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Two days with a wildlife cameraman (a long post)

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by grebeman, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    I have just spent two long, busy and tiring days with a freelance cameraman shooting general scenes and wildlife shots for a slot in the BBC programme “Inside-Out” which is due for broadcast sometime in August or September in the South West region.

    The filming took place on the nature reserve at Slapton Ley where I volunteer my services, mostly as a monitor of the wildlife present. If it flies I tend to show an interest in it.

    The first task on day one was to film some long location shots from a hill overlooking the site. Graham seemed to find it necessary to climb a hedge bank to frame his shot, I made do with this effort from ground level nearby. This shows Slapton Lower Ley, the body of open water and in the far distance Start Point and its lighthouse, which some of you might recall featured in some of my posts several months ago.

    Panasonic GF1 with 20mm, f/1.7 Panasonic

    Next it was down to Slapton Bridge for Reed Warblers et al

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    Then along the Higher Ley, here Graham is filming a singing male Reed Bunting. He was using a modified 35 mm Tokina 150-500mm f/5.6 zoom lens. Had I been using the Panasonic 100-300 mm lens, the bird would have occupied a relatively small area in the middle of the frame. When the bird had dropped down I looked through the view finder to get some idea of the image size. Suddenly the bird returned to its former perch and I was amazed to find that it just about filled the whole field of view, so quite a crop factor with the imaging chip in the camera. On the ground is Graham's modified 35 mm 600 mm Canon lens, f stop unknown, but as you can see it has a large object lens.

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    Then it was out on the shingle ridge for some of the wild flowers and a chance to rest his weary legs. I'm not sure what lens he's using here, but it was a dedicated digital movie camera model. His other modified 35 mm lens was a Tamron 90 mm, f/2.5 macro.

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    This was the object of his attention, a Yellow Horned Poppy

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    Here some home made very short tripod legs are pressed into service for some close up work on a very small plant

    Panasonic G1 with 20mm, f/1.7 Panasonic

    In this case his attention was on Strapwort, a tiny plant that grows nowhere else in the UK, although on the continent of Europe I understand it is a common weed. It has given Slapton its status as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), although it doesn't really do it for me.

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    How's that for a ball head.

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    This is the top end of the tripod (a Romford-Baker) and before you ask it's heavy, very heavy, as was his rucksack and camera, I don't know how he managed to carry it all.

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    The camera without a lens fitted showing the lens mount, apparently a cine B4 mount.

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    Finally how do you film fish underwater, well you use Graham's pole camera, a rather more standard video camera with a waterproof lens mounted on the end of the pole.

    Panasonic G1 with 20mm, f/1.7 Panasonic

    Panasonic G1 with 45mm, f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit

    This was supposed to illustrate the problem of algal blooms at Slapton, you can see that the water is very turbid, take it from me that there were many hundreds of small fish there, but the water was so murky that when they were close enough to be see they were too close to the lens to be in focus.

    As well as the various plants Graham filmed 3 species of butterfly, 3 species of Dragonfly and many species of birds, the highlights probably being Marsh Harrier and Great Crested Grebe carrying a youngster.

    As I indicated a couple of long tiring days and all I had to do was walk around with Graham, although I did carry his rucksack at times, and it was all I could do to pick it up.

    Hope you enjoyed this view of the life of a wildlife movie maker.

    • Like Like x 6
  2. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    Thank you Barrie, this was very interesting. I always wondered how they got underwater shots. Your photos of the lighthouse in the other thread were beautiful, I'm glad you posted a wide shot of the area. Very lovely.

    • Like Like x 1
  3. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Thanks Barrie,

    That was a great post! Informative, interesting and very nicely photographed.

    I know how much work went into this, and I certainly appreciate it.

    Thanks again for the wonderful documentation of the exercise.

    Cheers, Alan
    • Like Like x 1
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