The Making of “a walk in the woods”

Part 2: The Video

A few days ago I posted a description of how I created the music for my video “a walk in the woods”, which you can view here. Today, I discuss how I made the video.

While composing the tune, I had a vision of accompanying it with video of walking through the woods, with the shots becoming more frantic as the tune progressed. Since the weather had been so rainy, it took a few days before I had a chance to venture out into the Lemoine Point Conservation Area. I hoped to spot the trilliums in bloom, but it was too soon for that.

This is a time of year when I love taking pictures in the woods. The trees are still bare and you can see much of the interior landscape unhindered by foliage. And the Spring weather is still comfortable.

I quickly had some good video of walking along the paths, with forward and side shots, as well as some shots of my feet walking. Not planned in advance were the shots of the squirrels and turkeys. Also unexpected were the stretches of muddy path along the eastern edge of the park. Unfortunately, at one point I got confused about when I was recording and when I wasn’t, and missed some shots of a couple of deer.

Back home, it was back to the computer. Just as I used free open-source software to create the music, the rest of the process also used free software. First, to capture the audio output from MuseScore, I used the program Audacity, a powerful multi-track audio editor and recorder. I made extensive use of Audacity for our Christmas video. But this time, I only needed Audacity to capture the audio. No additional tweaking was needed for the sound track.

The video was edited using the powerful open-source program Kdenlive. This is similar to Audacity, but for video. You can edit and combine video clips, applying various effects if needed. At any time you can play the video to see how things look. I used two video tracks, one with the audio muted. Regarding the effects, there are literally hundreds of different effects to choose from. I used only two: Greyscale and speed.

Before rendering the video, I needed to use one more piece of free open-source software, the GIMP, a powerful image-editing program. This is comparable to Photoshop, but of course, several hundred dollars cheaper. I used GIMP for the titles.

One design decision I mulled over for a few minutes was whether or not to desaturate the video. But choosing black and white was really a no-brainer. Often, monochrome is considered pretentious and stilted. But color can often be a distraction from the essence of the image, especially if the colors of the scene are boring. In a wooded area, the colors are mainly browns and greens. Well, mainly browns at this time of year. By leaving aside color, you can concentrate on other creative factors, such as the textures, lighting, and composition.

In conclusion, it’s truly amazing what kinds of tools are available to us for little or no cost. This video was produced using only open-source software available for free, running on a budget-priced computer I bought about seven years ago.

Cheers! Hans

Skate The Lake

Every year, Portland Ontario hosts an event on the Big Rideau Lake, about an hour north of Kingston. They clear a one kilometer long track on the ice and host skating races. Here are some pictures from this year’s event:

Start of the 5K race
Skater approaching the finish line
Impressive back-lit scene during the 5K relay
Warming up on shore
Snert is a thick pea soup, popular with the skaters

Kingston Pen Tour

We finally got around to taking the tour of the old Kingston Pen. Last Summer, the tours were very popular, and by the time I went on-line to buy tickets, they were all sold out. This year, I booked tickets well in advance, and had a good selection of tour times.

Here are some of the pictures I took during our visit:

A Photo Walk Along Eglinton West (2008)

I was going through some old photos and I came across a batch I took about nine years ago in the Eglinton West area in Toronto. I thought I’d revisit some of these photos.

Now and then I like to wander around and take photos. On this day in April 2008, I took an exceptionally large number of photos, 250 all together. When started out in the Eglinton West area, the sky was dull. That’s okay. Although the photos look dull in color, desaturating the photos can give a different flavor to the pictures.

As you can tell by the photos, this is gritty working-class neighborhood, typical of west Toronto. Like most of the city, there’s a variety of different cultures.

A November Photo Walk

I’ve been rather antsy lately, so I really wanted to get out and do some picture taking. In the morning, I saw a blue sky. But the clouds started rolling in after lunch. That’s fine, I thought. If the weather is a bit dreary, I’ll just desaturate the photos.

November is one of my favorite times for photography. The sun is always low in the sky, the trees have shed most of their leaves, and it’s not too cold yet. There are always good opportunities for photos. If it’s cloudy and dreary, I still take photos. But in those cases, I try to take advantage of the conditions. I’ve always liked black and white photos. And I like the pure white sky you can often get in overcast conditions. But today, the sky was especially dramatic.

Here are some of the photos I took in downtown Kingston today. I wandered through the historic Sydenham Ward where you can find moody old buildings. And I braved the cold wind coming off the lake to snap some photos along the waterfront. You can find some more of the photos I took today at Kingston – Nov 18, 2011.