I’ve been struggling with creating a good panning time-lapse using Circular Polarizers since…well since I started using the combination. The sky is never consistent and the darkening effect uneven.. So I invested in a professional level ND filter system from Lee, a UK based filter company.
It’s not cheap to start but the quality is incredible. There is no colour cast on the image, all the filters do is limit the light. This means I can either open up the iris for really shallow depth of field or keep the shutter open for much longer and still have a properly exposed shot.
This shutter dragging is what I’ve been looking for with Time-lapse sequences and the Lee system allows me to stack multiple filters together to really dial in the effect. The system also allows me to start with say 3 filters then as the sun goes down I can remove them one at a time whilst adjusting the camera’s exposure to transition from day to night.
Yesterday was the first field test so I packed my gear and headed for one of Palau’s secluded waterfalls.
Using a 0.75 filter I could drag the shutter to 1.3 seconds blurring the water nicely.
Watch this space for more insights into these freshwater environments or check out this section of my portfolio for creatures I’ve already filmed at other waterfall and freshwater locations in Palau.
This showreel contains Time-lapse footage shot with both the Little and Big Stopper filters from Lee, find their website here.
As natural events go, very little compares to fish spawning aggregations and it’s the time of year again to be diving Peleliu. Both the Sailfin Snapper (Symphorichthys spilurus) and Red Snapper (Lutjanus bohar) are starting to aggregate along the east reefs of Yellow Wall and Peleliu Express to the corner.
For those intrepid divers, early morning dives just before the full moon will find them spawning in their thousands. Also making an appearance are the predators such as Bull Sharks and Oceanic Black Tips.
How to find the aggregations
I joined Dari Divers for this trip as they know exactly where and when to jump in, even once on the reef they can interpret the fishes behavior and know how to approach them. Check out the edited short film from this year:
Check out last years showreel with footage from the Red Snapper spawning dives here.
Watch this space for updates as we return to document this impressive natural event.
Over the last few months I’ve been diving with Dari Dive Palau. Together we are planning on showing all the cool fish, sharks and mantas at new locations they know. They asked me to put together a short film of the regular features such as the spawning dives, aggregations, Blue Corner, Blue Holes, German Channel etc to begin with, which you can see here:
I have found Dari Divers to be particularly good. Apart from offering Nitrox, great lunches and taking small groups to the best sites, I’m finding that they have a deep understanding of the timing of natural events. This rich knowledge enables them to put their divers in the water at exactly the right time on the right day to witness nature at it’s best.
See another film I produced on another trip with them here.
After diving at a professional level for close to 20 years, in a wide variety of locations and shops around the world, I hope I can say that I have a reasonable amount of experience in the business of recreational diving. Many shops are very busy always running at 150% (great for business/bad for customer satisfaction), some cut corners and the customers are left with substandard guides, poor rental equipment, boats that break down etc. It’s a fine blend of personal attention and the excitement of discovery and adventure that for me makes Dari Divers stand out for a great diving experience in Palau.
Making the film
All the underwater stuff is shot on the Canon 5D3 running Magic Lantern capable of outputting 4K Raw footage. For more info on this set up see this post
Aerials were shot using the DJI Inspire 1, hand launched and caught from the bow of the boat during the surface intervals.
For the editing I looked at a different aspect ratio this time. 2.35:1 instead of the usual 16:9 to see how it holds up over time and initially I like the look. To me it makes the screen bigger even though it’s actually smaller…..
Let me know in the comments section below what you think to the film and whether or not the 2.35:1 ratio works for this sort of thing.
Watch out for new media coming from this new collaboration as well as views from new as yet undisclosed sites around Palau.
Palau has a huge number of Marine Lakes locked within it’s limestone islands and I’ve wanted to explore them since I’ve been here but they are very hard to get to, usually surrounded by thick jungle growing out of razor sharp rocks.
Because of this few people have managed to explore them so I thought I would use a drone to take a look and see them from a new perspective. Aircraft such as planes and helicopters have of course flown over them but I don’t think anyone has actually descended into one before.
So I used Google Earth to locate a few that were 1 mile or less from a suitable take off point and set to flying over and into them.
Some are impressive like the one in the video above, others no more than a depression with some shallow water in that dries quickly without rain.
What are Marine Lakes?
Marine lakes form in limestone islands where certain areas of the limestone erode away quicker than their surroundings. This erosion can create a depression or bowl and if that bowl is close enough to the ocean it may fill with sea water percolating through the porous limestone.
What makes Palau’s Marine Lakes special is that sometimes in a few places certain organisms such as Jellyfish have flowed in and remained there.
Some have nothing living in them but maybe frogs, others can have millions of Jellyfish. I’m looking forward to the day I spot one of Palau’s Saltwater Crocodiles……
After months of recon flights over one particular lake, I decided to find a way to film what was inside it. A little local know how told me a route and one day I set off to film there. See this film here for my findings……
The Marine Lake environment is extremely fragile but incredibly interesting. For further reading consider this article.
We are available for Underwater filming, underwater photography, underwater camera rental, aerial filming, drone pilot hire, Location scouting, fixer work, Film production in Palau, permits, accommodation in Palau, dive boat charters, aircraft charters, stock footage or just advice on where to dive.
Many thousands of migratory shorebirds stop-over in Palau to rest and feed, one of them is the Whimbrel. In Palau it is called the Okak. The Okak has a larger much rarer cousin, the Far Eastern Curlew, so rare only around 5 birds get spotted here each year. This is the largest species of Curlew and is also know in Palauan tradition as the money bird. The story goes that it visits these shores and leaves gifts behind. It swallowed traditional money and flew to parts of Palau, where if it was left to settle and not disturbed it would eventually defecate out the money and the residents would become rich.
You can find the symbols all over traditional meeting housings and Government buildings.
Camera gear for filming birds
Today I utilized my new canon 70-300 lens coupled to a 2x teleconverter and managed to get some nice stable footage of this Whimbrel even at full zoom. The Image stabilization of the canon lens is amazing!
Wildlife conservation in Palau
The NGO spearheading this initiative to raise awareness about the plight of these birds is the Palau Conservation Society but this is far from the only work they do. See their website for more information and how to help them achieve their goals.
Palau Conservation Society commissioned me to make a film highlighting the status of Palau’s migratory shorebirds and for about 9 months we collaborated with local bird and conservation experts to create this film which is being shown across Palau:
I’ve been a Media Producer in various guises in Palau for 10 years now, initially as an underwater cameraman with a little bit of topside work thrown in, then diversifying into Time-lapse, run n’ gun, aerials (drone and aircraft), interviews etc.
Palau has changed a lot in those 10 years and this has made me change with it.
Here are 10 things (actually 11) I’ve learned about Media Production in that time:
So many cameras
Now more than ever people have cameras, as a dedicated cameraman I’m being squeezed by the ready availability of cameras. Everyone over the age of 5 seems to have one (gross over generalization, I know). So now more than ever I have to be inventive with my imaging, flexibility and the old cliche of thinking outside the box are more important than ever before. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, think about a sequence or image you want to acquire, no matter how crazy or impossible it first appears to be, then work out how to do it. Dare to be different.
Drones or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are one of the biggest growth industries of the early 21st Century. Their rise has been stratospheric. Development of flight, navigation, imaging, and automation systems are continuous. Manufacturers are bringing out new models that take huge leaps forward every 6 months.
I started flying drones about two years ago with a 450 class model and was commissioned almost immediately for work. Since then I’ve upgraded to an Inspire 1 for it’s longer flight times, image quality and stability in wind. Lightning Strike Media now provides a range of aerial imaging services and flies almost daily.
The technology is so innovative it has opened up a range of opportunities in Palau: