From Underwhelmed to Educated

This is one of those posts that came with a surprise. In essence, there are really two components to this post. I always prefer the uplift that comes when good news come follows bad so I’ll take that approach here. The first part was the original focus of the post and quite frankly is a tale of disappointment. However, the second part came about during the prep work for the post and as karma would have it, has a more positive outcome – how wonderlicous is that?  Let’s dispense with the bad.

A few weeks back some friends and I decided to catch the premier of Underworld 4: The Awakening.  Now for the record I am a huge fan of the Underworld series with what I felt were strong offering for the first and second movies.  Actually they even managed to pull off a strong third episode without  Beckinsale in skin tight vinyl.  Note, there may be some bias there since they essentially replaced her starring role with Rhona Mitra who looks like she could be Kate’s twin and Rhona was in Doomsday which is a fantastic movie (ah yes, Doomsday, three movies – Mad Max, Highlander and Cobra all wrapped into single pure adrenaline movie).  The three previous movies may have set the expectations too high which is a polite way of saying this movie totally sucked (do I get points for the pun?).  A quick look on IMDB shows the first movie ratings were 6.8, 6.6 and 6.4.  On a personal front it would be 7.4, 7.2 and then 6.7.  For some unknown reason IMDB is giving this version a 6.8 which is waaaay to high for what I had to sit through. It would have helped tremendously if they found a way to get Bill Nighy back in and at a minimum Scott Speedman to keep some continuity with the other episodes.  Without that it barely makes it over a 4 in my rating scale.

To be honest, we did attend the 2D and not the 3D IMAX version – partly due to my lack of interest in 3D movies which I have soap boxed on previously here at Intrigued (link here).  As stated in that post, it seems directors are just trying to cover up weak plot lines with gimmick imagery.  Guessing the proverbial 3D kitchen sink was thrown at this one because this script couldn’t even be used to strain spaghetti yet we watched the closing credits for at least 15 minutes as it scrolled name after name on the production teams – think they must have gone through the entire French and Sweden phone books.  I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum, but how many of your own kind would you give the gift of life to if you had the ability?  – me thinks more than ONE.  Hell, I’ll save the finger fatigue, go read the plot summary on IMDB if you want a good laugh…. and what should be no surprise, there is plenty of storyline left unanswered for another sequel.

There was a bright spot in Awakening.  Literally, there was a bright spot in the movie – A bright yellow spot that covered the entire right side of the screen in the middle of the movie, and there it remained for 10 -15 minutes prompting many individuals (including one in or party) to go seek a solution.  A worker eventually came in and informed the crowd that they would fix the problem (well thanks!) but a reboot was needed f0r the projector.  Now that is a sentence I’ve never heard before.  After a quick stoppage, the movie was restarted successfully.   There was a silver lining in all this.  As it turns out everyone ended up seeing the movie for free – in fact depending on how you view it, you could say the theater paid us to watch this movie.  A lady was actually handing out free movie passes to compensate for the bad experience.  This pass is good for any movie we want to see 2D, 3D or 3D IMAX.  I was hoping for some free popcorn or a Coke so kudos to The Rave for going beyond – too bad we can’t say the same for the director of this movie.

Hit the jump to see “The Educated” part of this post

It may be difficult to tell, but I actually try my best to provide a polished look to this blog.  I figure that that the gift of your time definitely deserves my best.  As a result, the biggest delay in getting entries published is the graphic work that accompanies each of the posts.  There has been a drop off of creative graphic images from Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro in favor of more Photographic solutions due to both time and preference to using a shutter over a mouse as of late.  Ironically, the first shot on this post did not come out anywhere near as crisp as desired.  That was not a from lack of effort, but rather the very opposite.  An Underworld movie poster hangs in our theater room making it an obvious backdrop for the post.  Out came the tripod and camera.  Immediately there was an issue with the camera placement.  The flash was bouncing ugly off the plastic frame.

This would not be acceptable.  Up went the ISO and down went the shutter speed… and with it came the grain.  Okay, next option was to give a dramatic perspective to the shot.  That would be a glorification of repositioning the camera to give the flash a bounce angle away from the sensor.  An angle actually gives some tension to the shot which tends to make it more interesting so to the better.

Crap, the angle I wanted still drove the light back into the sensor.  There was some quick ideas of centering the flash on the O in Underworld and writing it off as planned artistic creativity… but that isn’t how I roll and since I have a LOT to learn when it comes to flash photography the challenge was taken.  Out came the wireless SB-800 wireless flash – quick switch to TTL Commander mode and it was ready.  This would allow me to put the flash at a wider angle to get the brightness desired without the bounce back to the sensor.  Well, that was the plan.  Turns out, I not only got the full blast from the camera flash, I also doubled it with the flash from the SB 800.  Now I knew the on-camera flash has to be up because it uses a pulse of light from that unit to trigger the remote flashes.  However, I thought it fired the signal flash BEFORE opening the shutter so it effectively ignored that pre-flash.  Now I was full on intrigued and I went looking for the Scott Kelby books for some answers.  Chapters later in three of his books provided the reminder that I had the option to turn off the on-camera flash.  Perfect, a few menus later it was turned off and it was time to finalize the shot.

What the hell, the brightness was definitely diminished but the pulse light was still making the shot.  More chapters were read without any insights into this phenomenon.  Clearly the shutter was being opened before the pulse light was lit to trigger the remotes.  I still cannot figure out why this is since the remote triggers could be given a microsecond delay before firing giving time to open the trigger after the pulse was completed.  I ended up scouring the web to get validation of this discovery.  Eventually the browser stumbled on this page on the ScanTips site. (link here).  There it was in black and tan “The camera internal flash commander sends one “Everybody Fire NOW!” Commander trigger signal after the shutter opens. Normally little issue, assuming you surely have already disabled the internal flash group (with mode “- -” in commander menu)”  Thanks for the kick on disabling the internal flash!  It did indicate that this results at tight distances so the solution was to pull the shot back (our wide has a zoom anyway) still keeping the original off camera flash angle.  This eliminated the flash spots for the first two shots above (but that didn’t compensate for the off focus in the first shot sigh).  I purposely didn’t up the power on the external flash because I thought the gradual glow effect looked interesting.  My apologies for just wasting your time if you are not into photography, but I did learn a lot from this session and thought it was worth sharing (and an quick reference if I can’t remember how to solve this problem in the future).

So there you go – what was once a disappointing experience became and enlightening  (it’s just a punrific festival) event.  Now to figure out what movie is worth using my free pass on

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