Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cranking the Crane

Been having fun with more new video gear lately. First was my little 75cm GlideTrack slider for horizontal moves. Now I'm playing with an 8ft ProAm camera crane - nice for sweeping verticals.  Here I am practicing at the recent South Dunedin Heritage day at Dunedin Gasworks Museum:

And here's a little rough cut of some of the stuff we got - thanks to Mike Thorsen for some of the slider footage.

If you haven't already visited Dunedin Gasworks Museum, do. It's a treat. You can find entries and stills of the place in the blog archive.  See you there some time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A different kind of shooting


Close observers may have noticed I don't seem to have shot a lot of stills lately. That's not quite true. I've been out working for clients as usual, but my new business venture, Destination Content has kept the rest of my time pretty well occupied. We're a video company, specialising in destination marketing videos and we've got some very exciting projects in the pipeline. Last week I found myself out with Brian Templeton of Elm Wildlife Tours, getting some critter shots on video - while he did some shooting of his own. That's Brian above, engaged in a little pest control work.



Shooting video presents a whole new set of challenges and keeps me fresh. I do enjoy it, but for some reason, I get a bigger kick out of stills. I did get a few during the video shoot, but was mostly concentrating on getting stuff to tell the story below. So I'll just get out of the way and let Brian and Sean tell their own story...

We used a variety of source material for that one. I'm a firm believer that the content of a shot is sometimes way more important than it's technical qualities, so the little girl beckoning you to follow her to the fence was taken from someones point-and-shoot. For me it made the whole thing come alive.

And while I'm on the subject of things coming alive, the book I've worked on shooting and writing for the last year now has a life of its own. "Tales of the Tartan Mafia - Celebrating 150 years of Commerce in Otago" was launched last week and is now on sale from the Otago Chamber of Commerce, University Book Shops and the Star Shop in Dunedin. As it becomes more widely available I'll post more information. Of course, its packed with my pictures, many of which have appeared here already and just in case you've seen enough of my shots - I'm told it's a pretty good read too!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gold and Ghosts, Part 3

After a comfortable nights sleep - frequently disturbed by a very noisy mouse, I arose from my sleeping bag at Bullendale hut, put on my semi-dry socks and boots, and prepped for a day of walking and taking pictures.

Bullendale Hut

Bullendale Hut

The hut was too low in the valley for a spectacular sunrise shot, so I satisfied myself with a few exteriors before heading down to the river and the remains of the Phoenix mine. Below is a stitched panorama showing the peak of Mt Aurum on the right.

Bullendale Hut

The zoom on my little G12 wasn't enough to capture the goat I saw down on the valley floor, so you'll have to suffice with the skull below. Some of the 20 or so people who stay here overnight each year are hunters.

Bullendale Hut

The fork in the stream below was the site of the Phoenix mine and a stamping battery. The site was abandoned nearly a century ago, but the ruins that remain are still impressive.

Bullendale gold mining relics

IMG_3323.jpg Bullendale gold mining relics Bullendale gold mining relics

The staggering thing is that people hauled all this stuff here on horseback. Tons of heavy iron equipment and supplies, just to get at the gold in the quartz reefs. If you know your latin, you'll know that Mt Aurum was named for the gold the area yielded. The miners even built a hydro electric scheme here to run the rock crusher or stamping battery as its called, and you can see the remains of the pipes they used to haul the water, suspended high above the stream, for much of its length.

Pipeline To Nowhere

The ruined machinery is one thing, but what I really liked was the old bedstead I found on the site of the vanished settlement. It put such a human face on it all.

Bullendale track

After an hour or so exploring, it was time to back down the river, stopping to take a few pics of the terrain. Not exactly chocolate box landscapes, but beautifully rugged all the same. Here's the view back up the valley, from the half way point above the river:

  Bullendale track

 And here's the way back out:

  Bullendale track

Not far from the end of the track, there's an old dam - part of the hydroelectric scheme the miners built.

Bullendale track

I tried getting a good shot looking over the edge, but it wasn't easy - or particularly safe to get something that really captured the scene .

Bullendale track

Finally, I made it back to my vehicle, parked near the Skippers cemetery. There I saw the most poignant thing of all, the grave of two miners, I presume father and son, who died in a mine collapse.

Bullendale workers

It made me think again of the hard living people made here - baking hot in summer, freezing in winter, and many miles of precarious road to travel to and from the nearest settlement, which would have been Arrowtown or  Queenstown. All for gold.

My little adventure over, it was time to drive back to Dunedin, back to my family and back to the job of earning some gold of my own - and maybe thinking about my next back country getaway.