Will of More Than Just Parks emailed me in October to share the first short film he created with his brother to document the 59 U.S. National Parks. Will and Jim spent a month backpacking and exploring Olympic National Park and what they captured is beautiful…I cannot wait to get back to Olympic NP to see more of the park!
Today, I am interviewing Jim of More Than Just Parks to learn more about the project and to get some tips on shooting video outdoors.
Jim, can you tell me more about your project, More Than Just Parks, and why you decided to make short films of the parks?
My brother and I are, believe it or not, from Georgia, born and raised. We didn’t see a national park until just four years ago, when we took a trip out west to see the Grand Canyon with a few friends. Ever since that trip out west, what seems like ages ago, we have been hooked on the national parks.
More Than Just Parks is an effort to bring all 59 national parks to everyone through stunning visual media. Our goal is to build a greater awareness for the national treasures that reside in our own backyard. My brother and I are media professionals who have had a passion for film since an early age. We have a strong belief in the power of visual imagery, especially where some of the most beautiful places on the planet are concerned – our national parks.
You spent a month in Olympic National Park to create this short film. Why Olympic and how did you plan for such an extensive trip?
It surprises me how little planning went into our trip to Olympic National Park. We had this idea for More Than Just Parks and figured we would go for it while we had some free time. We chose Olympic as our first park in the series after coming across some breathtaking Instagram photos of the park and subsequently reading about it on the NPS website. We then looked at different blog entries covering the park in an effort to find the best spots to film and gain a better understanding of what people loved about it. After that we researched the gear that we needed and booked our flights.
We chose Olympic National Park because of it’s incredibly rich diversity. It’s glacial mountain peaks, lush rain forests, alpine meadows, high-altitude lakes, wild rivers, wilderness coast, and teeming wildlife were all the excuse we needed. Also, we had never been to the pacific northwest and wanted to get out to that part of the country and experience it.
We arrived in Seattle at the end of July and stayed in Olympic until the end of August. We started in the Staircase region and slowly worked all the way around the park ending up back where we began. Having never been to Washington before, or even the pacific northwest, we were awed by the amount of evergreens and how enormous they were. After the first two weeks of incredible weather, we eventually got our fair share rain. I have to say, being in a rainforest while it’s raining is a very cool experience. It’s amazing how it brings out all of the forest’s natural color. After having spent a month in Olympic National Park you would have thought we would’ve gotten plenty of shots of the stars, but it was actually very difficult to obtain those shots. The reason it was so difficult was because of the near-constant fog and moisture in the air. Our lenses, and the lenses of other photographers we met trying to capture the night sky, kept fogging up! So you may notice that the night sky we managed to capture was mostly in high altitude areas where there is little to no moisture in the air. Being in Olympic for a month was an incredible experience – we met so many wonderful people, saw so many incredible things – it was truly life-changing. I find the expression “you may leave the places you go, but they never leave you” to be very true.
You were able to capture beautiful images from all over the Park. What are three tips you have for shooting video outdoors?
Shooting video outdoors can be really fun. Attempting to capture the wonders you see and bring it to people who may never get a chance to see it for themselves is an amazing and rewarding experience.
- My first tip is lighting. We have never run into a more challenging exposure situations than the ones we were presented with in the rain forests of Olympic National Park, especially the Hoh Rainforest. Too many of our shots were unusable because of over-exposed pockets of sunlight that kept creeping through time-lapses. Be weary of these pockets when shooting in forests with dense canopies and keep those exposures low.
- My second tip is preparedness. My brother and I were boy scouts and are very familiar with the saying – always be prepared. When you’re filming outdoors in an environment that you can’t control it’s important to always be prepared. You never know when someone is going to trip and fall, or when a piece of equipment is going to get lost/broken, or when the weather might turn, so try to be as prepared as possible – you won’t regret it.
- My third tip is to enjoy yourself. Remember why you’re filming in the first place and don’t let the work consume you. It’s very easy sometimes to get caught up in it when something isn’t working or a shot just doesn’t look quite right and forget why you’re out there. Don’t let it happen. Make sure to take in the sights and sounds without looking through a viewfinder, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
You obviously took camera equipment with you to create this film, but what is the 1 piece of gear that goes with you on all of your adventures?
Great question. I thought about this one and my answer might seem a little lame, but bear with me. It would have to be my iPhone. I say that because of the camera on the iPhone just amazes me. The pictures I’m able to take on it blow me away. I love being able to catalog and capture the places I travel with something as simple as my phone. Check out our Instagram accounts – @morethanjustparks @jimpattiz @willpattiz
It sounds like you have a bit of traveling ahead of you. How can folks connect with you online?
I want to make it very clear to anyone who likes our video or likes what we’re doing – Please, email us! We love hearing from you, it reaffirms everything that we’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you just want to tell us you liked the video or if you want to find a way to get involved – send us an email and we’ll be happy to respond. You can click on our contact link on our website or send an email. Also sign up for email updates on our website, its easy and we won’t spam you because we hate that too. We’ll keep you updated with our latest projects and make sure you’re in the loop on everything More Than Just Parks. Vimeo – Facebook – Instagram