This morning I showed my Picture Story class what is really my first draft of a video and photographic essay the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail in Columbia, Mo. The nine-mile trail connects to the state-wide Katy Trail in McBaine, Mo.
This is in rough form, unfortunately, because the past couple of weeks have been consumed by my proposed project to fulfill the requirements of the M.A. program here at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before I begin work on that project, which will take me back to Lake Michigan, I will be working to improve this essay. Foremost, I plan to speak with Brett Dufur, author of The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook, as well as Columbia’s former mayor, Darwin Hindman, who was a champion of projects like the MKT Trail and Stephens Lake Park.
That said, if you have any other suggestions for people to talk to whose voice would strengthen this piece, I am all ears, so to speak!
I was out this evening, working on some more pictures and video for my project on the MKT Trail that runs through Columbia, Mo. and connects to the Katy Trail in McBaine, Mo. I’ve been meaning to get into the creek beds, and wore quick-dry pants and sandals with that purpose in mind the other day, but wound up staying dry because many of the creeks are precarious to get down to when you’re laden with camera gear.
Today, however, while walking along a stretch of the trail near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Garden off of Stadium Boulevard, I found great access down to Flat Branch Creek. Now, my jeans are hanging up to dry, because the only way to get an appropriately low angle was to kneel down behind my tripod, which was only inches above the running water.
Yesterday, while gathering some video and making images of the “real” nature offered to the people of Columbia along the MKT Trail (vis-a-vis the artificial nature at Stephens Lake Park), I made an unintentional panning blur. Hand-held. And it didn’t suck. As Artie Morris would say, “you gotta love it!”
Normally, the trick to and panning blur is to have the camera on a tripod and to slowly pan downwards. This is hard to do on a ball head, but easy to do if you have a big lens mounted on a Wimberley or other gimbal-style head, or if you’re using a video head.
Usually, the hardest part is going slowly enough on the pan that you get the effect that you want, but not so slow that it just looks out of focus! Start with a shutter speed of 1/15 second and slow down from there. In this example, my exposure compensation in aperture priority brought me to 1/6 sec. before I even realized it–I just heard the slow shutter and cursed under my breath. Only when I looked at it did I jump for joy. Then I tried making more blurs, and they all failed! Again, you gotta love it.
Over sixteen years ago, when my dad put a camera in my hands, I began to explore the world of the small. Macro photography continues to be one of his specialties, but it’s something that I didn’t feel that I had the patience for. At the time, I was right. Who knows, that still may be true to some extent–I was hand-holding, after all–but as I begin the process of bridging documentary photojournalism with nature photography, a need to enlarge the world of the small has arisen.
In another day or two, I should have a new Canon 100mm macro lens, but in the mean time, I am working with one of the university’s Nikon D700 bodies and a Nikon 105mm macro lens for the close-ups for on a new project on the MKT Trail. The trail runs through Columbia, Mo. to McBaine, and then connects to the Katy Trail–a large trail that runs where the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railway used to have its tracks. While it is conceptually similar to the piece I made on Stephens Lake Park, it is because I remain curious how people in urban environments connect back to nature. For some of them, parks and trails may be the closest they ever come to experiencing something truly “wild.”