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Video From Square One

After getting back from Yellowstone in June, my summer has been filled with projects from the business of photography. I had been wanting for some time to replace my existing, beautiful website with one that was more functional from my perspective. So, early summer was filled with populating and keywording the new website with existing photos and processing and keywording three-month’s worth of photos from our road trip to Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

In the meantime, I began to get the bug to take up videography again. Why, you might well ask. Partly because it seemed to be the next big thing on the internet, partly because I was looking for a new photographic challenge, but mostly because it’s a very expressive media and it can do things you just can’t do with stills. Or, at least I can’t. It didn’t come totally out of the blue. My Ohio friend, macro photographer and videographer Jerry Jelinek, www.jerryjelinekphotography.blogspot.com, has inspired me over the years with his excellent nature videos. But, I didn’t really have the time or energy to emulate him until recently. However, the idea has lurked in my subconscious.

Then last summer in Alaska while on a daytrip to Katmai National Park photographing brown bears with my DSLR I thought, duh, I should be using my phone to make a video of these bears and I was hooked. I’ve made some more phone videos over the last year and they were great fun to capture and watch. Posted them on Facebook and on my website—usual stuff. No Oscar’s or Emmy’s yet. I also played around with a software product called Lumen 5, www.lumen5.com, that uses AI to turn multiple stills into short video clips.

And then, last month, I took the plunge and bought an actual video camera/camcorder. The first one I bought was a mistake of course. As soon as I got it from Amazon, I realized it was a toy and not what I wanted. Thank goodness for Amazon’s liberal return policies. But, they did ok on this, as the next one was four times the price of the first one. Used the second one to video our granddaughter’s soccer game. Boy was I in trouble. Loved the large, fully articulating, 3-inch LED monitor, but it wasn’t nearly large enough to follow the action. Solution, buy a 7-inch external monitor. Turns out that this is a common solution to a common problem. Probably wouldn’t be a problem if I could afford a $5,000-$10,000 video camera with a great optical viewfinder like the big boy’s use, but I’m not quite that crazy yet. Anyway, it’s not about the gear, right? And now I had two more sets of batteries and chargers to keep track of, Canon batteries since Nikon doesn’t make video cameras. The joys of more gear. Anyway, need to learn videography first—the old learning curve raises its ugly head again. It’s very humbling to start over in an entirely new field. How to learn it, where to learn it. Books, videos, courses, workshops—there’s an overwhelming amount of information on the internet on any topic—including videography. Mostly, I’ve been spending a lot of time on YouTube. Lots of voices and videos available, but nothing well organized. Have discovered a few channels that have decent output and reasonable production values. But I need something a little more organized like Kelby Training or Lynda.com. In the meantime, I have discovered a rising YouTube star, Brandon Li. He does travel videos mostly, but some brief how-to videos. He’s mostly solo except for some actors including his wife. Pretty spectacular stuff, so maybe there’s some hope for making decent videos without a film crew. So…here I am in the Klamath Basin on the border of Oregon and Washington with hundreds of new birds arriving in the refuges every day trying to figure out how to make a decent wildlife video. Worrying about story lines, frame rates, consistent angles of view and keeping more batteries charged. Wish me luck. Kirby kirby@flanaganfotos.com www.flanaganfotos.com