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OCTOBER 2011

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Long Overdue A change in the weather is a nice change indeed I'm glad that the summer is over. After the worst heat wave and drought most of us have ever seen, it's good to get back to cooler temps and transition into fall. Fall is my favorite time of the year. After a long respite, the wildlife around here begins to stir during the daylight hours, making themselves much more visible.

Not surprisingly, people do the same. I've been about more lately. Fall is a great time to shoot wildlife and with the drought, the animals are much easier to find if you have water. I've never been much of a bird watcher before but this year has me photographing all sorts of wading birds as they travel through Childress County on their way south. Speaking of heading south, I'll be traveling to Austin, Texas in a few weeks to attend the Austin Film Festival. While I found out more than a month ago, I can finally announce that my short film, Where I'm From, was one of the winners in the Texas monthly short film contest. I shot that film over the course of a weekend in Fannin County Texas and stayed within a half mile radius of where I was raised. The entire

piece was shot on a Canon 5d Mark II camera with a variety of lenses from the 16-35mm f2.8 to the 500mm f4. I edited the piece in a day using Apple's Final Cut Pro software and then away it went. People keep asking me what I've won. To me that doesn't really matter. In fact, I have no idea if I won anything other than the chance to have my film screened in front of a theater audience. What matters is that I got to record my parents thoughts for posterity's sake and that I was able to tell a tale of living in rural Texas. It would take a mighty big prize to top that experience.

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IP T O T PHO

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Featured Column The Last Picture Show I love Texas movies. Not just movies about Texas but movies that were made and filmed in Texas. The reason? It gives me an excuse to explore. I know it may sound strange but one of the things I like to do is watch a movie, try to identify the locations, and then see them in person while I am in that particular area. It’s an interesting hobby but it helps enrich my traveling experience throughout the Lone Star State. For a variety of reasons, I love all kinds of Texas movies. For grittiness and suspense, No Country for Old Men is one that comes to mind. The story of Lewellen Moss and the moral choices he made is intriguing to me and the fact that I’ve been

to the wide open high desert spaces of Presidio County where many of the scenes were filmed makes the movie watch even more richly. Giant, the seminal big oil, big cattle, and big hat movie of the 1950’s was also filmed in the same county while James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson lodged in the Paisano Hotel in downtown Marfa. The hotel, incidentally, is still going strong and pays homage to its brush with Hollywood over 50 years ago. Across the state, for at least the time being, you can still see the prison where Goldie Hawn’s character broke William Atherton’s character from prison and continued across southeast Texas in a low speed police chase in Hawn’s breakout movie The Sugarland Express. Up in North Texas, the Royal Theater still stands on the north side of the Archer County courthouse square and was central in the classic Peter Bogdanovich film about youthful

angst in small town Texas. The Last Picture Show is a coming of age story starring Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottom, Ben Johnson, and Cybill Shepherd and was nominated for ten academy awards. Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman both won awards in the supporting actor/actress category. While some movies weren’t filmed entirely in Texas, parts of them were and keen watchers can still pick up places which are familiar. In parts of the film 8 seconds you can notice familiar scenery like the giant redrock fin that towers high over Highway 207 in Tule Canyon just north of Silverton, Texas. The most recent place I found was the old Rio Theater that’s in downtown Big Spring. Keen movie watchers may recall that the Rio is the theater that Joe Buck walks past just before gets on the bus and heads to New York City in the 1970’s film, Midnight Cowboy. The films I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. Several historic and contemporary films took place in Texas with locations that are waiting for exploration. Smithville for Hope Floats and The Tree of Life, Bracketville for just about every Alamo film made, and several others wait on my to discover. There’s a big list of films but then again, it’s a big state. From the syndicated newspaper column, “Russell Graves Outdoors”


A New Day In Texas, a new hunting season brings renewed promises.

In Texas, dove season is an annual right of fall passage in which thousands of hunters partake. It's a social sport that brings out friends and families to the outdoors to celebrate what amounts to the New Year's Day in the Texas outdoors.


THE SKINNY: VARIOUS CANON CAMERAS WITH A VARIETY OF LENSES


ON TO I O T PH UC R T INS

Capturing your Outdoor Memories on Video A quick look at satellite television and you’ll have an epiphany – outdoor television is a hot commodity. Numerous networks are dedicated almost solely to hunting and fishing programming, while other networks like ESPN2, Versus, In Country Television, and GAC air many hours of shows dedicated to hunting and fishing adventures. Spattered amongst the networks are local broadcast channels that also feature outdoor programming. Like I said, outdoor television is hot.


Surprisingly, many of the shows you watch are shot with low cost equipment that you can buy at electronics stores and on-line retailers. In the modern age of digital video and home computer based video editing software, you can shoot video that rivals those you see on television every week. In doing so, you’re bound to impress your friends as well.

Start with a plan Like any good trip, a good video starts with a plan.

long way in helping tell and accurate and engaging outdoor story.

Whenever I shoot videos, I set

When making notes, I try to

down before the filming begins

think like a director who’s

and make an outline of specific

making a motion picture in that

shots I want. I think about

I want the video to tell a story

broad general shots such as a

and not just come home with a

landscapes but then add in

collection of loosely related

detail shots like a close-up of

video clips. Sometimes I’ll go a

someone’s hand, or a detail of

step further and draw

some grass. Detail shots go a

storyboards to help me

“SOMETIMES I’LL GO A STEP FURTHER AND DRAW STORYBOARDS TO HELP ME DETERMINE WHAT I WANT THE SHOT TO LOOK LIKE...”


, ES T NO A G N E I AK K LIK M N IN HE TH O “W Y T R...” R T O I ECT R I D

determine what I want the shot to look like. Of course when I start filming, the list goes with me and serves as a checklist to make sure I’ve got the shots I need. Use a tripod This is a big one: use a tripod.

Careful on the zooms Another big mistake amateur

Use the three basic rules of photography

videographers often make is Just as in photography, three their judicious use of the zoom basic rules should dominate f e a t u r e o n t h e i r v i d e o every image frame you shoot

Shaky video, even just a little cameras. Avoid zooming in with a video camera: use the bit shaky, is uncomfortable to and out while film is rolling. rule of thirds for composition, w a t c h a n d r e e k s o f Like a video shot without a amateurism. Put you camera tripod, watching a video

get close to your subject, and keep the sun at your back.

on a good sturdy tripod and where the scene zooms These rules, although you’ll be amazed at how q u i c k l y i n a n d o u t i s elemental, will improve your much better your video looks. uncomfortable to watch. It’s videos. Throw in the fact that A tripod makes that much of a best if you zoom all the way in you’re now using a tripod, difference. A tripod also helps or all the way out before you shooting with a plan, and you pan smoothly across a start filming. If you must eliminating fast zooms and scene without rough starts zoom, do it very slowly. who knows, maybe you’ll be and stops. the next outdoor TV star.


Austin Film Festival If you happen to be in Austin or live in the Austin area, join me at the Bob Bullock State History Museum on October 22nd at 2pm as mine and other short films are screened for attendees of the Austin Film Festival.

Check out russellgraves.com often for new photos, articles, and blog entries!

It’s an honor for me to be included and I hope to see some familiar faces there.

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The October 2011 Newsletter  

What's happening this month at russellgraves.com