My passion for wildlife and the natural world developed as I was taken on a three year journey around Australia with my parents in my early teens. It was an upbringing that was really quite special.. my parents packed up the four kids and headed off on an adventure, living on the road. It was on this amazing adventure that I met Malcolm Douglas. He was making films since the 1960’s throughout the top half of Australia. After we stayed at his crocodile farm in Broome in 1993, I spent the next several years pestering him with videos posted in the mail.. hoping to wear him down enough for a job.
Finally in 2002, he called me while he was in Sydney and asked me to join him to shoot a new series in the Kimberlies, in Western Australia. That is where my wildlife filming began. After a few months living in Broome and some fantastic shooting experiences, I returned to finish my film studies in Sydney. The next gig was working for the next four years for another wildlife filmmaker called David Ireland. Our time together involved film expeditions to East Timor, the Solomon Islands and many parts of Australia. The series aired in Australia on Channel 9 and in the US on Discovery Channel HD. Many of these films had large underwater components – diving shipwrecks, swimming with sharks and catching pythons in rivers. Fantastic stuff. Most know me from my wedding and commercial work, but it is with wildlife where my number one passion lies.
Whenever you travel its always a battle between taking everything with you, to stripping back to the bare essentials. I HATE being on location and not having the exact lens or piece of kit I think I need at the time. This attitude doesn’t bare well for flying! But I still usually prefer to walk like a pack-mule and know that I have everything I want. I was hoping to take a C300 or possibly a 4K camera on this trip but in the end I realised that the Canon 5Dm3 could do the job nicely. I was lucky enough to be lent a superb 300mm 2.8 L II from Canon Australia which proved to be fantastic. Its a razor sharp lens, optically almost perfection. But with the wildlife being so close, I found myself often reaching for the 70-200mm II or wider. Next trip I would love to take a high speed camera with me, something like the Sony Fs700 with its 240 FPS. That would be great for kills and waterhole work.
Other lenses that I made good use of where the 24mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4 and the 50mm 1.2. Never leave home without them. (although the release of the new 24-70mm 2.8 II is looking like a serious alternative!). The other lens that I was very grateful to have brought with me was the 14mm 2.8. It’s proven the perfect nightscape/time-lapse lens and it features in the finished film piece. Other gear included a Miller Carbon fibre tripod and Manfrotto Monopod. I did take a compact slider but never once used it. The glidecam 4000 was extensively used. Audio included sennhesier lav kits for the interviews, and Rode Video Pro top mics. Recorder was the Roland r26 (the brilliant new ZOOM H4n killer.) I captured as much ambient/atmos audio as I could at each location. I was very thankful to have gone to the trouble once we got to the edit.
It was very much a one-man-band trip. I wouldn’t recommend the single op method for such a big trip, I really had to work incredibly hard. Hopefully next time I can take a second operator and we can collaborate and share the shooting load. Unfortunately though my argument that a second person is really required might be hard to make seeing as I have now done one trip solo!
It was the first time I had encountered land mammals that will actively seek out to kill you if you get out of the vehicle. Australia has venomous snakes and spiders, but nothing much that has the prey instinct built in. So that takes some time to get used to! But the great thing about these tours is that you are always surrounded by people who know what and how to treat the environment and the creatures in it. You would really have to do something dumb to get taken – like get out of the vehicle when there is a pride of lions nearby.
* Later today, Abraham will be back with an amazing film of these majestic elephants at play. The film is out of this world so make sure you check back in to catch it.
Ms Gingham says: Epic. Just epic.
About Abraham: Abraham Joffe has established himself as one of Australia’s top wedding and event filmmakers. He has a great passion for storytelling and filmmaking in the real world.
Abraham Joffe of Untitled Filmworks is a ridiculously talented wedding cinematographer as well. You can view his body of work on vimeo and contact him here.
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