When Bruce and I started salty snack studios we each had our own camera. He came slinging a great little Canon and I brought a Sony PD150 that I bought when I was getting a second MFA, this time in Media Arts, around 2002 or 2003. (I can't remember exactly.) Anyway, it's a solid work-horse of a camera. I definitely recommend it.
A few years ago, we invested in a Panasonic video camera with a great lens that would shoot SD & HD, to tape or memory cards and hard drives. (The PD150 only shoots SD/standard definition to tape.) The footage has been fantastic, of course, and I do NOT miss digitizing tapes. Obviously, our Sony and Canon became 'back-up' cameras. I have to say though that during one shoot of a rock band show in a bar, the PD150 totally surprised us as the back up. (Watch this little teaser that uses footage from both cameras.) Since getting the new camera, I have been a techni-chicken. I have completely depended on Bruce with the settings on the Panasonic. Even when I am the one shooting, I ask Bruce to check settings for me. I don't trust myself with it.
A couple of months ago, I was shooting video of my friend, Linda, making Tortilla Espanola with the PD150. Linda is a fantastic chef and artist who once lived in Spain, so I organized a cooking lesson party with her for some friends and me. We drove to her home about a half hour from Missoula for the occasion. I took the PD150 because I know my way around my old PD150 grey mare pretty well. I planned to do all of the shooting plus let Bruce relax and enjoy the party.
Within the first few minutes of the Tortilla Espanola Party, my camera screen was red. People's faces, the background and everything was bright red. We adjusted settings and played around but it was a total bust. Apparently the chip died or something. Something. Something that once sent to the shop we learned it would cost so much to repair that I might as well get a new camera. I'm sad to report that we put her down.
The main thing about that PD150, is that you could really count on it. Until you couldn't, apparently. The buttons were in all the right places or something because I found it incredibly easy to use. I have a lot of distinct memories shooting with it, too. Moments of intuitive clarity staring into water through it's lens. Walking around alone at dusty estate sales in rural Montana. I clamped it to ladders and hung it out of cars. Once, Valerie and I forgot to shut the back door of the mini-SUV and I nearly lost it zipping down a highway in Polson. I had accidentally left it recording, too, so I have the footage of carpet with audio of Valerie and I chattering to prove it.
Nothing like a piece of technology forcing you to move on and learn something new. Now I must warm up to the Panasonic, find all the right buttons on it and get shooting again. That's the thing. Since shifting into the world of technology and away from natural materials and methods, I am constantly forced to let things go in a totally new way. Not a better or worse way, just an unexpected way. And my PD150 was the start of that discovery.
(photo, Shane Graff)
Here I am looking through the lens of the Panasonic and planning a shot in Burbank last year. Bruce had already tweaked the numbers.
See the next post, 'learning at Linda's,' for part 2 of the story.