Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bad Video And An American Dipper

I try, I really do try. But it seems that, right now, some things are just beyond my feeble attempts at perfection. In my last post I wrote about Cedar Breaks. I had every intention (and still do – really!) to follow up with a post about its sedimentary cousin Bryce Canyon. But in the meantime I toodled off to Zion for a bit of bird watching along the Virgin River with my birding and biking buddy LucyO. 

LucyO looks for anything avian along the Virgin River

And that’s precisely when the road, famously paved with good intentions, led me straight down to video hell. 

That fateful morning we strolled leisurely along the damp Sand Bench trail for a while, rather unsuccessful in our search for any inkling of bird life on that overcast November morning. We wanted owls! We wanted wild turkeys! We wanted woodpeckers! 

Where is everyone? 

As fortune would have it we did see evidence of beaver activity. I am aware that beavers are not birds but I could have happily gone home at that point. 

IMG_5846Beaver ActivityInZion
This must have been done by some hungry beaver!

So we moseyed, and listened, and pointed our binoculars into the rustling dryness of Zion’s yellowing autumn foliage. 

Look! There’s something in the river! 
Ohmygosh those are ducks! Wheeeee ducks!!!
OK so it was just a pair of mallards, and not harlequins or cinnamon teals or loons or anything exotic. But their coloring was exquisitely vibrant even in the dull gray light of the canyon. And they sure were cute, heads bobbling and orange feet paddling as they fed together in the grassy rocks and rushing water. 

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard

I’m surprised we didn’t scare them away. Who knew anyone could get so excited seeing a pair of measly mallards? 

Later we spotted a mule deer buck lounging languidly at the side of the trail. Not wanting to disturb him we detoured around a hillside and ended up with our pants legs full of goat–head burrs. Thanks for nothing, Buck! That’s the last time we do anything nice for you! 

Buck with an attitude

And then there it was. Eagle–eyed LucyO spotted it first. 

It’s a dipper! Oh happy day!
American Dipper in action

We watched gleefully as our dipper dipped, dove, snuffled and shuddered its way through the shallow rapids and rocky rivulets of our little corner of the Virgin River. It tore up slimy–looking strands of vegetation one after another while its blackish–blue body bobbed back and forth and hopped up and down like a beaked Mad Hatter.

Found only along clear, fast–flowing rocky streams, the American Dipper is unique in the world. It is the only songbird that regularly swims. 

American Dipper looking for lunch

LucyO and I stood along the riverbank, captivated by this diminutive creature. A small crowd gathered. And then I uttered those fateful words, words that would change my life forever. 

I can video this!

Now, the way I look at the whole maddening video–shoot episode is this. I surely was able to operate my camera in video mode, I certainly was able to download the video to a file on my computer, and I definitely was able to upload the video to my YouTube account. I have even figured out how to get YouTube to diminish the shakiness that is inherent in any video with which I have been in any way remotely connected.

However, I am fairly new to the video scene (except for those excruciatingly awkward 8mm films of me and my family back in the early 1960s, which is another story completely) and I expect nothing short of perfection from myself. I cannot figure out why my videos come out so pixilated. It’s downright upsetting! Is it me? Is it YouTube? 

I have expected all along that I would need to work on my video technique, so stay tuned for more surprises down that road paved with my good intentions. I want badly to drag myself up from the depths of my pixelated anguish. 

I welcome any suggestions you might offer or comments about your own videoing experiences!

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