Month: July 2015

Photography – Capture Time in Motion

Those of you who remember the original Colchester 101 magazine will recall our amazing resident photographer Adrian Multon’s monthly column. Wivenhoe based Adrian is a freelance commercial photographer and we are delighted to have him back on board helping our readers to hone their photographic and Photoshop skills.

The photograph isolates and perpetuates a moment of time, according to American master Edward Weston. But why limit yourself to a single moment?

Timestacking gives the appearance of motion to a scene standard photographic technique would render static. It involves blending multiple shots of a scene that contains both static and moving elements. A favourite of time-lapse photographers – the cloudscape makes a great place to start your experiments with time.
image 1What kit are you going to need for this? Your camera will need interval timer functionality. This allows you to create a regularly-spaced sequence of exposures with a single press of the shutter release button. Many dSLRs have this built in, but others require software downloaded from the web and run from your memory card.

A sturdy tripod will help your camera remain motionless, especially on blustery days. It is also a good idea to set out with an empty memory card and full battery; you do not want to be interrupting a great sequence of shots to swap out either of those items.

Back home you will need image editing software that utilizes layers –  so Adobe Photoshop / Elements are okay, but Adobe Lightroom does not implement layers, so will not do the job in this instance. The notes here refer to Photoshop CS6. A basic understanding of layers will also serve you well for this technique.

image 2

So, you have found the perfect spot to plant your camera and point your lens at a sweeping North Essex vista. It being a British summer, plenty of dramatic cloud is being chased across the sky by a stiff breeze. Study your composition and choose an element to focus on. By all means use auto-focus, but switch to manual focus before starting the timer to ensure the camera cannot change or lose focus in the event of the focal point being temporarily obscured.

Fire off a few single-frame test shots to get your exposure right. Manual exposure will give consistent exposures when the light level is constant, but aperture or shutter priority modes may be suitable in situations where light levels are changing rapidly.

Once you are happy with the composition and exposure settings, all that remains is to set the interval timer. This feature allows you to specify the number of images exposed in a sequence, and the amount of time between each exposure.

Experiment! Shorter intervals make moving elements appear smoother, but may require more shots overall. Ensure your tripod is secure, set off the interval timer, and stand back….

image 3

Card brimming and battery drained, it’s time to get back home for some serious editing. ‘Serious’ because you’re likely to stretch your hardware when combining dozens (or hundreds) of images into one.

After downloading images to a computer, divide them into sets, placing each set in its own folder. Load the first image in a set into your image editing software, check it is sharp, and immediately save it. This is your base image.

Open the next image exposed. Hold down shift and drag the layer from this new file to the base image (shift ensures the frames line up). Repeat this process of adding new layers to the top of the layer stack in the base image until you notice your computer start to creak and slow down (this point will vary depending on available resources and size of image files).

Select all layers apart from the bottom ‘background’ layer and set the layer blending mode to ‘lighten’ or ‘darken’. The choice will depend on the moving elements in your images; when the moving elements are brighter than the static background (e.g. white clouds in blue sky) choose ‘lighten’, and when darker (e.g. storm clouds) choose ‘darken’.

image 4

Ideally, if your tripod did its job, all the static elements in each exposure should line up nicely. If not, you may need to mask out areas in some layers. Once created, a mask can be duplicated to other layers if needed.

Flatten the image and load more exposures – repeat until all (or enough) exposures have been incorporated.

image 5

If you like to make colour or tonal adjustments to images, apply the same adjustments to all images in a stack. Apart from RAW adjustments, I prefer to see what the merged sequence looks like before tinkering with saturation and contrast.

Put in the time and you will be rewarded with vivid and slightly surreal imagery.

The timestacks here were my first try with this technique. They employed 5-10 second intervals and a very modest number of shots (between 30 and 80), but when I find the time I hope to experiment with stacks of several hundred frames.

Please take a few minutes to take at look at Adrian’s website www.adrianmulton.co.uk

Adrian Multon

 

 

 

 

Adrian Multon

Inside Out

Inside Out

What makes a movie great? What is it that makes a movie an “all-time” great? Is it action? Is it memorable characters? Is it an affecting story? Is it the emotion?

Well yeah, it’s all these things, you need all these things in place, but for a movie to be really great it has to affect you, the viewer, it has to tell you something about you that you were unable to express yourself and, most importantly, tell you something about others that you were never even aware of.

Inside Out is really, truly great.

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a 12 year old girl uprooted from her home and friends in Minnesota when her father (Kyle MacLachlan) has to move the family to San Francisco. Her new world is strange and frightening; a new house, a new school with new, unfamiliar kids; a new family dynamic. That’s the basic set-up, but inside Riley’s head there’s a whole other movie playing out. Inside Riley’s head there are five emotions helping guide her through life: Joy (Amy Poehler), the first emotion she ever felt and also the most dominant one; Sadness (Phyllis Smith), whom Joy tries to keep to the shadows of Riley’s sunny headquarters; Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) round out the quintet trying to keep her happy, safe and productive. The emotions also collect Riley’s experiences and file them in her memory, making sure each memory is uncontaminated by any of the four other companions. When something goes catastrophically wrong at HQ, Joy and Sadness are whooshed off to the memory banks leaving Fear, Anger and Disgust in control until the other two can find their way back and restore emotional balance.

Riley must stumble through her day, her only responses to the world being afraid, angry or snarky while Joy and Sadness travel the length and breadth of her mind to get back to HQ. And what a landscape Riley’s mind is, from Long Term Memory Storage to Imagination Land through the Dream Factory via Abstract Thought. Along the way they meet Riley’s forgotten imaginary friend, Bing Bong (Richard Kind), a kind of pink candy floss elephant who cries wrapped candy tears and acts as their guide. Bing Bong is an all-time great character, one of the best Pixar have ever created, so when… well, never mind, I don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone. Every place the trio visit sheds new light and understanding on how our own minds work, a staggering achievement and a breath-taking concept for a cartoon – it works so well that you might not even be consciously aware of what it’s doing.

Inside Out

Inside Out is up there with Pixar’s best movies, I’d even go so far as to say it’s actually the best! Big statement, I’ll explain: Inside Out is easily the most exciting, intelligent, inventive and ambitious movies the studio have ever made; on an emotional level it’s never cheap or maudlin, it’s deeply affecting, imagine a whole movie that has the same emotional punch as the first tem minutes of Up; the stakes are the lowest Pixar have ever laid out before us: a young girl’s happiness; the stakes are the highest Pixar have ever played out before us: a young girl’s happiness; nobody’s life is on the line but a young girl’s whole life is on the line.

At one point we get to see inside Riley’s parents’ minds and we realise that Joy doesn’t necessarily have to be the dominant emotion, Riley’s mum (Diane Lane), for instance, has Sadness as her dominant one and we understand that this is the emotion that gives us empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others. It’s almost a throwaway moment but, in the wider picture, it’s one of the film’s most important messages: Sadness is good and helps us understand the way others hurt, we need sadness in our lives. It’s a simple, almost revolutionary, message that, like all the best moral messages, is true because it’s so simple.

Have I made it sound like Inside Out lacks laughs? It doesn’t. It’s really, really funny, there’s great comedy performances from some top level talent. The characters are cute and unforgettable and the animation sublime. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be glued to your seat. The late, great film critic, Roger Ebert, called cinema an Empathy Machine, Inside Out is an Empathy Interface, you need to interact with it, Inside Out is certainly not designed to be a passive experience. Plug in.

Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen have created a beautiful, deceptively simple must-see movie that you’ll come out of a better person than you were when you bought your tickets. That, for me, is why we should be talking about Inside Out as one of The Greats.

By the way, the BBFC have rated Inside Out as a “U” certificate. That means it is suitable for everyone. Everyone should see Inside out. Every living person on the planet. It’s that good. It’s that important.

For show times and booking visit Odeon Colchester.

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

 

ANT-MAN

Ant-Man

In many ways Ant-Man, Marvel’s latest big screen offering, feels like a do-over of the original movie that kicked this thundering behemoth of a studio into gear, Iron Man: It’s about a guy with a particular set of skills who acquires a super-suit, learns to master that suit, then has to battle a guy with a similar, but over-powered, suit. In many ways Ant-Man, Marvel’s latest big screen offering is something unexpectedly different to every other movie that studio has yet offered us.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has languished for three years in jail for burglary, a Robin Hood-ish crime that reimbursed the investors of a conniving corporation with the funds extorted from them. Three years away from his ex-wife (Judy Greer) and his poppet daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Now all Scott wants is to rebuild his life, pay his child support and spend time with his little girl. Life, though, doesn’t work that way, especially for an ex-con, and Scott is once again drawn into a life of crime. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately) the crime he becomes involved in involves breaking into the home of scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Pym, it emerges, was once a super soldier who worked for Marvel’s go-to super-espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the inventor of a device that allowed him to shrink to the size of an ant whilst maintaining his ability to punch like a boss. Scott steals the super-suit, and the macro-to-micro adventures begin: Pym and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), need Scott and his cat-burglar skills to destroy an attempt to replicate his Ant-Man suit and, effectively, arm the highest bidder with an army of super soldiers.

Paul Rudd is one of the most likeable big screen presences working in movies today, but don’t expect one of his mumbling comedy performances here (although he is still very funny here), Rudd plays Scott as a regular guy, an everyman looking not to atone to society in large but rather to his daughter in specific. Michael Douglas has great fun as aging hero, Hank Pym, punching out one bad guy in particular time and again and embracing the whole silliness of the concept but never hamming it up. As Hope van Dyne, Evangeline Lilly provides us with another strong Marvel female character, no shrinking violet (sorry) or damsel in distress here, she’s strong, spunky, ambitious and not afraid to let her fists do the talking. Corey Stoll, as bad-guy Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, does his best with a slightly under-written, generic villain whose character and arc is a little too much like Jeff Bridges’ character, Obadiah Stane, in the original Iron Man movie. There’s terrific support throughout, but it is Michael Pena’s Luis, the small-time crook with big ambitions chum of Scott, which you yearn to see more of, you can’t help but smile every time he’s on the screen.

Ant-Man

The first twenty minutes of Ant-Man has a tendency to drag a little (although there’s little in this movie to upset smaller children, it might be difficult for them to maintain their attention after the exposition heavy opening), but once (director) Peyton Reed finds his footing the movie cracks along at an exciting, an occasionally exhilarating, pace. There’s a lot of fun in the back garden training scenes and the heist portion of the film is thrilling and inventive, as is the final battle between Scott and Yellowjacket. Ant-Man was originally developed for the screen by Edgar Wright, writer and director of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Cornetto trilogy and there’s a lot of his “DNA” in evidence here: the fast talking; the quick cutting; the inventive, zingy fun.

The macro-to-micro, and back again, effects provide something completely new to the action scenes, with Scott constantly shrinking and growing where the action is appropriate. There’s a lot of fun in playing with everyday objects suddenly scaled to enormous sizes, iPhones, bathtubs and the grooves on an LP all providing fun highlights. These are the few scenes that make 3D seem worthwhile, there’s a slightly disorienting effect that makes it feel like the viewer is shrinking or growing alongside Scott.

Although he might be a secondary character in the greater Marvel Universe, Ant-Man shouldn’t be regarded as a lesser hero, he’s the most human of the lot, so far. It’s not Guardians of the Galaxy great, but Ant-Man is a huge amount of fun and has the biggest heart of any superhero movie yet. If you’re mildly interested and, maybe, thinking about waiting until it comes out on dvd, I would urge you to watch it at the cinema, it might seem small but it’s really rather large. Don’t brush it off.

For show times and booking visit Odeon Colchester.

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

 

The Carnival is Coming!

With the 2015 Colchester Carnival now just over a week away, Emma Harisson from the hard working Carnival Team previews this year’s event.

 
The Carnival is coming to Colchester this July, bringing a unique brand of fiesta spirit to our Town Centre streets! Saturday the 18th will see the more vibrant side of the Colchester community come alive, with everyone invited to get involved and celebrate summer!

 

Colchester Carnival

In its fifth year of being run by Colchester Ladies Circle and Colchester Round Table the event is a fantastic community occasion and has raised over £27,500 in the last four years for local good causes.

Weston Homes Plc has been the main sponsor for Colchester Carnival for the last four years.   The event is run entirely for the benefit of the local community and all profits go back to good causes in the Colchester area.  The generosity of Weston Homes has meant that many of the costs involved in putting on Carnival have been covered, ensuring more money goes to support good causes.

Colchester Carnival

The Carnival has been a huge success over the years.  Last year Colchester Carnival was attended by over 12,000 people, the procession had over 60 entries and 1,200 performers.  Lower and Upper Castle Park had more than 100 trade stalls with bands, dance and theatrical groups performing throughout the day.

This time around Colchester Carnivals theme is ‘Heroes and Villains’, with people from across the town invited to join in.

Colchester Carnival

The Carnival itself is split between a Family Fun Day in the Castle Park and a Procession that runs from one end of the town through to the other. The Castle Park events start at 11am and finish at 8pm and will include local bands, choirs and dance groups performing in the Arena, kid’s rides, trade stalls, food outlets and a beer tent.

The Procession will begin earlier this year 1pm to give spectators the opportunity to visit the Park after the Procession.  It starts from Abbey Fields, travels up Butt Road, down the High Street and end at Castle Park.

Colchester Carnival Leaflet 2015

The whole event is looking to be one that brings our community together, a day where we can all enjoy some Carnival spirit and hopefully some sunshine! So head on down, cheer the floats, try the rides and enjoy the bands.

You can find out more about this year’s Carnival on the official Colchester Carnival website.

Colchester Carnival Team
The Colchester Carnival Team

 

 

Parklife

Dragon Colchester Castle

When I was a teenager I lived in Riverside Estate, with Castle Park right on my doorstep, so I have many memories of playing football in the lower park, being chased on our bikes along the riverside path on our way home from school by the park keeper in his little Bedford van  – Colchester wasn’t so cycling friendly then and riding a bike in the park was forbidden – not forgetting sledging down the hill from the upper to lower park and trying to avoid a collision with the Roman wall at the bottom. I think maybe that familiarity at the time prevented me from appreciating what an amazing asset the park is to Colchester, and it is only since returning to live in the town after nearly twenty years spent in Wivenhoe, and living almost by its gates once again, that I truly understand the important role Castle Park plays in the town.

Park Smaller

Park

Over the past few months since my return I have really grown to love this wonderful green space that begins right in the heart of our town centre, behind the magnificent gates by the war memorial in Cowdray Crescent where the High Street meets East Hill, greeting us with its ornamental gardens, before sweeping down the hill to the Roman wall, then the wonderful green space beyond it that stretches along the river, with further grassy areas beyond the gates creating a swathe of green almost from East Mill, past Riverside Estate and Leisure World, taking in the cricket ground then onwards almost to North Station Road.

Castle Tower Reduced

Band

The jewel in the park’s crown is of course Colchester Castle. Built on the orders of William the Conqueror, the castle is the largest Norman Keep in Britain, and was the blueprint for its smaller relative, the Tower of London. The sheer size of the castle always amazes me, as does the thought that it stands on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius which was built by the Romans after they invaded 2000 years ago and made Colchester the country’s original capital. What a breathtaking sight that building must have been! And these days there is something special about seeing people sitting on the grass, enjoying the sun, just feet away from those castle walls that have stood there for nearly 1000 years.

Weir Reduced 1

Canoes

 

Weir

Living so close to the park these past few months, since the weather has become warmer it’s been a pleasure to take the longer walk home from town via the park after a Saturday afternoon lunch or shopping trip, with the occasional Sunday afternoon walk along the river thrown in. And in recent weeks there always seems to be something going on, whether it’s a brass band providing free entertainment in the bandstand, or the Food and Drink Festival bringing locals and other people into the park from the surrounding areas. And of course we still have the Free Festival to come, which this year we are promised is to be held over two days. But for me the park has really come into its own this past week since the giant television screen has been stalled for the duration of Wimbledon. What a wonderful idea this has been. Watching Wimbledon for free while sitting on the hill in the sun, armed with a picnic, a bottle of wine or couple of beers. Although I’m sure that hill has got steeper as I’ve got older! On days when I’ve been working from home it’s been hard to resist the temptation to slip off for an hour or so to watch the tennis with a cold drink. And, in even better news, Illuminate Design, who provided and installed the screen, are hoping to put on Colchester’s very own Winter Wonderland over the Christmas period to rival the one in London’s Hyde Park, complete with, yes they are serious… an ice skating rink. Fingers crossed they get the green light for this ambitious event which will bring people to the town from far and wide, many of whom will also spend money in the town’s shops, restaurant and pubs, putting money into our local economy.

Drink

Gym Reduced

 

Burgers Reduced

Fence

Ducks

As the weeks go by I find I love Castle Park more and more. New York’s Central Park may be the most famous public park in the World, but it’s got nothing on Colchester’s Castle Park.

Simon
 Simon Crow
Simon runs Media48 sponsors of Colchester 101