I set myself quite a few photographic challenges in 2017. The 63-2017 Challenge occupied the final two months but prior to that I’d embarked on audio-visual, video and drone photography and was I felt making some good progress in all areas.
6.30am on a cold October morning saw me in the car heading out to shoot the video diary for that month. I’d planned to shoot a sunrise and combine the shoot with a video of me talking through what I was doing and why, sharing my thoughts about the composition, the technical considerations and even perhaps some personal thoughts on what the hobby means to me.
What actually happened was that I arrived at the location well before the sun was due to rise to find myself in wall to wall greyness. I’d planned to photograph the rising sun glancing of the rocks and grasses along the edges and had even pre-planned some compositions earlier in the week (see above) were the sun should have been rising in the top left quadrant of the frame, illuminating everything else in front of the camera.
Watch on to see what actually happened!
Whilst I downloaded the files immediately upon my return home, old habits etcetera, I did not actually view the images or start compiling the video itself until well into December, by which time I was quite ill and the whole process took a lot longer than it might have done. Plus I’d forgotten most of what I’d recorded by way of narration and could not quickly visualise what video footage I had captured. Even after I completed the post-production it was several weeks before I uploaded it to YouTube where it currently resides as an unlisted video!
An unscripted video filmed and shot at Buckstones on Marsden Moor a couple of days ago. It’s all new material but if I’m honest none of what I captured that day is likely to feature in a “best of” compilation, unless it’s the best of the worst!
I chose to record the voiceover totally spontaneously because I wanted to see if the narration sounded more natural as a result. I think it does. It also has a consistency from being recorded in one “take” although I must remember to stop turning my head away from the lav mic to retain a consistent volume. I’ve tried to adjust as necessary but getting it totally right at the time would have given a better result.
With the light not playing ball it was a bit of a let-down photographically. However, it was an excellent learning exercise as I wanted to ensure that everything (apart from titles and music) was produced from the one visit. So stills, video, drone footage and time-lapse sequences were all shot that morning. The voiceover was recorded stood next to the tripod, so some of the ambient background noise was picked up underneath the narration so to speak. Even the shots of the Pluto Trigger and Turnspro were created on location.
I also got to ramble about two pieces of kit that I have acquired in the last eighteen months and had cause to regret not taking a hat. The newest purchase, just last week, is a Turnspro for rotating the camera during a time-lapse (or even a video shot) and the other is the Pluto Trigger which I’ve had a long while now.
Shot over three days and using a mixture of video from the Fuji X-T20 and Mavic Pro, stills and time-lapse sequences together with a slideshow finale prepared in Pictures to Exe this video records three days of very trying weather and light!
I have been a stills photographer for many years but as my reader will know I have only started to make the transition into videography in the last few months. For this video I have decided to move away from a scripted voiceover (my wife said I sounded too “posh) and try to record a more spontaneous narration whilst out taking pictures. Audio recording is a big challenge for me however and this video mixes two sources of voice-over/narration. The first is the iPhone and the second a handheld audio recorder (Zoom H2n) with a Rode microphone. To me there is no doubts as to the first choice audio capture moving forward.
The usual YouTube link below but at the foot of the post is the link for an alternative version on Vimeo which I actually prefer.
Music: “On hearing the first cuckoo of Spring” by Frederick Delius
Fuji X-T20 and Fuji X-T1
iPhone 7 & Zoom Hn2 audio recorder
GoPro Hero Session 4 and Hero 3+ (Silver)
Alternate version on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/228978590
The final video from my July shoots. I made a bit of a muddle of the aspect ratios for this but it’s all part of the learning process. It’s the first video where I’ve recorded the narration/voiceover in the car using my iPhone and with no script or any other prompts whatsoever. It has a more spontaneous feel I think – and lots of “ums”.
I’ve decided not to do a video diary for July, there’s been a flurry of activity during the month, much of it in video form already, so I am happy to let the content stand for itself. In the meantime here is the result of a recent visit to Ogden Water near Halifax.
Water levels were very low at Scammonden this morning – I went hoping to shoot some minimalist long exposures with the Fuji and found the rocks I’d intended using as foreground interest stranded 150 yards from the water!
Last time I was here I got wet feet getting close enough to them in order to compose with the 12mm lens. Today was a dismal day light-wise but undeterred I felt I should try to make something of the opportunity. I hoped that there would still be some interesting images to be found from the air.
Unlike the last few trips out I only used the Mavic today. I carried the Fujis but they stayed in the bag so I have no video footage from the Fuji nor stills to supplement the short (3 minute) video I put together this evening. So, the whole episode has been created using a drone and a computer.
I bought the drone partly to try my hand at aerial abstracts and was really pleased that I finally got a chance today to put into practice what I’ve been thinking about for some months now. I will post a selection shortly but in the meantime here’s a flavour of the morning.
All drone footage and stills created using a DJI Mavic Pro by myself. Music: “Ascending the Vale” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Harden Beck is a stream that flows from Hewenden Reservoir to the River Aire in Bingley, West Yorkshire. The beck flows through Goit Stock Wood, which is known for being a good example of broadleaf woodland and cascades over Goit stock waterfall which is 20 ft high. The waterfall was known as Hallas Lumb until the early 1820s when its name was changed to Goit Stock.
I’ve been to the waterfall half a dozen times in the last few years always approaching from the north via a lengthy walk up Harden Beck. Invariably by the time I’ve got there the sun has been well up which creates problems with blown out skies above the falls. Sometimes I’ve spent so long photographing along the beck that I’ve not had much time at the falls themselves before staring the walk back to the car. So I was very pleased to discover recently that there is somewhere to park south of the falls that is just a fifteen minute walk through the woods to get to the falls. There is still the chance to photograph along the beck, albeit a much shorter stretch but most importantly you pass the smaller falls above the main Goit Stock falls and these are well worth photographing.
Bright blue skies, no cloud and bright sunshine – not perfect landscape photography weather in my book but a perfect day for a recce nevertheless. Ringstone Edge Reservoir near where I live in West Yorkshire is easily accessible yet runs alongside the busy Saddleworth Road. It is a location I’ve passed many, many times but have only briefly stopped at once in all that time. Monday I went out to look properly.
There is potential for both still and aerial photography at the reservoir although on the morning I went it was far too windy for the Mavic to be aloft for too long in the hands of a beginner so I contented myself with some aerial landscapes with the drone reasonably close to me, albeit ninety feet above me at times. I found the Mavic really effective for taking landscapes from around twenty feet up which gives a different perspective compared to a tripod-mounted shot.
All in all a useful recce and I shall be returning when the conditions are right to repeat some of these compositions in better light and in particular the next time we get snow as I think it will produce some magical images with a good dusting of the white stuff.
A fourth video diary – who’d of thought it? So, what did I get up to in June?
Well, photographically the first half of June was a wash out, sometimes literally. A two-week half term which added to my usual grand children duties severely limited free time and the time that was available was blighted by grey skies, wall to wall grey cloud and heavy rain. I did get a few opportunities which I grasped but the photographic highlight of the month was always likely to be a few days in Cornwall at the end of the month.
One big win at the beginning of the month though was the May Video Diary which was great fun to put together and hopefully maintained the ongoing development in this area. The sheer volume of helpful material on the net is amazing, there’s some dross too but for me the biggest challenge is finding what I need when quite often I’m ignorant of the correct terminology or even that I need something – both of which would make searching more fruitful. I am a very experienced photographer but very much a newbie videographer and video editor.
I’m not sure that this update marks a step forward in production values, at best it is marking time I feel, but it’s probably still worth sharing (and braving any negative comments) as it is only by trying things and then reflecting on them that we learn and improve. What is immediately apparent is that I shot nowhere near enough video footage for the diary. I have ended up using more of the iPhone footage from the garden centre and the YSP for example than was warranted. The more interesting footage, shot with the Fuji X-T20 in Newquay was far too little for the diary and I did not shoot video at most of the places we went to over our weekend in Cornwall. A missed opportunity and I put this out therefore as a cautionary tale for others.
You may have realised that I spend a lot of time in my backyard. I often eat my breakfast sat on the upper patio (that sounds grand!) and when weather permits I like nothing better than sitting with a mug of tea and contemplating life. As well as domestic duties (note the washing line) it is also one of my main photographic locations as I’ve noted many times in my blog over the years.
So what I thought I’d do this week is something that Postcard Cafe actually suggested a month or so back and that is a slideshow of just a few of my favourite backyard images both old and new. I mentioned in a previous video post that I once owned two slide projectors and struggled vainly to produce the sort of slideshow that nowadays many photographers take for granted – I’m hoping that my 2017 attempt is better than my 1977 efforts!
So enjoy this selection, I always enjoy making photographs in the old back yard and I hope you enjoy seeing them.