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This is a short (4 minute) video from our even shorter visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge as part of our east coast road trip in mid-March 2009. The refuge is located on Assateague Island right off the coast of Virginia.
It was a pretty bland day, light-wise. When we have cloudy weather like this we almost prefer that it rains a bit to saturate the colors. No such luck that day however.
Chincoteague is on the eastern seaboard migration flyway and can have plenty of birds on it at various times of the year. November is a particularly good time to visit. (Several photographers I know spend Thanksgiving there.) There were some snow geese when we arrived and we had expected more to congregate as evening approached, but alas just the opposite happened and when we checked the ponds they were pretty much empty.
When nature hands you lemons…
Chincoteague is also fairly well known for the feral horses (ponies) that call the island their home. They were making themselves pretty scarce as well, but we did find one… then 15… then another 20. For us, 35 ponies in one day is lemonade!
The music track was kindly provided by Duke Levine. If you like what you hear, please visit Duke’s page and buy an album or two.
Technical drivel follows…
This video was shot using the Canon 5D Mk2 camera. Most of the shots are with a 500mm f/4.0L telephoto lens. A 70-200mm lens was used for the wider angles. For those of you paying attention, this video has something that most “traditional” video doesn’t have: a dust spot on the sensor. Yes, we have all sorts of tools for making our still images spot-free, but now we need a tool for our video editors too.
The raccoon clips were taken with the 500mm telephoto and a 1.4x teleconverter for an effective focal length of 700mm. I don’t have my video head rigged for the 5D (yet) so this was done with a ballhead. I was a bit shocked and very much pleased at how the image stabilizer in the 500 make the ad hoc panning work pretty well. I’ve found that stabilizer can work against you taking video at high magnification — the shots tend to drift slightly.
If nothing else I was pleased by the ability to frame up some video shots and then quickly recompose for stills without having to haul two tripods around and/or constantly switch setups. So my original goals for the 5D continue. I’m still rather annoyed at the need to ballpark the exposure though. This is turning out to be rather difficult to do in the field with any sort of consistancy. Practice, practice, practice…
I’m still playing around with the delivery of the video. I’m converting to Flash via VisualHub (I’m going to take Video Monkey for a spin in a couple of hours) which does an OK job, although the gamma differences from the source Quicktime file are really bothering me. There are plenty of chroma compression artifacts in the Flash version as well.
The point of this blog layout was to provide room for big images and I want to do the same for the video, if at all possible. Not sure how well that’s working but it sure makes an interesting testbed.
Finally, extra points to those of you who noticed that I repeated the theme of the lighthouse flash in a water reflection by the horses. When I saw how that lined up while composing the shot I had a big smile. It’s the little things sometimes…