Thursday, April 3, 2014

March At Great Meadows

March just didn't want to release us from her grasp this year. It snowed. It was windy. It was cold. The ice persisted forever; then in an instant it was gone.

This blog post is like March. Persist and you'll be rewarded when you get to the end.

I've been playing around with video this month both using my Nikon D7100 but also a borrowed Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless camera. It was simultaneously fun and frustrating to be playing around with video.

Video adds several additional levels of complexity.  Sins that I could easily correct in Photoshop (like a crooked horizon or slight under / over exposure are almost fatal mistakes.) Hand holding a photograph for 1/30 of a second is manageable, hand holding for 30 seconds, that's a different matter.

Video also adds the complexity of audio. I tried using the in-camera microphone and an external directional microphone that sits in the hot shoe. That opens up the world to even more mistakes the photographer can make (like forgetting to turn on the external microphone.)

Once you have audio, the challenge is getting good audio. At Great Meadows that is a challenge since every couple of minutes you have the noise of a jet arriving / departing in the background. Sean Carey says it is difficult to video nature for more that 30 seconds in Massachusetts without getting some man made noise in the background. (Sometimes, the photographer makes the man made noise himself. Ugh.)

Once you get home there are new tools to edit & assemble a clip. There's the associated time wandering menus and googling to figure things out. (I know it crops & zooms. How do I do that again?)

Oh and finally, did I mention that we are trying to film nature.  It hardly sits still or poses for you.  Forget about retakes, one shot and you are generally done.  At Great Meadows you will find the occasional Red-winged Blackbird or Great Blue Heron that will be more cooperative, but it is still early in the season for them.  In several months they will become habituated / tolerant of all the people, but many still are skittish.

So overall, I have retreated into a state of "conscious incompetence".  Why do I frustrate myself like this?  Well, photos can capture the beauty of the moment, but sometimes to really appreciate the moment you need to capture the movement and sounds that only video can provide.  Since the camera puts them both together, I guess I should to.  Besides isn't it fun to learn a new skill?  Well, it probably is once you've developed it, but along the way it can also be frustrating.

Thanks for reading so far.  Here is your reward for your persistence.   I compiled the best of clips from March into a short video, to allow you to relive or vicariously enjoy this March at Great Meadows.

(Double click on the video to watch it in full screen mode)
If you haven't been to Great Meadows this week all the snow melt and rain has caused the Concord river to overflow its banks and flood the refuge.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140404 &emdash;

If you go to visit here's the view that will great you as you leave the parking lot and try to walk the Cross Dike trail. I know it doesn't look that deep, but only a few feet past the kiosk and the water was getting dangerously close to the top of my wellies.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140404 &emdash;