We met up yesterday morning and took a taxi to the Fine Arts Museum (formerly a private villa designed by a French architect and constructed in the early 20th century) but because of the heavy traffic, instead of the usual ten minutes, it ate up a precious thirty minutes of the two hours I normally book my models for. I’d gone to the museum several times in the past and have always found the staff to be very accommodating, but this time a crotchety old employee obstinately refused to sell us a pass to shoot video. Between the traffic jam and listening to this battle-ax, we’d already wasted enough time, so we went to a small cafe opposite the dilapidated building housing a collection of ancient Buddhist art, ordered a few drinks and I had Phuong pose for me there instead. A nice dappled morning light filtered in through the trees and I took advantage of some hanging flowers to add a touch of colorful blur in the foreground, helping to break up the monotony of the vertical window panes of the cafe.
Considering she doesn’t have much experience modeling, I thought Phuong did quite well. It helps that she’s got good fashion sense and can do her own makeup, since I don’t have the resources for a professional stylist.
While I brought along a bag full of accessories, the actual equipment I ended up using was kept to the bare minimum – just the a7 III, along with the Sony 85mm f/1.8 and the original Zhiyun Crane. I shot at ISO 200 and used a Hoya ND filter most of the time, white balancing with the X-Rite Colorchecker; and aside from one clip, I did no color correction at all in post – only boosting saturation and pulling down shadows in Final Cut. My biggest single gripe with the a7 III continues to be the number of steps required to execute a custom white balance and the awkwardness of operating the control wheel when the camera is mounted on a gimbal.
Before heading back, I grabbed a few shots of Phuong in a small alleyway, one of which appears at the very beginning of the video. Altogether, the shoot itself probably lasted all of an hour and-a-half at most and I began editing once I returned home, finishing up in just a few hours. Utter nonsense in the online forums about rotten color science is why I held off purchasing Sony for so long; but even on my worst day, for the life of me I can’t replicate the atrocious skin tones, blown highlights and absence of texture seen in so many YouTube videos; and in fact, Sony’s accurate color science means fewer headaches toiling in post. Meanwhile, unscrupulous creatures like Mr. Reid, who don’t even have a proper portfolio or know how to use a white balance card, do an immensely profitable business peddling grossly overpriced picture profile settings to fix Sony’s so-called zombie skin tones. Reid is an opportunist who exploits the widespread ignorance about Sony colors – a lack of knowledge perpetuated by online trolls as well as by well-meaning but misguided YouTubers. As if that weren’t bad enough, he seldom responds to user feedback or replies to emails; is downright rude to forum members who voice concerns or have general questions about his PPs; and has even summarily deleted posts in which purchasers were merely sharing some of their results.