Saturday, September 08, 2012

First football highlight video of the season

I realize we're jumping into this conversation without a lot of setup, but we've spent the past two years trying to dial in a video initiative at Northwest.

I've come to several conclusions along the way. I've learned that good cameras don't come cheaply. We've bought several cameras that turned out to not be as good as they're labeled. For instance, a camera with manual focus shouldn't revert to AF just a few moments later. And having white balance that changes dynamically as the content of the shot changes is frustrating as well. Manual control over the camera settings is vital. Some of the cheapest cameras such as the GoPro, which don't offer control, are fantastic. They are expendable because of their cost and their size allows us to have several of them and offer unique angles we wouldn't have otherwise.

After trying to edit videos from shoots where we just used one video camera a significant less is that you can't have too many cameras. Unlike still photography, video doesn't allow you to move the camera in the middle of an event without undesirable consequences such as jump cuts or shaky video.

Our newest highlight video used five different cameras and a lot of pre-game conversations with coaches and staff who would help us put our cameras in unique places. Working with coach Joel Osborn we mounted a GoPro camera on the helmet of a player during run on. We also worked with our cheerleaders to mount a camera on a camera below a flag during the run on which gave us a unique perspective of our mascot. There's still room to improve with both those cameras and I'll be initiating conversations this week to try to perfect those angles.

Another camera we used was a Canon 7D as a time lapse camera. Coordinating with our university safety coordinator we gained access to the roof of the South Complex residence hall. I'm currently considering another rooftop to place the 7D for another time lapse.

You might wonder why I'd do it again. Well, the first time was hardly perfect. And looking forward to next July/August, I need perfect videos to create a commercial for Northwest. And we've been tasked with creating a new video for the football team run on.

Our other cameras were operated by Taylor Grimm and Logan Compton. Taylor worked this summer for Fox Sports at Kauffman Stadium and he's operating a Panasonic P2 camera on the sidelines for the third straight year in a row. Logan is new to our team. He originally interviewed with the CITE office at Northwest. I was able to sit in on those interviews and was impressed with all the candidates. We were able to use Logan for high angle shots early in the game. He also ran a camera at halftime during the marching band's performance. His main responsibilities this fall for athletics will be to create a highlight DVD for the volleyball team and he's also our shooter for Tuesday Interviews.

Athletic marketing was impressed with the video and has requested we consider shooting some in the locker room this year in preparation for a video we'd create for next fall.

A new school year and new ideas for the blog

September is the beginning of my 13th year at Northwest Missouri State University. My wife and I moved here in August of 2000 after school had already started. We lived in a residence hall for a month, ate microwave food and restaurants as well. After that first month we moved into a house that was listed for sale by a coworker. The stay there was memorable as we witnessed a faculty member and her husband caring for their newborn next door. I discovered the power of a good microwave and we watched The Wedding Singer on my big-ass Gateway desktop computer. After those first six weeks we finally got into a duplex. And two years later we bought our first home. We transitioned somewhere along the way from sleeping on a futon mattress to a real bed, furniture and two good vehicles. The only thing that hasn't changed is we still live like college students staying up until midnight. In the meantime as a professional photographer I started a sports photography business that boomed and then faded as others entered the market. And almost everything I've photographed at work has been done ten times over. It used to be every opportunity was irreplaceable. Now, I use much more of my student's time to photograph events. That said, it brings me to the point. My intention with this blog was never very clear and I didn't have a grasp on what to even post. However, my responsibilities at work have changed to include producing videos for Northwest. The blog will now focus on trying to document what we do at work with our video initiatives and how we're trying to take modest video equipment to create videos about Northwest. I hope to show how we've made some of our own equipment and modified other equipment to meet our needs. It's not my intention to call a lot of attention to the blog at first. The first goal is going to be linking and profiling what we do and trying to develop a depth of content.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Using Nulooq navigator on Windows 7

If you're a photographer using the Logitech Nulooq navigator, you may have difficulty getting you custom settings to work on a Windows 7 32-bit installation. I still use Adobe Photoshop CS3 on my Windows computer at home. I use the Nulooq to quickly change my brush size in Photoshop. It saves reaching across the entire keyboard with my left hand to use Adobe's default shortcut keys. Note that the Nulooq still works fine on my Mac at work using Adobe Photoshop CS4.

To use your custom settings on a Windows 7 installation, change the Properties for C:\Program Files\Logitech\NuLOOQ navigator\NuLOOQCore.exe and C:\Program Files\Logitech\NuLOOQ navigator\NuLOOQHelper.exe in the security tab for the user so that the user has full control of the system for this application.

You may also want to change settings in the compatibility tab to Run in Windows XP Pro SP3 and change the privilege level to run program as administrator.

I believe you'll need to restart your computer for the settings changes to take hold.

Of the changes I've recommended, I believe the user settings are probably the most important. If you're unable to use your custom settings, change the second set of settings.

What I noticed after a normal installation of the Nulooq is that the jog wheel does work in Photoshop, but the custom tool tuner settings won't take affect. The changes I've recommended made these custom setting for the Nulooq work successfully on my computer.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Composing better light

Tues/Wed: I traveled with Mitzi Lutz, the editor of the Northwest Alumni Magazine, to Indianapolis to photograph mid-80s alum Greg Gilpin, who is a choral music composer and professional singer. Gilpin toured with Gospel artist Sandy Patty for more nearly five years and is one of the most prominent composers of choral music for junior and senior high choirs.

I photographed Gilpin in his home with a sweet-looking baby grand piano for the magazine's cover. The room was big enough for the piano and seating, it presented a real challenge to light for an environmental photo.

While Mitzi was conducting a large part of her interview, I experimented with how to light the room.

The right side light was the first light I had to figure out. I wanted to light Gilpin's face, but I didn't want it to have the look of direct flash. I tried to light this part of the room with an umbrella. I needed the light to be small so I could photograph the room without it showing.

I ended up using my Gary Fong photojournalist with the far side masked off with cinefoil to keep the spill off the the far wall. This gave me the edge lighting on his face, which I prefer.

The second light I set up was supposed to provide fill light to provide detail to his backside and help illuminate the room. At first I put a light in the room and aimed it at the wall. However the light's placement wouldn't allow for an environmental shot I had planned to take. After playing with the shutters, I realized that I could put the light on the porch and shoot it through the window. This created the pattern on the wall, which I think is cool.

The photo below shows one of the images taken while he site read a piece of music.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Trapeze background system

I recorded this video in my studio at work to show how our trapeze background system works. This system allows him to quickly change background fabrics. For me, it was a way to change backgrounds quickly and stay off a ladder.

This short video shows an inexpensive studio background system any photographer can create from hardware supplies bought at a local lumber yard.

A couple design notes:

1. I wouldn't put heavy eye bolt on the tubing if I had to do it again. As profiled, my own won't allow me to slip a seemless onto this tube. Instead, drill a hole in the end of the tube for the d-ring. This allows a photographer to remove the pulley rope temporarily and easily slip on a seemless paper background when needed.

2. The cam cleats cost about $50 to buy from a sail boat supply store in Kansas City. That was the most expensive component for us.

Props to Bill Bateman Photography for showing me his trapeze, which was the first I ever saw. Bill shoots seniors and families.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Location lighting kit profiled on

I posted two videos showing the remote lighting kit I use at the university. I originally put the kit together because I was traveling to Washington D.C. It had been a while since I had flown with lights and I was hoping to make getting through check in and security easier.

Having used this kit for more than year now, I really would like to add another strobe or two so that I can use even more lights in classrooms.

Part 1
Part 2

The kit consists of
1 Hakuba tripod bag
2 Canon 550EX speedlights
2 Bogen 3373 compact lightstands
2 Bogen umbrella adapters
2 Umbrellas (one silver lined and one white)
2 Pocket Wizard to hotshoe cords
2 Pocket Wizard Multimax, which we use as receivers
1 Pocket Wizard Plus Transmitter
extra batteries

Also, I highly recommend buying a Rosco Gel sampler pack. These only cost $5 from Roberts Imaging in Indianapolis.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Best SCAM Cameras

While standing in line for dinner Sunday evening, my friend Chris introduced me to another photographer he was visiting with. Chris said she had just bought a new 5D online for $1,500. Well, you might be lucky to buy a Canon 5D for $1,500 used, but you're not going to find one new for that price.

Okay, I give. You found one. Did you get it yet? No, well you probably never well. You see, just because a camera store has the lowest price on Google, doesn't mean you'll get it at that price. It's a scam and it's a well documented scam regardless of product. A company called Best Price Cameras is a sponsored link on Just Google "5D" and their name will show up within the top three listings.

Best Price Cameras is also known as and

Their price will be lower than you've ever seen, but there's a catch. They won't ship you the camera for that price. Instead their sales staff will call to confirm your order and offer a strap, battery, lens cap, body cap, whatever at exhorbitant prices. If you decline, then your camera will be put on back order indefinetly.

You can read their reviews at where you should always review all vendors before ever purchasing something online.

While all vendors average a collective ranking of 7.06 on, BestPriceCameras has a lifetime of .16 out of 10 with 189 feedbacks posted.

By the way, I didn't see their booth at Imaging USA. Did you?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Meet the blogger

Let me start by introducing myself.

My name is Darren Whitley. I am the university photographer for Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo. I've worked here since August of 2000. My responsibilities include photography for the university website, publications, alumni association and foundation, athletics, marketing, admissions and public relations. I have a student employee who helps me do my job.

Prior to working at the university I worked for the Southwest Daily Times in Liberal, Kan., as their chief photographer.