In January I visited the most southerly part of the Isle Of Portland in Dorset; Portland Bill to be precise.

Portland Bill is home to a functioning lighthouse and a really rough coast.  The Lighthouse guides vessels heading for Portland and Weymouth through these hazardous waters. The Lighthouse is red and white striped and stands at 41 metres tall.

I’ve always wanted to see one and Portland Bill was a good candidate. I found it via good ol’ google. Thanks!

So off I went to film this beast.

Portland Bill

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PRE-PLANNING OF PORTLAND BILL

As Portland is almost 3 hours from me, I scoured the net for pictures so I had all the shots I needed in mind. I made a shot list and stuck to this for the most part.
All the images in my shot list comprised of rough, stormy seas. We couldn’t have experienced a more calmer day on arrival; no wind, no huge waves crashing on to the rocks, and the sun was out. Brilliant start. Ha. Anyway, there was still a lot to film.
The one thing that spoiled the look and feel of the Lighthouse for me, was the visitor centre/gift shop. It looked ugly perched up beside something with so much meaning and depth. But I guess they need to make money some how! I decided to omit the visitor centre from the film and keep it basic; Lighthouse, Pulpit Rock, sea and locked beach huts. I wanted to portray the desolation of the place. It’s become quite a common theme in my films now, wowzers!
And the Lighthouse was closed in January. Some aerial shots of the place would’ve been nice!

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EQUIPMENT USED:

  • Canon 5D MK II (running Magic Lantern)
  • 16-35mm (F/2.8), 24-105mm and 50mm (F/1.8)
  • 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 ND Grads.
  • Hama Circular Polariser
  • Giotto Tripod
  • Konova Slider

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CAMERA SETTINGS:
The film was shot with mainly the 16-35mm and  24-105mm at 1/50 sec, f/16. and ISO 250 As the 16-35mm (Mark 2) has a 82mm thread (a really unfortunate size), finding a filter holder and ND Grads to hire was proving quite difficult. So I shot with nothing on the lens. I couldn’t open up the iris much even with the lowest ISO; it was just too bright, hence why in some shots the sky is blown. Sucks.
I did however use the Grads on both the 24-105m and 50mm. The latter lens was only used on 2 shots. The phone box rake as well as on the Mary Diane boat.
I used a DIY follow focus involving a foam sheet, scotch magic tape, white board marker, jar opener and paper clip, ha! Worked really well though.

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PICTURE STYLE AND GRADING:
I shot in Technicolor’s Cinestyle. I find myself using this all the time now. The LUTs give great results BUT editing them to taste is not very intuitive. For most of my videos, I apply the LUT, do a basic colour correction and grade it slightly afterwards. I’m not good at colouring and mainly stick with what looks good to me. I need to learn this thoroughly.

MAGIC LANTERN:
Again, I used Magic Lantern for this film. Crop marks kept everything in frame.
When shooting in Cinestyle, or even Canon’s Flat setting, focussing on something proves quite difficult as contrast is virtually non-existant! The beauty of Magic Lantern is that I can set a picture style for focussing and another for recording. So ‘Faithful’ is used as the former (very ‘contrasty’)and Cinestyle the latter. Nice!

ML Pic Style

GLOVES ARE ESSENTIAL!
Shooting ‘When It Fell’ totally froze my hands, so before I went to Portland Bill I made sure I bought a pair of gloves. I bought some thermal gloves that cost me under £10, but they worked perfectly. They did literally fit like a snug glove so operating the camera was not an issue.

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CREDITS
The 16-35mm lens was hired from a brilliant company called Lens Locker.
They’re a business based in Twickenham with great customer service! 

All pictures were taken by Ajay Karwal.
Ajay is a Photographer, Graphics Designer, front-end Web Developer and father to an adorable little girl.

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