In a quest to document daily life in the notoriously secretive North Korea, Steve Gong managed to capture video footage inside the country without anyone noticing. How’d he do it? Well, North Koreans don’t know the Canon 5D records video.
Filming in North Korea is a bit of an iffy task, and you never know when a minder may decide to confiscate your memory cards or camera. That was a risk I didn’t want to take, so I decided not to reveal to them the fact that my 5D was capable of shooting video. I taped up the back screen with black electrical tape.
Because I shot with Nikon lenses by way of a simple adaptor, I also lost any form of autofocus. Moreover, to be truly covert, it was a good idea to manually focus without looking through the viewfinder anyway.
For a few weeks before my trip, I’d practice every day, shooting with the camera around my neck, manually focussing and composing blindfolded.
Gong had to join a tour group just to get into North Korea, whose citizens are kept at arm’s length from outsiders. It’s pretty neat to catch even a glimpse of what an average day is like there. [Steve Gong via John Herrman]