aerial photos

Naomi & Dave Estment of OV&P

2017 Home Run!

Wow, time flies! Here we are again, well into December, which means that holidays and New Year celebrations are right around the corner. How has your year been? We hope you’ve had a good one, and lined things up for an even better 2018. Life has been as exciting as ever here at Outdoor Video & Photographic. Big shout out and THANK YOU to every one of our special clients, associates, suppliers, freelancers, family and friends for contributing so much value to what is wrapping up to be a great 2017!

As always, it’s been our privilege and pleasure to provide leading-edge ground and aerial photography and videography to fulfill a host of exceptional requirements for our clients, such as major construction projects for the Barrow Group, FWJK and Fortress Income Fund, innovative corporate and commercial initiatives for the likes of Excellerate, Old Mutual Property, Nedbank, Mercantile Bank, JSE, Autobax and Tetra4, as well as epic events like the launch of the phenomenal BMG World facility and this week’s vibrant Yamaha SA cocktail party and unforgettable track day at Kyalami with international MotoGP star Maverick Vinales.

Yamaha also recently hosted our filming of instrumental gospel pianist Ntokozo Ndlovu and his band, in order to create music videos for his latest CD. Two of the tracks feature beautiful nature and wildlife footage that we shot locally and combined with highlights that we’ve captured during our 20+ years of travels in the African bush. This remains close to our hearts, so it was a treat to get away to the Kruger Park mid-year, and catch up on some wildlife filming and photography while we were there.

Our studio has also been buzzing this year, with personal branding photography and videography to help entrepreneurs, executives as well as talented models and actors to shine on camera and promote their companies or careers. This brings us to the SA Blog Awards, since it’s voting season again. You may be aware that this company website of ours www.ovpimaging.com was voted SA Best Photographic Blog winner in 2014 and runner-up in 2015 and 2016, for which we’re sincerely grateful.

This year, Dave and I agreed in January to apply ourselves more fully to the practical business of our corporate and commercial shoots here at OV&P, with less emphasis on blogging about it. At the same time, I’ve been expanding the online aspect of my personal branding photography and videography business at Naomi Estment International. With this in mind, my blogging energy has been more focused on my signature website, sharing loads of tips and techniques to make the most of your personal photo and video shoots. Hence we’re not submitting this OV&P website to the SA Blog Awards, but my site www.naomiestment.com instead.

SA Blog Awards 2017If you feel it’s deserving to continue flying the flag for us and to win the SA Best Photographic Blog award, please click on this badge to cast your vote. Also, if you have any questions about photography or videography in general, or any suggestions for future topics that may be most helpful to you, please leave a comment below. We’d love to connect with you. THANK YOU.

In the meantime, we wish you and yours a blessed festive season and a brilliant New Year, filled with health, happiness and abundant success. Enjoy!

Aerial Image of Sandton by Dave Estment of OV&P

Night Photography – Not Always Easy

We’re often asked to do low-light or night photography, either in the bush, close to nature and the stars, or when our property development clients want to showcase their architectural creations, for example. The images above and below are classic examples of low-light photography, the first using a 3 Axis gimbal to stabilise the camera on an aerial drone and the second using a tripod.

The first thing that tends to pop into people’s minds when talking about night or low-light photography is that it’s difficult because the shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings are dramatically compromised due to the reduced available light. This can easily result in blurred images because of camera shake and not having enough shutter speed. In some ways they’re right, because it doesn’t matter how technically correct the image may be – if it’s blurred, it’s useless. Period.

Key Camera Settings

So, how do we produce perfectly exposed, pin-sharp images in near darkness? First, we need to stabilise the camera so that it stays rock steady while the shutter is open, sometimes for up to 30 seconds or longer. One of my golden rules when doing low-light photography is to use the lowest possible ISO setting, as this will minimise the graininess of the image. So if your camera has a low ISO setting of 100 and a high ISO setting of say 6400, ALWAYS choose 100 as your default when possible.

The second factor to consider is the depth of field you want to achieve in the shot. The larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field, but the more light is allowed onto the sensor. What if you want a deeper depth of field where everything appears to be in focus? Simple. Use the aperture setting that will give you the depth of field you require. Then let the last setting that you need to consider compensate for the lack of available light, while ensuring correct exposure and depth of field. What’s this last setting? Shutter speed!

The Game Changer

Once you have stabilised the camera on a tripod or a three-axis gimbal in the case of a drone, you’re free to use the slowest necessary shutter speed to control how much light is allowed to reach the sensor. Stabilisation is the game changer. In general, it’s the answer to the problem, but there is another factor that creeps into the equation. What if you have areas of the image that are brighter than other areas, like a brightly lit lounge or bedroom in a house that is otherwise pretty dark by comparison?

Night Photography of Home by Dave Estment of OV&P

The Golden Rule

The golden rule here is to expose correctly for the brighter areas, because if you overexpose these, you will completely “blow” them, leaving no information there to “pull back” in post production. When you correctly expose the brighter areas of the image, which will in turn underexpose the darker areas, there is still a much better chance of brightening the darker areas in post production (since these tend to contain more information), provided they are not completely black.

The Next Level

It helps to use artificial light like a speed-light or studio lights to balance the available light in the darker areas of the image. This is where it can get tricky, and it’s probably a good idea to call in a pro in situations like this 🙂 The same principles apply whether you’re in the bush or in the “Big Smoke”. It does take more planning and time to execute a correctly exposed, pin-sharp low–light photograph, but if you use these guidelines, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Please feel free to contact us for your low-light projects and any other video and photographic requirements that may call for more experience. In the meantime, SHOOT SHARP.

Aerial Photograph of Construction in Progress

Time Lapse – It’s Just A Mystery

Time lapse photography is a genre of video work that uses still images shot at pre-determined intervals to create the illusion of a high speed ‘time warp’ for the viewer. It’s a popular method for creating another perspective on the progress or timeline of a project, event or natural scenario. Imagine shooting the night sky by depicting the stars and satellites appearing to scribe perfect arcs in the sky as the earth rotates, or creating a video to illustrate the progress of a skyscraper, where the building appears to go from its foundations to completion in just 90 seconds, with tiny people scurrying around at warp speed like ants building a nest!

We at OV&P have created a variety of time lapse sequences ranging from the erection of a record 13,000+ sq.m of Nomadik tents that seemed to pop up from nowhere in preparation for the epic annual 702 Walk the Talk event at Marks Park in Johannesburg, to a 19 month time lapse project of a 15 story building being constructed in the Sandton CBD – changing the suburban landscape forever to match the frenetic business transactions also happening at warp speed in the prime office space of the financial capital of Africa.

The variety of applications for time lapse video is unlimited, but we prefer to focus primarily on specific industries in order to specialize and serve our clients best by developing techniques and processes that give them the edge in their marketing. We often combine different elements of video into a project because we find that the more interesting we can make it, the more engaged the audience is, and the more success our clients enjoy. Below is a sample of the collaboration between Action Gear and OV&P in creating lasting relationships with developers like FWJK, whose 3 month progress on their Illovo construction project is depicted in the video:

Using a property construction project as a time lapse example, we utilize traditional ground based video to capture the close-up and panning shots required to emphasize the quality and attention to detail that’s so important to investors who demand the best bang for buck. We then add exciting high level aerial footage shot from our hi-tech drones. As a SACAA registered and qualified pilot, I use different techniques to fly through, circle upwards and away from the site and to get really creative shots not possible before the advent of drones. During all of this, there are strategically placed time lapse rigs quietly doing their jobs, perfectly positioned to capture the required compositions in order to illustrate the magical way that the building grows from day to day.

We highlight important stages of construction by using shorter intervals between shots to feature more detail for viewers, and then contrast this with the warp speed illusion which is so dramatic. We feel that using multiple disciplines to convey the story creates the most compelling end result, ultimately ensuring that we exceed our clients expectations and maintain a competitive edge in the market place by utilising the best gear, the best people and the best techniques available to ‘get the shot’. When we at OV&P call it a ‘wrap’, we go home and sleep well knowing that we went the extra mile to secure a win-win for all concerned.