Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why did I do all those videos?

I am not a videographer. I am scared of video. It takes lots of equipment and lots of people to make a decent video. All of a sudden, instead of just worrying about taking a simple picture you are worried about take a whole bunch of them without jerking the camera around and, on top of that, people expect sound in their videos.
Despite my misgivings, today I ended up taking a few videos and posting them on my own site where I had to reduce the size of a couple of them and also on youtube.

I was asked to come and take pictures at something called the First Annual Moosonee Women's Extravaganza which incorporated a memorial for a woman who was murdered in 1977, Josephine Chakasim.
Josephine's sister, Rachel, has been a friend of mine for a long time so I was honoured to be asked.
I showed up, grabbed some pictures of the vendor and information tables at the Extravaganza and waited for the memorial walk to begin after Rachel made her remarks.
In the meantime, there was a women's drumming group, Key Shay Gash Tay-Oh. I asked about pictures and they said sure. For some reason I thought video. I had not brought an external microphone but I figured that if they were loud enough the internal one would be fine; their sounds would drown out the sounds of the camera. So, up onto a chair I went and aimed the camera and pressed SET (which starts recording). A few minutes later I have a video. Not a great one but probably the only one of their first performance; just before they began one of them told us that they had been together for about sixteen minutes. They did pretty well.
Then it was time for the memorial walk. Josephine Chakasim was last seen on April 22, 1977. Her body was found along the Ontario Northland Railway tracks just south of Moosonee the following day. The murder remains unsolved.
At the place where Josephine was found, her family has erected a white wooden cross in her memory. As the marchers headed there, I grabbed some shots and decided to press my luck with video. It takes getting used to the idea of shooting something that lasts a little while, especially when what you are shooting is walking towards and past you but I perservered.
Everybody headed down the tracks. And, yes, they got permission from the railroad. Not that it would be particularly uncommon to see people walking on the tracks anyway.
At the memorial site the family and the drummers gathered by the cross and a small fire. Everybody else lined up along the tracks to watch.
The drum group did another song and the family put some food into the fire for Josephine and then invited people to put tobacco into the fire for her as well.
It didn't take very long and then everyone headed back to town for refreshments.
As for the videos... Well, I shot them in HD which meant that it is taking forever to upload them. The sound quality is tolerable. They all could have benefitted from having been shot on a tripod or with some stabilization equipment (which I do not have now and probably never will). The pictures from the day are OK, I chose to shoot inside without flash. The lighting in the gym at the James Bay Education Centre is poor but modern technology has reached the point where I can produce almost decent shots in there. I don't like to use flash in a big dark space and I can accept a slower shutter speed, a bit of noise and the occasional discard rather than end up with a lot of shots of bright faces and dark background.

Once I got the shots done I decided I should go check on the freezing up of the river. Went across the road and took a few pictures along the shoreline. There is thin ice on the water. I threw a coin out and it didn't break through. It was low tide when I went out and I could see how the ice along the edge had broken and was sticking out from the rocks. I always think that is a neat looking effect and wanted to get a shot to illustrate it. Ideally I would have been able to get down to the level of the water and light up the shelves of ice from below. However, being a coward, I stayed up top and did as best I could to highlight it with my flashlight during a time exposure.

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