• Elina Osbourne

What I Wish I knew Before Filming My Outdoor Adventures


It’s a sense of nostalgia we feel long before they’ve come and gone; the summer days flitting through our fingers, the long nights under the stars over… too soon. There’s something about the days we spend among trees, the midnight missions up the maunga; the big adventures, the small moments, all of these memories made because we chose to go outside. It’s something we all feel, but something not all of us remembers enough; spending time in nature is healing. It’s what motivated me to start capturing my adventures – what did I learn from that experience? How can I remember it, and share it with others?


While I believe a lot of the story of an adventure comes from reflecting on it, a major factor is also in the preparation – what’s the best way to arm yourself with all of the gear and thought processes to be ready to capture your outdoor pursuits? Let’s dive in.



WHY ARE YOU FILMING?


Something that can be overlooked before attempting to capture an outdoor adventure, is thinking about the why in what you want to achieve. With what you’re looking to create; are you on your adventure to film, or are you out there to experience? I always think if you prioritise the journey over the perfect shot, the story of how you retell it will write itself. Understanding this will directly impact the gear you take with you – because the last thing you want to be thinking about while on an adventure is how heavy your pack is.


I aim to keep my kit as lightweight and minimal as possible while maintaining the quality of what I’m able to capture. Carry what you need and think about the logistics of what it might mean to carry the extras ie. another lens, a drone; are they truly necessary for your story? The greatest thing about carrying a minimal set-up is the realisation that with limitations, you’re forced to be more creative. Restriction creates a new perspective.


KEEP IT MINIMAL


What I use has evolved over the years, and for long-distance hikes, it typically looks like one bigger camera to film the majority, with one lens that I do not change. Having a secondary action camera is a little bit extra, but gives an opportunity for quick access, and allows for less pressure when capturing certain moments. For time-lapses and shots where I’m self-filming, I utilise a small tripod, and for talking to the camera and filming others, an on-camera mic is key.


Other items are extra batteries, SD cards, an ND filter, a small cleaning kit, a power bank to charge my items, and lastly, but most importantly my number one piece of kit is my camera clip. This item allows my bigger camera to attach to the shoulder strap of my pack, making accessibility incredibly easy. If my camera is out of sight, it’s going to be out of mind. This piece of kit is game-changing.


WHAT’S IN MY KIT


YOUR KIT

The best kit you can have is the one you know. It’s easy to want to dive in and buy everything top of the range, but I always recommend making do with what you already have. At the end of the day, it’s not about what gear you own, but how you use the gear you have to convey the stories, capture the memories and express to others what you experienced. Will you miss the moment because you’ll be busy setting up the shot?


If you’re at the stage of upgrading, again – know your gear. Make intentional purchases then really learn the ins and outs of what you have. If there were any cameras I would recommend specifically to those looking to upgrade or add to their kit for outdoor adventures, I have four recommendations:

  • DJI Osmo Pocket – a personal favourite of mine that I’ll always keep on hand. Its small, compact and captures steady video without the need to stop.

  • Sony RX100 – a camera I had for a couple of years when I was just starting to lean into filming in the outdoors; very lightweight and compact with great video quality,

  • Sony A6400 – though one I haven’t owned, this is a well regarded and an incredible option for those getting into the 4k-footage mirrorless market. I’d probably pair it with something like a 16-35mm lens.

  • Sony ZV-E10 – another camera I haven’t owned, but one that looks to be a one-stop shop for creators and is a camera built around the concept of vlogging.


TO SUMMARISE


Again, think about why you’re filming, think about what you want to prioritise when you’re out on your adventures, and before you head out there – KNOW YOUR GEAR. The best stories told aren’t the ones where the person had the best camera or the best lens – the best stories told are the ones where we get to experience what someone else did.


If you’re interested in more about my process pre-adventure and post-adventure in putting together a video to encapsulate your whole experience, I made a course on Adventure Filmmaking. Let’s not leave all of that footage sitting on your SD cards till next summer, eh?



ABOUT ELINA

Elina is a filmmaker and long-distance hiker based in Auckland, New Zealand. Having created an award-winning short film that documented her thru-hiking journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, Elina pulls from her experience to not only hike these long trails but capture them.


Check out more of Elina’s videos here!