Thomas Brown – Out of Focus Productions

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Hi Thomas. Your interest with images actually began with a love for filming and editing video. What video projects have you been involved with?

I have always been into shooting videos and the video editing process; it’s what I studied and found myself doing in my spare time. I’m a cameraman and editor for NBN Television so I get to work on a lot of different things, which is great. Some of my recent personal videos are: Just See, an astro-timelapse video, on which I spent 3 months of night shooting, collecting thousands of images to create a 3 minute video; and Toy Perisher, a tiltshift timelapse video shot on the slopes of Perisher Valley last snow season.

How did your interest in video progress to still photography?

Initially I purchased a DSLR camera for its video capabilities and to occasionally shoot time lapse videos using the camera’s high quality images. I always loved being creative, but I didn’t feel like I had found the way to express myself yet. As soon as I picked up the still camera, I was obsessed with it. And it has been a big snowball from there … learn, learn, learn!

Now that photography has captured your imagination, what are some of your favourite subjects to shoot?

There are so many things I love to shoot … a few to mention would be seascapes, landscapes and the weather/storms, like lightning, but my passion would have to be the night sky − landscape astro-photography.

What skills do you find are very similar between capturing both video images and still footage?

People ask me this a lot; it’s a hard question! They are two different crafts with technical similarities. I guess composition is a big one −planning out a shot. The two both run on similar technical principles: aperture/iris, shutter speeds etc. but they are two different worlds when shooting something.

Your night sky and time lapse photographs are stunning. What first made you decide to try your hand at this type of photography?

Thank you. I have always loved looking up at the stars and the moon, even as a young kid. It’s so captivating! The night and sky photographs are a result of having the correct gear, many outings, lots of experiments and a lot of patience. I still remember my first Milky Way shot; I was amazed with what I had captured. It’s knowing you can capture what your eyes can’t quite see with a camera, and to me that’s pretty exciting stuff.

I find that I come home with the best results when I’m out there alone, completely immersed in what I’m doing. It is quite humbling to be out in the darkness with a sheet of stars overhead, so it’s almost a spiritual act too for me.

What are your camera and lenses of choice at the moment – and why do you find these suit your particular needs?

I have a couple of cameras: the Canon 5D mk3 and a Canon 7D as a backup. For the night shots I have been using the 5D mk3, as it handles low light situations so well, combined with a Tokina 11-16 mm F2.8 wide angle lens. That lens is great! I have spent countless nights with it in all weather conditions, and it’s perfect for astro shots, because it’s tack sharp and it has a fast aperture, letting lots of light in.

I have a lens to cover most of my photographic needs: 400 mm L telephoto lens for sports, 50 mm prime lens for portraits, wide angle lens for landscapes, fish eye etc. but like any photographer/videographer, the wish list is never ending when it comes to gear.

Your work photographing our beaches, waves and surf is also becoming quite well-known, with one of your photos recently being published in the surf magazine Foam Symmetry. Describe the shot you took to achieve this recognition – was it a case of being in the right place at the right time, or a photo that you painstakingly set up?

One of my Crescent Head super moon images got printed across a double page − my first published image! I was over the moon (no pun intended). I had a big day in the surf at Crescent Point that particular day, and I had barely dried myself off before deciding it would be amazing to shoot a silhouette of someone in front of the rising super moon.

The image was actually only thought of about 45 minutes before the moon popped its head up. I organised my surf pal, Galen Ahne, to go stand on the headland with his old Malibu. I did a few test shots and worked out where the moon was going to rise; Galen and I were communicating via loudspeaker on our phones, as I was taking the shots from a long way away to get the look I was after.

What’s your ultimate goal with video and photography – where would you like to see your skill take you in future?

I would love the chance to work on a big budget/production time-lapse film like Timescapes or Samsara. At this point in time I’m just trying to push myself to learn more and more. It’s purely a hobby and a passion of mine; I love crossing over between video and photography. I think it keeps me watching, reading, listening and inspired all of the time.

Are you available for commissions/private work and if so, where can people contact you?

I have had a great response to a lot of my images, so I will be releasing some of my photographs as prints to go up for sale very soon, and all other inquiries are welcome in regards to video clips and music videos. I have a Facebook page which I update regularly with all my latest image and video happenings.




When you don’t have a camera in your hands, what else do you do to keep yourself occupied?

When I’m not being a camera nerd, I’m usually at Crescent Head surfing my single fin log (longboard) with my mates, or on a road trip adventure with my girlfriend and my dog, Muddy Waters. I do a lot of travelling up and down the East Coast camping in the back of my troopy, exploring new places and meeting new people.

Thanks Thomas.

Interview by Jo Atkins.

This article can be found in issue 87 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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