This is my all time favourite shot. It would not have been possible without the help of an expert, here, Oxford cuckoo guru Mike Bayliss. The aim was to film a cuckoo laying in a reed warbler's nest, and several times we had come very close. After many hours in the hide I heard this female land heavily in the reeds to the right of the nest - I can still hardly believe it happened.
Another Exotic Filming Location
This is another in the series of ‘Another Exotic Filming Location’ for the wildlife cameraman. Yes, it’s all a bit tongue in cheek. Last time we were on the back of a broken down pickup truck in a breaker’s yard in Bethesda. This time it’s a garden shed somewhere near Caernarfon.
We were in the shed to film a hibernating butterfly. For more information about this in the UK have a look at the hibernating butteflies link. There was nothing particularly difficult about filming the sequence. The presenter, Iolo, enters the shed to look for hibernating butterflies. He finds one, has a good look. He explains what it is doing then leaves. The only consideration was not disturbing it. We were as quick as we could be to prevent our own body heat warming up the butterfly and bringing it out of torpor. In this case there was a red admiral in the shed.
Filming the Sequence
We added to the natural light coming through the window with an LED panel at 5500K. Even so it looked relatively warm against the ambient light. From inside the shed we filmed two basic shots of Iolo entering, looking around and talking about the butterfly. One was a very wide shot of the whole setup and the second was a close up, head and shoulders of the same. With the wide angle lens still on the camera I filmed a POV of him entering the shed and a wide variety of shots of his viewpoint from the doorway. This included abstract close ups of shed clutter.
The golden rule of being a wildlife cameraman is ‘don’t disturb the subject.’ In many cases you do – it’s inevitable. In the case of this fragile insect waking it up would probably prove to be fatal. We didn’t want to do that. I crammed myself into the far end of the shed and used a Canon 18 x 28 for a variety of shots of it hanging from some wood on the underside of the roof. I didn’t time how long it took to film the sequence but it was not as much as half an hour. Sorry to disappoint, not all wildlife cameraman work take weeks of sitting around filming nothing.