Shock the Monkey

Earlier this week I realised that my next post would be the 400th on this blog. So I thought it would be good to write a bonus post for the occasion. And since it’s an ‘extra’ post, it’s a good occasion to do something a little different. As you may remember, I have been experimenting with shooting video of climbing sessions. However, while very convenient, the tiny Mobius camera does have its limitations. In particular, it doesn’t take filters, making it hard to get a balanced exposure, and there is no control on shutter speed.

The last point may seem like a non-issue, but the reality is that we’re accustomed to watching film shot with a shutter angle of 180°, which gives a certain amount of motion blur and gives moving elements greater fluidity. (To learn more about this, look up the excellent article by the people at RED.) This angle equates to a 1/50s shutter speed for 25 fps video, which is much slower than what you’d get with the Mobius on a sunny day. The solution is simply to use a camera with more control. So at a recent climbing outing I set up my DSLR for video, with filters to balance the exposure and a manually set exposure at 1/50s. The result is what you see above. You can compare this to my earlier attempt with the Mobius, where the movement is more stuttered (the clouds, in particular).

By the way, the route I’m working on here is Shock the Monkey, a 6c+ route in Wied il-Għasel, bolted about a year ago and named after the Peter Gabriel song. (Most routes in this sector are named after pop/rock songs.) As you can see I didn’t even complete the climb, getting stuck at the crux of this route, where it goes from an overhang to a slabby section. Still, I think I should be able to do this, once I build enough confidence.

Keep in mind that this was a test shoot. In retrospect there are a few things I’d change. Most importantly, the composition wasn’t great – I had composed for photography, which has a different aspect ratio (3:2) than video (16:9). This means the top and bottom got cropped off. I’ll need to remember this next time I use my DSLR for video. Can’t you tell I don’t often do this?

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