David's Blog

Tag: Helios 44

Embrace Your Mistakes #4: The Night Sky


A few months back when I as visiting Scotland I took a few star photographs which can be seen on my flickr page. With my wonderful girlfriend I also created this time-lapse that you can see above. I thought I would talk you through it, whats good, whats not and how it was created. 

This 10second film is actually 250 still images taken over the course of two hours. I do not have a remote shutter so it was taken by hand with the exposure set to 20seconds. For this shoot I used the Helios 44, an old Russian lens which was at hand. Converted its about a 55, It would be interesting to compare this short with one taken with a wider angled lens, but I don’t think the crop is necessarily an issue.  The sequence was shot  on RAW and brought into After Effects through Adobe Bridge. It is 25fps. 

What is an issue is the slight tremor of the camera/tripod set up and the slight delay in the shot, it is never exactly 10 seconds and sometimes it shows when I wasn’t paying full attention to the time (to give us some credit it was about zero degrees out there!) This shows that a remote release is necessary! Even if you had perfect timing it would combat the shake, however slight it might feel when taking the shot.

The footage is a bit noisy, this could be combatted with a noise reduction with color or after effects but this would downgrade the sharpness, for me that is far more important than a bit of grain!   

But there is still much to admire, if not in this video then with just looking up at the stars themselves, moving at a slower rate





Filming on the Cheap (My Ode to Pre-owned)

When I started this blog I promised myself I would not review lenses or technology.  While i’m as impressed as an F-stop as everyone, I find that most film  blogs talk far to much about the technology and not enough about what you can do with it.  An extra F-stop is all well and good but how is it going to drive forward a narrative? And then theres the money involved… Would I be any less of an enthusiastic amateur photographer if a shoot with a 50mm 1.2 (cost £1,169 on amazon) than a 50 1.8? (£80 on amazon). Of course my pictures my look sharper, but will the compensation be improved? No, I (personally) would feel like a fraud- and if I did bought the 1.2, a very poor one.

However, just because of this does not mean I’m not interested in lenses. I’m fascinated by them. For my 21st I was delighted to be given my first digital camera, the EOS 600D. Before this I was taking pictures on my Canon A1 (before that my Canon T70 which I got when I was ten and I was snapping on it until it broke close to my 19th birthday). When I first got my digital camera I instantly got myself a cheap second hand converter and started to attach my FD lenses on them and one of the first tests was this:

Not a great video sure, but you can pick up the 28mm FD 2.0 for like £15 rather than £369 on amazon for the EF model.

My wonderful girlfriend (who’s blog I re-blogged below)  edited together a rather surreal fireworks video I shot around two years ago. Yes the video has a lot of flashes and it can’t quite pick up all the data on screen but what amazed me was how crisp and noise-free the video is when it was shot with just the natural light of the fireworks and bonfire. The lens was the Helios 44-2 2.0 and cost mer £10 (with the m42 adapter added on).

I was very lucky to go to arts school right next to an old camera store that sold lenses dirt cheap. I would suggest all of you play around with adapters (spend a bit of money on branded one such as Fotodiox, cheap unbranded ones can get stuck on your camera- trust me here, I’m speaking from tearful experience) and find Yourself a Philips to shop in. You can have great fun with a budget and spend your money on more important things, the glass is only as good as the quality in front of it.