It’s The Little Things That Make Nature and Wildlife Filmmaking So Special

Gilbert Chesterton said “One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”

Today as I was reviewing some footage I shot this past fall that quote really resonated with me not so much literally but from a mindset point of view.

For so many years my mindset was that I had to go after the big players in the world of nature. Grizzly bears, wolves, Yellowstone National Park that I often ignored what was in my own back yard. I’m not really sure what started the change in this mindset but I’m glad that the change happened.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love filming in amazing places and capturing big wildlife. Those are opportunities that I will always be stoked about. However I’ve found that I can be equally stoked by filming the little things nature has to offer. Things that we may not really even notice at first in our zeal to film the perceived stars of nature and wildlife.

rain_drops_featuredWhen you step down off the peak and really start to notice the little things, a whole new world opens up to you that it truly limitless. You see, if you only focus on the big things you can easily be disappointed when you fail in your search of them.  But the little things, the little things are found everywhere you look if you would only change your mindset that they are worthy of your time and your camera.

The beauty of discovering the little things is that once you do, you tend to find more and more of them.

One of the things I love when I’m reviewing footage I’ve shot is discovering things I didn’t see at the time.

The first instance of this was when I was filming some butterfly weed and never saw the monarch butterfly caterpillar that was crawling in the frame until after I reviewed my footage.

I was so focused on the star of the show, the tallgrass prairie wildflowers that I never even noticed the caterpillar until I reviewed the footage.

Once I realized that I had been missing things like this, I try to spend more time really looking all over the farm for anything I may have missed. This little tip has allowed me to find more insect life and other interesting things that I would have missed if I had just kept focusing on the main subject. Sometimes the main subject takes a backseat to this new discovery. The result? Amazing footage.

dew_630So to get back to reviewing my footage I was watching a clip I shot of raindrops on a curly vine. Loved the shot. The raindrops glistened in the sun and it was a very pleasing clip. Then I noticed some movement in one of the raindrops in the left side of the frame. At first I thought it was maybe the wind was moving something on the surface of the raindrop. But the more I watched, the more I realized that the cottonwood trees were dropping their seeds on these ships cotton like structures floating all around me. What I was seeing in the raindrop was a reflection of these cotton like wisps being reflected on the surface of the raindrop. To me it looked like a small upside down snow globe. I was truly blown away.

So, take the time to really come down off the peak and spend some time observing in the valleys. Not only will I think you’ll be amazed by what you discover, you’ll always come home with some amazing video.

What are some of the small things you’ve discovered in your nature and wildlife filmmaking journey? I’d love to hear about them. If you could leave them in a comment below and let’s talk about them! I’d really appreciate it!


And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!

Kevin J Railsback is a wildlife and nature filmmaker

By | 2016-11-06T09:39:01+00:00 January 18th, 2015|Categories: Filmmaking Naturally News|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.


  1. Ana January 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Paying attention to the little things is what helps develop (no pun intended) my eye as a photographer. Because I’m constantly aware I have seen birds and butterflies I would likely have overlooked in the past. And even though I didn’t capture them with my camera just the experience of being in the moment was enough.

    • Kevin Railsback January 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm - Reply


      Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it!!

      It’s amazing to me when I walk in a tallgrass prairie with someone and they miss 90% of the things that I see. When I start pointing them out they can’t believe that so much life goes on right under their eyes and they never even knew.

      I think they more time we spend out in the field, the more our eyes pick up what others never see.

      They certainly come away with a greater appreciation that’s for sure!

  2. Wendy Tomlinson
    April 26, 2015 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Beautiful pictures. I have the same experience when I walk around our local area. People don’t see how beautiful things are.
    Wendy Tomlinson invites you to read…Use self talk to help you save time ~ Time management tip 11My Profile

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