UWOL #9 – The Ducks and The Cranes – by Mike Beckett at DVinfo.net

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Old June 23rd, 2008, 01:51 PM   #1
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UWOL #9 – The Ducks and The Cranes – by Mike Beckett

http://www.uwolchallenge.com/challen...sandcranes.mov

A bit of a quick one (by my standards) this time round. Filming was limited to one day, and editing time was quite short too due to other pressures. But I made it!

The title of my piece is a little misleading, as the cranes are not the winged variety. Sorry to get your hopes up – I don’t think cranes of the feathered variety can be found in Ireland! These particular cranes are the docks, as well as the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was built. It was working fine when it left the shop, honest.

I took myself and my camera off to the RSPB Reserve in Belfast Lough. I’ve been there a couple of times before, and was always struck by the contrast between all the wildlife and the man-made, very industrial backdrop of the shipyard and the docks. So I headed back, on a hot Saturday afternoon. I just videoed the birds as they went about their lives, and this is what makes up my UWOL#9 entry.

There’s a few issues that I am aware of:

- It was so hot there was a heat "shimmer" that affects some shots. No amount of technology would avoid that, and it wasn’t possible to get any closer to the birds. You have to stick to the hides that are provided, and you can't get any other viewpoint.

- Also, I found myself right on the limit of the 20x lens of the Sony V1. Some cropping/zooming of shots (given that I can only edit in SD) was possible, but not much. A telephoto adapter would be useful.

- Which leads to the next one - my tripod isn’t really compatible with working a the “tele” end of the zoom. Hence the lack of nice tracking shots of the birds. The Pro-6 HDV (aka 503HDV) has a great set of HEAVY vinten legs, but the head lets it down for this sort of work.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my contribution this time. It got me out and about, and I had FUN!

Oh, and sunburn. Oh boy was I sunburned... and the bruise on my shoulder from carrying the tripod has just about healed now.

Higher res videos:
Higher res .MOV file (86MB)
Same file, WMV format (90MB)

References:
RSPB Belfast Lough link (marvel at the location - the oil tanks! the airport runway!)
Google Maps link showing the lagoon.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 05:42 AM   #2
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Very Nice

Hi Mick,

Well, I have only watched half the entries so far but must say this is one of my favorites.

The story was so powerful and delivered so professionally. You set the scene very well and used the contrasting settings (industry & nature) perfectly, with great background material on both. The story, combined with the variety of shots (pans, wides, close ups, etc) was perfectly balanced and I must say I learned so much in terms of the things I wish I had used in my entry.

One issue you mentioned was the light and I must admit many of the shots seemed way over exposed however, with such a powerful story, delivered so perfectly, you could have used a mobile phone to film this and I still would have enjoyed it.

Well done Mike, I think the effort you went to to film this was very well spent!
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Old June 24th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #3
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Mike,

I enjoyed your film. I got to see some new species i have seen before, particular the duck!!

I also learned something else: I always thought Moor hens were the uk version of our ivory billed coot. Now I find that you in fact have coots and moor hens are a different breed. I have spent my life extensively studying NA wildlife, guess I need to branch out!!!

thanks for sharing and taking the time.

I appreciated the titles of each species!!!

Well done.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 11:53 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments guys!

David:
Yes, you're right about the exposure. I found it incredibly hard to judge that - maybe us bog-dwelling folk are just not used to bright sunshine! It was also a vast expanse of sand, mud and water, and was quite dazzling.

The V1's viewfinder was hopeless for that, and it was hard even to tell with the LCD screen. I'd have needed a monitor really, but that wasn't an option. Also, it was filmed just a couple of hours after I got my first pair of glasses, but I'm not sure I can blame that!


Dale:
The titles were a last-minute addition, I thought they would help. I spend too much time on Sunday trying to get the font right, but got there in the end. I remembered that from UWOL#8 where I suggested that for someone else, so I decided to practice what I preached.

I used to think the moorhen was just a coot with a different colored beak, but apparently the coot is bigger as well. I couldn't get two of them side by side to compare them.

My favorite scene is at 2:12, where the young moorhen is chased by the juvenile gull - then the parent moorhen races across, briefly checks the chick is OK, then chases the gull away. When that happened, I was at the other side of the hide with my binoculars, I'm glad I left the camera rolling.


The biggest lesson I learned is that I need a LOT more practice at capturing wildlife like this. I preferred videoing steam trains, they are big and a lot more predictable!
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Old June 25th, 2008, 06:52 AM   #5
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Hi Mike:

This was very well done and enjoyable. I didn't find the heat shimmer distracting, in fact since you are pointing out the temperature, it just confirms how hot it was. Your camera work, despite the issues you discussed in your opening was rock solid. This was informative and solid throughout. It brings to me, a viewer from Colorado and landlocked, wildlife I'm not familiar with. We have the Herons too, which I love, and the duck chicks were a highlight for me. Fun!

Cat
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Old June 25th, 2008, 08:30 AM   #6
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Again a video where I learned something...excellent.

Nice shots of the shipyard, also.

Like Cat, I liked the shimmering and the brightness of it all. Made me feel just how hot and bright it must have been out there.

Do you have knowledge of all these birds or did they have something there to tell you what they are? I only ask because I'm bird ignorant...and find learning their names to be fasinating.

Bob
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:14 AM   #7
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This was a nice film, I like the perspective that you picked. cool that they “install” a reserve in such a busy place. I really liked your story, some of the shots were a bit over expose but it’s not that important, the story is (I think).
Well done
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:59 AM   #8
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In the beginning I was thinking what the heck has this got to do with wildlife hahahaha. Great take on the theme. A few tight shots would have been great but over all I enjoyed your film.

Brian
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Old June 25th, 2008, 10:48 AM   #9
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Hi all, thanks for the comments!

Cat:
I spent too much time on the Shelduck chicks and not enough time on some of the other birds! I just couldn't get enough of them. The baby moorhens just melted my heart, little black balls of fuzz with legs, so adorable.

Bob:
I was pretty much sure what all the birds were, but the Dunlin and Shelduck were new to me. The RSPB are good enough to put up signs in the hides for the casual observer. Unforunately I forgot to pay any heed to them and I ended up trawling through the bird books at home. Not living near water, we don't get many of those birds in the garden!

Markus:
The exposure was tricky. For reasons unknown to me, I was trying to stick to around F4 on the camera, the V1's best setting. Unforunately for me, this works fine in our typical weather - bright sunshine is a new concept to me! I should've gone with the zebras stripes etc., but I thought I knew better. Nope!

The weather was also pretty rotten after that day, so I'd have had to go back in the rain, which just means too many sad-looking birds and poor visibility.

Brian:
I spent hours waiting for those cranes to move too... You want to see their mating rituals! I agree re. the tight shots. Most of the brids were very far away, probably over 100ft, and the 20x would only go so close. I definitely want to get my hands on a "big lens"!



Now I have an evenig off, I 'm going to spend a happy few hours watching everyone else's entries. Thanks again folks, and thank you for entertaining me with your own films.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 10:20 PM   #10
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Getting a glimpse of Belfast and listening to your dialect was just as enjoyable for me as watching the birds! Thanks for setting the stage as you did and guiding us through the video.

About the exposure, it’s not blown out, so I’m wondering if you adjusted your color curves, levels, or anything like that (sorry, I don’t know what those effects would be called in Premiere). That almost looks like untouched footage to me.

Many of us know exactly what you mean about the 20X zoom. It’s frustrating to want to get just *that* much closer and not have the ability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Beckett View Post
These particular cranes are the docks, as well as the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was built. It was working fine when it left the shop, honest..
I’m sure it was. :)

Thanks, Mike. That was enlightening and entertaining.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 11:55 PM   #11
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Nice work Mike...even if you say it was a fast one by your standards....not only did you show me some great bird species,but now I have seen where the Titanic was brought to life..Learn something everyday
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Old June 26th, 2008, 12:41 AM   #12
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Yes I liked the story too. We have a very industrious area with a beautiful marshland surrounding it as well. Always makes me want to shoot some type of contrasting piece. I liked your music as well. Good selection, very soothing.

Here's an idea for you, because I shoot a lot of marshland bird type footage as well. Sometimes I really struggle to not overexpose the birds - and lose all the data in their clipped white feathers. So when I shoot the white ones, I underexpose and bring the images back up in post - selectively. Maybe keep the whites where they are, turn down the mids and blacks. Just an idea. I find it gives richer images.

Good job.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 01:50 AM   #13
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Interesting study of wildlife in the midst of industry. Some of us try to hide mankind's works in shooting nature, believing that the shots are polluted if a sign of man is in it--- but we are indeed part of nature..
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Old June 26th, 2008, 01:58 AM   #14
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Thanks for the continuing nice comments, folks!

Lorinda:
I didn't adjust the image at all in post, this is still something I have yet to get to grips with. I've only had Premiere Pro CS3 for a couple of months, and there sure is a lot to learn. Alas, I didn't have time for that for the challenge. I also plead Irishman's defence - we don't get sun that often, we don't know what to do with it!

I also wish I could edit in HDV, but my PC just isn't fast enough to let me do that and still finish the challenge inside 3 weeks!

John:
It really is a great, historic place. Driving down to the nature reserve, you pass through the walls of the great shipyard, past the remaining offices ofr Harland and Wolff, the drawing office where the ship was designed etc. It's a real shame that there's nothing there to commemorate the ship and the yard's history - just lots of cleared sites followed by acres of oil storage depots. The whole place reeks of industrial devestation. There are plans afoot to build a visitor centre and tourist attraction, as well as redevelop the whole area.

I came across a video of the inside of the shipyard drawing offices:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBaq5QD-Gy4

My dad worked in there, many years ago, back in the days when the men all wore flat caps. He's not old enough to have worked on the Titanic though!

Eric:
Thanks for the tip! I spent too much time trying to keep exposure around F4 for reasons that seemed emminently sensible, but ultimately flawed! I should've gone with my instincts and worked that exposure wheel a bit more. I will bear that in mind next time I'm out.

Chris:
Exactly! I am unsure of the history of the lagoon, but I believe it is man made and probably something to do with the ship building industry in the past. It's amazing how nature just quietly moves in. They don't seem to mind the constant noise of the ships and the cranes either.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 04:45 AM   #15
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It’s nice to see someone managed to shoot some of the same species we set out to with considerably more success!
I like the contrast angle (industry and nature side by side) but for me the best part was your narration. A soft spoken Irish accent can hold my attention better than most.

Love the shelduck chicks. Did you see any adults with a ridiculously large number of offspring? Like ostriches rival male parents will fight with the winner adopting the losers brood. The evolutionary mechanism being that of safety in numbers, the winning father doesn't have to provide any more protection (shelduck chicks basically look after themselves) but the likelihood of one of his own progeny being taken from the group is reduced.

I look forward to your next entry

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