When everything you need is in a bag on your back, everything in there needs to earn its place. Adding features to kit you already carry makes it easy to bring along for the ride.
That’s been the thought process behind Capture One‘s latest addition to their editing platform – Capture One for iPad – and it was what we had in mind as we headed out to Iceland to put it through its paces:
Designed as a companion App to the core Desktop editing product, it’s not there to replace the times you truly need to take a laptop with you on a trip – and there will always be those moments where only the full set of tools will do.
But for those times when you’re packing light, and wanting to have access to quick edits that will be synchronised “back home” when you’re ready to pick things up again, the swap of a laptop for an iPad can be a welcome trade.
So why Iceland? Why the midnight sun?
Simple. We wanted somewhere rugged, where we wouldn’t necessarily take a laptop out with the cameras – and the midnight sun would (or should) give us endless perfect shooting time each night with fewer people around too.
Leaving a grey and murky Heathrow airport late at night, it was great to see that reassuring glow of the sun that never sets as we made our way up north. Despite having made the summer journey countless times, I still find it eerie when you land at 1am to virtual daylight – making it an always difficult task to sleep.
It would be the next morning that David Grover, Capture One’s Global Manager of Product Training, arrived. Rather handily avoiding all the admin while he made his merry little way to Reykjavik. (Just saying…)
But from that point onwards, the pressure was on.
Filming to a Deadline.
When the product launch is only a couple of weeks from your filming dates, there’s not much room for error – so despite horrendous winds, grey skies, pouring rain and less-than-perfect conditions – sometimes, you just have to shoot.
To be fair, the scenes we were capturing were authentically Icelandic, for sure; I’ve always found something a bit odd about perfect blue skies over one of the most rugged landscapes on earth.
But for comfort, I guess, it could have let up for a day or two?
Still, it forced us to use the iPad app as it was intended – in places we wouldn’t necessarily sit with a laptop.
- Maybe it’s cost – nobody wants to lose a £2,000-3,000 laptop to wind and rain.
- Perhaps its portability – with a fraction of the weight involved to edit the same content.
- Or it could even be just the mindset – I’m happy to drag an iPad out onto a clifftop to review what I’m shooting, where I’d think twice about doing the same with a laptop.
Whatever it is, having it there with us the whole time allowed me to review shots I was taking, checking focus then-and-there – to a level I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) have done before.
So with our initial clifftop trials out of the way, it was on to our two main scenes, the targets for this trip: Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon and Búðakirkja (or Budir Black Church).
It has to be said, when some photographers say they can make a subject out of anything – David really does mean it, opting to photograph this roadside bathroom on the way to the canyon in the south.
Turns out, that was a handy discovery (more on that later), but to give the Icelandic builders some credit too, it’s one heck of a bathroom they built there, right in the middle of nowhere.
But it was Fjaðrárgljúfur we were heading to, and that was in sight.
Into the Canyon.
While weather didn’t co-operate, we had 3 attempts to capture this in the middle of the night. Hoping for golden hours, we returned back night after night, each time with promise in the sky – only to be scuppered by a last minute shift in cloud.
What was incredible, however, was seeing right there, in the moment, the differences in depth of field (to tiny fractions) that settings were making – something historically, we’d have to rely on the camera screen to do, with a bit of luck.
When “good” is not good enough.
On today’s cameras, perfection is everything. Even with a standard camera or sensor, being a few pixels out can be a problem. On a 151-megapixel Phase One digital back, it can ruin an image.
So being able to see that difference (especially after long exposures), while stood right there and able to still make changes, is a huge leap forward.
Sure, we could do that with a tethered laptop – but trust me, on these nights, I wouldn’t have been happy to see a laptop out there in the conditions we put those iPads through…
Plus, we could edit – we could check what could be done with the image and what impact certain adjustments would have. Having the same editing tools you know and love, right there on location, gave us the confidence to know everything was right, without the prospect of “fixing it later”.
Don’t let David order fries.
Ready to move on to another part of the island, it’s always a good idea to fill up along the way. Granted, the “eggs” (middle) from one of our hotels had hardly fixed any hunger, but I did learn a new thing on this trip:
David doesn’t equate price to volume.
It seemed perfectly normal to David for fries to be 3x the price of a hotdog – and therefore quite the surprise when 3 billion potatoes got delivered to us “as a side” EACH, to our sausage-and-gunk-in-a-roll.
Still, good to have some extra balast in a storm, I guess…
We’d never intended to hit the “main” tourist locations on this trip. We wanted to avoid crowds anyway, but equally, I’ve shot them a thousand times myself so can’t really complain.
Sadly, it seems, two things have really hit Iceland in more recent years:
- Existing tourist “hot spots” are now huge commercial enterprises with vast parking lots and gift stores.
- Previously lesser-known areas have become the escape valve for millions trying to avoid those other hot-spots.
Well, despite personally not wanting to go anywhere near Kirkjufellsfoss on this trip, I came along to see what had changed as David went exploring.
While I’ve been surprised before as to how many people could somehow mange to squeeze along that one side of the waterfall, it always had a bit of a “self-regulating” air about it, as the gravel car park and slippery walk (especially in ice) limited numbers.
Not any more.
With new automated pay machines (I get it, but really?!) a huge tarmac parking area, bus and coach bays, and new walkways built – they’ve certainly made it more “accessible”, but in my view, in all the wrong ways.
So – enough of that hell-hole (it’s such a shame, as it is a stunning view), it was time to get on the road again and search out our golden hour at somewhere a little less crowded (for now…)
Passing by the mountain hut we’d stopped to shoot on the overland pass, our black church at Budir was looking promising. Having shot there at 8pm already, in perfect blue skies, this was a location that really needed to deliver a stunning set of colours above to give us something new.
Budir Black Church.
There’s something quite spooky, but equally very satisfying, about finding yourselves alone at a church for 4-5 hours with not a single other person in sight.
With Tom wanting to film every possible angle he could, in between us fashioning a new filter holder for David’s camera out of Gorilla Tape, the extra time was a blessing – but what a difference a location makes.
(Yes, that’s exactly what you do with a round (or square) filter when it doesn’t fit your lens and you don’t have the right adapters – just make sure it’s strong tape and pressed right against the front ring! And yes, it’s also still a better effort than his attempt at displaying an S-Curve through the method of interpretive dance…)
Flitting between filming and shooting – it was easy to forget I also needed to capture a few images from here for us to edit. But this was the stuff we’d been hoping for – a golden hour that lasted for 4, and only ever got brighter as the early morning hours crept by.
Funnily enough, none of us had noticed for the first 2 hours, a rather annoying “squeak” that was coming from the church every few minutes.
That weather vane on the roof, the date stamp that kept picking up the swinging winds and moving left to right as they flowed up and down the coast.
I guess that’s a new one for me to look at in future on my long-exposure check-list, as the number of blurred years on the weather-vane I have from this sequence is ridiculous!
Again, being able to see – right there and then – those small details (and see what edits could be made to the shot later on) made sure not a single moment was wasted out in the field.
And it also meant that I had the confidence to pack-up and move on, knowing I had the shots I came for.
While not quite done with the light – as 4am hit (and with us still being 1.5 hours from our hotel), it was apparently time to head back…
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…
Or is it?
I mean, if the sun never sets, is it technically dawn?
Either way, it was time to explore some of the other areas of the island that I’ve never shot (regardless of how popular they are) – starting with the infamous “Yoda Cave”.
I have to say, as a non-star-wars-person, it’s a decent cave – but that’s about it. Not sure I quite get what all the fuss is about, but hey, we went, we filmed, we moved on…
Picking Things Up.
Then for all the pick-ups in the filming that we hadn’t managed along the way.
Cue: Pensive looking out into the distance while holding new favourite critical workflow tool in the field:
And cue mega-burn as a result of waiting for 3 hours to get one take of a 2 second sequence without a shadow. (David had one job – block the shadow – that’s all I’m saying… Oh, and to keep his sensor clean, ahem…)
Then to the stupid idea of heading to Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss in the middle of the night (because it’ll be empty – again, in the daytime these places are now beyond overrun) to shoot a sunset that never happened. What did happen, however, was a free shower for all of us and our kit.
But in fairness, another good example of a place where my iPad will go, while my laptop stays safe – so, again, the right tool for the right job in the field.
Now of course, the whole time we were out shooting – something else was going on in the background:
Synchronising to the Cloud.
As someone who relies on backups-of-backups, the built-in Capture One Cloud feature is quite the calming influence. With one click, I can make sure all my raws (plus edits) are sat waiting to be pulled down to my desktop app the second I’m sat back with it.
Not a second is wasted.
And yes, you can literally pick-up where you left off the second you get back home.
So all in all, a successful trip – a (hopefully) awesome film introduction for Capture One for iPad‘s launch, and a heck of a lot of fun capturing it along the way.
Live from the Studio…
For those who tuned-in live, yes, we managed to do quite a few random broadcasts, featuring a strange drunk man who’d just crashed his car in the highlands (the drinking came after, we’re told) – angry cleaners, storms, fishy snacks and last-resort live session from the car.
And for those who missed it, a quick foodie round-up:
- Dumles : Great.
- Kropps : MUCH better.
- Pop Corners : Mind-****
- Coke Zero Lime : NO. Stick to diet, people.
- Weird “meat” roadside sandwich…?
Well, remember I said we’d come back to that random toilet that David found 150km away from anywhere else on the island?
Yeah, steer clear of that particular “snack”.
And that deadline?
Well, we hit it – although I’m pretty sure Tom got a total of 3 hours sleep in the week after we returned home.
As ever with edits, it’s always easier to request than to do…!