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Old March 25th, 2008, 11:37 PM   #1
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California & Arizona Wildflowers

If anyone is interested, I've posted four short films of 2008 wildflowers from the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts at http://www.parkfilms.com/sandblossoms08.html
There's still a lot of Spring left and it is a great time to visit these areas.
Best,
Peter Rhalter
www.parkfilms.com
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Old March 26th, 2008, 06:04 AM   #2
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Peter,

Since you do so much National Park work, what has been your experience in getting permits to shoot there?
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Old March 26th, 2008, 06:37 AM   #3
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Getting a permit is nothing new - been doing it for 15 years. They generally cost $100 and I have the required insurance policy. In my experience, the main concern for the permit officer is how much impact you will have on the park. I have been told stories of film crews coming in and painting rocks with matte paint to cut down on glare; stuff like that. As a one-person crew, I have never been required to have a ranger accompany me - although there have been discussions about it until it becomes clear what I am - and am not - doing. It has helped that the film permit officers in the parks where I've worked will vouch for my low-impact shooting style.

In the parks I'm most familiar with - Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Death Valley - the Park Service has been very cooperative and supportive; they have been a real pleasure to work with. Oddly, I don't think anyone has ever actually asked to see the permit while I was shooting, but I have it, anyway.

Best,
Peter
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Old March 26th, 2008, 06:57 AM   #4
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Peter,

Any plans for shooting in Yellowstone? Seems like they're the ones that want to put up a lot of walls and tack on a lot of fees to keep you from filming.

Sorry to hijack your thread here but was wondering what type of encounters you had. Seems like you've dealt with a lot of reasonable and rational people.

Beautiful flower footage BTW. :)
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Old March 26th, 2008, 09:51 AM   #5
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fabulous! i love desert flowers. looks like you timed it very well. we don't get high alpine wildflowers around here until july.

what are you shooting on, Peter? i love the colors, they are very rich without distorting what these actually look like...
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Old March 26th, 2008, 01:26 PM   #6
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Re: Yellowstone. I haven't had any contact with Yellowstone in many years. At the time we were working with their archive and the archivist was real helpful, so I am surprised to hear how difficult the film permit situation is.

As for equipment, everything was shot with a Sony HVR-A1U. I've been going for small, lightweight equipment for hiking and backpacking. The camera involves a few compromises (I wasn't sure I could live without 3 chips; it seems I can), but overall I'm pleased with it. I do some modest color correcting in Final Cut Pro and that seems to help, too. I carry a separate recorder for sound; these days a Sony PCM-D50 (formerly a small DAT) and like it a lot - very easy to use to record good stereo ambient sound.

FWIW, it seems to me that almost all of today's equipment is capable of really beautiful quality output; it's just up to us to know how to use it and get out and do something worthwhile. I'm very glad you enjoyed the films.

Best,
Peter
www.parkfilms.com
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Old March 26th, 2008, 02:07 PM   #7
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Enjoyed your beautiful work I love the desert. Have not been to the Mojave for many many years, you work reminds me of my younger days.

Thanks for the preview.



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Old March 26th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rhalter View Post
If anyone is interested, I've posted four short films of 2008 wildflowers from the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts at http://www.parkfilms.com/sandblossoms08.html
There's still a lot of Spring left and it is a great time to visit these areas.
Best,
Peter Rhalter
www.parkfilms.com
Very nice! Looks like it's been a particularly good year. I lived in San Diego for about 10 years and would frequent Anza Borrego State Park during the wildflower season. I only remember one or two years that were close to what you show.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 01:49 AM   #9
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Beautiful work, thanks for posting!
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Old March 27th, 2008, 03:00 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone for looking. I was out at Anza-Borrego today and the season for the annuals has passed; there are just a few remnants. However, the Ocotillo are having a great bloom in the eastern part of the park and one species of Cholla cactus (it's kind of like a short version of Teddy Bear, but has yellower flowers) is putting on a show. I also discovered a group of Barrel Cacti blooming not far from the main Borrego Springs campground. The Palo Verde trees haven't flowered yet, either, so there's more coming. It was also VERY windy—my tripod thought it could fly and tried to become airborne.

Best,
Peter
www.parkfilms.com
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Old April 15th, 2008, 07:04 AM   #11
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It's a striking sight with all those lush flowers popping out of what is otherwise such a dry territory. They give us a lesson in patience, by waiting so long for the rare rainfall and then making the most of it. Your scenes are very well shown and a pleasure to see. For someone who hasn't been to the desert for a long time, it was a real treat. I once worked for a summer on a botanical survey in the high desert and these videos brought that all back to me.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 06:45 PM   #12
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Joshua Tree National Park Wildflowers

A new wildflower film has been added to http://www.parkfilms.com/sandblossoms08.html. This one uses footage I shot last week in Joshua Tree National Park, California. The park straddles two deserts - the Colorado and the Mojave - which means that the flower cycles in various areas of the park are on different time schedules. Plus some plants (like the Joshua Tree) live in one desert but not the other. Because of its wide range of plants, animals and striking scenery it's one of my favorite locations for filming; hope you enjoy the result.

Best,
Peter Rhalter
www.parkfilms.com
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Old April 18th, 2008, 09:47 PM   #13
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I like this latest one from the Joshua Tree Park, the best. Its scenes seem smoother and with improved camera work. Since you invite suggestions, I will make a few:

1. The scene changes in this latest one were too rapid and the transitions took too long. The result was that too much of the total time was occupied by them.

2. I occasionally heard a Raven, a Gambel's Quail, a Cactus Wren and a few other birds in some of the scenes, but I think that more of them, at higher volume, would add a lot to the productions. Look at what bird-calls have done for CBS golf coverage. Of course, you'd do them correctly and that Cactus Wren wouldn't be heard in Augusta. I know you like to keep the audio natural, as I do also, but it's something to consider.

3. I missed the sound of the wind that I heard more in the earlier productions. I didn't think it was too loud in any of them.

4. The music could be a bit lower in relation to the ambient sounds.

Keep up the good work. I'll never get tired of watching them.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 12:01 AM   #14
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Steve,

Thanks very much for the suggestions; I'll definitely try all the sound-related ideas. I love the sound of wind and the bird calls and will be delighted to give them more prominence. While no one will ever confuse me with an ornithologist (although I do, by now, recognize quails, cactus wrens and some other common birds) I know the track is accurate, because the recordings were done on location together with the video. In fact, I think it would be interesting if someday a birder tells me that there's an unusual call in the soundtrack. (On a tangent: did you read about the grad student whose remote camera captured an image of a wolverine up in the Sierra? That sure stirred the pot up — it was the first confirmed wolverine sighting in the range since the 1920's. Turned out this particular animal is from the Rockies, so no one knows how it got to California).

I'll have to watch the piece some more to figure out how I feel about the timing of the scene changes. I'm always going back and changing things anyway, so I'll keep that suggestion in mind in the process.

Very glad you enjoyed it; it's my favorite in the set, too.

Best always,
Peter
www.parkfilms.com
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Old April 21st, 2008, 12:16 AM   #15
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Thanks to Steve and Jay and Wee Han and for their feedback. Their comments prompted me to revisit the April wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park piece. The result is a somewhat differently edited film with different sound levels than the initial posting. A further change is that a bit of echo, or reverb, has been added to the flute solo.

The new version has replaced the older one at http://www.parkfilms.com/sandblossoms08.html for anyone who is interested; thanks again.

Best wishes,
Peter
www.parkfilms.com
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