The following is a guest article from Katie Conlon of Pro Am USA.
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere naturally beautiful, or if you’re able to travel far and often, you probably want to be able to capture those pristine settings and use them in your projects. Shooting video in remote areas is difficult and dangerous, but the allure is undeniable, and the payoff is –almost– always worth it. Here are a few tips that will help you adventure filmmakers shoot with more confidence and create higher quality art, in those hard to access, unbelievable, remote places.
The best part about shooting outdoors when you’re adventuring is the potential to shoot from places no one has shot from before. When terrain is tough and there’s an aspect of danger, using remote cameras will allow you to explore and capture the most difficult locations, while staying safe. When out in the wilderness, and in a particularly precarious situation, safety comes first. So when you’re setting up your remote camera on the side of the cliff or high up in the trees, be sure to run metal safety cables through the heavy-duty strap loops on your camera. Above all you need to ensure that you’re safe and that your gear is safe. Then you can focus on capturing the perfect, adventure vid.
Minimalist Gear Bag
Unless you have the resources to drop-in via helicopter, filming in extreme locations usually means trekking to remote places. The less kit you have, the more nimble you are and the easier it will be to get to those obscure locations. No one wants to spend the whole morning lugging extraneous gear around. It’s important to have all the necessary items you need to be safe and to get your shots though, so make a plan and prepare for your outing. Wide angle and zoom lenses will certainly be needed, but you probably don’t want to hike for hours with video camera jib. Zip ties, safety clasps and cables, and water proofing will also come in handy, as will a camera cleaning kit. The weather is never dependable, so keep your gear clean and protected during the shoot and at the end of each day. Definitely come prepared, but if you’re going remote, don’t overpack.
Filters & Lenses
Lenses are crucial, because when you’re filming outside, the natural environment is so much more open than the indoors. Take advantage of focal length. This is accomplished quite simply by using prime lenses, and particularly wide-angle lenses such as a 28mm. If you need to get closer to your subject, using something like a Nifty 50 –a 50mm lense– will allow you to play with the depth of field and create really cinematic footage.
In addition to a few specialized lenses, neutral density filters are a must-have when you’re shooting outdoors. An ND filter can make a huge difference between getting a shot and not getting a shot in the brightness of the midday sun. By applying an ND Filter to your lens you can adjust your ISO, f/stop, and shutter speed to “near normal” levels in order to get all the shots you want.
The sun can either be your best friend or your worst enemy when shooting outdoors, so be sure to use it to your advantage and be aware of it’s behavior. When you’re hiking in the middle of the day, make use of the sun’s shadows and the natural filter of the midday clouds, when they’re out. It’s a great time to get awesome silhouettes or a killer time lapse. You can also frame your shots so the sun will backlight your character and don them with glowing edge light. By being aware of your surroundings and knowing the sun’s schedule, you’ll get some incredible picture and video.
The most important thing to remember when you’re filming in remote areas is to be safe. Bring some friends, and let others know your location and schedule. With the right tools and the right knowledge you’ll be able to capture some of the most beautiful things, never before caught on camera.