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Why everyone should learn how to code.

I will warn you, this is a very long article about my history in coding, and why I have come to realize it is something everyone should learn how to do. So this is not an article to read if you only have 5 minutes. Sit down when you have a fair chunk of time and are feeling like exploring a new area. I don’t care if you are 8 or 80 years old, this is something that you can still benefit from. And now, on to the story.

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New Photographers Tool: The Where-To-Start Chart

Whats going on guys! It’s been a long time since I did anything with AFM, or anything on here either! But I am not dead. I just moved to Chattanooga to work for a video production company there. 😉 Man oh man is that a crazy story. One I will save for another time. For now, let’s get started on the reason for this blog post. I’ll start with a pretty common situation many photographers face, and a question I get asked a lot.

So I’m new to Photography, how do I do this?

As a photographer, you know what you want your final shot to look like, but then you get out your fancy DSLR (yes no iPhones here) and you see all those dials and buttons and knobs and settings and it all kinda goes away right? Well even for the pro’s, you can’t instantly know everything you need to do for every situation. What if there was an easy way to know exactly what you needed to do for almost every situation? Well guess what! There is!


So what is it? Well it’s just like any other kind of flow chart. It will go through the most common scenarios and tell you how to setup your shot to get what you want.

Well what if I come across something I don’t understand?

Well that’s pretty easy. Just click on that section and it will pop up a video that will walk you through everything you need to know! Super helpful right? I wouldn’t use it on location, but it’s great for learning ahead of time! For any further explanation, I’ll differ to my friend Mark Wallace. Take it away Mark!

Dendi Film Broadcast @ 6PM ET on Friday the 30th Of May! Tell your friends!


You heard it here first folks. Your opportunity to watch that Dendi film you have heard so much about is here!  On Friday, May 30’th, the Dendi film will be broadcast on 3ABN at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Sadly I will be in Europe at that time on vacation with my family, so I won’t be able to watch the live broadcast. (but hey, I made it, I don’t really think I will be missing out on much seeing it one more time. 😉 )
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Dendi Film Finished! (DVD’s Ordered and copy sent to 3ABN)

So I have some awesome news guys! The Dendi film is FINALLY finished! While I don’t have anything yet to show you for a teaser besides our initial trailer, I know how many of you have wanted to know what’s going on. Today we shipped out the master copies to both 3ABN for broadcast and our friends at DiscMakers who will be creating the copies and printing the artwork on the covers! Still no update on the date you will be able to view the final film or to order your own copy on DVD, but as we can we will make sure you are the second to know! (Me being the first to know, of course. 😉 )

In the mean time, here is proof that it’s on its way. I snapped this picture literally just a few hours ago before I went to lunch.

With that, the first film is finished. But that isn’t all. Today marks the starting of the Otammari film project’s post-production phase, which means my next several weeks will be nothing but living & breathing the Otammari Film, and editing it into a piece of work for the glory of Gods Kingdom. Updates will be sparse, so please bare with me. More details to come! If you have any questions or comments send me an email! I hope to hear from you soon!

-Alexander Swensen

Don’t tune out yet! (Dendi Film Update… also expect non-AFM related content)

Hey all, I know I haven’t been posting anything (at all) recently on this blog. That has to do with the fact that I have been working SO hard on finishing this first film up. As a result I can say with confidence that we are SO very close. In fact, we were about ship out the final copy today when we found a few glitches that, while not bad enough to ruin your viewing experience, might drive a few (spelling-obsessed) individuals a little mad, so we decided we would spend an extra few minutes to fix those and proceed with another 8-hour render. Tomorrow we will be doing our best to ship out the final copy to our duplication provider AND to ship it out to 3ABN. (confirmation pending) We will have more details for you soon, but for now here is a sneak previews from my instagram! Check out my facebook and twitter for more! Also there is more after the image so stay tuned as you scroll down!

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Sorry everyone if you got a massive number of emails similar to this one. I am currently in the process of updating the website and had a glitch that caused a massive amount of emails to be sent out. This wont happen again. Sorry about that.

The website will look much better later today. Hope to see you soon. Until then the site is down for maintenance.

A Sunset in Benin

Hey everyone. It has been a LOOONG time since I have posted anything on here. Sorry to keep you guys in the dark right now, balancing work and real life has caused some things to be left undone, this website has been one of them until recently. Now I am starting to collect material for you again so don’t you worry! First an update on the film. We are working to have the Dendi film finished by the end of the month and sent off to both 3ABN and our DVD manufacturer’s at that same time.

While editing I have found a few clips that I have found to bring back memories. One of them, incidentally, is one that I never thought I would use. A long video of the sunset taken in Kandi, home of the Dendi project. It was originally shot on Quentins iPhone. I had meant to do a proper timelapse, but I never got the opportunity. Now that I have that footage I chose to edit it and upload it.

Sunset in Benin, Africa from Alexander Swensen on Vimeo.

As I look back on my experience in Africa, I enjoy every moment of it. Sometimes I wonder if i fantasize it a little bit in my mind, but that’s not a bad thing is it? I know at the time I didn’t enjoy everything that happened. Eating fish was not a pleasurable experience for me at all. (I don’t know how Jesus did it.) Overall, however, it was a great time. It was a nice change of pace from what I am used to in the western world. Anyway, I will leave you to watch the video. Stay tuned.

– Alexander Swensen

Happy Holidays!

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!

No I am not Santa Clause. If I was I would be begging for someone to present me with a healthy dosage of the Adventist health message. As it is I am jolly enough with my current weight. 🙂

I just wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas. The Holidays are a time where families can get together and enjoy the christmas season. By now you are probably having a wonderful meal with loved ones gathered all around your table. Singing, laughing, talking, and sometimes crying with joy during the happy seasons. I know those are the memories I have in my home.

Hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Updates on the film project will resume after the new year! 🙂

P.S. If you don’t have any other reason to enjoy the season, be sure to check up what Google is doing this year. You will get a kick out of it.

– Alexander Swensen

Back in America. Editing.

Hello one and all! It’s been a while!

Turns out recovering from Benin was a little more cumbersome than I had expected. Sure I got plenty of rest, but then I ended up coming down with strep as well so that put me out for a while. I am back now, so thats good!

So, what have I been up to during the time I have been working? Let me show you a small sneak peak.

Screen Capture CarI uploaded this image on my Facebook several days ago. Essentially it shows a before and after view of the edited footage. On the left is basically straight from the camera (plus some censoring to remove the license plate) and on the right is after the color correction and edit of the picture.

As a result of this, some of my friends in the film world have asked what my workflow is for color correction and editing of video. In response I will be posting an article on my workflow later on when I have time to document it with screen shots and maybe some video samples.

In the mean time, here is a direct update to the project. I am hard at work editing again, the missionaries at the Otammari project have been updating me with english translations of our French and Datammari interviews. We have chosen to start working on the Dendi Project film due to the fact that its easier to edit. As such we are aiming for that film to be released (hopefully) sometime in March. We don’t know yet when we will be airing the films, but we are going to send the files to be mass produced in DVD and (maybe) BlueRay  in March. After that we will continue to work on the Otammari project film.

I should let you all know that there are many other ways you can keep up with these projects between my blog posts. I have this habit of updating my projects on both Facebook and Twitter. So if you are technically inclined to follow me on those social media platforms, please, feel free to do so. You will get many more updates on what is going on as-it-happens.

Anyway, thats all for now. I have got a lot of work to do and not much time to do it in. Until next time!

– Alexander Swensen

Good bye Benin! Its been fun!

Assuming all goes well by the time you read this post I will be on my way back to the land of fast food and western culture. I can’t say how great this experience has been in both Natitingou and Kandi. No experience is complete, however, without a little tourism, so today I went out to pick up some gifts for my family.

Here is a fun little story to entertain you while I spend the next few days recovering from my trip.

In America we have a thing called road rules. In Benin these are more like suggestions. The speed limit is a recommended minimum and a stop light that turns red just means you need to go through fast to keep from getting hit. Driving on the right side of the road is a good idea but not mandatory and the horn is used almost constantly to let people know you are coming through. There is no such thing as a lane and much more a sense of ‘if there is space you find a way to fit in it’. There is no license required to drive a motorcycle and as a result you see all kinds of wild things on the road.

The motorcycle taxis are called zemijon’s and its the main way people travel around Cotonou. I must say that it is difficult to ride one without the peace of mind knowing you are saved by the blood of Christ. I find myself fearing death almost every time I ride one. I hold on for dear life as my driver rides about 3 inches away from people on either side of us, and is going so fast I think he might break the sound barrier… Or my neck should he happen to hit a bump at the wrong time. Occasionally I find a driver who speaks English, but most of the time I have to rely heavily on a friend translating for me the destination and then hang on for dear life trying not to scream at the top of my lungs the whole way. Its a lot like riding a rollercoaster but with the very real sense that I could be meeting my Lord a little sooner than I had intended. All in all I feel very fortunate knowing I am coming home to a country where, even in Chicago, people are sane on the road… Most of the time.

I pray for safe travels and look forward to seeing you all soon.

More updates to come as well as stories as I work on this project.

From somewhere between Africa and the U.S.A.

– Alexander Swensen