BL Blog

Chasing Monkeys in Colombia for Nat Geo

Behind The Shot

The Mission

The world of wildlife filmmaking is full of unknowns.  Will I see any animals?  Will I capture interesting behavior?  Will the weather cooperate? We generally go into the

field equipped with the right gear, a lot of research, and a general willingness to suffer to get the shot.  But beyond those things, we just hope that we actually see an animal when are cameras are rolling.

On a recent trip to Colombia in search of albino brown spider monkeys, the odds were definitely not in our favor.  There are only two (yes, 2) of these albinos known to exist in the wild and we had a short window to find them and tell their story.  Brown spider monkeys are critically endangered and their habitat is severely fragmented.  This has caused genetic bottlenecking and, as a result, albinism in one of the family groups.  These albinos are incredibly beautiful, but they bring a pretty sobering message about the fate of a species when populations become isolated.

Our mission was to find the monkeys, tell their story through the voice of the local researcher, and create a portrait of the stunning biodiversity of this threatened area.  We had 8 days to do it.  Without the help of the researchers and field guides who study these monkeys, we would have never accomplished our goal. Their knowledge of the area and the animals was invaluable.  A huge thanks goes out to all of them.

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The Gear 

We knew we wanted to shoot the natural history and wildlife in 4K.  We also knew we needed a lens that could reach way into the canopy.  For this reason our primary setup was a Sony FS7, Tamron 150-600 EF and a Metabones EF/NEX Smart Adapter.  It was great to try out this new offering from Sony.  It’s quite an amazing camera for the price. We also shot on a Canon C300 and with a 100-400L as a backup and second camera.  Knowing we were going to edit and deliver in 1080 made this a good choice for b-cam.  Editing in 1080 also gave us the freedom to punch in on the 4K footage if needed.

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We had a variety of lenses with us as well, most of which seemed to get used at one point or another.  Canon 35L, 24L, 100L Macro, 24-105L, Tokina 11-16mm, and a few Rokinon Cine primes.  We shot timelapses on a 5Dmk3 and a 6D, aerials on a Phantom 2 with GoPRO 3+, and jib shots on a Kessler Pocket Jib.  We also had a new set of Cartoni sticks – the Stabilo with Focus HD head – and they worked incredibly well.  It’s a great lightweight setup and handled the weight of the Sony FS7 and long lens quite nicely.

The Experience 

This is was my third trip to Colombia and my second with the purpose of filming monkeys.  It is such an exciting place to travel right now.  Years of conflict have created many stigmas around the country but it seems that Colombians are putting that behind them in a headlong rush towards the future.  The energy and frenetic pace of the country can be a bit overwhelming, but when you leave the hustle of Bogota and get into the wilderness you truly realize how unique this place is.

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Many of you already know that the the tropical jungle is a very difficult place to work.  The bugs alone are enough to deter even the most masochistic explorer.  But just when you think you might actually being going crazy from clouds of mosquitoes and sweltering heat and humidity, something beautiful pops into view and the suffering melts away. We were fortunate to see dozens of animals in their native habitats.  Sloths, caimans, parrots, primates, and bumble bees the size of golf balls.  Most important for us however were the two albino brothers.  As luck would have it, we were able to film these incredible ghosts of the forest for several hours.  They ate, they wrestled, they stared down at us with big, curious eyes from the top of the canopy.  It’s incredible to see these giant white figures in treetops, flying through the branches with their prehensile tails.   But, as beautiful as they are, they are reminders of the tenuous situation in Colombia.  They are markers of a genetic problem.  Populations of spider monkeys need space to grow and find suitable mates.  They need large tracts of unbroken forests so they can find enough fruit to eat.  But, more than anything, they need us to value wilderness as much as we value the GDP.

The Film 

The film can be seen here: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/150417-ghost-monkeys-colombia-vin

About the Author

Danny Schmidt is a Colorado-based DP and Director.  He is a graduate of the MFA program in science and nature filmmaking at Montana State University and works  extensively for National Geographic, PBS, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and lots of other TV and non-profit entities. 

www.dannyschmidtfilms.com

Insta: @danny_Schmidt

Twitter: @dawgschmidt

New Photo Gear at BorrowLenses – April 2015 Edition

Gear Talk

In case you missed it, we put up a post this weekend about all the new video gear we now have available for rent this month. In this post, we’ll look at the photo gear – and there’s plenty here, too.

Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit

LG9c36101f-492b-4043-b355-dfc77ab35963

Profoto gear just keeps getting better and better. The guys over at Resource Mag Online have put up a nice video review that you can check out here, but here’s the short and sweet: It’s Profoto’s legendary quality meets portability meets TTL metering for Canon and Nikon shooters. You can, of course, also hook up your standard PocketWizards for manual triggering as well. This is a fantastic light for location shooting when you want a bit more power than a standard speedlight.

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New Video Gear at BorrowLenses – April 2015 Edition

Gear Talk

The pace of gear releases in our industry seems to be constantly increasing these days. Every month, we have new photo or video gear coming into our offices so we thought we’d start putting together a roundup of everything new we have available to rent. Here’s what’s come in during the last month or so:

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Photography Tips: Getting the Perfect Ski Shot

Tips & Tricks

Ian Coble is a commercial sports photographer based in Seattle, WA. His imagery and style have been used in campaigns for Patagonia, Columbia, Atlas Snowshoes, Brooks Running, Smith Optics, Cascade Designs, Red Bull and many others. Below he shares his tips for getting the perfect snow sports shot.

Photography Tips: Getting the Perfect Ski Shot
by Ian Coble

Taking photos on your adventures can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be incredibly frustrating. You spend all day shooting your friends on an amazing outing and come home eager to look at your work. But as you review your images you find that they’re blurry, underexposed, or just plain boring—definitely not the way that you remember the excitement of the day. This tutorial will help you minimize those frustrations with some tech tips to follow the next time you take your camera on a ski or snowboard outing. Continue on for some expert advice just in time for the spring skiing season (and an unexpected dump in Tahoe)!

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Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Tips To Shoot Your Best Concert Yet!

Photographers Tips & Tricks

Many photographers merge into a great photographic passion first by their inspirations of concert and band photography. Musicians and photographers are like cousins; we are enthused by the instruments we use, constantly searching for ways to make our mark, and feed off one another’s talent to express emotion. If you are among those who aspire to shoot concerts you may know already that the task is one of the most challenging in the industry, especially for beginners learning their craft. If you have interest in this fun yet competitive field and are just beginning or interested in improving – look no further! We have interviewed some of Borrowlenses.com‘s resident concert photographers for their tips and tricks including what equipment they recommend, how to get the best shot possible, and the leg work it takes to grant you access to get the optimal shot.

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Move Your Lightroom Library to a New Hard Drive

Tips & Tricks

Seán Duggan is a fine art photographer, author, educator, and an Adobe Certified Creative Suite Expert with extensive experience in both the traditional and digital darkroom. His latest article guides novice Lightroom users and those confused when linking a Lightroom library with  an updated hard drive configuration. Continue on if you have ever experienced those perplexing question marks when attempting to work with a previously imported file within Lightroom.

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Cool Stuff — March 29, 2015

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a recurring feature where we post our favorite links, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

Cool Stuff articles are culled from BLFlip, the official Flipboard Magazine of BorrowLenses.com. If you’ve got an iOS or Android device, you can download the Flipboard app for free now.

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A Trip to the Bottom of the World: Photographing Antarctica

Tips & Tricks

Dean J. Tatooles specializes in fine art panoramic landscape photography, wildlife photography, and indigenous portraiture from remote locations around the world. He also works with top-rated travel companies and fellow professional photographers to lead photographic safaris in locations like Kenya, Uganda, Nepal, Morocco and more. Recently back from a trip to Antarctica, Tatooles shares some helpful knowledge for making the most of a polar adventure. In his pack, Dean carried Nikon D3s and D800E DSLR bodies with Nikkor AFS 80-400mm f 4.5-5.6 ED VR and 70-200mm f2.8 G AF-S ED VRII lenses. Continue reading to find out what Tatooles suggests when considering a trip to the frozen continent.

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Cool Stuff — March 15, 2015

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a recurring feature where we post our favorite links, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

Cool Stuff articles are culled from BLFlip, the official Flipboard Magazine of BorrowLenses.com. If you’ve got an iOS or Android device, you can download the Flipboard app for free now.

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First Impressions of the Canon 11-24mm f/4

Gear Talk

All sorts of adjectives have been used to describe the new Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens recently announced at the top of 2015. World’s widest rectilinear lens, best of its kind, unheard of, the ultimate in wide-angle photography, etc. Borrowlenses.com received its first shipment from Canon and eagerly took it for a spin. Read on to find out what we thought of the much-hyped Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens.

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Attend NAB Show 2015

BL News

Register today! Attend the world’s largest media and entertainment event from April 13th-16th at the Las Vegas Convention Center. We’re in booth #C12042. Visit us there to enter to win 1 of 3 GoPro HERO4 Black cameras or 1 of 3 $250 BL rental gift certificates! You don’t have to be present to win but you do have to be present to enter so register today!

We had a great time last year checking out all of the latest in video, audio, and more. Don’t miss out this year!

NABBoothLocationBL

 

Take Control of Lightroom’s Import Dialog

Tips & Tricks

Seán Duggan is a fine art photographer, author, educator, and an Adobe Certified Creative Suite Expert with extensive experience in both the traditional and digital darkroom. His latest article guides novice Lightroom users and anyone having trouble or confusion with the import process. Continue on if you have ever experienced images not ending up where they are intended or in redundant, misplaced nested folders after importing.  

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Traveling Cross Country? Tips to Photograph Your Trip: Part 2

Tips & Tricks

Shortly after finishing a cross country trip to relocate to a new part of the country, I reflected on some practical photographic lessons I learned. We had to get across the country quickly by car and it is hard to photograph under those circumstance. I compiled some tips for others who may be faced with a similar trip and who want to take pictures along the way. The following are helpful tips for the cross country traveling photographer.

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Cool Stuff — February 21, 2015

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a recurring feature where we post our favorite links, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

Cool Stuff articles are culled from BLFlip, the official Flipboard Magazine of BorrowLenses.com. If you’ve got an iOS or Android device, you can download the Flipboard app for free now.

(more…)

Atomos Shogun First Impressions

Gear Talk

A couple of weeks ago, we posted a few tips for folks shooting with the Atomos Shogun external monitor/recorder. I’ve had some time to put my unit through a few shoots and have some first impressions to share.

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