Sunday, February 1, 2009

Details that Bring Peace

In my busy life as a filmmaker and videographer, I seldom get the chance to slow down. Yet, as life gets more complex, I am realizing that some slow time is essential to remaining sharp and focused on the often intense jobs I do. Sometimes, it’s as simple as stopping, closing my eyes and breathing deeply for a minute or two. Other times, I’ve found that focusing on a small or simple detail of the environment around me serves that same purpose.

As an example, almost every city I go to has a prominent water feature somewhere in town. It might be a fountain, a waterfall, or even a scenic overlook on a river or stream. I’ve found that these water features provide the mind a welcome break, a clearing of the mind, and a slowing of the pulse. Here’s what I do when I come upon one of these:

First, I find an interesting part of the water feature and focus me eyes on it.
Next, I move my eyes around the detail attempting to take every last bit of the detail in. I focus on the colors, textures, and shapes that compose the detail.
Finally, I attempt to block out all other sound and focus on the rich sound that the water makes.

This is what works for me—next time you pass that fountain in the mall or that waterfall in your office park, give it a try. I think you’ll find that as short a time as 5 minutes will do a lot for your mental state!

Can’t find a suitable water feature nearby? Here are some examples I’ve assembled for the upcoming Relaxation Media product, “Water”. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting a Shallower Depth of Field with Small Camcorders

One of the greatest challenges in working with today’s smaller camcorders (with smaller chips) is getting a shallow depth of field for your shot. In my opinion, this is one of the major limitations of these cameras. Since this is a well recognized problem, video professionals have come up with a variety of ways to handle this problem, which I will share here.

First off, if you have one of the higher-end cameras with a large diameter lens front (82mm or similar) there are 35mm lens adapter systems you can use that will cut down the light reaching the chips and make your depth of field more shallow. These are great if you can afford to purchase or rent them for your shoots AND if your camera is compatible with them.

The next common technique is to use the camera’s neutral density filter or, for even more dramatic effect, add a neutral density filter to the front of the lens. These filters are designed to cut the amount of light reaching the chips and are generally rated with a number denoting how many f-stops you will have to open up to keep the exposure consistent with the non-filtered image. The higher the number, the darker the filter, and, the shallower your resulting depth of field will be.

The final, and less well known technique, is to increase the shutter speed of the camera. Generally speaking, each incremental increase in shutter speed will result in one less f-stop of light reaching the image sensors (or will require one more f-stop open to achieve the same exposure.) In situations where the other two options won’t work, this is a great third option to have in your bag of tricks. The only caveat to this is that at a certain point (maybe 250th/sec) motion will start to have a very different look. While this might be great for certain things that have fast motion like animals, the same effect might look strange on other subjects (like in an interview where every detail of a person’s blinking eye is now visible.)

Keep in mind that these tricks are limited to what can be done on the camera to limit depth of field. There are many other things that can be done in your environment (like changing a location or changing the lighting) that also play an important role.

Check THIS out for more on depth of field. Happy Shooting!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Colors Video for

Fall Colors are out in force, and I've been out finding some beautiful spots to see the color. I love to share, so check out this early fall montage. Relax and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autumn is Here!


My favorite time of year has finally arrived! The days are cooling down (finally) and it's the perfect time to get out and enjoy nature.

Now that we're located in the foothills of the mighty Sierra Nevada, I am really excited to get out and record some images of the changing leaves, the crisp and sparkling blue skies and the longer shadows that make this time of year so perfectly dramatic.

Here are some fall images I found online to whet the appetite. In future posts, I'll be sharing the fruits of my fall labors.


Autumn Photo # 1
Autumn Photo # 2
Autumn Photo # 3
Autumn Photo # 4
Autumn Photo # 5

Monday, May 5, 2008

Why I Work on Projects

This week's post is light on the facts and heavy on the philosophy because sometimes, it's just nice to write what's on your mind. :-)

Since I began working on the Relaxation Media videos, I have had many people ask me, "Why are you working on these projects?" This is never asked in a negative tone, but people are often curious about who the videos are for and how they fit into the mix of work that I do. The simple answer is that I think people need to have a way to just be still and quiet sometimes and it is soooo hard to do that in the kind of society we live in. Also, I think there are a great many people who simply cannot get outside and take in a beautiful vista or sit by a waterfall and take in the relaxing sound. Thus, when I work on these projects, I do it for these people (and for myself because I am one of "these people")

I realize this may seem simple, but sometimes, the best answers are.

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Relaxation Media Wide Open Spaces DVD and Podcast are Done!

Exciting news from Open Spaces, our first DVD product is done and ready for sale. It's been a long time coming, but I think you'll agree that everyone's effort has created a product that really takes you to relaxing and beautiful spaces in the great outdoors.

In addition to offering the video as a DVD (using eco-friendly printing and packaging), it will also be available, in the greenest form possible, as a file for iPod or PSP playback. To get a sense of how beautiful the product is, you can check out a preview that we just put up online.

So check it out and let us know what you think. We're always looking for good ideas from people like you! Also, as a reader of Beautiful Details, you can get a limited time discount of $5.00 by using the coupon code bdreader when you purchase.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Travel Lightly On This Earth

How to Travel Lightly

One of the biggest questions I get from other nature lovers who travel is, “How do you justify traveling to beautiful natural locations, when the very act of getting there may contribute to their destruction?” That, unfortunately, is a fair question. I mean, I wish I could dismiss this question with a simple answer, however, the answer, as with many things in our world is truly complex.

First of all, there are many modes of transportation that can be used to get to a particular beautiful location ranging from highly polluting air-travel to more ecologically sound electric and bio-diesel transportation. Also, one of the major goals of showing these beautiful sites to people is the idea that showing them to people shows them the importance of preserving them and doing things that will ultimately be better to our planet.

Here are a few things I do to travel more lightly:
1) I offset the carbon for my travel methods. There are many places to do this online, but one of the best is which actually allows you to get an exact dollar amount right on some airline websites based on your itinerary.
2) I only use one towel, washcloth, etc. for my entire stay in a hotel
3) I take only pictures and leave only footprints, which means packing out all trash and recyclables and not picking up natural souvenirs.

Do you have any tips to travel more lightly?