Ultralight 20 deg F backpacking setup

Posted in Captain's Personal Log on January 11, 2016 by William Hooks

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This combination of 11 items seems to work for me as the basis for traveling ultralight in 3+ seasons, when snowshoes are not required.

It includes a pack (I show both the HMG Windrider 2400 and ULA Catalyst as main choices), Thermarest Solar full size Ridge-style sleeping pad, Western Mtg Alpinlite +20F 850+ down bag, OR Helium II rain jacket, Mountain Hardwear P5 pile jacket, small sack containing Snowpeak 900ml titanium pot and Soto piezo micro-canister stove w small canister, firestarter=mini Bic, bear hanging sack, leather gloves from Petzl, and Steripen Classic 3 for water treatment. This entire setup weighs about 8.7 pounds.

My backup for fire is shown as an extra option (butane emergency type). Add a food bag and some snacks, and maybe a water bottle, and……go.

If I choose to take a shelter other than a Titanium Goat modified, 7 oz Ptarmigan biv sack I will most likely take either the BD Megalite silnylon ‘Mid (blue and silver here), or the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 8.5 ft Square tarp of cuben fiber. I hang the Megalite before staking it out, to ensure proper centering of its peak if not using an interior stick or trek pole combo.

For scale, I’ve included my HMG 1800 cu in Summit pack in an image.

PS: I may opt for a wood fire, in which case the 3 Amigos come into play- the 12 oz hatchet, Gerber folding saw (5 oz) and/or Gerber Basic knife (3.5 oz) for wood processing. Substitute Solo wood stove for the Soto, and carry no fuel.

Here’s my gear list in more detail, taken from my account at GearGrams.com:

https://www.geargrams.com/list?id=29109

 

The Rode Video Micro ultralight/compact, remote-powered shotgun microphone

Posted in Audio, backpacking, Music, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video on December 18, 2015 by William Hooks

I just received this superlight unit from B&H, at $60 regular price.

It’s powered from the camera or other 3 v supply, and has no internal battery requiring periodic checking and replacement. I use another mic of similar size and weight of Chinese origin (see my equipment list page), which uses an internal CR2 battery; both have their advantages re powering. This microphone really is to be used by direct connection to a camera’s 3.5mm jack.

This type of mic is very useful for a number of situations: vehicle interior audio, backpacking, minimalist travel/photojournalism, creating tutorials at the computer screen by reversing the mic on the camera’s hot shoe for voiceovers… the excellent Rycote windscreen allows realistic use in moderate wind conditions.

It also has a 3/8″ base thread for use with a standard boompole.

Be sure that  NO PHANTOM POWER is applied to this unit!! If employed with a  Zoom H6, using plug-in power = 2.5 v for that particular recorder, be sure to set up for plug-in power before connecting the microphone.  Set the Tascam DR-70 D digital audio recorder to EXT POWER to enable plug-in power.

 

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My preliminary assessment of sound quality is that I would happily use it with an NTG-4 or  Audio Technica Pro70 wired lav mic. Gain is more than adequate.

 

The fact that it has no controls whatsoever contributes to a streamlined, simple form factor; when I need to control the width of pickup coverage, I ‘d go to the Shenggu SG-180 shotgun (90-120 degree settings).

The ultralight, stable unspillable Zelph modified StarLyte stove

Posted in Captain's Personal Log on December 12, 2015 by William Hooks

I got this stove for ~$25 US from Illinois small shop supplier, online.

It worked very well today in a windscreen, using a 1 L Halulite GSI tea kettle and less than 1 fl oz of fuel….less than 0.5 oz weight.

I highly recommend it- but be careful loading with fuel from a non-nozzled bottle, and don’t overfill ! Its capacity is 30 ml = 1 fl oz.

Notes: It fits inside of an MSR Titan titanium kettle (as does the Vargo titanium alcohol stove  and the Whit Box stove) with a 4 oz jet-nozzle type fuel bottle , matches and a windscreen. You must supply the windscreen, just as with the other stoves listed. This provides a very compact and ultralight stove  system for 3 season + conditions.

It does not light easily using either a firesteel or a piezo-ignitor, but works very well with matches or a lighter.

The website and Facebook page for WATER HUNGRY documentary were posted today

Posted in Audio, Photography, Photojournalism, Travel, Video on October 1, 2015 by William Hooks
at the Hollywood anticorporate protest co-sponsored by ANSWER Coalition, Sept 2015

At the Hollywood anticorporate protest co-sponsored by ANSWER Coalition, Sept 2015

Commnal water dispensing station, East Porterville, CA

Communal water dispensing station, East Porterville, CA

Guy Fawkes lives on

Guy Fawkes lives on in protest

Melinda Steffen interviewing a resident dealing with acute water supply issues in East Porterville, CA

Melinda Steffen interviewing a resident dealing with acute water supply issues in East Porterville, CA

 

 

Patricia Magana and family, East Porterville, CA

Patricia Magana and family, East Porterville, CADSC00030

A version of the film's avatar; original artwork by Melinda Steffen

A version of the film’s avatar; original artwork by Melinda Steffen

Please check both our Facebook page and the film website for updates, reference links to information about the crisis over water in the state of California, and background about the process of creating this project.

Covering the ANSWER Anticorporate protest in Hollywood, CA

Posted in Audio, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by William Hooks

This afternoon, there was a protest march against corporate practices across the world held in Hollywood where I conducted several interviews with activists. These included  Navaho native American Paige Murphy representing Therednation.org, Hamid Assian from Food And Water Watch.org based in Wash, DC, and a Pasadena activist from Citizens Climate Lobby, James Waterhouse.

Doug, media coordinator for ANSWER event

Doug, media coordinator for ANSWER event

ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (5) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (6) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (7) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (8) ANSWER Protest_2015_9 (10)For solo interview technique I like to use a dynamic microphone running to the Tascam DR-60D DAR unless I anticipate a lot of very loud noise, where the -20dB pads are nice on the Zoom H6. The 17-40mm f/4 L Canon zoom was my default lens, also used the 70-200 mm f/4 L. Love the AT Mx40 headphones for crowd work! They really help isolate the interviewee from the background and are very comfortable.

Page Murphy, co-founder of Therednation.org and Navaho I was using the 4K Panasonic GH4 and Benro S6 monopod for the day. Grateful for overcast weather! And thanks to Ed Flowers for some still shots—

Paige Murphy, co-founder of Therednation.org and Navaho

Documentary filming in the heat of central California

Posted in Audio, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2015 by William Hooks
At Lake Success, CA talking with Donna Johnson from East Portervillie

At Lake Success, CA talking with Donna Johnson from East Portervillie

Setting up to talk with Paul Boyer in west Visalia about the efforts of his company to help residents obtain water

Setting up to talk with Paul Boyer in west Visalia about the efforts of his company to help residents obtain water

I'm monitoring sound before beginning to interview Paul at his office

I’m monitoring sound before beginning to interview Paul at his office

Donna Johnson (16) Melissa Wichnell (8)

James Garrett monitoring video and Melinda Steffen checking audio at Visalia interview

James Garrett monitoring video and Melinda Steffen checking audio at Visalia interview

Melissa Wichnell discussing Visalia, CA emergency planning for water distribution

Melissa Wichnell discussing Visalia, CA emergency planning for water distribution

Melissa Wichnell (13) Melissa Wichnell (15)

Nonpotable water tank near the fire station in East Porterville, CA

Nonpotable water tank near the fire station in East Porterville, CA

We completed a series of interviews with local officials in Visalia, CA and talked with local resident Donna Johnson in East Porterville about what she was personally doing to help neighbors whose wells had gone dry (as was her own).

The level of poverty in East Porterville is intense. Housing prices, already low, are decreasing due to lack of water further burdening residents who might want to leave the area.

We shot with my Panasonic GH4 in 4K 30fps mode, using a Zoom H6 digital audio recorder as well as Audio Technica Pro70 wired lav’s an dRode NTG-4 shotgun in a Rode blimp.Also used a Zoom hypercardioid shotgun mic and when using the Zoom for field notes, the mid-side capsule mic. I was very pleased with the performance of my equipment in very hot conditions, wind and for interior shots with no problems encountered.

There is still much to be done before we begin cutting the documentary’s final look; a tentative title: WATER AND THE LIVES OF THOSE LESS FORTUNATE.

Some ENG setups with the GH4 and 2 digital audio recorders

Posted in Audio, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2015 by William Hooks

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DR-70D DAR below GH4 camera on tripod

DR-70D DAR below GH4 camera on tripod

MS (mid-side) microphone capsule option on Zoom H6 DAR

MS (mid-side) microphone capsule option on Zoom H6 DAR

side view showing connections for digital audio recorder positioned below camera

side view showing connections for digital audio recorder positioned below camera

above-camera setup for DR-70D using 12" rail on hot shoe, and 2 wireless Audio Technica mic receivers

above-camera setup for DR-70D using 12″ rail on hot shoe, and 2 wireless Audio Technica mic receivers

DSCN2364The idea here is to be able to record to one or more cameras and record audio separately =dual system audio, later aligning the sound and video files while editing. I use Red Giant Plural Eyes Express for this job, it’s easy and automated.

I’ve shown two audio options, one with wired lavalier mics into inputs 1-2 on the Tascam DR-70D DAR connected below the camera and the other with the DAR mounted on an adapter above the camera, connected to wireless mic receivers.

The other DAR (Zoom H6) is used here as a hand-held microphone close to the subject, recording backup tracks; one could easily add a shotgun mic track here, for example, or one of the lav tracks if desired. I sometimes use the MS mic capsule in this setup because it’s simple to pick up my interview questions and the corresponding answers with that mic, place close to my side and less than 2 feet from the subject out of frame.

I power the Tascam whenever possible with external sources- either AC or when not available, by use of a brick battery via USB port with 5v delivered to the 15′ extension cable, then to the dedicated recorder USB cable. This is due to the lackluster internal battery life from the DR-70D.

Be sure to download the Tascam ‘s reference manual online if you get this unit- the supplied documentation is pathetic.

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