A couple of weeks back I took myself off on a long drive to Scotland for a few days away. For those that aren’t aware, a few years before my mother passed away, she had managed to track down her biological mother. Sadly her mother had already passed away by the time she discovered who she was (she had been told that her mother died in a car crash when she was young, it turned out she actually passed away 25 years ago so mum had missed the chance to meet her), but she had also managed to track down a brother (shared mother, different father).
After mum passed away, I had intended to go up to Scotland and learn more about her biological mother and meet family members we didn’t know we had. The opportunity finally presented itself to me this summer, so I booked a few nights in a Premier Inn in Dundee (topped up with a few nights staying at a good friend’s house) and made plans to make the trip north (a drive of approximately 500 miles!). Of course, this also presented an opportunity to explore new locations and give my photography a bit of a boost (summer is a difficult time of year for sunrise and sunset photohgraphy). Not only was it an opportunity to take photos in some new locations, I also used it as an opportunity to shoot a vlog.
Making a vlog has been something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I’m not wholly comfortable with the idea, I’m not keen on being filmed and putting my face out there. I’ve always much preferred writing as a means of communication, for a variety of reasons (the ability to more carefully craft what I want to communicate, for example). I also wasn’t sure I had the required equipment to do it well. I’ve done a little bit of filming at work for things here and there, but they have been made using a smartphone. I don’t have mics or a camera dedicated to video. However, I purchased a Manfrotto mini-tripod and smartphone clamp a little while back thinking they might help in terms of recording footage, so I thought that maybe the combination of a decent smartphone camera and a mini tripod might make it do-able.
Something I have tried to always do since taking my photography more seriously, is to take on new challenges. Whether it be going up to people in the street and asking if I can take their picture, or trying to take candid street photographs, I’m keen to try to learn new skills and take my photography further. Of course, shooting video doesn’t necessarily help with my photography, but I figured it would be good to learn some new skills and try to shoot and edit a short video to see how I get on (there may be additional benefits in my workplace too).
I tried throughout the trip to take a variety of different types of video. I shot some time lapse video of the journey there, and a couple of locations I visited, as well as shooting footage of me talking to camera. One thing I found tricky throughout was trying to remember to shoot video footage wherever I found myself. My priority was always the photography, the video was a secondary element to documenting my trip. This meant I sometimes missed out on recording things that I think would have been good additions to the fininshed video, but I was fairly relaxed about that, not least because I wanted to keep the video relatively short.
Editing the video was a whole different ballgame. I’ve plenty of experience of using iMovie on iOS, but I’d never played around with iMovie on a Mac, which was far more complex in what it could do. I found some elements of creating the video a bit frustrating (sometimes trimming elements seemed more difficult than they should have been - but I’m not sure if that was down to me or the software, and I found it difficult to insert text elements exactly as I’d like), and the overall process took much longer than I anticipated. I think I must have spent a couple of hours playing around with the footage and getting it just right (and even then I have noticed some errors since I published it). One thing I was quite lucky with was the soundtrack. Apple provide an increasing number of free music via iMovie that you can incorporate into your project. Music can be an absolute nightmare in terms of repurposing on video, not least due to licensing, and most options for freely available music come with the requirement to pay or subscribe to a service (as far as I can tell anyway - do let me know in the comments if there are other options!). Fortunately there was at least one track I could use in iMovie that seemed to me to match the mode of the piece.
I’m not sure whether this will be the first and only or first of many, but I think I learnt a lot about putting one together, even if this one wasn’t a complete success. And, more than anything else, it’s a nice way to document the trip and the things I learnt about my family, not least for our children who were unable to join me on this occasion. Hopefully we’ll have a family holiday in Scotland in due course. Not sure about going for an 11hr car journey with two kids in the car though…