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Old October 5th, 2006, 10:11 AM   #1
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Advice on nature shoot

Hey guys. I have a shoot coming up in which I will be photographing various birds of prey in a nature preserve north of Charleston, SC. We will be mixing motion footage from our HD100u with a photographer's stills (Nikon D2x).

I believe the project will be displayed at a sanctuary or preserve of some sort on DVD. You'll have to forgive the spotty information - it was one of those occassions where we sat down with the guy for 5 minutes, we got the gig, and he was out the door.

Anyway, I was curious as to whether you guys would have any suggestions with settings or general techniques for shooting a situation such as this. We will be using 30P at a 1/60 shutter to streamline the DVD workflow, and I was going to look into Mr. Noe's outdoor settings and Mr. Dashwood's cinewide latitude settings. I need to take into account the strong Carolina sun (still getting used to it, coming from Philly) and the fact that we will probably be shooting against foliage. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 10:49 AM   #2
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I am sure people will chime in on various aspects of your shoot. My advice is if you are using the stock lens, try to avoid going all the way to the end of the zoom, as that could introduce some chromatic abberation. You could easily miss it in the VF but it will be there on the bigger screen.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:00 AM   #3
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Joshua,

I would suggest editing the piece in HD and then use the JVC ProHD DVD player to play a TS file out in HD to your display. You can fit about 25 minutes of footage on a DVD-5. The player is only $350 or so.

It would be a shame to shoot in HD and then only show the stuff in SD. The JVC player is perfect for this kind of project.

Dan Weber
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:51 AM   #4
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Daniel, Thank you very much for your advice. Unfortunately I forgot to mention that I'm forced to shoot SD due to my editing systems limitations. I will keep that in mind for when I upgrade, however.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 01:05 PM   #5
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I'm sorry, I also forgot to ask if anyone would recommend shooting the 30P in HDV and then downconverting to SD? Or should I just stick with 24P or 60I?
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Old October 5th, 2006, 02:05 PM   #6
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I've been shooting a lot of nature stuff with the JVC lately - more plant based but here is my 02.

1) I would really suggest shooting HDV if you can - downconverting the footage is very easy and it looks great. it would be a shame if you did not capture it at hi-rez.

2) Add a Polarizer and some more nuetral density filters if you can. You mention shooting in bright sun - if you wan't to get more of a shallow depth of field the neutral density filters built into the camera are not quite enough for me. I've had great luck putting on a matte box and adding a polarizer and a bit more ND.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 08:44 PM   #7
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I agree with Burk. A polarizer is a must and a ND 9. Try to keep the exposure around F-4. This will help your selective focus while remaining in the sweet spot of the camera. For wide shots with the sky in the background I always drop in a ND6 grad. I live and shoot in NC so I'm pretty familiar with the bright sunny days around here.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 06:45 AM   #8
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Hi Joshua,

I have done a good bit a nature shooting with the HD100 and I can tell that that if those birds of prey are in the wild, it will be impossible to avoid the tele end on the stock lens (as Jiri rightfully recommends). In fact, it is just plain not long enough for bird work. The solution would be a Nikon adaptor and a Nikor telezoom that ends in 200 or 300. (Zooms are critical for finding the subject quickly). I use a 50-300 and that has amazing reach. You could also look for a 2/3" adaptor and use a longer 2/3'' lens.

You can get a Nikon adaptor from http://www.zoerk.com/ or http://lesbosher.co.uk/. I have the Zoerk and it has flaring issues which require you to mask the flange that surrounds your sensor, but the results can be quite stunning.

If the birds are captive, maybe you can squeak by with the stock lens. Good luck.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 03:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Young
Hi Joshua,

I have done a good bit a nature shooting with the HD100 and I can tell that that if those birds of prey are in the wild, it will be impossible to avoid the tele end on the stock lens (as Jiri rightfully recommends). In fact, it is just plain not long enough for bird work. The solution would be a Nikon adaptor and a Nikor telezoom that ends in 200 or 300. (Zooms are critical for finding the subject quickly). I use a 50-300 and that has amazing reach. You could also look for a 2/3" adaptor and use a longer 2/3'' lens.

You can get a Nikon adaptor from http://www.zoerk.com/ or http://lesbosher.co.uk/. I have the Zoerk and it has flaring issues which require you to mask the flange that surrounds your sensor, but the results can be quite stunning.

If the birds are captive, maybe you can squeak by with the stock lens. Good luck.

Andrew,

About how much did it cost for everything needed to setup a Nikor 50-300 lens? I'm very interested as i like to film wildlife/nature.

Thanks,

Brian
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Old October 12th, 2006, 12:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ladue
About how much did it cost for everything needed to setup a Nikor 50-300 lens? I'm very interested as i like to film wildlife/nature.
The Nikon adaptor is about $300, then you need a rod support sytem and lens support. I use the rods that are a part of my Chroziel mattebox system which is about $1500. Then I have a lens support that goes on the rods. I got it long ago for my 16mm kit so I don't remember the cost but probably about $300 would do it. If you search this forum you will also find a link to a guy that sells one piece lens suports that don't need rods. That may be a cheaper option. Also, at 200mm and below you can get away without support.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 12:40 PM   #11
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Thanks Andrew, i think 200mm would be sufficient.

cheers,
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 04:10 PM   #12
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Here are some clips of the shooting.

This one is of the kite:

http://www.sect1.com/files/birdsofprey/kite.wmv

And this one is of the tawny eagle:

http://www.sect1.com/files/birdsofprey/tawnyeagle.wmv


Problems that have arisen in the shooting so far are mostly around my inability and inexperience to properly track the birds. Each one is unique in their flight patterns and right as soon as I start to anticipate their movements, they need to put them away. A number of the birds are being rehabbed and can't fly for very long. Also, they've been flying them in one of two fields that has a lot of buildings and various man-made objects in the background, which we're trying to steer clear of in our photography. Next time we go out, I'm going to talk them into flying the birds in the adjacent field where there's less clutter. The first day of shooting was overcast and I made the mistake of keeping the auto iris on. The second day, which was sunny, I put on the Tiffen linear pola and tried to keep my range of motion limited. Needless to say it's very easy to get carried away when you follow them. I'm going to keep the pola off but have it onhand to screw in when the opportunity arrives to view them more stationary. I've been positioned to have them flying laterally across my field of view. I think the next time I go out I will rotate 90 degrees so that they stay mostly in front of me.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:07 PM   #13
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Joshua,

The framing on the tawny eagle clip is pretty good as are the stationary closeups on both clips. It seems like a very challanging project. Maybe some others will chime in on techniques for in flight shots but it seems that since you have somewhat of a controlled environment there should be some repetition of flight direction that can be anticipated.

Regards,
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 10:29 PM   #14
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The motion seems VERY jerky, are you shooting on a tripod? For stuff like this I actually recommend shooting handheld. You will be a lot more connected to the camera and so will be able to react to unpredictable flight patterns more quickly and in a more natural-looking way. Any shakyness caused by shooting handheld will largely go unnoticed because the shot is moving so much anyway.

It should really go without saying that auto iris is a very bad thing when shooting extremely contrasty scenes like an overcast day.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 10:50 PM   #15
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Not bad for a moving subject such as an eagle.
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