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Above and Below
Arusha National Park
Visions of Africa
I'm just wrapping up a month long trip through Uganda. I spent the bulk of the trip on the western edge of the country, frequently within spitting distance of the Congo. As a matter of fact, the Hippos in one of the scenes are actually in the Congo, not Uganda. This is the first African video I’ve done that doesn’t have a single big cat in it. I sort of got skunked in that department. I only saw one Leopard, and at such a long distance it was barely visible even with a 600mm lens. I also saw only a single Lion. It was a cub laying in the grass and not doing anything particularly interesting. All other attempts to find big cats were unsuccessful. I did, however, get lots of excellent Chimps and Rhinos. And there were quite a few good scenic opportunities and more birds than I really wanted to film. So while the month here in Uganda didn’t give me quite the quantity of scenes I was hoping for, I did get some nice quality scenes.
I filmed this in the Peruvian Amazon a few hours downriver from Iquitos and the Ecuadoran Amazon a few hours downstream from Coca. Both locations are fairly remote and involved quite a bit of canoe time and hiking to get to the locations. While there are lots of large animals in both areas, you rarely get to see much more than a glimpse of them because of the thick jungle. The real highlights in heavy rainforest like this is the jungle itself and the tiny things that occupy it.
The Pantanal is the worlds largest wetland area, 10 times larger than the Everglades in the US. It is home to countless species of birds, Capybaras (the world’s largest rodent species), countless Caimans and my personal favorite, the Jaguar. This short video is a brief look at some of the wildlife I filmed during a week stay there.
Here’s my end of year video. It’s a compilation of scenes from my 2015 travels. During the year I visited 16 countries on 5 continents over an 11 month period. This video doesn’t have scenes from every place I filmed, but it does have something from most of them. It was difficult to pick scenes for the video because I had a very productive year. I had literally thousands of good scenes to choose from, but only space for a little over 130 of them in a very fast paced production. I hope you enjoy this trip around the world with me.
Here is one last little film from the first half of this year. I started this year with my “Lions and Tigers and Bears” trip. The idea was to film, among many other things, Lions in Africa, Tigers in India and Bears in Alaska. I was pretty sure I was going to be able to accomplish the Lions. Heck, even an idiot Dentist from Minnesota can find a Lion. The Tigers were something that I thought would be problematic since they are pretty reclusive. I was worried that even if I saw some, they might be in conditions unsuitable for good filming. It turned out that I was lucky with the Tigers and got some good stuff. Then off to Alaska for Bears. I had bad luck with weather that eliminated one of my destinations for Brown Bears (Grizzlies), but I was fortunate with the Black Bears. So I’ve put together a few scenes from each area into this little video. Hope you enjoy it.
Here is a short sample of some of the Scenic and Bear footage from last week's SE Alaska trip. Though the trip wasn't much of a success for Brown Bears, I did quite well with the Black Bears at Anan Creek near Wrangell. There is a tiny bit of aerial footage in the video, but it was not made with my Quadcopter. It is from a float plane. There's some footage from the ferries that I took from Ketchikan to Wrangell and from Wrangell to Juneau. There's also some footage from the small fast boats that I took to Anan Creek and to Le Conte Glacier. The glacier was difficult to film because it was a very gray soggy day, but in some scenes, that actually makes the blue glacial ice bergs seem to glow against the monochromatic background.
Here is the final installment of my little India Trilogy. This time it's wildlife in Ranthambhore National Park in the midst of Rajasthan's heat and dust. Ranthambhore is a huge park dominated by a 10th century fort that gives the park its name. It's loaded with wildlife. Langur monkeys are prevalent as well as two species of deer, Sambar and White Spotted, and some Indian Antelope are present in smaller numbers. But the big draw in the park is the Tiger. It's one of the best places in India to see them, though sightings are not guaranteed and sometimes very far away. With that in mind, I was hopeful that in five days I would manage to get at least a sighting or two, but I was quite fortunate to have sightings on 4 of my 5 days there, and a couple fairly close.
I've just finished a new Demo Reel for the website of one of my agents. For those of you who don't know what a "Demo Reel", it is a short edit of sample footage used to show examples of the kind of work you do. They are the functional equivalent of a portfolio that a still photographer might show to potential clients. I decided that since I spent the time putting it together, it might as well not languish on the agency's website on my profile page, so here it is. It is a broad mix of both wildlife footage (the Above part) and underwater footage (the Below). Hope you enjoy it.
Samburu National Park lies in Northern Kenya. It's home to some rare species that are quite difficult to fine elsewhere. You can see the beautiful Grevy's Zebra is good numbers. They are larger than the Common Zebra and have much finer black pinstripes that are gorgeous. You can also see Reticulated Giraffe at Samburu, in my opinion, the most attractive Giraffe species. There are lots of Antelope species including the uncommon Gerenuk that looks like a cross between an Impala and a Giraffe and the Oryx with it's majestic long straight horns. The park's scenery is also stunning with tall surrounding hills, steep canyons and the Ewaso Ng'iro river running through it. The river is actually to border to Buffalo Springs National Park, and you can crisscross back and forth between the two. Most of this video was filmed in Samburu, but at least 25% is from Buffalo Springs. All three big cat species are present in the park and there are lots of Elephants with a unique red coloration caused by dusting themselves in the reddish soil.
It's Rhino time. Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Northern Kenya has one of the highest concentrations of rhinos remaining in Africa. I used to recommend Lake Nakuru for Rhinos, but when it was hit by a big flood a little over a year ago, all of the White Rhinos in the park were moved to Ol Pejeta for safety and I suspect they will remain here. The Conservancy is privately owned and managed and is very aggressive in it's protection of endangered species such as White Rhino, Black Rhino, Reticulated Giraffe and Grevy's Zebra. The conservancy is huge, rivaling the size of some of the National Parks which is pretty amazing when you consider that it is privately owned and the entrance fees to visit aren't really very much more than the Kenyan Parks System fees. I filmed around 300 scenes during my visit and nearly half of them were Rhinos. The Conservancy is located in the shadow of Mt. Kenya, the second highest peak in Africa. In addition to Rhinos, I had some nice Lion encounters including a couple of feedings. This is the only game park on my entire tour that I didn't film a single Elephant! I saw some. There apparently is a pretty good sized population. But with so many rhinos around, I just didn't put much of a priority on the other big gray guys.
Masai Mara was very productive for us. We had more predators (and scavengers) feeding than any single place I've been. The weather was also interesting with alternating sunshine and torrential thunderstorms. You couls almost see the Mara greening up as the first rains arrived. We also had larger herds of Zebra and Wildebeest than you would normally expect at this time of year due to the lack of rain the the Serengeti causing half of the migration to turn around and stay in the Mara this year.
Here are a few scenes from Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya. We were fortunate to get one really good morning with excellent views of Mount Kilimanjaro complete with a fresh coating of snow on the summit. Even though the park was very dry, and the rains are just about to begin in earnest, there is still lots of wildlife near the areas with permanent water. Loads of Elephants, one of the largest populations in Kenya.
Here's a little bit of video from our trip down into Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. It was a very scenic day with interesting cloud formations ringing the Crater rim, but leaving the center of the Crater mostly clear. Ngorongoro is a great place to shoot wide angle scenic with animals in the foreground and the steep rim in the background regardless of the direction you face. So this video is a little more weighted toward scenic than wildlife. You are only allowed to spend a half day in the Crater to keep vehicle congestion down but you can see a lot in even such a short visit. And with it being the "off season" it sometimes felt like we had the whole Crater to ourselves.
I'm pretty far behind in my post production. That's what I get for being on Safari for three weeks without a break. This film is footage from the Serengeti portion of the trip. My son, Brad, was with me for this three week stretch. It was his first time in East Africa. We had great conditions and loads of good action.
This is just a quickie of my first Safari day at Arusha National Park. The park doesn't have huge numbers of animals like the areas further north, but it has a nice mix and is a good spot to make sure everything is working properly before heading up to the prime sites. One thing the park has in abundance is Black and White Colobus Monkeys. It has more than anywhere else in Tanzania and since they live in a forest on the side of a steep crater, you can get a good view of them even though they spend most of their time in the treetops.
I just returned from a 5 day shoot in southern Borneo. I visited Tanjung Harapan National Park in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. I was there primarily to film Orangutans, but also had some nice Proboscis Monkey action as well as beautiful jungle and river scenics. Tanjung Harapan used to be one of the places that displaced Orangutans were re-released into the wild. Its a huge park, 4000 square kilometers (over 1500 square miles), and has a very health population of wild Orangutans so the don't release any more animals here. There is still some interaction with some of the Orangutans at the former "Feeding Station" platforms near each of the three research camps. Once a day the N.P. Rangers put a small quantity of Bananas (or other seasonal fruit) on the platform as a snack for some of the Orangutans in the area. Sometimes they also put out a couple pans of milk for the benefit of mothers with little babies. Its also possible to see the bizarre Proboscis Monkeys along the river edges in the late afternoon.
For those who don't know, Orangutans get their name from two words in the Indonesian (and Malay) language. The first part, Orang, means "Person". The second part, Utan, means "Jungle. So the name means Person of the Jungle. A very fitting name indeed.
I've spent quite a lot of time in other parts of Borneo including 4.5 years in Sabah and 1 year in East Kalimantan, but this was my first time to the southern region and it really blew me away. The jungle and rivers are beautiful, and there were far more Orangutans than I was expecting to see based on my experience in other regions. There were many mothers with babies, and the real treat was seeing several mature males with their distinctive "cheek pads". Please support the good conservation work that is taking place in both Borneo and Sumatra to preserve habitat for these magnificent animals.
Now that I have my new MacPro system running my edit suite, I can catch up on some projects that I’ve been stalling. When editing 4K footage, it’s nice to be able to see it in 4K, so no more excuses now. My first task was to select scenes from my travels of the last few months to send to my agents. As I was trimming scenes for this purpose, I decided that I should make an African Demo Reel out of some of the scenes. Here it is. It represents about 5% of what I shot during 3 months in Africa. It contains footage from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Music is “African Fields” by Bjorn Lynne. The voice over was done by The Voice Realm. Hope you enjoy it, wish you could see it in all it’s 4K glory.
I've just replaced this video with a minor edit change. I'm entering it in a film festival that requires entries to be 24p and this piece is 30p. I changed a couple scenes that would not look as good at the slower frame rate. Other than that, it's pretty much the same as the original edit, but I thought I'd put the most current version online.
This video, titled Pondoro, includes some sample footage from Balule Private Nature Reserve in South Africa. Balule Reserve is a large private reserve that borders Kruger National Park. It is unfenced, so that Animals are free to wander back and forth between Balule and Kruger as they wish. Pondoro is the name for Lion in a local dialect, and also the name of the game lodge that I stayed at while I was in this area (a truly fantastic lodge!). One of the nice things about a private reserve is that you aren't restricted to the existing roads. If your guide and tracker spot some interesting activity off in the bush, you can off-road to get a better look. This film was mastered in 4K on RED and has been scaled down to a size that is presentable on the internet. Most of the footage was shot with a Sigma 50-500 lens (Bigma) and a Sigma 17-70 lens. This is a rough cut and will be updated at a later date. Editing 4k in the field on a MacBook Pro can be challenging and time consuming.
Music for this video is African Sky by ilkep
Dry Africa includes sample footage from Chobe National Park in Botswana and Etosha National Park in Namibia. At this time of year, the desert is taking over and the only available water is along river courses and at waterholes. Some of the waterholes are natural, and some are manmade. The natural waterholes also start to dry up late in the dry season, but some of the manmade waterholes have wells with solar powered pumps to keep them active during the driest months. These waterholes become the focus of all the activity. This film was mastered in 4K on RED and has been scaled down to a size that is presentable on the internet. Most of the footage was shot with a Sigma 50-500 lens (Bigma) and a Sigma 17-70 lens. This is a rough cut and will be updated at a later date. Editing 4k in the field on a MacBook Pro can be challenging and time consuming.
Music for this video is Expeditionary by Kevin MacLeod
This video includes sample footage from South Luangwa National Park in Eastern Zambia. I really has a lot of good Elephant behavior in the park and an excellent Leopard encounter. There are Hippos galore in the park and loads of big Crocodiles around the river banks and in small ponds left over from the rainy season. The big highlight for me was a dozen or so large Crocs feasting on a young Hippo. This film was mastered in 4K on RED and has been scaled down to a size that is presentable on the internet. Most of the footage was shot with a Sigma 50-500 lens (Bigma) and a Sigma 17-70 lens. This is a rough cut and will be updated at a later date. Editing 4k in the field on a MacBook Pro can be challenging and time consuming.
Music for this video is Arid Foothills by Kevin MacLeod
Golden Africa includes sample footage from The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. At this time of year, the Savannas on the floor of the rift valley are a sea of golden grasses except in areas close to water. I was fortunate to get all three species of big cats, Lion, Leopard and Cheetah. The Leopard and Cheetah also had cubs, a big bonus! This film was mastered in 4K on RED and has been scaled down to a size that is presentable on the internet. Most of the footage was shot with a Sigma 50-500 lens (Bigma) and a Sigma 17-70 lens. This is a rough cut and will be updated at a later date. Editing 4k in the field on a MacBook Pro can be challenging and time consuming.
Green Africa includes sample footage from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The National Parks and Forests in this region are generally above the level of the great rift valley and at a high enough altitude (7500 ft or more) that they are cool and green compared to the Savannas on the floor of the rift valley. This film was mastered in 4K on RED and has been scaled down to a size that is presentable on the internet. Most of the footage was shot with a Sigma 50-500 lens (Bigma) and a Sigma 17-70 lens. This is a rough cut and will be updated at a later date. Editing 4k in the field on a MacBook Pro can be challenging and time consuming. Also, I don't have access to some nice footage shot at Nakuru that is on the disks of a failed Drobo Mini, so I won't be able to access that footage until September. At that time, I'll re-edit and upload a cleaner version, but for now, this will have to do.
(Music is Infados by Kevin MacLeod)