Every few years, Peggy and I save up and splurge on renting a cottage along the coast of Cornwall in southwestern England. It’s where the family roots of my mother, an English warbride from WWII, are firmly planted. Essentially, the area is a series of small fishing villages and great coastal scenery, and we just poke around, like the couple of fairly active senior citizens that we are, and explore the various festivals, pubs, cliff walks, and scenic views the area has to offer.
This year, I piggybacked it on an assignment that ended in London, and I had my full complement of travel video gear with me, but since I had no plans to do anything serious (photographically) during this trip, I decided to see if I could indeed just use one, basic camera, the Sony RX100iii, for my vacation, and still make some reasonably satisfying pictures.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last few years of shooting motion, it’s that you really need to support that camera for smooth footage. Tripods and monopods are just a couple of devices in my ever-growing, but still compact, arsenal of support devices.
Today, I’d like to acquaint you with three small support options, each of which played an important role in my recent month-long trip around the world documenting National Geographic Expeditions “Celebrating Exploration” private jet tour. In fact, the video here, Afternoon in Bhaktapur, was shot entirely with the tabletop tripod in shoulderpod and bellypod mode (explained below).
I was recently invited to submit some of my travel films to a new section on the website of a major American publication. It’s a showcase of short films and when you go to the site, it’s full of spectacular nature, adventure, and travel films that are daringly executed, expertly shot, and beautifully edited…and, to watch one, you have to sit through a 30 second, non-fast-forwardable commercial.
Contrary to the popular misconception among family and friends that I am some kind of hopped up gearhead, most of the time, I actually hate to upgrade or switch cameras. It takes me 6 months to catch up with the workings of a new camera, and frankly, most of the time, the incremental improvements are rarely worth the bother of learning all the new button, dial, and menu placements. Of course, there’s always an exception to that “rarely worth the bother” clause, and the Sony A7s is one of them.
I’ve already seen the first Halloween candy in the supermarket, so I figure it’s not too early to talk about the mother of all “Halloween” celebrations, the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico. I had the opportunity to cover the festival last year with my friend, Richard Ellis, longtime Reuters and Getty shooter and founder of the Charleston Photo Workshops. I’ll be heading down again with him next month to co-teach a travel workshop around the festival. Here’s a taste of what we will see:
It’s not easy lugging gear around on what is essentially a family vacation. But when you get a chance to go to someplace as exotic and photogenic as Bali, it would be crazy not to take advantage of the photo (and video) ops that abound on this beautiful island.
And so, when I planned my kit for a recent trip to this Indonesian island with my two sons and my brother, a trip that was essentially going to be a boogie boarding safari, I knew that the pounding Balinese surf wouldn’t be the only thing I’d be shooting.
…and unlike that daring young man on the flying trapeze, my moves may not be graceful, all girls I cannot please, but damn, I can produce some pretty nice-looking aerial HD video for clients who can’t afford the big, nosemounted, two-man crew, aerial Hollywood video helicopter setups when they need views higher than the growing army of DJI drone-ographers can get them.
There are three factors that help me compete with the big boys.
Whenever my pal Dr. Al Ruenes calls me to work on one of the humanitarian projects in Africa that he runs through his non-profit called ASSISTS, I know I’m in for a ride. So when he called me to document a project that he and some other medical organizations were doing that would create a training module for African surgeons dealing with the scourge of fistula, I said “yes” before he could finish the first sentence of his question.
I have been a travel photography columnist in one or another major American magazine non-stop since 1986. That’s a long, and I’m fairly sure, unmatched, continuous, 28-year-tenure as a photo columnist that began at Travel&Leisure, moved to National Geographic Traveler, then to Popular Photography, Endless Vacations, and currently at Outdoor Photographer magazine.
Many times over the years, I’ve written about how video didn’t interest me because, while I love the storytelling aspect of it, to do it well, you needed a crew. And I always have worked by myself, or with just one assistant or fixer, and I’m not about to change my ways at this late stage of the game. As it turns out, I was wrong…. Read More