The outdoors has become more accessible than ever before and technology is capturing all of it in brighter, more vivid reality than we ever thought possible. What used to be the domain of highly-funded adventurers and their film crews is now the world of anyone with the will to capture the brilliance of the outdoors on video.
It used to be that a backpacker, hunter or off-roader would take pictures and maybe bring along a poor quality consumer video camera to take some low-rez footage to show friends. But these days, leaps in technology let outdoor types become their own documentary filmmakers.
But this is not to say that just because a person has the gear that they can use it. Just like anything else, ability and training make all the difference. So while your cellphone camera and even a GoPro can take some great footage, there are legions of new-school outdoor adventurers who take image capture very seriously, and their productions show it.
What used to be a sort of “home movie” venue, with returning adventurers regaling their friends with photos or bad video, laden with apologies and qualifiers for the quality, has turned into an undeclared contest: Who can make the best short about their adventure? With the rise of Vimeo and other open-source sharing platforms, would-be videographers across the globe have stepped up to create their own defacto production companies, turning otherwise basic weekend jaunts into little works of cinematic glory.
Arguably the most popular tool for outdoor video capture these days is the Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. As a result, and inevitably, there are outfits cropping up that make extension gear designed to turn a DSLR into a field-ready pro rig, allowing the serious movie makers to get their footage while remaining a part of the adventure. Companies like Hondo Garage in Bozeman, Montana have catered to this species of adventurer, producing tailor-made accessories for just such a purpose.
Everyone who ventures outdoors, whether to hunt, hike, climb or fish, is likely there for the raw experience and the magnificence of the planet. Bringing that experience home in the closest approximation to the real thing, or at least in a format that is worth watching, is becoming standard operating procedure for many. Perhaps the real value will be the spike in good films about otherwise normal outdoor adventures.