Monday, 8 June 2009

Frame grabbing: The art of drawing great photography from video

By Edward J. Delaney

[The June issue of Esquire arrives on newsstands Sunday, and there's something unique about its cover photo. Not the presence of an attractive young starlet — that's de rigueur in the magazine business. It's that the photo of Megan Fox was shot with a video camera, not a still one. Photographer Greg Williams shot footage of Fox with one of those jaw-dropping Red One cameras and pulled stills from the resulting video. (As Zach noted recently, Esquire seems to be cornering the market on cover gimmicks: e-ink, mix-and-match flip books, and now framegrabbing.)

I thought that was a perfect reason to post this interview Ted did with Pulitzer-winning photographer (and my former coworker at The Dallas Morning News) David Leeson about frame grabbing — an area where he was an early innovator. —Josh]

To David Leeson, the appeal of frame grabbing seems obvious. It reduces the number of tools a photographer has to juggle, and it enables multiple outputs from the same journalistic workflow. As he wrote about his first experience, preparing to cover Hurricane Katrina in 2005:

"The first thing I did upon receiving an HDV camera…was shoot a few seconds of video, import it with iMovie and make a frame grab. The results were almost as magical as the first time I saw a print emerge in a tray of developer. I knew the world of photojournalism as we knew it, would never be quite the same again."

But he’s been surprised by the resistance among many of his fellow photojournalists. Even as each wave of new cameras to hit the market makes frame grabbing an easier option, Leeson still finds himself preaching to the unconverted. The main resistance may be the core belief that the fundamental art of the photograph is timing the decision of when to press the shutter...... more

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