freedom through out the shoot, I could look for new and interesting compositions to accompany his shots. I also filmed all of the glide track shots through out the video, which was my first really good practice with this bit of kit.

Friday (11 November 2011)

On Friday we filmed just Jamie on his own in a local music venue called The New Adelphi. This was a dramatic low-key lighting shoot which worked pretty well, lots of silhouettes and moving light sources. I used my glide track to get my favourite shot of the day, Jamie's fingers playing the keys on his keyboard as I tracked along with them, all as Tom waved a portable LED light around in time with the music. 

Me and Tom filming Jamie


On Saturday I was directed to a modern warehouse and when I went inside a large room had been converted in to a miniature war ground by set designer Olivia Young. The sort of thing you might expect at an indoor paint balling arena with two improvised barriers at each end and scattered debris throughout. We filmed two teams of four men dressed up as urban soldiers fighting each other with toy weapons and as you can imagine it soon became a hectic shoot. Sticky darts to the face, marbles flying and lots of minor injuries. We got through it all though in good time and with no real harm to equipment or cast. On this day most of the action was set up for the primary camera and it was harder for me to find usable shots, I filmed a lot of handheld footage of the fighting and I did get some nice glide track shots of all the soldiers playing dead at the end.

Me preparing to film some of the soldiers

Improvised barrier and soldiers

Me using my glide track shooter as a shoulder rig


On Sunday we filmed the two gangs with some 'real looking' weapons in their individual bases along with lots of running shots from their bases to the battle. All of these shots where filmed either outside or in derelict buildings so we only had natural light and a small portable LED box to work with. Once again I put my glide track to good use with some nice tracking establishing shots of the gangs. The rest of the shoot was me running around like a mad man using my glide track as a shoulder rig. Considering the abundant amount of distractions present we managed to get finished in good time once again, which was a bonus as the sun was slowly becoming less camera shy as the day rolled by. Once again my favourite shot was whilst using my glide track (obviously still surprised at how professional this piece of kit makes your work look). This time tracking forward into the shot as one of the gangs leave their base.

Me and Tom discussing an establishing shot on the glide track  

Me using the glide track as a shoulder rig

The weekend as a whole went very successfully and I loved having the opportunity to film something totally different. Each day brought a new set of challenges especially in relation to lighting and camera movements. Best of all I finally got to put all my new equipment to good use and it's all looking like a good investment.

A behind the scenes edit from the shoot made by my long time collaborator and one of the gang members Adam Hill, will be uploaded hopefully by the end of the day so keep coming back to this post if it's not on here yet! Also at some point in the near future I will be compiling a show reel of my own footage from the shoot so keep looking out for that as well as the finished music video itself which I will hopefully be able show you next month.


Behind the scenes video by Adam Hill.

James E. Gray - Chaos Concerto (behind the scenes) from Adam Hill on Vimeo.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Tuna Shake Baby

A few months back I helped work on the short film Tuna Shake Baby written and directed by my friend Adam Hill (contact him here) We've worked on a couple of films together and I plan on working on a lot more with him over the next few years. The film showed to a good reaction at Hull Truck Theatre during it's first screening. Let me know what you think.

Tuna Shake Baby from Nish Hill on Vimeo.

Paranormal Activity 3

At home my girlfriend's never been the best at choosing films, ninety percent of the films she buys or picks end up being disappointing, she falls asleep and I end up stuck watching them through to the end. She's a horror fan and I've always liked a good horror film the difference is she can get drawn in by a gory looking DVD case or a grisly sounding title and it takes a little bit more to rise my interest. Just being gory or having some random loud noises to try and make the audience jump doesn't do much for me. Last night she convinced me to go and watch Paranormal Activity 3, it doesn't usually take me much convincing to go to cinema but in this case I hadn't seen the second film which I thought might effect my understanding of this one. I needn't have worried as there was very little story at all. Obviously as I have not seen the second film and honestly remember very little of the first film in the series I will not review the trilogy and instead look at the film as it's own entity. What can I say? You can change the venue but you cant change my girls luck when it comes to picking films, needless to say I was disappointed and judging by the groans at the end of the film across the cinema, I wasn't the only one. The film starts off slow, moves along slowly, slows down a little, stops for a break, sets off again but then trips over and the credits roll. I may come across as harsh but put it this way, my girls a jumper, when we went to watch Insidious she was flying above or hiding under her seat more time than she was sat on it. That was what I call a good horror film using suspense to create real fear in the viewer. Paranormal Activity just didn't deliver in any way, there were times when she was bored and she jumped only a handful of times at the stock sudden loud noises, I half jumped once, again at a sudden loud noise.

When trying to find something positive to say about the film a few things where OK, I did generally like the male characters in the film and the Bloody Mary scene is the strongest of the whole movie by far but there is just so much wrong with the rest. I may be a little bit more tuned in than the desired Paranormal Activity fan-base but I couldn't believe how easy the end was to predict, not so subtle clues throughout trying to be clever but failing completely. In fact I thought the whole movie was predictable. The Mother character was such an idiot by the second half of the film you just wanted to shake some sense into her, actions with no apparent consequences where a common occurrence which really gets on my nerves.  Maybe it's just me, getting cynical in my not so old age. My 14 year old brother and his friends liked it but then would he have been cool if he had said he hadn't? I guess if you like the other Paranormal films there will be no stopping you but to everyone else who's not sure, save your money and go watch a film worth watching.

Also I was planning on putting a trailer for the film at the end of this review, but pretty much every shot in the trailer was not in the film! What's that all about? I checked twice to make sure I was watching the right trailer on IMDB it's ridiculous, especially as the trailer was more enjoyable than the film.

Let me know what you thought of the film and don't be afraid to disagree with some or all of what I've written, I wont take it to heart.  

Friday, 28 October 2011

Factory - Canon 60D HDR and RAW Photography

The weather wasn't too bad today so I decided to go for a random drive with my camera and tripod sat shotgun. I ended up at a spot we call circles which I hadn't been to in a while. A few years back me and some friends tried to skate around here and it's always been one of those places you could go shooting your air rifle with no bother, made cooler by the post apocalyptic feel of the place. Good times for borderline rebellious kids who where too nice to actually piss anyone off. Anyway here's the first few photos which I've had time to process, probably will add a few more over the next few days.

The Tower

HDR view from the Tower

Partially desaturated HDR view from the Tower

Between the two HDR images which do you prefer? Feedback is greatly appreciated.

Take it easy, Chris

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Canon 60D HDR

Really hoped for some better weather today and a nice sunset but it never came. Still went out and captured what I could and here is the finished result. Not so sure about the sky, will have to go out again on a better night and try again. It's all good practice I guess. The more I look at this image the more it seems to portray a statement about pollution, because of this new way of seeing the picture I am warming more to the result.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Interior HDR attempt Canon 60D

First attempt at creating an HDR image indoors, using a window as my main point of interest. Let me know what you think.

Canon 60D HDR 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Canon 60D HDR Attempt

This is my first attempt as making an HDR image, which is basically an image made up of several photos taken at the same time at different exposures to create a High Dynamic Range (HDR) I'm fairly impressed with the outcome for a first try and I will certainly be trying this technique again. The picture was taken in my garden using a Canon 60D on a Manfrotto tripod, uploaded and converted using DPP and then edited using Photoshop CS5. Let me know what you think.

My Garden - Canon 60D HDR 

Monday, 10 October 2011

Suzuki Manji

It's been a while since I've posted about my other love, after Shelley, Cinematography and Photography there is the blues harmonica. By no means am I a musician, the world famous Yorkshire blues man Chris Ulliott, yeah in my dreams. But I do love my 10-hole diatonics and I play a mean solo set in my kitchen or in the bath tub. My playing is at least a lot better than my singing, I'm still waiting on that bluesy vocal tone which I hope comes with older age. Anyway lets get to the point of this post, I recently bought a Suzuki Manji for around sixty quid on Amazon. This is the first time I've ever spent so much on a harmonica, usually playing mid-level harps from Hohnor, Lee Oskar and Seydel, and I have to say I am enjoying playing this 'professional' mouth organ. Was it worth the extra money, I don't know, will I buy another? Probably when I can afford one. It's definitely easier to play on the higher notes than the equivalent cheaper models. I bought this harmonica when I was going through a 'Key of D' stage and therefore purchased it in a D and it does sound really nice however looking back maybe a C would have been a better choice. I could be tempted with a different pro-harmonica next and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

My Harmonicas

So what's good about the Manji? It's a little bit louder than all of my other harmonicas which is cool. It's also nice to venture into the high notes with more ease than I've ever personally experienced. It looks pretty cool and according to Suzuki it should outlast any other harp so if that's the case then for a pro-harp I guess it's good value for money.

Suzuki Manji

What I don't like so much, bending the second draw doesn't sound as strong as I would have hoped and within just a couple of weeks I've already slightly bent the casing whilst it's been, admittedly unboxed, in my pocket. I presume the open back design creates more volume at the expense of weakening the structure. Also the spacing and size of the holes are slightly different from my other harps so it's taking me a while to play as cleanly as I know I'm capable, practice makes perfect I suppose.  

Bears prefer the Manji

Maybe one day I'll post a video of me playing, not today though as I'm going red just thinking about it. Anyway take care guys, keep on keeping on and remember the wise words of Willie Brown 'If you don't play no harp, you don't get no pussy'.

Friday, 7 October 2011

60D Photo of the day

I recently bought a Canon 60D DSLR camera and thought I might start a series of blog posts showing photographs which I am especially happy about taking. This is a photograph taken of one of my family's many Pygmy Marmosets and I like the composition and layers in the shot. I've messed around with the levels a little bit on Photoshop to make the image more dramatic. 

Pygmy Marmoset

A few weeks after making this post I decided to have another go at the post processing on this picture and here is the result, which I think is an improvement.

Pygmy Marmoset

Monday, 3 October 2011

Last night's film 'S.F.W.'

It was getting late last night and as usual I couldn't sleep so I started my usual ritual of searching through the films showing on my Sky HD box. This night I stumbled across an unusual film called S.F.W.made in 1994. I'd never heard of it before but the synopsis intrigued me so I put it on and stayed awake until the credits rolled, which I guess is a good sign. It's a hard film to explain so I've nicked the plot summary from imdb because I'm lazy like that and my Dinner's ready soon.

 Cliff Spab is a guy who doesn't really care about anything. He gets held hostage at a store for 36 days by terrorists, who demand that the entire thing be broadcast on national television. Cliff ends up taking a bullet for fellow hostage Wendy - making him a national hero. The two are the sole survivors of the ordeal, and soon become prisoners of the media. Cliff escapes it all, only to find himself being pushed further away from Wendy when he needs her most
That's a pretty shit summary to be honest and I could do better if I had more time/motivation but I don't. Anyway the point of this post is that I liked the film and think more people should know about it, presuming that I wasn't the only person who had never heard of it before. It's definitely the kind of film I used to be into a few years back,  a View Askew kind of feel but not as many obvious and crude jokes. It even stars Joey Lauren Adams a Kevin Smith regular. The characters actually seem like real people who I'd quite like to hang out with and the story is pretty cool. This film in my opinion sums up the nineties and questions the ridiculous media obsessions in western popular culture in a way which kept me entertained and made me laugh. I recommend it to everyone, especially those who grew up in the nineties.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Video shot on N8 phone camera with lenses!

Here's a short video I made from some footage I shot on an Nokia N8 phone in HD using a macro and a fish eye magnetic lens.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Last nights film 'The Loved Ones'

The Loved Ones Film Poster

Verdict - Gory and stylish horror filmed beautifully, story's a little daft but aren't they always. Definitely worth a watch.

The Loved Ones Screenshot


Friday, 9 September 2011

Holidays with my N8

This Summer I have been lucky enough to get away to three different countries: Majorca with my Dad, Portugal with my Mum and my favourite Rhodes with my beautiful girlfriend Shelley (link to her blog). This year I decided not to take my usual and now dated fixed lens semi-pro camera (Samsung Pro815) instead opting to just use the camera on my Nokia N8 mobile phone. To most photographers this may sound absurd but trust me the quality of the images from the the 12MP Carl Zeiss lensed phone camera matched those of my old big camera. Obviously I would miss the manual focus ring but overall I decided the disadvantages did not justify lugging my camera about. If the holidays had been more photography related rather than family and romantic it might have been different. A few months back I bought a set of glass lenses for my phone camera which stay with me on my keyring at all times (macro, wide and fish-eye) and I have downloaded a phone application giving me more control over the cameras settings so I do have more manual control than one might expect from a phone camera. An impressive feature of the Nokia N8 is its ability to film in HD with surprisingly good results, to have a camera which catches usable quality footage in one's pocket at all times is a blessing for anyone interested in cinematography. Here are some examples of images and a video taken from the N8 on my holidays.

My Dad Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliott

Devilfish on a bike ride

Me and two of my Brothers

One of my nieces

Another niece

Shelley's cat

Me and Shelley

Lizard I caught in Rhodes

Here is a short edit I made from some footage taken in Rhodes

My pet Pygmy Marmosets

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