I spent yesterday shooting on the Olympic Peninsula. The lady I had arranged to interview lives in Quilcene, a tiny little town nestled in the mountains. I love any opportunity to get out of the city and explore the beauty the Northwest region has to offer. The Olympic Peninsula is not only striking for its beauty, but for its ecological importance as well.
The Olympic National Park holds the largest temperate rainforest and old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest, along with at least 23 endemic plant and animal species found nowhere but the Olympic Peninsula.
It was a real treat to shoot scenic shots on such a beautiful clear day. Connie and I drove six miles up an old forest road to a public scenic viewpoint. Feasting your eyes on the Puget Sound, snow-capped Cascade Mountains, and the Seattle skyline 60 miles away was incredible – the pictures don’t do it justice.
The last picture was taken on the ferry on the way back from Bainbridge Island - Mt. Rainier is such an imposing mountain it deserves to be shot every time it decides to grace us with a visit.
View of Mt. Rainier from the viewpoint
Olympic Cascades mountain range
So biggest video lesson learned (there are always many…sigh..): Shooting an interview amongst mountains, trees, and bright sunshine alternating with dark shade is very challenging. If you have an extra person, make sure they bring a bounce card to brighten up the face in the shade, or an overhead sheer flag to take the edge off the sun (depending on where you choose to shoot). Since I had no extra person, I did the best I could – I got even sunlight on the face (trees can create a shady giraffe spotty effect) and cranked up the f-stop. It doesn’t matter if the background looks dark – as long as the face looks good. Maybe next time however, I’ll recruit my 10-year old again – it’s a valid absent excuse right?
So, for the past two years I’ve been limping along with EOS Utilities to transfer my video/stills from my 7D to my computer. It comes with the camera and is really the only program you can use that doesn’t compress your video footage. All was fine, albeit I couldn’t use my camera when I was transferring which was a pain, but luckily it didn’t create any big conflicts. Last week however, the EOS Utilities program decided it didn’t want to play nice with my MacBook Pro anymore, and started crashing. I spent three days reading MacForums, Googling “EOS crashing”, cutting and pasting crash messages, and finally uninstalling and re-installing the program. I was heartened to read that I was not alone in my crashing woes and wasted hours searching high and low for any canon-related software on my shared library root drive (who knew these even existed until you find ‘em? – kind of like basement crawl spaces – god know what you find if you go hunting around down there, just don’t.). So it wasn’t until I was reading yet another MacForum posting explaining how to download the firmware update for the 7D that may be causing the problem, that the user posted at the end “By the way, it’s 2011, get a card reader already!” My face flushed just reading this and I literally held my head between my two hands. So simple, fast, and effective. I raced to Glazer’s and purchased the Lexar Professional USB 3.0. for $50. It uploaded 8GB of uncompressed video files in under four minutes. No more hassles or tying up the camera – I’ll swallow my idiocy of not doing this sooner and be happy with the uploaded here and now.
I woke up this morning to pelting rain, had lunch to pelting rain, by dinner time it was…well you get the picture. There are two seasons in the Northwest; rain and those other few weeks. Thank God I took advantage of the sun last week and rented a 70-200mm lens from Glazers Camera for my Canon 7D. It was in part for a video I’m shooting, and in part to try out the lens. Loved the lens, but it’s pretty expensive. Heard from my former co-worker (and good friend Gabe) that Sigma has the same lens, it fits on Canon cameras and it’s cheaper. It also has an f2.8, whereas Canon’s lens is an f4, so it might be a sweet deal. My son Josh was with me for the day (eye infection so no school but he could carry a tripod Goddamit!) I think the video I shot looks better than the stills but here’s a few fun shots - I was especially proud of the seagull shot -those suckers can move!. I ran a few of them through Photostyler (download here), which exemplifies the trend of taking your expensive DSLR camera photos, and making them look like your old blown-out overexposed Polaroids from the 70′s. Nostalgia needs no justification.
I love Mt. Rainier
My cheap grip - hey, it's a recession.
Flight of the...seagull...
I’m lucky to live in an area where I can hop in my car, drive a little over an hour away from the city, and suddenly find myself deep in the wilderness. I’m producing a fundraising video for the Washington Wilderness Coalition (WWC) and did some shooting yesterday at Barclay Lake, which is located about an hour and a half northeast of Seattle, off Hwy #2 towards Steven’s Pass. The lake sits at the entrance of Wild Sky Wilderness, the state’s newest wilderness area and a priority of the WWC.
Now I fashion myself something of an adventurer and love nature to it’s fullest extent, but I’ve rarely ventured out into the wilderness alone. And this felt really…. alone. The first part of the hike takes you through an old clear-cut area and being surrounded by hundreds of dead trees and stumps was eerie. I live 50 feet away from I-5 freeway in the city and never thought about the constant noise pollution my ears filter. Here I found myself straining to hear sounds of movement, animals, any sound at all, really. I felt the irony of how constant noise has become a companion for me and stillness is now maddening. After I passed through the clear-cut the trail emerged into a regenerated forest that was like walking back into the Jurassic era. It was mystical and humbling. The trees reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; ancient trees that served as shepherds of the forest. I forgot about being uncomfortable and began shooting. Seeing the world through a lens never feels quite real and has become something of a cathartic experience for me. I was so excited to see the footage of the trail and the lake I quickly cut together some of my favorite shots into a short video (below).
The Barclay Lake hike is well-maintained and pretty easy (I did it alone with a camera, backpack and tripod). You can read more and get directions HERE.
My favorite scene in the not-favorite-but-alright movie “Yes Man” (worth a Netflix watch) is when Jim Carrey shows up at Zooey Deschanel’s exercise/photography class after a rebbull-induced all-nighter (watch the clip HERE). Jim Carrey annoys me after 2 minutes, but Deschanel’s kooky class delighted me. A running/photography club? Very fun indeed. I was thinking along these lines when I took my bike out last week for a spin along Seattle’s Burke Gilman Trail. The trail winds around the city and allows for some pretty great photo ops. Instead of taking pictures though, I took video. No tripod, set ups, scouting…just me and my camera on a bike. Yes, the moving shots were me actually taking video while riding a bike…I got a few angry bike bell dings and took a risk of crashing bike and camera…but when the shots looked kinda cool it was all worth it. Taking some of the clips into Cinema Tools and slowing down the speed was effective for smoothing out some bumps as well. Just make sure you shoot at 60fps. Maybe after this I’ll start a new meetup: biking/video club. Just add in a couple of pints for the road and watch cinematic history unfold.