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My nature project


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 08:14 AM

I'm working on an ongoing project here in Australia that will likely take over two years to complete. The film is a kind of visual essay - a montage of wildlife and natural landscapes shot on 16mm film, and set to music. This project is entirely self funded and the plan is to release a dvd in the future. Armed with a Krasnogorsk 3, Meteor 17-69mm zoom, Pentax Takumar 200mm and Tamron 400mm lenses, I have recently exposed my first 100 feet of Fuji Eterna 250D for the project. I have yet to see the results.

The first 50 feet of film was exposed on a school of dolphins which I filmed from several vantage points on rocky terrain. Due to the bright light of early afternoon, I used an ND filter on the Takumar 200mm lens which brought the 'effective' asa speed down to 50asa. Dolphins are very challenging subject matter to film - particularly in regards to focussing. The light conditions made matters difficult too - the light would constantly change from full sun to light cloud to heavy cloud and back again. Often, there was no time to take a light reading as lighting conditions would change every 10 - 25 seconds. Initially, I took light readings for each of the three light conditions and then estimated my exposures from that point on. To add to the challenges, I noted that whenever the dolphins swam past me in one direction or the other, the horizon would no longer be horizontal in my viewfinder as I followed them with the camera. So each time the dolphins swam to the left and to the right of center, I had to readjust the left or right tripod leg so that everything looked reasonably level in the viewfinder frame. Occasionally, the dolphins would stop playing in one area and move to another area. At this point, I would pick up the camera and Slik tripod together and briskly rush over to the new location and recommence filming. On one of these occasions, I had to make my way down a rocky slope and set up on a rock which had only just enough space for myself and my tripod. I will never forget one particular moment on that day - I had just focused on a dolphin swimming along and when I was just about to close down the aperture, the dolphin jumped out of the water and across the viewfinder frame - my gosh, that would have made great footage.

Several days later, a flock of galahs had congregated in a tree. I framed two of the birds and the surrounding branches made a nice composition in the viewfinder with the pink and white feathers of the galahs illuminated by late afternoon lighting. I used the 400mm lens. However, with this particular lens, vibration is a huge problem - all it takes is a little light touch to the camera or the lens and the image in the viewfinder goes all shakey. I made sure that I did not touch the camera or the tripod while filming the galahs. I used a cable release and when eyeing the viewfinder, made sure that my face wasn?t physically touching the rubber eye cup. Yet while I was filming the galahs, I could see shakiness in the viewfinder and I couldn't understand why at the time. I realised afterwards that when I put my eye to the viewfinder, my hat touches the top of the camera and this causes vibration. I was wearing a hat as it was quite sunny despite being close to sunset but I just did not realise at the time that the hat was touching the camera while filming. A little later, I had four galahs in my viewfinder though I was struggling to find focus. I removed my hat so that I wouldn?t have problems with vibration again but the sun went behind a thick cloud and never came out again. There was not enough light to film so I had to make do with the earlier vibration-affected footage of the galahs. As I haven?t been able to view the footage as yet, I don?t know how bad the vibration is but I have heard about an anti-shake plug in available for virtual dub. With this software tool, I hope that I can make the footage useable.

A little later down the track, I plan to pick up a Bolex H16, preferably with Switar lenses, for some time lapse work.
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 09:27 AM

I would stick with the Kodak 50ASA 16mm stock for 16mm work with wildlife. I think you'll find the 250D too noisy.

If you're shooting dolphins I would roll at 48 fps.

When using a long lens with the K3 I would carry two canvas bags into the field with me. I would fill the bags with sand or rocks and drape them over the camera to reduce vibration. I works very well.

The eyepiece needs to be covered at all times on the k3 when rolling, especially with time lapse.

Some vibration that you see in your K3 viewfinder is caused by the imperfections of the K3 mirror, it makes the image look like it's shifting when the top and bottom parts change position.

You can shoot time lapse with the K3 just fine using a timeflow intervolometer. Because there is no capping shutter your max intervol can't be over 2 seconds. Fine for clouds and sunsets.

R,
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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 10:45 AM

"I would stick with the Kodak 50ASA 16mm stock for 16mm work with wildlife. I think you'll find the 250D too noisy."

I honestly would love to shoot all the footage on Kodak 50D or Fuji 64D for the fine grain and saturated colours but it wouldn't be practical for all the shooting. For example, there would be times when I would be filming close to sunset with slow lenses. A few years ago I was shooting a water bird in late afternoon light with the 400mm lens using Ektachrome 7240 (which is rated at 80asa in daylight with an 85 filter) and I found that I was shooting with the aperture wide open.

I admit that I was worried about grain with 250D but I have seen some 16mm Fuji Eterna 250T telecined with a Spirit and it looked quite clean and fine grained.

"If you're shooting dolphins I would roll at 48 fps."

Yes, this would produce great slow motion footage. I was considering this but also concerned about burning through film. I would like to try some fast frame rates next time.

"When using a long lens with the K3 I would carry two canvas bags into the field with me. I would fill the bags with sand or rocks and drape them over the camera to reduce vibration. I works very well."

Good advice!

"The eyepiece needs to be covered at all times on the k3 when rolling, especially with time lapse."

That is correct.

"Some vibration that you see in your K3 viewfinder is caused by the imperfections of the K3 mirror, it makes the image look like it's shifting when the top and bottom parts change position."

This is generally not the case in my experience with my K3. Usually during filming, the viewfinder image looks reasonably steady. The only time when there is a lot of vibration in the viewfinder is when using the 400mm lens and touching the camera and lens at the same time. Actually, there was a Tri-X film which I shot on birds in my backyard using the 200mm and 400mm lenses. I had forgotten the 'trick' involved in attaching the cable release and was pressing the shutter release button with my finger while counter-balancing the camera with my other hand. All the footage exposed with the 200mm lens looked quite steady but most of the footage exposed with the 400mm lens had quite a bit of bounce.

"You can shoot time lapse with the K3 just fine using a timeflow intervolometer."

Unfortunately, the single frame capability on my K3 doesn't seem to work. With the cable release attached to the rear socket, the pin only goes in a very short distance before it stops - as if it's hitting something solid.
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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 03:36 AM

Unfortunately, the single frame capability on my K3 doesn't seem to work. With the cable release attached to the rear socket, the pin only goes in a very short distance before it stops - as if it's hitting something solid.

You might want to try a different cable release. I had a K3 timelapse shoot where I had to go through about a dozen different cable releases before one of them worked.

By the way, what tripod are you using with your K3/telephoto lens setup? I ended up using my little Bogen 3021 legs and 701RC2 head, and at 200mm, the image was very wobbly.
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#5 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 03:46 AM

"You might want to try a different cable release. I had a K3 timelapse shoot where I had to go through about a dozen different cable releases before one of them worked."

True, it could be the cable release. Then again, this same cable release works perfectly fine when screwed into the shutter release button. When screwed into the socket on the back of the camera, it feels odd how the pin only goes in a very short distance - almost like something is obstructing it.

"By the way, what tripod are you using with your K3/telephoto lens setup? I ended up using my little Bogen 3021 legs and 701RC2 head, and at 200mm, the image was very wobbly."

I'm using a Slik tripod which is fairly sturdy, not super heavy duty, but fairly sturdy. It's fine for use with my 200mm lens. With the 400mm lens mounted, I can get some reasonably steady footage as long as I don't touch the camera too much.
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