Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Quality of Light

A day off? Ha! No thanks... I think I'll spend my President's Day trekking through the beautiful valley's of Nicasio while putting my cine skills to the test. I mean, how could I resist? It was perhaps the most beautiful day of 2010 thus far.

I rolled out of Berkeley at around noon with my trusty 7D kit, my Glidetrack, and a backpack full of Powerbars and Gatorade. I anticipated this being a small day trip. Little did I know, I was in for a long night. But before I elaborate, please check out the video. The mood of the video is very pretty. The rest of my story is not. If your computer can, hit the full screen button on the video (little arrows).

I'm very happy with how the video turned out. I think there are some beautiful shots in there and some beautiful colors. I was a little disappointed with some of the Glidetrack shots because my track was sticking pretty badly. I guess that's what happens when you forget about the open can of Monster energy drink in your backpack pocket and decide to bend over to pick up the Glidetrack thus spilling the neon green fluid all over the rails. Run on sentence? Probably.

So, while shooting in Lucas Valley, I was attempting to shoot some shots for a logo I am working on for my film team. It involved a very ornate sword and a red silk sash. Somehow when I packed up all of my gear I left the beautiful sword on the ground, completely forgetting about it. I realized it was missing when I got to my next location. I figured it was in a remote enough location that I could go back when I finished shooting and recover the blade. Upon returning some hours later, the beautiful sword was gone. Alas, Arandir...thou blade now belongeth to another. Here is the last known image of thy sword, shot with my Digital Harinezumi.

It was dark when I went to go look for the sword, so I had to make a decision. Did I want to spend the next 2.5 hours hanging out in the pitch black wilderness so that I could do a star time-lapse? Of course I did. Well, after about 5 minutes I got pretty bored. Don't ask me where the time went. Exposing each frame for 30 seconds means a lot of sitting.

Weird things started to happen. I saw shadows of hawks/vultures flying 10 feet above me, deciding whether or not to attack such a bored fellow. A teenage couple came venturing out into the darkness to do what teenagers do. I started to hear wolves in the mountains, and other terrifying screaming noises (it wasn't the couple, don't worry.) My fear of lurking mountain lions pushed me back to my car where I grabbed a prop rifle to help me defend my time-lapsing camera. Oh and the only light source I had was my cell phone? And we're not talking about an iPhone here, as I'm sure there's an app for that.

Lessons Learned:
1. Polarizer + Stars = FAIL. I accidentally left my polarizing filter on my lens while shooting the night sky. This directly led to me needing to crank up the ISO more than I needed to, which is why those night shots are either grainy or underexposed.

2. Prepare for the unexpected. Bring a light source, good reading material, and a weapon when taking time lapse footage. Swords don't count.

3. Raptors do not exist in the Nicasio hills. Hyena's might...

-Jesse Tarnoff


  1. Very nice work. How long were you out doing the stars?

  2. Nice. There's nothing like just going out for a few days and shooting for yourself.