Tag Archives: safari

The Magical Sabi Sabi – An Adventure with Nikon DSLRs

This year has truly been one of inspiration. Over the past 9 months or so, I’ve circled the globe several times, and despite the inevitable (though surprisingly infrequent) moments of exhaustion, this period has been met with a plethora of indelible experiences and an usually high amount of original musical and video content creation…not always an easy task when one is sans-instruments, with minimal amounts of kit and typicaly at 36,000 feet.

At the close of our CS6 Launch Tour, I was fortunate to have a little time off to attend and photograph an African safari at Sabi Sabi in South Africa. As part of my recent move to Nikon cameras, I captured the entire trip on video, sourced from the Nikon D800 and D4 DSLRs. With a combination of 36 megapixel stills (from the D800) and incredible low-light performance (from both the D4 and D800) along with a (borrowed) set of amazing lenses, I collected some incredible video of the infamous ‘Big Five’ (for the uninitiated, the big five refers to the lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard and elephant) as well as a host of other native inhabitants of these mystical lands.

Sabi Sabi Land of Beauty – African Safari with Nikon D800 and D4 from Jason Levine on Vimeo.

As Vimeo doesn’t always play well in different regions of the world, here’s a YOU TUBE link to the same video.

What you see above is a very brief edit from that collection of video, captured over 2 days (nearly 70GB of 1080p video, I might add). Armed only with the cameras, lenses and a Zacuto Z-finder, I experienced the sheer joy and terror of filming live animals in a completely open jeep (something I’ve NEVER done before…I’m more of a landscape/documentary-style photographer/videographer, ie, things that don’t move and are typically studio lit!). Manual focus was the name of the game, and admittedly, pulling said focus was at times challenging, especially in the dark. A longer edit is forthcoming, but as you can see even in these brief clips above, the capabilities of these new DSLRs are really quite impressive. Any needed stabilization was taken care of via Premiere Pro CS6 and the Warp Stabilizer, and all the colour grading was performed in Premiere Pro and several shots were finished in SpeedGrade.

What was even more impressive were the stills I was able to extract from the 1080p source material. Despite the fact that there’s all kinds of downsizing/downsampling going on inside the camera, the stills (which you’ll see below) really impressed me. These were exported (often, post-grade) directly from Premiere and only minimal processing (if any) was done in Lightroom 4. The one leopard night shot, however, was a proper D4 raw image, captured at ISO4000.
LionMale2_04.Still001
Baby Elephant Clearing Out The Trunk
Another Sabi Sunrise
Mother and Child
Rhino and the Sun
Night Leopard
Sabi Sunrise

You can check out my Flickr stream for some additional images from the shoot.

Lastly, as video and audio tend to go hand-in-hand for me, what followed soon after the trip (actually, on the flight back to the US) was the creation of a new song in honour of Sabi Sabi, but really, a song for South Africa. Every time I’ve gone there, I feel like I’m fundamentally changed. People greet each other, randomly; there’s a sense of life, joy and wonder—and an appreciation of all things that you just don’t see everywhere. It’s truly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited, and this was just a little ‘love note’ for a place I’d happily call home…

CLICK HERE to checkout my latest iTunes single, Sabi Sabi.

Stay tuned for the next blog post as I take you through the journey of creating the track. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while (and it actually plays directly into my still-in-development children’s music show, Just Play Music)

Blog on.