Wanted - Cats

I think it means catalytic converters.

I hope it means catalytic converters....

Another Use for an Ikea Bag

An impromptu rain cover for a video camera.

And believe me, here on Skye it is needed a lot.

Kayaking by Colours

We're trying to film some kayak coaching.

However, a coach's "Right knee" is the left knee as the camera looks at it.  Our test filming produced some initial confusion.

These stickers are part of the solution.  And they've had some unexpected benefits.  With similar stickers on the paddle shaft, we can see far more clearly than normal how these elements work in relation to one another.  

Today went very well indeed.  

You Have The Power

Two days ago I suggested you  might like to watch Scott's video application for the job of Island Caretaker on the Great Barrier Reef.

Although not entirely down to the readers here, I'm sure you helped put him among the top viewed applications.  So well done.

And, just to be sure, how about another look?

A Sparrow Hawk in the Conservatory

"You missed our visitor", Liz told me as I staggered in from my 13 mile run.  Then she showed me this photo.

We keep the conservatory door open and have had quite a few birds flying in, mainly chaffinches, to grab a beak-full of the seeds we put out for them.

This Sparrow Hawk had made himself comfortable on top the seed bucket.  At least, I think it's a Sparrow Hawk.  Certainly no chaffinch would dare approach.

Apparently there was a lot of tweeting from all the other birds as our large visitor made his way out of the door.

Wanted - Island Caretaker

It's advertised as 'The Best Job In The World'.  Caretaker for an island that is part of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.  Applicants must make a sixty second video saying why they want the job.

My American friend Scott, who now lives on Vancouver Island, has done just that.  If you watch it, he'll move higher up the viewing list and might get through to the next stage of the selection procedure.

We met Rachel and Scott while hiking the 2,658 mile long Pacific Crest Trail in 2002.  Like us, they were blogging as they wrote, although in those days we called it an 'internet journal'. Here's ours, now tidied up.  We stayed in Vancouver with Rachel's parents when we finished our walk.

After moving to Vancouver Island they've finally bought a couple of sea kayaks and are getting out exploring the coast.  Something they'll find rather handy if Scott gets this job down under.

Adventure Show Shoot - and Radio Mics

Crumbs I hope my video pictures for the Adventure Show turn out better than this one! 
Snapped in the hotel as Meg sorts kit and Dominic lines up a camera he has never used before.

We were filming the Carnethy Five Hill Race just outside Edinburgh.  Huge fun.  And educational.

Speaking to some of the team who'd just returned from filming Karen Darke kayaking in Patagonia, I discovered they experienced similar problems to me when they put radio mic receivers into waterproof camera housings.  

They ended up shooting on two cameras, one recording sound and kept somewhere it couldn't get wet, and the one recording pictures in the splash bag.

The programme with Karen is being made by my friends at Triple Echo and I'll try to let you know when that film is going out.  It's not yet viewed, let alone edited!

The Cyclocross we shot on Mull in December is on BBC-02 Scotland, Sunday 22nd Feb at 6:05pm.

Grey Fuzz

Three days filming and nothing to show for it except experience.

In twenty five years making TV programmes I have never spent three days so frustrated by technical problems.  Kayaks and cameras don't mix easily.

The mini cams worked fine in my office, but not on the water.  First attempt produced great pictures but also an unusable buzz on the sound track.  That evening, we tinkered, gently.

The following day, after abandoning sound, neither of the two mini-cams, or their recorders, would produce any pictures.  They worked fine with the lids open, but shut the peli case and, when we reviewed it later, all we had recorded was grey fuzz.

Then there is that waterproof rig I'm holding.  The pictures were great but the sound track was covered in splats and farts from my normally ultra-reliable radio mics.  So three days and virtually nothing useable on tape.  But a whole lot of lessons learnt which I shall now attempt to put into practice.

Give up?  Not likely.  

Scottish Symposium - Full

If you were thinking of applying for a place at the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium and have not yet done so, then you're probably too late.

As of yesterday morning there were six places left.  By this morning I guess those will have gone and there'll be a waiting list.  All 150 places gone in under a week!

Kayak Cam. But Not Yet.

Three days of attempting to film sea kayaking in a new and unusual way started yesterday. 

I've been worried about the weather - very cold and not nearly enough wind. I want it ROUGH. I've hired a few waterproof mini-cams and, as regular readers know, last summer I built some mounts. Time to put them into action.

But not like this video - shot at 3am earlier this week when I couldn't sleep, sitting in my PJs and furry slippers (they were both Christmas presents, OK?!)

Sea Kayak Handling - The Book

A new sea-kayaking technique book is out next month from Pesda Press.  

It'll be launched 28/29th March at the Nottingham Paddlefest where the author Doug Cooper will be available for book signings.  Doug will also be running some practical coaching sessions with P&H.  He's the man to blame for taking Liz and me sea kayaking in the first place with Glenmore Lodge.

And you might just guess that I shot a lot more than P&H's videos with Doug earlier this year.  A book linked to videos, whatever next!

The publishers describe it as 'A practical guide that will help the reader to master the skills needed to manoeuvre a sea kayak efficiently. For beginner and intermediate paddlers.'

'Doug draws on his personal and coaching experience to help the reader master sea kayak handling skills and techniques. Accurate sequential photos and simple concise language make the descriptions easy to follow and understand.'

'The foundation skills of posture, connectivity (how your body is connected to the kayak), power transfer and learning to ‘feel’ how the boat responds, are explored initially. The author then goes on to tackle forward paddling, keeping the kayak on course, reverse paddling, edging, turning on the spot, forward turns on the move, reverse turns on the move, stern rudders, moving sideways, support strokes, and the use of skegs and rudders.'

'Sea Kayak Handling is recommended as support material for the British Canoe Union 3 and 4 Star (Sea) awards. (The 1 star is a novice ‘encouragement’ award, the 2 star covers basic generic kayak skills, the 3 star basic/intermediate sea specific skills and experience, and the 4 star covers intermediate sea specific skills and leadership in moderate conditions).'

Baby Cow Named

She is "Dotty".  

She's named after the white dot on her forehead, and not the white dots she has instead of eyes.

Other names, suggested by contributors, were put to her owners over dinner on Sunday night. (Er, no, we didn't have beef.)  

They were delighted with the suggestions, but in view of her natural markings, decided she had to be Dotty.   

Our three day kayak filming trip to Skye starts very early tomorrow. 


Name Wanted for Baby Cow

It was a two hour labour.  Liz was there taking photos.  Our crofter friends Bill & Sukie did some tugging.  Then Dee-Dee's calf came into a snowy world.

She's a girl so she'll stick around longer than previous boys.

Now she needs a name, especially after research which showed named cows give more milk than un-named cows.  Anony-moos cows, you might say.

Her name has to start with the letter "D".  Suggestions will be passed on to Mum.

Eastern Horizons Kayak Film

If I had any pretentions about my filming ability, they've just been knocked firmly into place by the trailer for Bryan Smith's new DVD.  Full HD version is on Vimeo.  That opening is pure confident class.  According to his company Reelwater Productions the DVD is out 14th March.

Video Business

So it's nothing to do with kayaking.  This video is one of three I shot and edited over the last two weeks.  They're all 'corporate' productions in that the client is Highlands and Islands Enterprise.  They'll be shown at business advice clinics run in response to the economic downturn.  I also made them a Podcast downloadable here.  You can see all three videos at SunartMedia.com.

I'll be shooting some kayaking video next week, and I've started editing the video shot on the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail.