I read a recent article by nature and wildlife photographer Mark Graf of Graf Nature Photography about meeting a man that said “Nature wasn’t meant to be photographed.” His meaning was that nature is so grand and made up not only of sights, but smells, feelings and sounds that there’s no way a simple photograph could do it justice.
I agree that as a nature and wildlife filmmaker, there’s no way I can capture nature and do it justice. I look at what I do as a catalyst to give people a small glimpse of what nature is all about and hopefully they will be encouraged to seek it out themselves and experience nature in all its glory.
What I really want to talk about today though is about two filmmakers that visited my site and were dissatisfied with the way their footage looked compared to mine.
His footage didn’t look anything like mine. In fact, his editors were telling him that the footage was soft.
He wasn’t very happy with the footage that camera was giving him. He didn’t know if it was his camera or his settings. All he knew was that his footage didn’t look anything like mine and he wasn’t happy.
I offered some suggestions based on where I have my camera settings. He made the adjustments and said that it was like a different camera. He was very happy with the footage and his editors stopped complaining that the footage was soft.
Robin in Germany recently picked up a Sony PD170, a successor to one of the first serious video cameras I ever owned the Sony PD150.
He had seen my footage and was hoping to get a similar look with his camera.
While the PD170 is a three chip CCD camera, it only shoots in standard definition. The codec back in the PD170’s day wasn’t all that great either.
While you can control a fair amount of aspects of the camera, you can’t come close to doing what I can do with my PX270. It’s just a limitation of the technology.
You can certainly improve the image in post with your editing software but there’s only so much you can do with a standard definition clip and a so-so codec.
Lee’s fix was easy. He had a camera capable of delivering the goods, he just needed to tweak the camera a bit to get the image he had been after.
But here’s some things for Robin to consider. There are plenty of DVD’s sold today that are still standard def. Granted the source video is much higher quality and it is down converted to standard def but it’s still standard def.
Another thing is content is still king. If Robin happens to capture Bigfoot with his camera, do you think people won’t want to show it? He’d be able to name his own price and people would be willing to pay it.
But here’s probably the biggest thing at least I think it is. Robin can document his love of the great outdoors and create fond memories of those experiences. Even the highest megapixel camera on the market today can’t come close to duplicating nature but Robin has something else, a secret weapon that he can use with his footage and that is his mind.
As we grow older, we tend to forget the nuances of things we encounter, even something as breathtaking as incredible as the Lower Falls in Yellowstone. Looking back at a trip to Yellowstone or Glacier National Park filmed with my PD150 brings everything back in focus and I am able to relive those great experiences in nature. To me, that is a greater gift than any video camera can produce.
Here’s one of my first films shot on my trusty Sony PD150. It pales in comparison to my Panasonic AJ-PX270 but back in the day, it was really something!
So what is it that you feel hinders you from being the nature and wildlife filmmaker you want to be? Leave a comment below and lets talk about it!
And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!