I am receiving many questions on how I record my sketches. I can't reply to all, so it's simpler to just write about it, here. No, I don't hold the camera with one hand. It sits on a Manfrotto tripod. I will do another article on how I work with this camera support. For now, I am talking about the camera and recording process. I use the Fujifilm X-Pro2. While I like prime lenses, I use a zoom lens here, the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS. Why a zoom lens? I need to zoom to adjust to the paper size (I know, I could just adjust the tripod legs and just use my either 23mm or 35mm if I really wanted to). The white balance is really important here, since all I do has a white background.


The manual control is really simple, since the white piece of paper is always in front of me, but any change in light color is visible immediately. During a sketch of just one hour, I need to adjust the manual WB several times, depending on the changes in the natural light. I moved away from artificial light. Even if more consistent in color, artificial light is not as contrasty and pleasant. I do like the FN button next to the shutter - it's customized to be the video button, so I can take video or photo without changing any settings.

I record the videos in 20 second up to 300 second clips. I rarely need to go over this limit. After all, I only need 2-3 clips of under 60 seconds from each sketch, for my social media. I never to timelapses - I think it's boring to watch. Besides, I rotate the paper too many times, so it would be a mess in a timelapse. I focus manually, once at the begining of the video, and leave it there.


X-Pro2 Pros: - manual control on dials, visible without looking at the screen (screen being away from me while on the overhead tripod) - compact size, simple shape (main reason why I abandoned Nikon) - precise autofocus (manual focus on a hard dial), even on white sheet of paper.

X-Pro2Cons: - No 4k yet (there was no 4k on Fujifilm when I purchased this camera in 2016) - no flip screen (so I can't see what I record without getting up every 20 seconds...) - no 3.5mm jack, as I record sound... I use a 2.5mm adapter at all times, and the camera has a hard time recognizing the microphone. I missed the sound many times, when the camera decided to use the internal microphone instead...


What about the sound? I use a simple Rode compact microphone. Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone by the full name. One trick - I lay the microphone on the table, so it catches the sound and vibration a little stronger than an aerial one, located at the same distance - under 24" away. A simple way to get strong sound, while overpowering the background noise.


Video Editing - I use Final Cut Pro, on a MacBook Pro 2016 Touchbar. I do little editing, except for some desaturation, bump up the highlights and lower the shadows. The goal is to get the white paper as white as possible, in a nicely contrasted video. I've stopped adding sound in the past few months, so I rely solely on the scratch sounds produced by the microphone. My videos are a simple collection of a few clips, in a 30-60 second long video for Instagram, or longer for youtube.


Photo Editing - Lightroom is really the way to go. I've been using it ever since Apple abandoned Aperture. I almost always maximize highlights and whites, just enough so the images do now look "burned". I lower the saturation halfway and increase the contrast. I almost always get the white balance wrong, so I adjust the color temperature to compensate. Sometimes I add a little, but just a little dark vignette. I am dealing with a white background, so any imperfection count. I do need to brush the image a little, to eliminate dark spots or dust from the lens. I usually don't need more than 3-5 images per sketch, so editing them is the easier part when compared to video editing. I never apply preset filters. All adjustments are on case by case. 

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

I've been sketching with LAMY fountain pens for a few years now. I've tried several types before receiving the aion. I was impressed! It's a precisely engineered instrument, with the right feel in the body, but a completely new experience in nib, sound, and expression! Super smooth nib on both sides. I like the simplicity of the two ends - the designer decided to do nothing, but leave this as simple as possible - no trim, no rim, no edge - just a simple, smooth end. LAMY calls the finish "brilliant silk-matte anodic coating" which I like. It should hold itself well. Timeless.

Finish - brushed aluminum, simple and straightforward, no gimmicky ordination or colors.  Weight - we all have different uses for it, but somehow feels better balanced than the Scala. Definitely heavier than the plastic Safari, so this is a plus. Line weight - the M seems a little heavier than I am used to seeing. It works well in covering larger areas when it comes to solid black fill. Sometimes it helps with shading. I do like to use the fountain pens 180 degrees, for a much lighter line weight. This is smooth on both sides! The Nib - this is where I see a difference from all other nibs. It is smooth on both sides and makes a distinctive sound. I need to continue listening to this, try it on different surfaces with different microphones, but I do like this better than any other sounds. Additionally, this is rounder than usual. This might influence the quality and feel of my work, but I can only tell better after I do over a dozen sketches. I will likely use it for writing, but writing is probably just under 1/4 of my uses. 

One thing I noticed - the finish, "brilliant silk-matt anodic coating" does get stained a little when dipped into the ink bottle. I expect this to blend in, once the pen gets a little greasy. Thanks Lamy, thanks Franziska and Jessica from Meiré und Meiré!

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

I just got nominated for Shorty Awards in Art Category!!! Vote for me here - http://shortyawards.com/10th/danhogman.

From Shorty's --- "There are not many architects who can claim over 50K views on YouTube, 60K likes on Facebook, 100K followers on Instagram, and 300K Twitter fans, but @DanHogman has accomplished just that. The architect, artist, photographer, and occasional filmmaker built his social media following by posting his sketches of buildings and streetscapes all over the world. The San Franciscan often uses his lunch break to sit with his pen and pad to illuminate a building or street corner that others may have passed without ever noticing its beauty. His impressive (and quick) sketches not only capture the essence of a place and a moment in time, but also provide a glimpse into his “feeling and state of mind.” It’s that immediacy that makes him such a hit across social media."

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