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Shooting Video in the Wild: What You Should Know Before You Go

shooting in wilderness

Nothing compares to taking your camera into the wilderness and falling off the grid. I find it is an amazing opportunity to learn and develop as a professional. The wilderness is the best teacher. So here are some tips to be the best student on shooting video in the wild.

1. Explore Before Shooting Video

No lens or camera can compare to what you experience with your own eyes. Your vision is the best tool, so before you jump straight in to using you’re viewfinder, take some time to explore your area to find those hidden gems.

2. Be one with your environment

If you spend enough time shooting outdoors, you’ll notice how living things interact with each other in their natural environment. If you are videotaping wildlife, you’ll want to understand how your subject communicates with it’s’ environment and other species. Is it a prey or predator? When you understand the body language and behavior of your subject, you’ll be able to predict its movement and thoughts to achieve the best quality video. I videotape horses, which aren’t “wild”, but are in a natural herd setting with very little human interaction. I need to move my body in a way that communicates accurately with them, and demonstrates that I’m not a threat.

3. Get Close Ups

I find a lot of videographers tend to not get up close and personal with their environment. Beautiful landscape shots are great, but they usually don’t capture the heart and attention like a close up does. Don’t be afraid to get close. And when you think you’re close enough to your subject of choice, get closer! Unless you’re videotaping a grizzly bear or some other wildlife that could potentially kill you; then stay a safe distance away.

closeup

4. Bring Different Lenses

Try shooting the same shot with a different piece of glass to determine what works better for you. Using different lenses will give you a broader perspective on what scenarios warrant what type of lens and you can explore your style.

5. UV Filters

filter

Eventually your lenses will encounter a scratch, swirl marks, or even a chip (yes, this will even happen to you). You are even more likely to experience these accidents while shooting in the wilderness. Always protect your lens with a UV filter. Filters are relatively inexpensive (very cheap compared to a new lens), the difference in image quality is barely, if at all, noticeable, and let it take the brutal banging up instead of your nice lens.

6. Cleaning Gear

When I’m out shooting outdoors I often forget how dirty my gear is until it’s undeniably noticeable on my lens. The dirt you don’t notice in the field will catch up with you in the edit bay. All that cleaning gear you have packed in your bag, make sure you use it and use it frequently.

7. Monopod/Tripod

I was very reluctant to purchase my monopod when I first got it. It could be the fact I spent more money on it than my tripod, but I assumed they were rather useless compared to a tripod. But after it arrived in the mail, I don’t know what I’d do without it. Monopods are exceptionally great for getting those quick, balanced shots when you’re tripod can’t be set up properly or can’t be set up in time. I strongly suggest investing in a monopod that has a fluid head and can hold up on it’s own. The monopods and tripods for DSLR cameras are ridiculously light and easy to carry on long trips as well.

monopod

8. Presets for settings – know your settings

Before you start videotaping, adjust your camera to the correct settings. Don’t be lazy and say I can fix the color temperature or exposure in postproduction. Capture good, correct video in the field. If you are in an area with contrasting light exposure, create presets for both scenarios so you can easily maneuver between the two settings.

presets

9. Audio is IMPORTANT

My radio friends always lecture me that “video people” don’t pay any attention to audio. It’s true, some don’t. But audio is really what is most important to a production. Viewers will notice and complain about poor audio over video every time.

DSLR cameras don’t come equipped with quality, built in microphones. If you want good quality, you’ll need to invest in external microphones. Even if you are only capturing ambient audio in the wilderness, you still want a good quality microphone to capture it. Hook up your DSLR to a shotgun microphone at all times and also capture audio through an external recording device with microphones of your choice.

10. Have an idea

Being off the grid and exploring natural landscapes is incredibly exhilarating. It gives you the freedom to unleash your creativity in ways shooting in a studio simply can’t. Have an idea of what you want to capture when shooting in the wilderness. If you’re shooting for a project, you probably already have an idea of what you’re looking to achieve. If you are just videotaping for the fun of it, still have an idea of what you want to learn through that experience. Having a clear concept of your objective will allow you to be more focused, and you’ll most likely learn more since you are aware of what you’re looking for.

Take a moment when shooting in the wilderness to appreciate where you are, what you are doing, and soak in how amazing it feels. Bask in the endlessness of discoveries and opportunities. Life is always so rushed and full of distractions. When you’re out in the wilderness doing what you truly love, remember to take a moment to step back and reflect on just how amazing it feels to be in that moment.

 

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3 Responses to “Shooting Video in the Wild: What You Should Know Before You Go”

  1. Don't go shooting wildlife without reading this post! | wolfcrow on August 22nd, 2013 11:03 pm

    […] LaPlante has written a lucid and simple article on ten things you need to know before you do wildlife […]

  2. eddy woj on August 27th, 2013 6:12 am

    Great advice, thanks for sharing !

  3. Gerald (Gerry) on December 27th, 2013 11:11 am

    Very intertested what you do Rae Ann. I am working on a bear video right now for the State of Maine. Live in RI and have done several Environmental videos for Nat. Refuges ans local NGO’s. Always wanted to go to Sable Islands for a ducumentara I am planning for NE and the Canadia Maritime Prov. Love to hear from you and start a dialouge

About the Author


Rae-Anne LaPlante is a video journalist at Shaw TV Nanaimo and owner of Kasba Media. She is currently working on her first independent documentary, “S(t)able Island: The Beauty of the Free”, a film about Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Sable is an isolated and government restricted island that is home to the only protected wild horses in Canada. She successfully funded her dream through a 30 day Kickstarter campaign. Rae-Anne became passionate about television and film production as she saw the influence media can have on society, and as cliché as it sounds, she always wanted to work in a field where she could influence positive change. Rae-Anne believes in creating meaningful productions that gives back to society and the environment. She wants to inspire others to dream BIG! With whatever you do, do it with all your heart. You can find more about Rae-Anne through her documentary website, www.stableisland.com or email: kasbamedia@gmail.com.

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