Avoiding Mistakes in the Field With Your Camera

Even though I’m releasing this video on National Dunce Day, it seems that no matter what day it is, there are certain things I overlook time and time again when I’m out filming nature and wildlife.

The dictionary defines a dunce as someone who is incapable of learning. I don’t think I’d consider myself a dunce, maybe more forgetful than anything else.

Filming wildlife is mostly 90% waiting and 10% a blur of frenzied activity. Oftentimes you only get a few fleeting moments with a wildlife subject before it’s gone. So when an opportunity presents itself to film wildlife, I often go on auto-pilot and make camera adjustments without even thinking about it.
The problem is that once I’m done and I’m packing up my gear, I often forget to reverse those adjustments in preparation for my next filmmaking session in the field. It doesn’t matter if my next filmmaking trip into the field is the next day or the next month, I often forget about the camera adjustments I made during my previous outing. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of video footage ruined because I overlooked a few settings.

So I came up with a solution that for me at least works.

It’s certainly not a foolproof solution. I mean if a mountain lion jumps up into a tree in front of me as I’m just getting out in the field. the last thing I’ll be thinking about is camera settings. But in most situations it seems to work pretty good and has saved a day out in the field more than once.

There’s nothing that kicks you in the gut harder than to be riding the high that comes with filming a difficult subject only to review the video footage and discover that a camera setting made the footage worthless. I’ve been there more often than I care to admit.

So check out this video and see if this could be a possible solution for you as well when it comes to making sure you’re getting the best possible footage you can get.


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please share with your friends!
And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!

Kevin J Railsback is a wildlife and nature filmmaker

By | 2016-11-06T09:39:03+00:00 November 8th, 2012|Categories: Tutorials|Tags: |3 Comments

About the Author:

Award-winning filmmaker Kevin J Railsback has traveled as far as Africa to test HD cameras for Panasonic. His stunning nature and wildlife footage has appeared in productions on National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel as well as in commercials for such corporate giants as AT&T.

3 Comments

  1. Larry Prince December 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Kevin,
    Makes sense to me…..after all Pilots go through check lists
    before they take off with their aircraft…..smart or not it helps
    eliminate errors.

    • Kevin J Railsback December 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      You don’t know how many times it’s saved me from getting bad footage because I had the gain cranked up or the frame rate was set wrong.
      The checklist saved some shots Friday morning when I was out because in my rush to get out the door I must have hit a switch on the camera as I was putting it in my backpack and when I got on site, I pulled the checklist off, went through it and noticed that the gain was cranked up to 24db!

      It only takes a few seconds to go through and make everything is set where it should be and I don’t end up kicking myself because I blew a great shot because of an improper setting.
      Kevin J Railsback invites you to read…Slow Burn: The Impact of Wildfires on Nature and Wildlife in America’s HeartlandMy Profile

  2. Meri September 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this great article
    on our site. Keep up the good writing.

Leave A Comment

CommentLuv badge
Filmmaking Naturally uses premium CommentLuv which allows you to put your keywords with your name if you have had 5 approved comments. Use your real name and then @ your keywords (maximum of 3)