Introducing: Sunday Morning Short

Before my recent Pacific Northwest road trip, I finally upgraded my camera to a Canon 5D Mark II.  Not only did this upgrade give me a full frame and more pixels, it also gave me the ability to shoot HD video. And so, there I was on day 3 of the road trip enjoying sunset in Olympic National Park at a spot ironically named Sunrise Point when my video muse spoke and gave me a project idea for the video feature of my new camera.  The Sunday Morning Short (SMS) was born.

Sunrise Point is a small hike up a ridge from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center.  Since Hurricane Ridge is so accessible from Port Angeles, WA it has a large number of visitors…even at sunset.  As I have my camera set up on the tripod and capturing the sunset vistas from this point, all I hear around me is the background chatter of my comrades who have also hiked up to the point.  It seemed like an endless stream of conversations (some rather loud), beeps and chirps from point and shoot cameras, and the shuffle ‘n crunch of hikers on the gravel trail up to the point.

I suddenly had a flashback to the CBS News program Sunday Morning, and how they used to do these wonderfully long closing segments showing scenes from one place or another…just nature and her sounds.  I found myself longing for that here at Sunrise Point.  I quickly flipped my camera into video mode and started capturing the landscape and soundscape of that moment.  After a few minutes, everyone had disappeared and it was just me and the sounds of nature (see tech note below).

On the drive down the 5000+ foot descent from Hurricane Ridge, I thought back to those closing segments from Sunday Morning news program and decided my new camera gave me the chance to recreate the magic in those segments.  And so, in honor of this inspiration I have started a new video segment here at the blog called Sunday Morning Short.  My goal with SMS is to provide a 3-5 minute video segment of the the sounds of nature from the various places that I visit to photograph. In order to add some double meaning, I plan to post these segments here on the blog on Sundays.  I have a few additional segments in the digital hopper and we’ll see how my schedule works with regards to how frequently I post these.

I look forward to sharing these with you in the future and want to hear your comments and thoughts on this new video project.

Tech Note: The video capabilities of the 5D Mark II has a bit of a learning curve, in both the filming and the editing aspects.  With regards to filming, the first thing I learned is that you don’t want to use the built in microphone on the 5DmII as it picks up a lot of mechanical noise from the camera/lenses.  When I first started shooting this segment, I had the Image Stabilization turned on my lens and the noise that the camera picked up was quite extreme.  Even after turning that off, there are many clicks and creaks that you hear from my zooming and panning with the camera. I’ll be investing in an external microphone soon to overcome these issues (B&H Photo has a great review of microphones for the 5DmII).  In addition, the ambient noise that I was hoping to capture during this segment is a bit overpowered by the digital noise (hiss) from recording.  I’m hoping to overcome this as well in the future.  The next few segments I shot should have better audio quality (even thought they still use the internal microphone) just because of the louder soundscapes I was in.

Editing this video was also a bit of a challenge.  Luckily, I was able to achieve most of my vision using iMovie on the Mac.  Even then, it took me longer than I had hoped, thus missing my Sunday Morning posting goal!  I will be exploring investing in a bit more robust video editing package (like Apple’s Final Cut Express).  Something that gives me more independent control over the video and audio portions.  And I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that my MBP has enough horsepower for the video editing process.  I can already see hard drive upgrades in the near future…

I’ll post more on my experiences with video recording and editing as SMS progresses.

(8/23 Update: This morning I actually timed the nature segment that the close out Sunday Morning with. The segment was 30-35 seconds long.  I attempted to find historical segments online for comparison timing but they are not posted on the Sunday Morning website.)

Aside: The comment “it looks like smoke” that you hear from one of the other hikers is because there was a few lightening strike created forest fires deep in the interior of Olympic National Park.  From this vantage point (looking the opposite direction of the camera) you could see the smoke from these fires. By the next morning, the smoke had drifted toward Hurricane Ridge and was affecting visibility.  Later that evening, you could even smell the smoke in Port Angeles.

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