As island dots appeared out the plane window 4 days ago our first sight of New Zealand appeared, unknown territory for both myself and the band. We landed in Auckland, on the tip of the North Island, and felt immediately closer to familiar lands. Despite being the furthest away from the UK any of us had ever travelled or played, the people, scenery and temperature made it feel (very) much closer to home than we had in recent weeks.

Shooting here has been very different also. Lots of architecture based stuff, it’s been more challenging to find original shots; in China & South East Asia I was surrounded by endless weird & unfamiliar sights. In NZ everything is much more Westernised; the band roaming grey concrete streets, before the inevitable wifi stop-off is much less visually exciting than the wild streets of Bali.

GoPro HD 2 – on top of a 9ft fence post for the day < this is what they're useful for!

After a day off in Auckland, the first show proved to be a massive success. None of us had any expectations – the band had never toured the islands before, yet a venue with close to 200 through the doors welcome us. I captured a good volume of decent footage here, though zero lights on the crowd didn’t put it in the top stuff of the trip.

For shows with enough space, I will usually shoot a mix of wide-angle Glidecam, and hand held close-ups. I use a Manfrotto 501PL quick release plate across all grip stuff, so can easily interchange between tripod, slider and Glidecam, in addition to fixing one to the bottom of the mini rail system. The body of the FS700 doesn’t feel like the strongest in the world, so the plate on the camera provides a good footing. I’m always careful with the camera, but as it’s usually in my hand or within reach 18hrs a day, it has to stand up to touring wear and twear. I will be adding a full length rail set w/ follow focus and top plate to it at a later date, and will post a full review on my thoughts of the camera and it’s ergonomics in their own blog post soon.

The following day we flew to Wellington on the South Island. As we dipped through the clouds the view below was one of the most impressive of runway landings I can remember; houses hundreds in numbers, scattered amongst heavily-forested hills and tight valleys.

The local driver pointed to side-by-side houses serviced by their own cablecars up the steep hills, surrounding a beautiful harbour bay. Certainly looked like a great place to live. Being here for less than 24hrs wasn’t ideal, but that’s the nature of touring.

The show gave opportunity to experiment an alternate support setup for the FS700. At shows where a Glidecam isn’t justified, I’ll shoot with the Jag 35 mini rail system providing a solid chest support, and (shortened) stock loupe, giving 3 points of contact with the grip, in addition to the hand on the focus wheel. I’ve enjoyed very much shooting this almost TLR style, looking down into the viewfinder – it feels very natural and often-than-not the shot looks nicer than at shoulder height. The relatively poor stabilisation of the FS700 screen w/loupe attached is well documented; in this position the screen is at it’s furthest reclined so provides a solid position for pressure from the loupe eyecup.

For this show I adjusted the rails and eyecup so the camera body would sit directly in front of my face, thus allowing muchmore directional co-ordination between my eye-line and the lens.

It needs slightly longer rails to work for me properly, but it’s a setup I would consider in future docu work to avoid the constant bend on my neck. The Westside AV Handgrip Extension world be ideal for this, but this is all getting a little too close to shoulder mounting with an additional monitor in an ENG style, which I have no desire for – I love the simplicity of it un-rigged.

The repaired jack input (see Hong Kong post) of the grip controls is wearing thin, as can be seen the photo. I’m working on getting a new part sent out, hopefully this can happen soon as it’s a pain like this. Atleast the controls are duplicated (multiple times) elsewhere on the camera body or I’d really be in trouble.

FS700 w/ 135mm f2.8 – Wellington Harbour

This morning was spent exploring the city as much as time allowed, as I was very keen to capture the detail of it all. It’s much more visually interesting than Auckland was, and has a feel of Santa Monica and parts of the US West Coast to me. In very limited timeframes such as this (less than 1hr) I will switch often between wide, medium and tight lenses, capturing as many different subjects as possible – things like shop signs and smaller details can really break up wider views well, and help set the tones of the location. This Philip Bloom challenge is a brilliant example of typical circumstances I often find myself in on tour, and a great influence in overcoming them.

I would’ve loved to have an extra day here, though we just boarded a flight to Brisbane, Australia. In their only support slot of the World Tour, Architects play 2nd on the bill to The Amity Affliction (who’s newest album is #1 in Australia currently…) and The Ghost Inside. The venues and crowds on this tour are substantially larger than anything so far, up to 2000+ people. As is normal with tours in Australia, All Ages & 18+ shows mean 2 days per city, though due to the popularity, more dates have been added meaning up to 4 days consecutively across the larger cities. Suffice to say I’m very excited, as I generally am at the end of these updates… particularly to shoot in larger venues and less frequent airport office setups.

Can’t wait to see what Australia has to offer and add to an already large amount of great footage.

[BTS Photo – Ali Dean, check out his photos on Architects Tumblr]

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