The “Real” Cost of Shooting Video With the DSLR

There was an interesting thread on  ASMP’s video listservlast week. It started when a still photographer asked if a particular

My DSLR Gear

DSLR camera would help him get into the game  – of video.

Jan Allklier, a Seattle based photographer, shooting both stills and motion summed it up:

“If you simply want to ‘explore the medium’ a hybrid DSLR may well be the right ROI, although it really will only give you a flavor for moving images, not the workflow of professional moving image production, which encompasses a wide range all the way from feature film, to corporate work, to webisodes for small business; and many tools and skills well beyond the image capture device at hand.”

Kevin Kamin, Minneapolis based shooter, reminds us that it’s not just about the camera (or tool), but about the story:

“I understand why some photographers are looking to expand into video, it’s definitely doable, but I believe there is a tremendous underestimation of what  is required to do so. I feel like video is being perceived as simply moving photographs-95% of the videos I’ve seen on commercial photographer’s website are not at a professional level (most feel like overly long, clunky, rough cuts that lack sophistication and a clarity of message). They say that ‘people who are good with a hammer tend to think everything is a nail’ So along that idea, many 
of the videos feel like videos made by photographers, who haven’t fully grasped the spirit of the medium. People can enjoy a still photograph for a minute or 
two, if it is compelling and engaging, but if you have three seconds of video footage that doesn’t move the story or lingers 15 frames too long, you just lost your viewer no matter how pretty it looks. Photography functions differently 
within time based media. 
 Storytelling is the core of video. “

And Chuck Fadely, of the Miami Herald, connects the dots for us, first by passing along a link to Shane Hurlbut Visuals blog that lists the “standard” movie making rental gear for DSLR video. More importantly, Chuck  reminds us that shooting motion is a skill set.  It’s a different way of seeing and shooting.

“The hardest thing about video for a still photographer is learning to shoot in a totally different way. You’ve got to learn to shoot in sequences, with transitions. It takes years to overcome the habits you’ve built up as a still photog — like reframing, adjusting exposure, following action — which are death in video. 

I was a news and feature photog with several decades of experience, with extensive lighting skills, good technical ability, and a knack for learning new stuff. I switched over to video full time and it was shocking how little transferred over. Video is a different beast.”

This was one of the easiest blog posts that I’ve ever written and maybe the most beneficial for readers.  It brings up another important point and that is how much we can learn from each other.  When I started shooting motion back in the mid ‘90’s – there really weren’t any listservs or social media forums where my peers were so forthcoming with information.

When people ask me why I’m so giving and sharing with my knowledge, I always tell them that I get back so much more than I give. What a great time to be alive.

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Validation No Longer Necessary

There seems to be a prevailing attitude of doom and gloom. We have an economy that can’t seem to turn itself around and we’re bombarded by change that technology continues to thrust upon us.  We’re scared to death of the unknown and nobody seems to know what to do next and how to make any money doing it.

Yet, I’ve never been more hopeful in my life. Why?  Because I no longer need someone else to validate my ideas – and that is a powerful notion.  Those of us in the communication business seem to be particularly fearful. Some believe that the “news” business is dying because print publications – newspapers and magazines are folding every week.  But the “news” business is not dying – it’s just being delivered  in another way – electronically and globally.  There are no longer just a few gatekeepers with a lock on the playing field.

Human beings are social animals and we will always have the need to communicate with each other.  These days we can communicate with one another globally.  An idea or creation can be shared around the world in a matter of minutes.  Think of the power in that and think of how we can use that power and the opportunities it presents.  I could digress into a discussion on the ethics of this thought but I’d like to focus more on the reach and influence that each one of us has in creating awareness.

Many of us get enamored with the latest devices that enable us to deliver and receive information with speed and ease. As technology’s exponential growth continues to change our lives in every way imaginable, we will constantly be incorporating and upgrading new gadgets and devices as part of our lives.  We need to be mindful that these “toys” are merely enablers and that each one of us can use these tools to create and distribute our words, images, designs and ideas across the planet.

I think that we as creative’s or journalists underestimate ourselves sometimes.  Perhaps because we chose professions that aren’t lucrative – at least in terms of money.  However, what one is paid doesn’t necessarily correlate with one’s worth. We live in a time now where we can use our creative skills to really make a difference and to tell the stories that we feel need to be told. Mass communication has been democratized. We no longer need the traditional gatekeepers to validate our ideas.

I never would have dreamed that I would be able to circumvent the globe, create a documentary with only one other person in my crew  – my daughter and then distribute it internationally. I never imagined that I would have the power to create awareness on a global level like I did when I uploaded my trailer to Vimeo.  In a little more than a week’s time people in over 72 countries had played that video. Now in less than a month’s time, that trailer has been played in almost half the countries on the planet.  Staggering thought.

This was not a commissioned project by a network or a motion picture studio. If I had waited for that – it never would have happened. I assigned myself.  I was able to fund it by using my airline points, hotel rewards and doing trades with manufacturers for equipment.  I also successfully raised money via Kickstarter a crowd funding site  that made it possible for me to hire a professional editor. My daughter and I have been building an audience for our film since we started blogging about our journey. Our readers got more and more engaged as they followed us on our 99-day adventure around the world. They spread the word through Facebook and Twitter and via their own blogs and pretty soon word of our project spread virally. That was precisely our goal.  To use our tools and skills to create a film about the change makers of our world so that others would be inspired and motivated as to what they can do.

I often think about how things in my life and in history would have been different if we had the Internet when I was growing up.  For starters it would have had a huge effect on the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s and the Vietnam War.  But everything happens in its own time and when it is meant to happen.  Change can be scary or it can be embraced and sometimes both at the same time.

Never stop dreaming. Never stop learning. Always listen to that inner voice.  Then use the means and the tools of the day to do the dance you are meant to do.

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New Stuff

I haven’t done a lot of tech talking lately, but a couple of new items have me thinking that way. Here’s some interesting news about products, firmware upgrades and video delivery.

To start with, for all of you who own a Samson H4N Zoom digital recorder, and have been frustrated that you aren’t able to independently change recording levels on inputs 1 and 2 – you now can. Here is a link to the firmware download and instructions.

For all you “big chip” aficionados, Sony just announced the PMW-F3

Sony PMW F3

camera with a 35mm CMOS imager. However, with a price tag around $16,000 for the body and an extra $7000 for a set of three Sony prime lenses, it seems more like a competitor in the RED market, rather than in the DSLR niche.

Read more about it on engadget had a great blog post by August Bradley, a couple of weeks ago that I almost missed, Thoughts On Motion Portfolios.

August writes:

“We recently went through the process of re-designing our website with one of the primary new objectives being adding motion content. So I did extensive research on the websites of directors, cinematographers, and leading production companies to see how they presented videos. I was surprised at how little effort most are making in this area.

I suspect the thinking of the directors and cinematographers is that nobody hires them for a serious commercial gig by discovering their website. It’s very much a matter of relationships and playing the inside game.

But I also think the world is changing fast with the barriers to entry lowering in the motion world, and with talented people increasingly able to compete on creativity rather than on access to expensive cameras and lights. The importance of a strong web presence is rising and becoming fundamental for directors and cinematographers.

So I set out to find the best-in-class practices and leading suppliers of related tools. I found some methods of integrating and presenting video to be more engaging than others.”

Read more

PhotoCinenews has also announced that the DVD set of their 2010 PhotoCine Expo is hot off the presses. It’s an 8 disc set of presentations from 14 filmmakers. I am honored to be one of them and as one who attended many of the other presentations, I can tell you it’s worth every penny. Check it out.

Here’s a big piece of news released yesterday. ” Steve Jobs to launch iPad Newspaper with Rupert Murdock” by Chris Matyszczyk.

Chris writes:

“Women’s Wear Daily offers a report that this iPad-o-newsthingy, which has been in covert development for several months, will be called “The Daily.” It will, apparently, have as its pulsating spirit “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence.”

Oh, and there is a price for this melange of the tabloid heart with a broadsheet mind. A ticklingly enticing 99 cents a week.

The Daily will, apparently not enjoy such dated concepts as a print edition or even a Web edition. Instead it will be beamed straight to the iPad (or Galaxy, if you can afford one) from News Corp.’s high pod somewhere in Manhanttan.”

And here’s another milestone news item about YouTube. “YouTube: 35 hours of video uploaded every minute” by Don Reisinger

“YouTube attributes the growth to several factors. First, the company’s decision to increase time limits from 10 minutes to 15 minutes per video has helped. It also pointed to the site’s file size limit of 2GB. With the help of mobile phones, YouTube said that consumers are finding it relatively simple to quickly add videos to the site. It also doesn’t hurt that “more companies [are] integrating our APIs to support upload from outside of”

Lastly, a thank you to everyone who has contributed to my film Opening Our Eyes, on Kickstarter.  We have gone past our half way point, meaning we are more than halfway toward our goal.  And to anyone who may be thinking of making a contribution – it’s a win/win because you get a DVD of the film if you make a $25 contribution.  The money will all go toward the hire of a professional editor who will give the film the polish it needs to have a chance at wider distribution – and with that, the possibility of inspiring more change makers in the world.  Here’s the link – please pass it along to people you know who may like to be a backer.

There you have it – a mixed bag of some interesting “new stuff”.

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Photo Plus Expo 2010 Etc.

What a difference a year makes.  I’ve been going to Photo Expo since it started, whenever that was some 20 or 30 years ago. It used to be held at the Coliseum, New York’s old convention center, when it was much smaller.  Over the years Photo Expo got bigger and bigger, with huge sections of the floor devoted to lab equipment and hundreds of other booths displaying everything from cameras to computer software.

The last few years the Expo has gotten smaller.  Gone is all the lab equipment of course, but also not present are some of the big vendors like Adobe and Apple.  This year was the first year there was another photographic event happening simultaneously, called “Shoot NYC….an advanced photography forum”.  This event was hosted by Hasselblad and Broncolor, and just few blocks away from Javits. I didn’t get a chance to get down there but I heard rave reviews from those who went saying it felt like it was geared more for the “professional”.

One difference I have noticed over the years of attending Photo Expo is the shift in the attendees, more toward retail photographers and prosumers. That was reflected both on the floor and in the seminar selections. There was an entire seminar track this year devoted to weddings and portraits. Another sign of the times was seeing an entire seminar track devoted to video and multimedia, as opposed to one or two seminar choices in previous years. I could only find one seminar this year about stock photography; actually it was about microstock in particular. That’s a big change from when there were a dozen seminars relating to stock photography to choose from.

I presented a seminar with Paula Lerner called “Multimedia and Video” and was part of a panel for a seminar called “Ethics and Photography” which was streamed live globally, but I did find time to sit in on a couple of very interesting sessions.  One of my favorites was “Affordably Simple Marketing”, given by Juliette Wolf Robin.  She provided a lot of terrific tangible information.   I also enjoyed seeing and hearing Lauren Greenfield talking about her documentary work.  And even though I’m not a teacher, I found “Teaching in the 21st Century” quite interesting.  As always Blake Discher’s seminar on “Sales and Negotiating for Photographers” was fantastic and fresh. I also attended ASMP‘s annual member meeting where Tom Kennedy spoke about the new media landscape which was right on target.

The floor was smaller and as mentioned before, Adobe and Apple not present.  Canon and Nikon had a lot of action and interest with their hybrid DSLR cameras as expected and I saw a lot more third party gear for the hybrids displayed – Zacuto rigs, Redrock Micro rigs, and Glidecams, along with fluid head video tripods.  This trend is not going away and in fact isn’t a trend at all, as we move more and more toward electronic publishing with magazines scrambling to produce versions for the iPad and get their app designed.

The annual “bash” was more of a bust, leaving people hungry and thirsty due to no food being offered (except bags of potato chips) and a cash bar.  It was held at the Intrepid, which sounded like it was going to be interesting, but not a great venue for a party.  But it was nice to see my friends and colleagues and catch up with them.

It will be interesting to see what this event will look like next year – I can only guess that there will be plenty more changes.

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Editing and Workflow for DSLR’s – The First Steps

In the Field
Depending on how you are working in the field and what you are shooting, your workflow and the way you organize and manage your media will vary somewhat. If you have a crew and are shooting a scripted video, then you will probably have a computer and technician on site, downloading media as it is shot, backing it up and checking it for focus.

If you’re working solo or with just one other person, which is how I have been working for the past 3 ½ months on my project, Opening Our Eyes,

Gail at the Kopila Valley Primary School, Surkhet, Nepal

then you don’t have the manpower to work that way. I downloaded all my footage, audio and stills at the end of the day. I rarely had the time or even the battery power on my computer (electricity was scarce at times) to look at what I had shot but I did do spot checks occasionally.

Regardless of how you work in the field,

Children at the Kopila Valley Primary School

it is essential to create redundant backups of all your content. I backed everything up to two portable external hard drives, after downloading the media to my laptop via card readers. There’s a nice software application called ShotPut Pro that lets you make up to 3 copies to different drives at a time, which speeds things up quite a bit. For the most part, I had organized my media by destination and subject with each folder containing the contents of a card. Whenever I shot an interview, I put a fresh card in the camera so that the content was automatically sorted out from the b-roll. Some shooters I’ve talked to who are used to shooting tape, archive each tape or card by making a disk image (DMG) of each which can be mounted on the computer, emulating the original card.

Back in the Editing Suite

The first thing I did when I returned from my 99-day journey, was to make two backups of all my material. After my media was backed up, I started to organize it. Everything had already been separated as far as destination and subject, but I needed to separate the stills from the video and the interviews from the b-roll – if any cards contained both. I also needed to match up the interview video footage with the audio files that had been captured by a separate recording device.

After getting all my media organized and sorted by destination, subject and file type, I renamed the files and added any relevant metadata – copyright and creator info etc. This can be done in Adobe Bridge. You can also look at the video files in Bridge to preview before transcoding them. Another way to preview your video files is by using QuickTime player. Because the files coming out of these hybrid cameras are compressed H.264 files, they do not play smoothly in Final Cut Pro, so they need to be transcoded into a codec like Apple Pro Res, before editing them. This can be done in Apple Compressor which comes with the Final Cut Pro Suite or MPEG Streamclip which is a free application.

You can choose to preview your video files first using Adobe Bridge or QuickTime player or another software tool, and then make a folder of “selects” and transcode just those files before importing them into FCP, or you can transcode everything and then import everything into Final Cut Pro.

After I organized my assets (stills, video and audio), I chose to transcode ALL my video files and import everything into Final Cut Pro. That way, not only could I preview everything smoothly, but I could also start adding information to the clips and organize them into bins within FCP. And with everything transcoded, I won’t have to leave FCP if I wanted to look at content that hadn’t been previously marked “selects”.

Getting to the Fun Part

Organizing, sorting, logging and transcoding is tedious work but it’s essential in order to be able to find things quickly when you need them, when you start laying down your storyline and want to keep focused. There’s nothing worse than having to break your train of thought while you’re editing and have to leave the program to find assets or prep them. Organizing is key – it’s not fun, but a necessary step in the process.

I will continue to slog through this initial process this week, in order to get through some of my content so that I can put together a sample for the PhotoCine News Expo that I’ve been asked to speak at this month. I have way too much material to go through everything, so I’ve decided to tackle the content from two of my subjects, which will make the task more manageable. It will also provide me with the reward of working on the “fun part” of editing by crafting a short story before moving on to daunting task of assembling the entire documentary. Check out this quick sample that I put together within 24 hours after getting off the plane.

Little by little things will come together and I’ll keep you posted as I go along.

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HDSLR in the Field – Recap of The First 70 Days of 99 Day Project Around the World (Tales of an Insomniac)

I woke up at 4 AM this morning after only a few hours of sleep – my body going through some major jet lag after over 22 hours of flying from Sydney, Australia to New York City via Los Angeles. Yesterday, my full day back, was spent taking care of essentials – like getting my gear to Canon for a full check up and cleaning,

Gear for my first go round.

and a visit to the Apple Genius Bar because my new laptop seems to have a living organism living behind the monitor which shrinks and grows depending on the climate I’m in, and of course taking care of my own personal needs.

As I lay awake in the pre-dawn hours, my mind was spinning with thoughts on what I had to get done before heading to South America on Saturday for the second leg of our documentary Opening Our Eyes. I have only 4 days to recuperate, rest up and gear up for the next leg. The bad part is, I’ve only got 4 days – the good part is, I have those 4 days, and can approach the second leg of this journey with the advantage of having a fresh experience in the field to draw from and make some changes in terms of gear I’m taking on the next leg. More importantly, because my turn around is short, I’m able to stay focused and remain in the mindset of the project.

So as I go over the gear that I brought on my first leg with lessons learned in my head and prepare for the next stint, I’ll share my thoughts with you:

• A good tripod is critical – if you don’t have a decent tripod for video, you can’t get fluid movement, so don’t even try. A locked down shot is better than a jerky shot in motion. I needed to travel light with all the flights that I faced, so I went for a carbon tripod with a fluid head that would fit in a suitcase to eliminate the need for another check on bag. So, for this next leg, I’m seriously thinking of taking my larger tripod because I don’t have as many flights where excess baggage charges could mount up.

• You can never have enough batteries when shooting with a DSLR workflow and by that I mean everything from the camera batteries (and buy lots of them if you can find them for the Canon 5D and 7D) to the expendables for the  DT454 JuicedLink audio preamp, which takes 9 volts to the Samson H4N Zoom which takes AA’s.  By the way, speaking of batteries, don’t make the mistake I made once by not powering the H4N Zoom off before changing the batteries. The manual mentions that by doing so, files can get corrupted. A couple of my audio files did get corrupted – the information was there, but it couldn’t be read.

• I’m leaving my over priced Nikon to Canon lens converter, along with my old Nikon glass at home – I never used them – never felt the need for what I was shooting.

• Can’t wait to edit my timelapse material that I shot using the Canon 7D camera and the Canon timer remote controller TC-80N3.

• I want to get more attachments for my GoPro Hero Cam because there are so many ways to use this camera – it’s amazing and I’m having a ball thinking of all the possibilities in how I can use it. The Hero cam will always be part of my gear kit.

• Always check what audio cords you’ll be needing. I embarrassed to say that I carried around my wireless kit but couldn’t use it with the Zoom because I needed a mini to male XLR cord  and didn’t have it.

• Take 10-20% more memory storage than you think you will need when you’re shooting video. Video is a memory glut. I had been warned by some people that the Lacie Rugged hard drives that I were taking with me, didn’t have a very good track record – but as I write this, my content backups from my Lacie Rugged drives ( over 2000 gigabytes (doubled) ) are transferring to my desktop OWC terabyte drives and seem to be fine so the Lacies did their job. However, they are bulky and I’m going to be getting a couple of 500 gig drives that are more compact. Any suggestions for compact firewire external drives?

• Wish I bought the follow focus with my Zacuto rig. It’s expensive but would have been a real added bonus for visually highlighting one of the beauties of these cameras – the depth of field range that they have.

• Also wish I had a portable dolly like the Indislider but just couldn’t fit it in this trip. As it was, there were some items that I didn’t need to take and will be leaving behind this next leg.

• Wish I brought more mini tools – screwdrivers, allan wrenches etc.

• My Blackberry Tour Verizon phone blew me away. Even when I was in the northern hill tribe villages of Thailand, staying in a bamboo hut without electricity and plumbing – I was able to get my email on my phone! I’m impressed Verizon – I really am. Finding electricity to charge my phone was another matter.

• I could not have survived the 30 flights circling around the world i if I didn’t have my iPod. Thanks Apple.

Feel free to comment and share your thoughts of what has or hasn’t worked for you in the field and you can save me from making potential mistakes as I take on my next leg of this Journey August 7th. We are first headed to the Amazon area of Peru and then down to Buenos Aires, Argentina – again two diverse areas in terms of culture and climate.

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HDSLR Video – The Camera is Just the Beginning

Many still shooters make the same mistake when jumping over to video – they only think about the camera and the shoot. When this happens, what quickly follows is mild to severe panic when they realize that audio is even more important than the visual and post-production is video is far different than in stills. On top of that, if you shoot video like a still photographer – you’ll want to kick yourself when you get in the editing room.

The good news is there are plenty of resources when embracing these various skills and learning curves than when I started shooting video over ten years ago.

Here’s a few great sites, listservs and blogs that you should bookmark:

So have fun and remember, the more your learn, the more you realize you need to know.

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Capturing Good Audio When Shooting With DSLR’s

I see a lot of confusion and misconceptions amongst still photographers as they embrace video using the DSLR camera. For many audio is an after thought which is a big mistake because audio is much more important than the visual. Unless you’re just laying down still images or video clips to music then you have to be able to capture good sound. Some things to consider and remember.

1. You’ll never get good sound with the camera microphone – only use the camera mic for reference audio.

2. Don’t buy a camera that won’t let you use external microphones – unless you will be capturing your audio separately and syncing it later in post.

3. If “running and gunning” – you can probably get away with using a mic mounted on the camera as long as you are close to your audio source. You can either use a mic with a mini plug and connect it to the camera OR you can run the mic via an xlr cord to a mixer like a JuicedLink or a Beachtek, which is much better, rendering a cleaner audio capture.

4. For interviews, most likely you won’t want your camera to be extremely close to your subject. So you won’t want to use a mic mounted on the camera – it’s too far away. I rig a shotgun mic on a boom stand and I also use a lav on the subject and run both into my camera if I’m using a traditional video camera or into my JuicedLink mixer if I want to capture the sound on the same card as the audio.

5. When using a DSLR camera, capturing your audio separately with a digital recorder is ideal. I use a Samson H4N Zoom that not only has a built in dual stereo mic but two XLR inputs. I run my shotgun mic and lav mic into the Zoom and then sync the sound later in post with software called Plural Eyes. Make sure you keep the audio on in the camera as well to use as a reference for syncing later on.

6. When using a device like the zoom that has a built in mic – remember that even though this is a quality mic – you MUST get the mic in close to your sound – no more than a foot away. I prefer not to use this mic but rather a shotgun because a shotgun is more focused and won’t pick up a lot of the ambient noise.

7. Use headphones. Don’t just look at your meters – wear headphones and make sure that you are getting quality sound. You could be picking up interference or static.

8. Always consider your audio even for your b-roll – you need some audio – even if you only intend it as ambient background sound.

9. I only use a wireless system when I need to. In cities like New York you can get a lot of interference on the frequencies. Always go wired if you can. And if you find yourself needing a wireless system, spend the money to get a system that has a good range.

10. Be quiet and tell your crew to be quiet as well. You never know when you’ll want to use the audio – even if you think you won’t need it.

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Back to My Beginnings

I became a visual artist , not as a photographer, not as a filmmaker, but as a storyteller using images and later video to tell the tales of other cultures, lands and people through my eyes and my journeys. My camera was my tool – it was a means to an end. The end being the story that needed to be told.

I’ve spent the last 30 some years documenting the world through my lens, whether it be for magazines like the National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian or Travel & Leisure or for major corporations. I’ve been blessed and have truly lived a charmed life. But there have been times when I’ve started to go off kilter – or stray from the essence of my being. It’s easy to do, especially in a culture that is obsessed with the drive to succeed – the definition of success being to make a lot of money and have a lot of “things”. Don’t get me wrong – I also enjoy the rewards that money brings – but for me that means having the resources that help me to live a full life.

A few years back I was shooting a documentary on the Delta Blues Musicians and I spent a memorable afternoon with blues drummer Sam Carr. As we were winding up our conversation under the shade of old tree he sat back and said “I’ve lived a rich man’s life in a poor man’s shoes”. That comment has stayed with me over time and when Sam died last year, I was told that his family was grateful for the interview that I captured that day and used his comment as his epitaph. I was humbled and honored, but mostly felt richly rewarded that my personal project had touched the lives of others.

As we wind up our first stop in Africa on our round-the-world trip, some of the fears and trepidations I had that came with taking a risk, and heading out to the unknown for 3 months, have vanished. In their place is the calming realization that this was what I needed to do at this point in my life and I was grateful I had the means to do it and the stamina to travel on a shoestring budget. Africa puts things into perspective – this vast continent is so wild, colorful, rich, poor, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. Africa has taken its hold on me and has sparked my true spirit.

My daughter and I decided to take some time to get out of the city and go to Murchison Falls National Park, after shooting the first part of our documentary about people making a positive difference in the world. We saw

Elephants along the Nile

elephants, hippos,

Hippo on the Nile


Giraffe, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

antelope, cape buffalo, baboons,

Baboon, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

slept in a tent and sat by a fire in the evenings under a canopy of stars that stretched from horizon to horizon. We chatted with people from countries all over the globe – all of us different yet with a common cause – the love of the journey.

Of course I shot still photos

Cape Buffalo, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

as well as some VIDEO but more importantly I absorbed this rich experience and it energized my spirit and my soul. This is the “fire” that I need every now and then. I think we all need a spark every once in awhile and to get past the science of the photographic craft and back to the essence of the art and the story. That is what ultimately leads us to create the kind of visuals that will resonate with others. That spark is different for all of us but nevertheless an essential ingredient for the creative process. It’s not the tools, nor the techniques that define the message or create the images that strike a lasting chord with those who see them. I was fortunate that I learned that years ago and now I’m reminded of those lessons as I get back to my beginnings.

We leave Africa today and continue our journey – next stop Istanbul, Turkey and then on to Poland where our next subject awaits.

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My DSLR Kit for a Three-Month Road Trip

For those who have been following this blog you know that I’m getting ready to depart for a 3-month trip around the world creating a documentary with my daughter – Opening Our Eyes.  Here is what I’ve managed to fit into two backpacks – it just fits.  Thank goodness there’s two of us.
Please follow our journey

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Canon 16-35mm 2.8
Canon 24-70mm 2.8
Canon 70-200mm 2.8
Canon 70-300mm 4.5
Canon 1.4X tele extender
Canon 2X tele extender
Nikon/Canon lens adaptor
Nikkor 14mm rectilinear lens f2.8
Nikkor 50mm 1.4
Nikkor 85mm f2
6 Batteries for Canon
1 Battery grip for 5D
3 Battery chargers
Remote control for Canon
AC adaptor for Canon
Rycote Hot shoe extension
4 – 16 GB flash cards – all cards – Sandisk UGMA
4 – 8 GB flash cards
2 – 8 GB SDHC cards
2  – 4 GB SDHD cards
Neutral density filter kit
Epson P6000 digital wallet
Zoom H4n digital audio recorder
JuicedLink DT454  audio preamp
Rode shotgun mic
Tram lav mic
Sennheiser Transmitter/Wireless kit
“Dead Cats” (windscreens)
XLR cords
HD Hero helmet camera with attachments
Flip HD
ManfrottoTripod and fluid head
Small Matthews boom stand for mic
Zacuto Z-Finder

Zacuto Striker Rig
Flex DSLR remote
Lacie Rugged Hard drives – 4000 GB memory!
Firewire and USB cords
3 – card readers
2 MacBookPro Laptops
1 extra laptop battery
1 extra AC adaptor for laptop
Blackberry Tour
2 Scotte Vests – with 22 pockets in each

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