This morning while drinking my coffee I read interesting article on the Huffington Post site about how humans are close to killing off two-thirds of the wildlife on the planet within the next fifty years. Kind of a depressing way to start my morning, but still an interesting read. Then this afternoon while cruising around on Vimeo I came across the video below, which is kind of a depressing way to end the afternoon. None the less it is a beautiful animated short for the WWF and it ties directly to what I read this morning. Produced by Zombie Studio “Dream” was featured in the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, showing four animals that are facing extinction. They tell their stories through the words of “I Dreamed a Dream” a song you might recognize from the musical Les Misérables. The animation and styling of the short has a great look and feel to it, and while at times it can get a little heavy-handed, the message is still very powerful. If you have a large monitor and a powerful enough system, run it full screen or watch it on your large TV.
The two-minute short for wildlifeaid.org.uk is about the declining population of hedgehogs in Great Britain. While the demise of the beloved hedgehog is concerning to me, especially since they have dropped from 30 million to 1 million since 1950, I really want to talk about the wonderful animation quality of the video. Directed by Kris Hofmann with Illustrations by Sandra Dieckmann, the animation is a really nice blend of 2D and 3D techniques that creates a really unique and memorable look for the short. Being memorable is exactly what a PSA needs to do, and Wildlife Aid with the talented crew they hired to produce this have done just that.
After spending a total of seven hours of hiking through various trails at altitude it’s safe to say I had my ass handed to me. The photo below was at Lilly lake after hiking up to Jurassic Park trying to find rock climbers. No rock climbers, but a great view from the top was great.
This is a mallard duck couple over in the marshland South of Lilly Lake. The challenge, getting them to sit still, not fly off, or swim behind tall marsh grass. Using a tip from a wildlife photo blog I set the OMD to aperture priority, set the f-stop to f-11 and started shooting. The 150mm to 300mm did a great job and the OMD’s image stabilization saved me. This is all the way out at 300 with the birds at about 50 yards.
Minor post processing was done in Snap Seed on the iPad with a little tone adjustment.
One of the things I love about staying at Tim’s place in Estes Park, Colorado is the abundance of wildlife so close to the property. The image below was taken just a half mile from his house, South of the Lumpy Ridge Trail Head. I was testing out the 150 to 300mm (300 to 600 on a full frame DSLR) with the OMD.
The camera did a solid job of stabilizing the shot, but I need practice with the lens though. Especially at maximum focal length. The shot below has the lens all the way out. The coyote is about 75 yards away.
What I noticed was all the grass seems sharp, as well as the coyotes face. The mid section of his body seems a bit soft though. I think I need to increase shutter speed and find the sweet spot on an f-stop that renders sharpness across the depth of the frame.
When a film comes together, many times things are missed, or parts don’t add up to complete the whole. In the case of the short film “Alaska Nutrient Stream” everything adds up. The photography, sound editing, post production, film editing, all combined with the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness and the power of nature. Major hat tip to film maker Paul Klaver and his short film.
Shot over a 3 week period on his Canon 5D and a GoPro, the results are pretty stunning. Klaver has a fantastic eye for framing shots and editing in a way that completes the story.
This morning I was thinking I haven’t really posted anything about the house for a while, and that was the original point of this blog. So as I was sitting in the living room enjoying my morning coffee, and pondering the winter wonderland outside my window, I decided now was as good a time as any.
Anyone who lives in Kansas City, or the Midwest for that matter is very aware that we have been in a deep blanket of snow and cold since the 24th of December. Actually I’m thinking if you have seen or read any news in the last two weeks you are probably aware of the grip “Old Man Winter” has on most of the country right now. Well rather than post some long hate rant about the snow and cold, and believe me I could, I thought I would try to find the positive side of this. We still have over 2 and a half months of winter to go, and according to the experts its going to be a very snowy winter.
So here is what I decided while sitting in the living room and gazing out the expanse of windows that covers my house from floor to ceiling along the south wall.
The snow might be a pain, but the view is spectacular. It really is. The 3/4 acre lot that my house sits on is covered in deep white. The 3 acres to the South and West are a mottled white and brown mass of trees and prairie grass. And there really is an amazing amount of wildlife to see. In the last week and a half all the animals that live in the woods have ventured out in search of food and perhaps better shelter. The deer are frequenting the field, and I’m pretty sure the fox or a opposum has set up residence beneath the overhang beyond our deck. I see tracks coming and going, and Cosmo is convinced that he needs to go in and find what ever it is living beyond the snow drift nestled safely against the side of the house. I still can’t believe that there are this many animals living this close to the city. I’m less than half a mile from 7th Street and the 39th Street corridor. It’s just crazy.
So while I’m not looking forward to shoveling, and trudging through the snow and cold, I have to admit it looks pretty nice outside.