Tanzania Photo Safari Redux


I had all but given up on the video footage I shot with my D300s when leading a photo safari in Tanzania last February for National Geographic Expeditions. Although I used a beanbag and did my best, the ever so slight movement of the Land Rover, even parked with the engine turned off, were enough to give most of my clips a little shake. A shake that became painfully obvious on my 30″ Cinema Display!

Of course, I didn’t notice it at the time on my LCD—I thought everything looked solid.  Oh, the lessons learned (see the post–Prides Cometh Before a Fall)

I’m working with the son of a friend this summer, trying to learn Final Cut Express, and together, we tried to salvage what we could from my clips, posted above. As regular readers know, I’m currently struggling with video and wondering if I might be better off forgetting the whole thing and sticking to my strong suit, or plunging ahead.

Plunging…hmmn, unfortunately, that’s still the operative word when it comes to my video chops so far. But I’m not giving up yet!

I spent last weekend shooting video of the first ever Jazz Academy at Solebury School, one of the projects of the Jonathan Krist Foundation.

We had students from inner city Camden and bucolic Bucks County side by side all weekend, learning jazz from some great pros like James McBride, George Laks, Brent White, Marlene Rice, Devyn Rush, Jamal and Nasir Dickerson, Hassan Sabree, and Dave Bachart.

Next week, I’m teaching my travel photography class up at the Maine Media Workshops….it’ll be great to be back in New England, teaching a subject that I know something about!

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Hi Bob,
    Nicely done, Bob. I’m happy to see you didn’t fall for the 1-2 second scenes before jerking to the next, ala music videos. With nature, we want to see the image, but it holds true to everything. In the not too distant past, four seconds per scene was considered standard and effective.

    Video without digital stabilization (VR) usually requires manual stabilization via a tripod. You might consider a three jointed monopod. They pack very small and are indispensible for my football work in low light where no flash is permitted. You’ll have some lateral movement, but not the upsetting vertical jerk.

    Don’t give up! You are a “National” treasure.


    1. Hi Bob: I’m not a fan of those super quick cuts either. Too A.D.D. for me! I think, in retrospect, the only way to get super stable video from a Land Rover is to make everybody else in the truck get out and walk! B

      1. Great idea — and — it will greatly enhance your gas mileage! 😉

  2. Hi Bob. Beautiful footage! My D90 is jealous! If you ever have some footage that you love but it needs some stabilization or has too much “jello” effect. You can use a program like After Effects or Nuke to correct it. Here is a link to The Foundry’s rolling shutter plugin.

    1. Dave: Thanks for the tip. More software to buy. Hooray!:-). Bob

        1. Thanks Dave, I’ll check it out. B

  3. Wow – great music. Can you tell me the title and album? And, I like the jumping (not the camera, but the people). Exotique for me who’s read Isak Dinesen, Beryl Markham & Peter Matthiessen, but only know Africa through books. One of these days. And, I guess I gotta look at the D300 this winter, but I don’t know how I can justify the expense. These cameras ain’t cheap!

    1. Aileen: The singer is Kinobe—he’s a friend of mine from Uganda, and I’ve hosted him and his band here a couple times while they’re on tour. For my hospitality , he lets me use his music for my little projects! The other piece is a royalty free piece from an RF library called Unique Tracks. Bob

  4. Bob: Great video and music. Brings back wonderful memories. I wish you could say “video is so easy” and “the video software is a snap.” Not sure I am up to this. The shots of the cheetah were amazing. Can you pull a photo from the video?

  5. Hi Bob! Looks pretty good. I’m impressed how steady your shots were from the vehicle!

    Where do you get your music; is it royalty-free or licensed?

    1. Skunk: One tune is licensed Royalty Free, the other, from Kinobe, is licensed from them when I put up the whole band at my house for a few days while they were on a recent tour! B

  6. Nah don’t give up, remember all those times you said to yourself shooting stills “Boy do I suck” I bet that’s down to once a week or so.

    1. Jim: Once a week? Once an hour, maybe! B

  7. Looks pretty darn good to me.. Thanks as this vid is about as close to an African Safari as I will get.

  8. That was pretty spectacular – The wide angle shots were superb and the Kinobe track leaves me speechless.

  9. Bob, your comments about your inadequacies with video are unfounded. Yesterday, I was hiking and photographing with a fellow photographer at 10,000 feet elevation on 4th of July Trail near Nederland. Colorado. We stopped at several waterfalls and took videos with our Canon G9s. then the topic turned to you, Bob. I mentioned to my friend how I couldn’t believe how seamlessly you have integrated excellent video into your slideshows and items for your blog. I suggested that my friend, Jim, check out your blog. You are certainly a video pioneer. Your stuff is great, Bob.

    1. Dave: You’re very kind…I appreciate the encouragement! Bob

  10. Don’t give up Bob, really like your angles and cuts, Started about a year ago at the wish of my editors, not a big fan of video at the time, much good to say about it after the arrival of d3s
    I like the Idea a lot that you are pursuing all forms of medium as different tools, they all have their place.
    Like you as well There is no substitute for the still Image, thats why I’ll be attending your class next week, and it almost seems a relief to go back and just enjoy the power of the single frame.

    1. Joe: Look forward to meeting you! Bob

  11. Nicely done! Your ability to continue to grow your skills is an inspiration to us mere mortals. Just got back from class in VT with David M. He referenced you numerous times in class – all positive comments, of course. Enjoy Maine!

  12. Bob, It appears you found much more game in a shorter time than we had previously. Was this because of time of year? Were you near the same area we stayed in?

    1. Tim: Different time of year…we were there during the migration and a little closer to their path. Still not a full migration, but more than we saw on the jet trip. cheers, Bob

  13. Hi! The work you do is amazing! I hope to someday be at least a bit as good as you.
    Regarding the shaking video issue – haven’t you tried the shake reduction built into iMovie’09? I know it may seem too low-tech a program, but it nevertheless works rather well. Alas, you may lose something in the size of the image.

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