Sporting Clays, Volume 2

After inadvertently recording Volume 1 in standard definition, I made it a point to shoot in HD today while shooting the South Course with my buddy J.C. MacBarker (known to some as Robert Brannon).  I had some camera angle issues, but the higher definition makes the clay visible, which is cool.  Things will get much better after today, as my gun camera mount arrived in the mail this afternoon.

We did good on the South Course, other than my continuing difficulty shooting the rabbit.  Later, we shot the harder North Course with another buddy.  We all did good, but not great, over there.  The gun camera mount is going to be handy for calculating some of the harder shot leads.  When you’re practicing and can take as many shots as you want, it’s relatively easy to zero in on most targets.  When you’re shooting in a competition, it’s important to get the lead right from the first shot.

All in all, a beautiful day.  And there’s no better way to spend a beautiful day than shooting some clays in the country.

Sunday Mashup: JVC Pocket Camcorder & Sporting Clays

This week I bought a JVC GC-FM1A HD camcorder.  Although I am starting to suspect that this camera might suck, other than the complete lameness of the included MediaBrowser LE software, which does not even recognize HD video on the camera, the jury is still  out.  I do like the fact the camera records onto a flash card, which allows me to remove the card and manipulate the video within Corel VideoStudio 12 (VS 12 users should note that non-HD video is in 4:3 format, to avoid the squished appearance that will result if you set your non-HD video project files to 16:9).

I decided to test the camera by combining two of my favorite things: tech and shotguns.  When I went out to shoot some sporting clays today, I took the camera and my spider tripod and filmed a few shots at each station.  I inadvertently shot the video in non-HD, so the resulting video is in lower than ideal resolution.  One of the features this camera needs is a way to lock the resolution, to avoid accidental resolution changes.

When editing the video footage, it became apparent that my camera placement and, more importantly, the lower resolution made it difficult to see the clays in flight.  It is likely that you would need to follow the clays with the camera to get a good shot shot (to coin a phrase).  Since I was by myself, that was not an option today.  Cassidy and Delaney often go shooting with me, so we’ll have to try a moving camera next time.  I hope that HD resolution will allow you to see the clays in flight, even with a stationary camera.

I love the fact that HD video cameras are getting smaller.  What I would really love would be for the iPhone to shoot HD video.  When that happens (and eventually it will), I will be a happy camper.  In the meantime, I continue to search for a small, full feature HD camcorder that will let me shoot video and easily upload it to YouTube or Vimeo or download it to my computer for use within an editing application.  Suggestions would be appreciated.

As far as the shooting went, I did good with everything in the air, particularly since the pull-delay wasn’t working at some of the stations and I was shooting alone, and horrible with the rabbit shots, where the clays bounce along the ground.  It’s hard to believe I can hit so many of one and so few of the other.

Cassidy and Delaney Shoot Skeet

Well, sort of.

Cassidy and Delaney went shooting with me today. It was Cassidy’s first time to shoot a shotgun and the first time Delaney fired a gun of any kind.

They worked with Jimmy Galindo. I highly recommend Jimmy as an instructor, for shooters of any age.

After shooting, we went to Old Town Spring and had dinner at Wunsche Brothers Cafe & Saloon.

That, friends, is my kind of day.

This Film Will Break Your Heart

And you will be forever grateful for having witnessed such a pure expression of love and strength.

dearzLet me get this out of the way.  One, I don’t believe I have ever been as emotionally affected by any other film or movie.  Two, this is absolutely one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.  It is horribly, horribly sad, but in the midst of all that horror, you’ll find that the goodness of the people before the camera, with one giant exception, will stay with you long after you’ve repressed the wickedness of the one.

The film I’m talking about is Dear Zachary (2008).  Netflix (it can be streamed); Amazon (video on demand accessible); iTunes.

On November 5, 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was murdered in a parking lot in western Pennsylvania.  The prime suspect, his ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, promptly fled the United States for St. John’s, Canada, where she announced that she was pregnant with Andrew’s child. She named the little boy Zachary.

Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, Andrew’s oldest friend, began making a film for little Zachary as a way for him to get to know the father he’d never meet. But when Shirley Turner was released on bail in Canada and was given custody of Zachary while awaiting extradition to the United States, the film’s focus shifts to Zachary’s inspirational (to put it mildly) grandparents, David & Kathleen Bagby, and their desperate efforts to win custody of the boy from the woman they knew had murdered their son.

There’s more.  A lot more.  But go watch it.  Keep a towel handy.

It’s not only the story.  This is an extremely well-made film.  The editing, in particular, is excellent.

But at the end of the day, the story is about people.  The filmmaker, who is only rarely seen, narrates the same heartfelt way he filmed and edited.  The friends.  So many friends.  For sure, the grandparents.  Andrew Bagby himself, in home videos.

Here’s the trailer. . .

which gives the impression that it’s something of a “true crime” film.  But it’s not.  It’s a lot more than that.

18 Stories High and Fearless

We spent the last few days in New Braunfels, Texas.  We tubed the Comal River, saw a great Jesse Dayton show at Gruene Hall, and spent a full and fun day at the Schlitterbahn.  Highly recommended, and a great family vacation.

While we were at the Schlitterbahn, Cassidy, once again, begged to do a high, scary ride- this time the Skycoaster, which basically involves being dropped from the equivalent of the top of an 18 story building.  Her friend Charlotte, who is visiting from France, quickly agreed to join her.  I wasn’t all that excited about letting Cassidy do it, but I decided to call her bluff.  Well, without a second’s hesitation, she filled out the form, jumped in the harness and took off.  Cassidy is on the right on the way up.

I’m pretty doggone proud of her.

Sometimes I Just Love the Doggone Internet: Steve Pride Music Videos

If you like alternative county music- or just great music in general- sit down.  You’re in for a treat.

I could write a book and not adequately explain how much I dig Steve Pride and His Blood Kin.  I have searched far and wide and only have two of their records to show for it.  Haint and Pride on Pride (buy those records now, and then you too will become obsessed with finding more Steve Pride music).  I’ve played those records innumerable times.  In fact, I suspect that I’ve listened to Pride on Pride more than any other record.  I have a lot of records, so that’s saying something.

I badly want more Steve Pride music.  CDs, vinyl, bootlegs, tapes, reel to reel, I don’t care.  But I can’t find any.  As best I can tell, Steve Shields, the primary songwriter and vocalist, disappeared into the Blue Ridge Mountains years ago.  I know he must have made some more music, but I can’t find it.  In fact, my mom, who died 10 years ago and never owned a computer, has a bigger internet presence than Steve, Pride or Shields.  Nevertheless, every so often I Google them up to see if I can find any treasure.  It’s been fruitless.

Until today.

Magically, someone has uploaded some live Steve Pride videos to YouTube. It’s likely that Jay Bennett’s untimely passing spurred this activity, as Jay played on Pride on Pride, and in these videos.  I think these videos are from 1993.

The first Steve Pride song I ever heard was the excellent Eva Peron.  There was a storm blew in from Rio De Janeiro. . .

Check out JHamm10137’s YouTube channel for more Steve Pride videos, as well as a lot of other good music.

If anyone wants to make my day (or week or maybe even month), hook me up with some more Steve Pride music.  Please.