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Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old November 10th, 2006, 03:41 AM   #1
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Northern Harrier

Look at this, holy God! No, well now maybe it was God who created its DNA but it was Don DesJardin who shot and edited this flight of delight ... PAL users may know the bird as Hen Harrier ... I don't know if there's a difference yet.

Last edited by Brendan Marnell; March 4th, 2007 at 05:17 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2006, 03:53 AM   #2
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... talking to myself ...

And by the way if anyone else out there has nature footage put it up on this forum please ... hundreds will see it and may enjoy it. Go on, spread a little pleasure around. Or if you're too busy or shy about attaching it send it to me in one of the formats listed by DVInfo and I'll post it for you when I get a chance

... it's OK don't apologise, I'm getting used to being the bridesmaid ... humph, just you wait, my big day will come too ... so now so
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Old November 10th, 2006, 04:50 AM   #3
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Northern Harrier

Hi Brendan,

"SUPER" these birds (Hen Harriers in Scotland) are very rare in the UK and
almost impossible to film.
I have been watching them this summer but have had no success in filming
them in flight.
The problem is they are usualy more than 300 metres away and when using
a 300mm lens keeping them in focus and in frame is very difficult.

Don:- please join in this post and tell us what camera/lens did you use for
these shots and were you using auto focus.
Superb photography of a very rare and difficult bird to film.
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Old November 10th, 2006, 07:19 AM   #4
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That was really cool. Especially the "back-flip" and stall at the end. Was this a "controlled" shoot or in the wild? Regardless, good focus and tracking.

Regards,
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Old November 10th, 2006, 12:27 PM   #5
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Thanks for the comments. This is only 17 seconds out of over a minute that I was on this bird. This was with the XL1 and the Nikon 80-400mm sitting on top of a 501 head. It also was all manual focus, and with the f stop being at around f8 to f11, there is quite a bit of depth of field to work with. The only tricky time is when it was coming towards me, and I had to rack focus. There are many harriers that spend their winters here, and they seem to set uo their own areas to hunt in. This was a "in the wild" situation, and no set up. They are primarly hunting in the weeds hoping to snag sparrows, or other small birds. Out of the 2 mornings I spent with them standing in one spot, I got around 45 minutes of very good edited flight footage. My next goal is to get a male harrier in the same situation, if I can find one. It seems all I see are females. Again, thanks....
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Old November 13th, 2006, 11:21 AM   #6
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Great sharp footage and very nicely tracked indeed! Great job. Are there any other types of shot in your minute. Perched? I also think cutting between this shot, wider and much wider establisher would make a great little sequence.

Great stuff. You recommend that 80-400 nikon then?
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Old November 13th, 2006, 03:08 PM   #7
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Mat,
All the footage was flight. I rarely see them perched, and when I do, you can't get near them. I think the Nikon is a good lens for wildlife video work, especially for the money. It works great on the XL1, and I assume it would be a winner on the XL1S and XL2 also. I'll still collecting footage on the XL H1 with the Nikon and analyzing it. I'm going to have to play it back on a HD monitor to get a sense of its sharpness. From what I have seen so far on a normal monitor, is that it's very sharp. Also, I would love to try the Sigma 80-400 to see how it compares to the Nikon. I have severa Sigmal fixed focal length lenses that are a bit sharper than the Nikon. Of course your not going to get the performance of a fixed focal length lens with a zoom lens. If you have an inventory of Nikon lenses that you use, I would be inclined to stay with Nikon. I don't think the Canon 100-400 would be any better, or at least to the untrained eye. Just my thoughts...
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Old November 21st, 2006, 11:01 PM   #8
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Don,
Will you divulge how you got such smooth tracking in your red-tailed hawk and harrier footage? I use a similar lens on the XL-2, and a similar Bogen head, with about the same degree of frame filling and can never get it that smooth. Maybe it's my doddering old age.

Steve Siegel,
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 12:57 AM   #9
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Steve,
Well, I don't think that I have very much to divulge, other than I have the camera and lens tied to a common plate, and the shoe mounted to the CG of that common plate/camera combo. I usually slide the camera and lens combo onto the head to where it is centered on the head. Sometimes I'll move the weight slightly forward or aft of the CG depending on how the head is acting on that paticular day. I then adjust the pan and tilt drag to medium drag. The 501 head isn't the best when it comes to tilts, but I have learned to live with it. Other than that, I try to anticipate the movement of the bird and if possible, keep slightly ahead of it. One of the hardest things, is remembering where your tripod legs are so you don't trip over them. I also found that overhead shooting is harder than if the bird is at somewhat eye level. Also, if things are slow, I zero in on just about every aircraft I see just for the practice of tracking and staying ahead of the aircraft. I wish there was a magic bullet for this, but there isn't, other than just a lot of practice and trial and error adjustments. I used to play golf with a guy who was under the impression, that if he kept buying the latest and greatest hi tech clubs, he would improve his score, but it didn't happen, since he only played once a week like I did, and that's why I don't play golf anymore.
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 01:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don DesJardin
I used to play golf with a guy who was under the impression, that if he kept buying the latest and greatest hi tech clubs, he would improve his score, but it didn't happen, since he only played once a week like I did, and that's why I don't play golf anymore.
Hey Don, even once a week golf is better than no golf at all! And on that subject, here is a frame grab from a local golf course I did last week. It's now my wallpaper.

-gb-
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 04:46 AM   #11
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Isn't it great not to give a damn where the ball is or the flag; just enjoy the layers of vista.

Don
Your reply to Steve Siegel was revealing and helpful maybe especially to chaps like me who would love to learn to shoot footage like yours. We do appreciate that you have to shoot and edit miles of footage to get inches ... I do a lot of it. But everything you have to say (like remembering not to kick the tripod) is very real. What I'd like to tie down at this stage is, taking Greg's joke seriously for a minute, What golf clubs to use? I mean what tripod set-up of course ... any chance of a video clip showing the Bogen head/ronsrail and the tilting in smooth action. Sorry for the hassle but we are really learning from you.
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 12:21 PM   #12
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Greg,
I love golf, since it's the only sport that you play against yourself. I get out on occasion and hit a bucket of balls. Also, I like the saying, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could". Just can't convince the wife to relocate though.

Attached is a photo of the common plate I made 6 years ago. It was originally made for the XL1 and a Sigma 400mm, and the camera and lens tripod collar laid flat on the plate. When I got the Nikon 80-400mm, the lens collar was taller, so I had to make a block to mount under the camera. The XL H1 lens centerline to the bottom of the camera was greater than the XL1, so rather than make a new block, I just used washers to make up the difference. Not that pretty, but very inexpensive, functional, and rock solid. I can also move the rig fore and aft on the head to balance out different lens configurations. Other than that, it's just a matter of practice and what works for you.
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 01:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Don DesJardin
Just can't convince the wife to relocate though.
Hey Don, tell her that whatever your current income level is, moving to Texas would be like a 20-30% raise due to the lower cost of living here.

Might work....or not.

-gb-
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Old December 3rd, 2006, 04:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don DesJardin
Steve,
.... I also found that overhead shooting is harder than if the bird is at somewhat eye level. Also, if things are slow, I zero in on just about every aircraft I see just for the practice of tracking and staying ahead of the aircraft. I wish there was a magic bullet for this, but there isn't, other than just a lot of practice and trial and error adjustments ...
... this is my favourite quote of the year. I've thought about it a lot and I follow a little practice programme. Next a better tripod ..
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Old June 21st, 2007, 04:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don DesJardin View Post
Steve,
... I also found that overhead shooting is harder than if the bird is at somewhat eye level. Also, if things are slow, I zero in on just about every aircraft I see just for the practice of tracking and staying ahead of the aircraft. I wish there was a magic bullet for this, but there isn't, other than just a lot of practice and trial and error adjustments. ...
Don,
I should have asked you does your routine of "a lot of practice and trial and error adjustments" EVER include "auto-focus" or "handheld" when shooting bird flight footage with XLH1?
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