Resident on location media production in Palau, Stock Footage and photography.

In this World of increasing airfares, and increased demand for on location media for environmental subjects, having a reliable and professional camera operator somewhere like Palau certainly makes sense.

When we catalog media for reference here at Lightning Strikes, it’s often with keywords like: Environment, Sanctuary, UNESCO, illegal fishing, underwater, coral reef, shark, Manta Ray, tourism, indigenous, endemic, aerial, subsistence, coral bleaching, global warming, large school of fish, tuna…..

Underwater wildlife of Palau
Underwater icons found on almost every dive in Palau

With a huge variety of healthy almost pristine ecosystems, Palau provides a huge wealth of opportunities for stories. Visually it’s stunning too with it’s tropical islands, rich and diverse coral reefs and plentiful iconic species.

There are numerous conservation stories available, everything from Marine Protected Areas set aside in Mangroves and satellite reefs to the National Marine Sanctuary 80% the size of Texas.

We have WW2 wrecks and their de-mining and recovery of remains, extensive underwater caverns and of course the many marine lakes with their millions of Jellyfish.

A huge range of underwater environments……

The other side of the coin is also available with stories on illegal fishing and the black market trade in protected species, the need to balance tourism and development with conservation. Tuna economics, Climate Change, Ocean acidification, renewable energy, coral bleaching….

There are stories waiting to be told and new technologies waiting to tell them with.

Drone filming services expand shot range with a reasonable budget

Lightning Strike Productions has worked with numerous broadcast entities in Palau over the years including the BBC, CNN, Arte, Thalassa 3, ABC, Channel 9 Australia, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. It’s also a regular contributor to online news media through it’s stringer services.

Our cameras, both underwater and drone mounted output Raw footage ensuring the very highest in 16 bit quality.

Postcard perfect Palau

And starting this year at Lightning Strike we are starting to do all of this with 360 VR and 3D too……

360 VR by Drone
Aerial VR in Palau

For a run down of subjects and readily available portfolios and galleries please see here.

If there is any subject you can’t find or you would like to talk to us about licensing options or something specific please contact us.

Cheers

 

Richard

Slow shutter speed using ND filters for Time-lapse

Hi,

I’ve been struggling with panning time-lapses and 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.

 

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……

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

 

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.

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Palau’s Extreme Reefs

Palau’s northernmost island Ngurangel and it’s southernmost Helen Reef are separated by little over 400 miles of island peppered ocean but are remarkably similar. Both are low lying sandy features surrounded by huge atoll reefs which makes them a haven for both marine and bird life.

Helen Reef filmed during an illegal fishing observer mission

Helen reef  is a long thin spit of land, sparsely vegetated and has a resident population of 4 rangers, 3 dogs and about 5000 sea birds. The rangers have their own accommodations and  keep an eye out for illegal fishing activities. It lies closer to Indonesia than it does Palau’s capital Koror.

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