Bali: Dispatch 2

Bali: Dispatch 2

When I land in a country, my modus typically consists of a calculated scramble to develop and capture content. It is rare to know in advance whether what one experiences right off the jet, is going to be a non repeatable event. So typically, I throw myself 100 percent into work immediately.

Such was the case here this time on Bali. Indeed the featured image was shot within my first 20 minutes swimming a reef break off the coast of East Bali. I had not even met the surfer yet, but have since become friends with 18 year old Lempog Jackson, and we have been close collaborators, along with Wayan Suadarna and several others.

For this trip I am traveling with 4 different cameras. For water stills and video, I am using the Canon 5DM2 in an SPL housing. The Canon 70D for time lapse capture, along with a Neewer Intervalometer, Tokina 11-16, and Canon L 24-70 F 2.8. The Go Pro Hero 4 Black with a wide array of filters. All other duties are being performed by the remarkable Samsung NX1 with the OEM kit lens (16-50 f 3.5-5.6) along with the Rokinon 12mm and 85 f 1.4.

Right out of the gate the CANON 70D failed, registering a lens communication error. Basically that means you are foked. Nothing worked to bring it back. (There is a list of tricks). Then for no reason whatsoever, it began to function. So it was put to work. After a dozen time lapse sequence captures (I shoot in raw and process the raws in LR5 into jpegs, then re import and output in slideshow mode as a 30 FPS time lapse MP4) the 70D once again failed, registering the dreaded error 20. Keep in mind that this is the same body that failed on it’s first commercial shoot ever. It was sent back via CPS and they repaired it under warranty. Soon after, I sent it in again as AF was really bad. CPS fixed it, attributing it to a bad circuit board. I got to pay for that one. Yep, back to CPS it will go when I return to the US.

Though I really appreciate what Canon created in the 70D, my copy is without a doubt the single most failure prone body I have used in 18 years of professional Photography. Those failures get expensive very rapidly when one is on the road or in a production scenario.

The 5DM2 has performed perfectly. The camera continues to be a model of reliability and excellence in imaging. Consider this, that the SPL housing was made for this same body, and to date it has been swum regularly in oceans around the world. It has had the shutter and sensor replaced once by CPS. It just works. Possibly the most reliable camera of these 18 years shooting. No failures by either housing or camera body in an incalculable number of swims (well over 2000). It presents quite a challenge to both SPL and Samsung, as I prepare to replace this older system with a new one. I am quite excited about it!

But now, away in Bali with more time ahead yet on location, my time lapse rig is down. Fortunately BOTH my Samsung NX1 AND the GO PRO 4 can manage time lapse duties in several ways that are actually almost better than the 70D. The NX1 has three settings in video mode that all capture various frame rate intervals and converts to whatever format you like using the Wondershare program, from the native H.265 format. Pretty sweet. Or you can shoot in raw or jpeg as singles-stills, using the cameras built=in timing system and process in LR. As I write this both the GoPro and Samsung are collecting time lapse images. The poor 70D is a paper weight.

Once more the Samsung shines brighter than any camera I have ever used. It is extremely versatile and at this point quite facile for me to use in diverse creative ways. Even the programmable onboard mic does a great job and I have not used my Rode videomic much as a result.

Sent along to me by Nick Galante on FB, is a technical note. Something I had learned early on about the Samsung system and had failed to mention. (Wish this worked for Canon):

“Samsung customer service story. I have the high end flash for the NX1. Last job it would switch from TTL to manual by itself. Called Samsung support, get English as second language guy. Thinking this is not going to end well. He tells me to go into settings and reset all settings. Take out battery and hold shutter release button for 30 seconds. Put battery back, turn on camera. It worked. Any time it looks like not a hardware issue, try that. r/Nick”

The second day Donna came in to our beautiful air conditioned place at Villa L Orange, and insisted I come out to meet 2 people staying at the villa across the yard from us. I declined, already deep into a frenetic pace work mode.

By the next day, I surfaced from my pixel and post production spin, to meet Markus Schulz and Adina Butar. We all fell in together immediately, along with the Villa Hosts- Tiong and Julian. What resulted was a very addictive multi-national cultural exchange, that only seems to happen on the road.

We got to share a fantastic poolside dinner together that went late into the night created by our Villa resident Chef, Kadek. Unfortunately Markus had to be gone, off on another gig, first thing in the morning, with Adina also departing later that day. We were a bit sad that we would not get to cement our relationship more firmly. But a little surprise ensued that next day and Adina and I got to do a quick little pool shoot before she hurried off to Denpassar.

This is the sort of work Markus and Adina do together.

Before they left, Adina and Markus offered me the use of their music as theme music for video. Super generous.

Bali is changing. For good or bad, it really is what it is, as the nation develops. The song’s title is “Don’t Let Go”. Here is the little video I cobbled together with the first few days content and the pool shoot with Adina. I titled it “Bali: Don’t Let Go” in hope that this wonderful madhouse Nation retains it’s inner and outer beauty as it continues along the developmental pathway.

Really grateful to be on the road here, and meeting such wonderful people. Our hosts are incredible, and this experience though different than how we normally approach Bali, is truly wonderful, productive and luxurious.

Thanks for sharing in it with us!

Aloha nui loa,

David and Donna Oct 10, 2015

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