Scouting Indian Creek Nature Center For Locations
Today is the first full day of being able to focus on the theme for the DVC/UWOL Charity Film Challenge.
I spent some time last night looking up legends and folklore on trees. Found a great Native American story about why the trees lose their leaves. problem is, I can’t use it since it would require footage of trees with their leaves in order to tell the story. The rules of the challenge are that you can’t use any previously shot footage. So I can only use what I shoot in the next two weeks. Kind of ups the ante a bit doesn’t it.
Had another good suggestion from a follower about trees being a community for all kinds of life. But again, it’s December in Iowa which means, no insects, no nesting birds, no leaves, nothing. So that idea will have to be shelved as well.
I headed out to Indian Creek Nature Center this afternoon to do some scouting. I didn’t have my camera with me and that always makes me a bit leery to do scouting without it. With my luck I would have encountered two whitetail bucks fighting a battle royale on top of a fallen moss covered tree or something and no camera to record it. So even if I have no plans on shooting anything, I typically carry all my gear on scouting trips because you just never know.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just looking for interesting compositions that might be used once I get a story in place.
I did find this one interesting tree. It looks like it almost has a bow tied around it. Not sure if I can wrap a story around this but I think it should be used in the film somewhere.
Seeing What Others Don’t
Looking at these scouting photos reminds me to talk about something I’ve had discussion with other filmmakers as well as photographers about and that is seeing a composition. None of us are sure if it’s anything that can be taught or not. In fact, we really can’t even explain it very well. We’ve come to call it “The Calling.” Catchy eh? Anyway, this is what I’m talking about and I’ll give you a couple images to illustrate what I’m trying to say.
Not wanting to waste any daylight I was out Sunday shooting anything and everything that caught my eye. I had no idea what my story was going to be about but I knew it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get some video shot even if I ended up not using it in the end.
I knew out at Indian Creek Nature Center there is an area that was once an ancient bog. It’s some of the last spots at the center that get sun and warm up. So I knew I could most likely find something to film down in the old bog.
Now this is where the calling comes in. You’ll see why it’s hard to explain and I have no idea if it can even be taught. I mean if I can’t explain it, how can you understand it?
I had just passed the area in the photo above. Looks pretty dull and boring. I probably walked another twenty yards down the trail when for some unexplained reason, I felt that I needed to turn around and go back. So, I retraced my steps and this time I paused to take a better look.
This area was still cold and the sun was just reaching it so dew still covered a lot of the stems and branches. Walking back towards this spot, the dewdrops were backlit by the sun and sparkled like diamonds.
As I stood there looking around, I started to notice interesting shapes in the branches, diagonal lines, curved vine weaving among the thorny bushes as well as some of the last leaves of the season desperately clinging on.
So in this tangled mess, I focused on the composition until I came up with what you see below.
I can’t explain to you what made me turn around and go back, but I felt a very strong sense that I needed to go back. Did my subconscious see the composition and somehow send me a signal to turn around? I don’t know. All I know is that I knew I had to go back because there was something there.
I had a great discussion with a photographer friend of mine, Liz Ness about one of her images that I was particularly drawn to. She said the same thing pretty much happened to her. No one else saw the composition and she just felt compelled to see out that particular shot.
When this challenge is over, I’d love to have an in-depth discussion about how people “see” a composition where others see nothing.
Something else to think about it that trees naturally lend themselves to vertical compositions. Well, with video, horizontal is my only option. So anything that’s not a far landscape shot will only show just a portion of the tree. And since the trees are bare right now, I foresee just a lot of bark shots. My friends in the Southern Hemisphere certainly have a few more options available to them since everything is in bloom for them right now.
So there you have it. Scouted some possible shooting spots, found one interesting tree that I think needs to be in the finished film somewhere and trying to put my finger on why I see compositions when a lot of people just see a jumbled mess of thorn bushes and vines.