wildlife videography

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    • #47524


      <div>A week ago we were treated to our first viewing of resident mama fox and
      her very young litter of FIVE pups! Perhaps my encroaching on their idyllic
      playground with the still camera was enough to encourage mama to move the gang
      out of the ditch and culvert . . . </div>

      This morning, the pups are back, rolling and tumbling, chasing each other
      in/out of the culvert while mama looks on and referees the proceedings. I put a
      fresh tape and charged battery in the camcorder and began to follow the little
      rascals and the occasional intervention of mama in the early morning light. Not
      quite an hour later I moved the camera and tripod to the second floor to get a
      higher angle . . . just in time to shoot mama standing patiently in the middle
      of the driveway with all five of the pups nursing simultaneously!

      At one point earlier, mama was shooting glances over her shoulder, looking
      apprehensively up the driveway loop, toward the woods. She made a move in that
      direction which I first interpreted to be a hunting or aggressive posture; but I
      soon discovered that there was another fox up there, and the body language was “
      submissive “. Could this be papa fox? He approached the pups, unchallenged, and
      checked them out before he moved off into the blueberry field to stand

      Today the pups are looking a bit more like little foxes instead of fuzzy
      little wombats. They are even beginning to show fox coloring instead of the dark
      gray of a week ago.

      I spect I’ll be munching off a whole lot of videotape as we follow the pups
      maturation thru the summer. I just wish I had a bit more telephoto in my zoom
      lens . . . .

      <div>Rick Crampton</div>

    • #195909

      Funny you should bring this up, but just yesterday we discovered that swallows had nested in a bush in front of the house:

    • #204068

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    • #205936

       Natural History Videography, is what  I do, full-time, as a retirement interest on a non profit-making basis. That has meant, over the last seven years ploughing thosands of dollars into equipment out of what is euphemistically called a 'fixed-income', which I suppose, is why nothing happens quickly in my little world.


       The aim is for professional standards of production, but shooting wildlife, in the field is a funny proposition, since it requires a plan-of-action, for each day's activity, but you must also be prepared to 'roll-with-the-punches' regarding what just 'comes along'. That means, that no two days are alike.


       I live in Otago, New Zealand, home-city Dunedin. Otago, Our province's coastline extends north-east/south-west for around 250kMs in a straight line, much further than that, if you take in every detail of the coastline. In the last seven years, I have walked over very substantial parts of it, working my way through a series of assignments. Initially, my work was entirely in Standard Definition, but since late 2011, I have filmed in High Definition, a change-over which necessitated a new computer and more ambitious software. It also means re-shooting, to higher standards, a lot of things which I would have considered to be 'in-the-bag', just a few years ago.


       The Otago Coastline is almost unexcelled in my experience for its landscape and scenic values. Although I love to visit parts of Australia, they have, over there 'World Heritage' areas, which wouldn't hold a candle to locations I am able to drive to in less than half-an-hour from home, since we live on Otago Peninsula, a well-known wildlife sightseeing area.


       The problem, I have, is that of keeping my feet on the ground content-wise. I am a huge fan for the BBC Wildlife programmes, ('Africa' is currently running on NZ TV). I have to constantly remind myself, that one 76-year-old with an upper prosumer-level camcorder, cannot obtain shots of hundreds of thousands of flamingos at a time, fights to the death between wild animals and helicopter-shots of the vast Savannahs of Africa. New Zealand would exist only as a submarine continent, half the size of Australia (called 'Zealandia'), if, at the point of collision between the Pacific and Australian tectonic-plates, the Pacific Plate had refused to be subsumed under its neighbour. Instead, it crumpled on its edge, and was thrust skywards, resulting in peaks up to 12,000ft high. There is evidence, everywhere, of geological activity; just yesterday, for example, I climbed to the summit of a volcanic vent of past ages, which is located only half an hour of easy driving time, from our home.


       Natural attractions include many species of rare bird-life, including the very rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin, which nests around our coastline. Fur seals are plentiful, these days, although they were almost wiped-out in the early 1800's by 'sealers'. Hooker Sealions, almost hunted to extinction at the same time, are only now beginning to re-establish themselves on our coastlines, after having retreated to the Sub-Antarctic islands, to the south in the early 1800's. For a bit of 'local colour', cannibalism by the indigenous Maori, was still taking place until at least 1830, just about 25 kms, from where I am writing this.


       My 'series' is a plea for the slowdown of 'development'. In 76 years, I have seen the coastline changed greatly, but not even a threatened 'Russian Invasion' of 1883 and upheavals of two World Wars, economic downturns etc, have had the impact on our coastline, that tourism is having right now. Another problem is New Zealand's clear atmosphere, which produces the strongest and harshest daylight on the planet, not excepting Africa and Australia. The light, is a constant challenge due to the limited tonal range able to be captured satisfactorily by most equipment. I have overcome most problems so-far, by using 'Cineform' and on occasions 'Da Vinci Resolve 9'

      and colour-grading everything. If I walk to our front-gate, for example I may see far down the coast. On the horizon, I may make out the somewhat indefinite outline most days, of 'Nugget Point', a spectacular headland. It is low on the horizon, and may only be seen from an elevated viewpoint, but, it is almost 100kMs away. That is what I mean by 'a clear-atmosphere'.


       Tourism is leading, gradually, to large swathes of coastline being locked away as would-be tourist operations enter into exclusive arrangements with land-owners. These operations seldom benefit the people who live in these places, but rather, the opportunists, from 'outside' who have access to capital. Add to that, a zealous Department of Conservation, which I am sure would be ecstatic if no visitor saw anything at all, except by paying through the nose for the privilege, and access becomes even more difficult.


       Under those circumstances, if my video efforts are not to invite invidious comparison with the Wildlife productions of (say) BBC Bristol, they have to be as 'professional' as possible, That includes the non-copyright music which I compose, score and 'perform' using 'Kontakt' and a host of other software. So, each production becomes a complex jig-saw of portions very carefully dovetailed together, and I am not averse to 'flow-charting' if that will assist me.


       There is no point in trying to compete with the commercial cinema, or TV for public acclaim. Let them persist with their ever more pointless programmes, with their preposterous plots and bigger and ever more improbable 'explosions'. The most effective counter, to all of that, is to concentrate on the 'little things'. Yesterday's climb, was partly to try and film Monarch Butterflies, with colours so brilliant that I have never seen them that way before. The previous day, I walked many kilometres, to obtain, mainly shots of local cormorants, up to 'head-and-shoulders' with needle-sharp eyes, of course. One current curse of my existence, is a tripod head of a well-known manufacture, well made and finished, but very poorly designed. It's due for some workshop attention during the winter. A firm tripod is absolutely essential to everything I do. I've had them blown over in gales, and one irritating model I owned, had extruded aluminium-channel legs, which set up a 'howl' in strong winds. The wind always blows, where I 'work' and most days produce not a second of ex-camcorder audio, I am able to use. Frequently, I have to go-back close to nightfall (when the wind has dropped), and obtain my audio, then.



       So, be aware of the hazards, frustrations and rewards of wildlife filming; then thank your lucky stars, that you are not office-bound, in some job you have come to detest; but have the freedom to make the most, of what you have. It's not for nothing that my little home-based production facility has the name 'back-to-the-drawing-board', because that is where I constantly seem to be headed.


      Ian Smith

      Dunedin, New Zealand.

    • #72053939

      Do you have forest around you or parks where there are plenty of wild creatures?. I was also really interested in taking wildlife photos and videos but I am surrounded with people and buildings.

    • #216169

      I like the fact that you aren’t trying to emulate or compare yourself to the BBC as so many people do. There is a big difference between a no budget production and a million dollar budget production. Keep doing your own thing and enjoy the process. As you say far better to be outside creating your work than stuck in a cubicle!
      Keep it up.

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