Sailfin Snapper spawning aggregations

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.

Here’s a quick clip of a Sailfin Snapper aggregation I shot this week, it’s still early in the season, maybe 3000 fish here but more than 10,000 likely later.

 

Watch this space for updates as we return to document this impressive natural event.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

 

New promo film for Dive shop and cinemascope 2.35:1 editing

Hi,

over the last few months I’ve been diving with Dari Divers here in Palau. They want to develop their website using my photos and films to show the range of their diving, as well as the new sites they are discovering, together with all the cool fish, sharks and Mantas at these new locations. 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:

All the underwater stuff is shot on the Canon 5D3 running Magic Lantern  capable of outputting 4K Raw footage.

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 more media coming from this new collaboration as well as views from new as yet undisclosed sites around Palau.

 

Cheers

Richard

 

Documenting the marine lakes of Palau using a drone

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.

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……

Welcome to Behind the Scenes

Hello and welcome,

here we have a collection of posts that look behind the cameras of Lightning Strike Productions.

Find our thoughts on a variety of categories like:

Underwater filming and photography

Drone filming and photography

Time-lapse shooting

Conservation

Expeditions and Travel

360 VR

 

Enjoy and keep coming back for regular updates.

Cheers

Richard

Winged Ambassadors of Palau

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.

The money bird as depicted on the Capital Building, Melekeok.

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!

The Whimbrel also known as the Okak

 

How to become a professional underwater cameraman

How to become a professional underwater cameraman

Underwater Cameraman Palau
Underwater filmmaking needs you! Photo courtesy Eric Goh

I get a lot of e-mails asking me how I became an underwater cameraman or how I’ve got to where I am as media producer, so I thought I’d put together a short blog to help all those aspiring shooters.

There is no one course or definite route. The more successful underwater camera operators you meet the more varied the stories  you’ll get. For the sake of this, here are some recurring similarities.

Most of it may seem like common sense but hopefully my contribution offers you some insight.

Underwater camera
Waiting for the sun to set before filming a Grouper spawning aggregation, Little Cayman, circa 2005

Continue reading “How to become a professional underwater cameraman”

10 things I’ve learnt from 10 years of Media Production in 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:

  1. 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.
Go Pro sticky pads are very sticky….I’m in the cabin with a WiFi feed to my iPad directing the pilot for good framing…..
Underwater Time-lapse of Coral Bleaching using a firmware hack to provide my Canon with an intervalometer, repeat visits over a 4 month period.

Continue reading “10 things I’ve learnt from 10 years of Media Production in Palau”

5 Big uses for drones in Palau

5 big uses for drones in Palau

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 mean that manufacturers are bringing out new models that take huge leaps forward in development 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. My company 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:

This aerial shot of a burning illegal fishing boat, is not possible by any other method than by Drone.

Continue reading “5 Big uses for drones in Palau”

Fixer services for international productions in Palau.

Fixing services, location scouts, permits, talent, crew, camera assets, camera rentals, customs clearence, vehicles, accomodations…. All things you would rather know about BEFORE you get off the plane for your production’s location shoot.

Lightning Strike Productions provided in country support throughout the Animal Planet shoot for Ocean Warriors

This is where having an experienced and well connected local crew can save you time and money, ensuring you get what you need to deliver your project on budget and on time.

A location shoot doesn’t have to be stressful, it shouldn’t be stressful if you have done your research and found the right guys on the ground to get things done for you. If things for whatever reason don’t pan out, and sometimes no amount of research will stop it, it’s good to have people there that are focused and can still deliver if the Gods of fate are not smiling.

Safety diver and assistant cameraman discussing lighting and camera positions.

Pooling your resources is important. Having what you need a phone call away is something that only a well connected and experienced fixer can provide. After all, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. No amount of years filming for this or that company will enable you to get an interview with the President or find you the village elder that can deliver the story clinching quotes.

Lightning Strike Media Productions has at it’s disposal an accumilation of decades of media production, journalism and living in Palau experience. If you are a Producer, DP, camaraman or one man production unit, you should let us help you realise your production goals. We work closely with the Government and NGOs on a variety of projects so have great contacts and experience where it matters.

Our clients have included Discovery Channel, ABC Australia, CNN, Arte, ZDF, Al Jazeera Economist magazine and the BBC along with numerous ad agencies and independant producers.

Contact us to discuss your project.