Kathy Newell and I met up the hill in Murphys yesterday. Murphys is a small Gold Rush Town in the foothills, and they had a couple of events going on. What originally caught our eye was an event listed in the community calendar – a dog and pony show put on by the local SPCA. We never quite made it there though.
Drivng Murphys Grade into the town was leisurely…and we just kind of happened onto the narrow streets, which were lined with cars. It seemed as if there were more cars than buildings. We parked and packed our gear into Murphys Community Park for the annual Heritage Day. Our purpose? A team shootout – we’ve been wanting to work on a project together and this happened to be a free day for both of us. The story was simple – go to a small town event and shoot and edit a story. Kathy uses a Panasonic AG-DVC60 camcorder and I’ve got my old JVC GY-DV300u. Both are three chip cameras – mine is five years old while Kathy’s is less than a year. We both like the XLR mike inputs and manual controls on our cameras. We each took a lightweight tripod, stick mike and cable, and one tape.
Here’s my take on the day. (I know Kathy will add her comments once she reads this.)
As we walked over the bridge I saw children playing in a creek…partly in sun with a large area in sunlight. Kathy headed for the bandstand where an old time band was tuning up. This was the first time using my new tripod and I had to work with it a bit to “grease” it up so it would operate smoothly. I did some tilts and pans. Adjusted the legs, checking the level bubble. Walked down to the bandstand and watch Kathy shooting and got some cutaways (audience) and a wide perspective shot. Noticed some women experimenting with making a mike work, so asked one of them who would know something about the event. Michelle (never did get her last name) volunteered to find us someone and disappeared.
About the time Kathy and I were wondering who to track down for information, Michelle turned up and escorted us over to one of the picnic tables and introduced us to Lafeyette Worms – the oldest old-timer at the picnic. I began the pre-interview with “Laf” and his cohorts…introducing Kathy and myself and teasing him about his age and how long he’d lived in Murphys. Others at the table chimed in and I got the okay to interview three of them. My intent with the interviews initially was to find out how long each of them had lived in Murphys…how old they each were…and why they moved here. Interviewing Laf was a hoot. He had his agenda…talking about his late wife, family, and job. I had my agenda. And he had a hearing problem. The raw tape is funny – I ask a question – he looks confused and wants it repeated. I try to direct the conversation and he takes it in the direction he wants to go. Interviewing people is both a science and an art and an adventure. The science part is knowing what you want…the art is being graceful or friendly with your questions. The adventure is where the interview goes. I whipped out two more interviews at the table. I’d added another angle to the questioning…what are the advantages and disadvantages of living in this neck of the woods. What I got back was that traffic and congestion were left behind….quiet and country were what they found. Kathy, in the meantime, had been shooting an interview at another table and finished about the same time. We did a final interview together and took a lunch break. Over hamburgers and watermelon we discussed what we had so far – good nats, some interesting soundbites, nice small town visuals.
Our intent was to head to the dog and pony show when we found out that the final duck race would be soon, followed by a hula hoop competition for kids. Notice: We purchased a ticket for the duck race – #270. (We had big plans to win.)
Kathy opted for shooting the dumping of the (rubber) ducks while my job was to get the race ending. As usual we asked who was in charge of the race and a nice older gentleman told us he was the Duckmaster. Wow – what a title. Turns out he wasn’t a judge – his job was to take the winning ducks and line them up so folks could see the numbers. We asked several folks where the dump would take place – most agreed it would be at the bridge upcreek, at the highway. Kathy headed upstream and I peeled off some shots of a dog swimming and kids playing. Then, without any fanfare, someone yelled, “There they go!” I glanced up just as hundreds of yellow duckies were poured into the creek about 300 yards upstream. There went the money shot….I jammed and got focused in time to get them floating my way…stayed wide, grabbed a few closeups and ran to the backside of the bridge to get the winners being handed up on shore (and NO, #270 was not a lucky duckie). Got a closeup pan of the winners and met up with Kathy again. She drove me downtown to get some mood shots of the old buildings and we cruised out of town, back down Murphys Grade.
In review – I’ve been relying too much on my ZR60 and have forgotten the feel of my JVC. It took me about half an hour to get up to speed. Initiallly I had trouble with the audio…had to go into the menu to reset it. Took me a while to get back into shooting and keeping on top of manual aperature. White balance on the JVC is sensitive and I had to keep white balancing between shade and sunlight. I’ll admit I was lazy and kept it on auto-focus. I did walk around with the camera on for a few minutes – unaware I was shooting helter-skelter. Also have to get back into my news mode of shooting. Somehow I was telegraphing my moves and folks were looking at me instead of ignoring me…waiting for the camera to turn their way. I missed some great hug shots and spontaneous kids in water shots because of this. And it may partly be because of the larger, more professional looking camera. With the ZR I truely am invisible – just another old lady with a camera.
Oh – and the dog and pony show? We never shot it. There was more than enough going on at Heritage Days. Stay tuned…later I’ll post how we logged and edited…and hopefully we’ll post the final story Monday night.