Hard to believe I have been here on Shodoshima for 33 days! So much has happened it feels like six months, but time is rapidly running out and very soon I am going to have to stop shooting & stay indoors, editing & finishing sound & score for my two film projects.
Yesterday was one of those great days shooting – I headed up into the mountains with the aim of capturing just one shot, a motion controlled tracking shot filmed at macro level, with super shallow depth of field… I found some beautiful moss and after eight takes was sure I had two or three that would work… frame grab below:
So I packed up & planned to head home, back to editing & staying focused on the deadline… but around a corner I came across the monkeys again! I did a search and apparently there are five nomadic groups of macaques on Shodoshima, and as this was definitely a different group to the previous ones I had seen I just had to stop & take some photos… and record some of their unreal sounds!
This one literally walked up to about 5 metres away from me, posed & paused until I took this photo & then wandered off…
It seems there are always dramas in the macaque world, every few minutes there would be an outburst of confrontation, all of which I recorded sound for maybe 20 minutes and some I captured footage of – heres a great scuffle/play fight that broke out (shot with my Canon s100 so please excuse variable picture quality, but recorded ok with MKH8040 ORTF to Sound Devices 744) – warning! Sound may scare domestic pets!
The tribe were definitely moving in a clear direction – I recorded for about 20 minutes until they had all headed off, but I got to thinking that the best way to record them might be to go ahead & plant the mics, rather than creep up & slowly scare them away…. So I drove down the road maybe 10 minutes, to a lookout and set up my mics and left them recording….
I waited for maybe 20 minutes and could hear them in the distance, but they didnt seem to be getting closer… So I set up a couple of timelapse shots out of ear shot of the mics and set them going, click…. click… click….
After another 20 minutes they still didnt seem any closer, but there were some crows making a racket so I moved the mics up to another lookout nearby
The tree up in top left had maybe eight crows in it, and they seemed to be having a party, jumping off the tree into the wind, swooping around & back… I recorded sound for a while, and then went & got my 5D and shot some beautiful silhouette footage of them. The frame grab below is from a shot where four of them jumped off & flew in a big loop, following almost identical trajectories
Having shot & recorded my fill of crows I put the mics back where I had them earlier and was just checking shots on the 5D when I heard a rustle behind me, and there was one of the macaques!! My mics were already rolling, but I quickly set up the 5D and started shooting video as the whole tribe came wandering past!!!
I was shooting with my 70-200mm lens, and was mainly was focused trying to get close ups… So occasionally I would get a little fright when I realised one of the macaques was quite close to me. They were wary of me, but the bigger males also didn’t seem too scared of me, and this particular one almost got a little too close – for a moment I wasn’t sure whether I should keep shooting or scare him away from my recorder!!
I suspect I was lucky I didnt have any food in my recorder bag… or was he just checking my levels? Arigatou macaque-san