Shooting From The Back Row

THE NEWSLETTER OF THE HAYS COUNTY CHAPTER
TEXAS MASTER NATURALISTS

In 1994, I traveled to Ireland with a cassette camera and took video on our trip. When I shared it out with the other people on the trip, they loved it. I’ve been shooting video of my travel adventures ever since.
— Dick McBride

Dick McBride

If you’ve attended a HCMN class in recent years, chances are Dick McBride was standing quietly in the background shooting video and recording the event. His work to document, process, and post class videos for anyone unable to attend in person contributes significantly to the quality and success of our chapter’s training program.

Dick certified as a Master Naturalist in 2010 with the Prickly Pears. He has a long history with the HCMN Training Team, serving on the Training Committee from 2011-2015 and as Training Coordinator in 2014 and 2015. His primary projects include trail work with the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance, prairie restoration with the Austin Water Quality Lands, and development of the 31 acres of land acquired by the San Marcos River Foundation. In 2018, Dick received a TMN award for 5000 hours of service.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dick to get some instruction and tips for putting together a nature video. When I asked Dick if he would do an interview for the newsletter as part of the photographer series, he said, “I want to be clear, I don’t consider myself to be a photographer.” 

Well…I’ll let you, the readers and the beneficiaries of his work, be the judge of that.


The following is a conversation I had with Dick about his videography. His responses are indented below my questions in bold.

Are there certain areas or types of photography that you tend to concentrate on or specialize in?

I became interested in 35-mm slide photography while I was in the Army in Europe. And in the mid-70s, I started shooting black and white video. For 20 years I shot video of our kids. Then in 1994, I traveled to Ireland with a cassette camera and took video on our trip.  When I shared it out with the other people on the trip, they loved it. I’ve been shooting video of my travel adventures ever since. 

What are your favorite subjects?   

I prefer to shoot travelogues and outdoor nature trips. And then of course, the master naturalist classes provide another kind of opportunity.

Can you share a story about a photography or videography opportunity that was especially exciting or inspiring?

In 2000, I visited Antarctica. It was January, their summer season, and it was light all the time. There were whales and seals and penguins and beautiful sunlit ice.

When you are photographing your favorite subjects, can you describe the camera most often utilized? 

My favorite camera is an 8-year old Sony HXR-NX70U Digital Camcorder with a 96 GB hard drive inside the camera. 

 Do you use other hardware tools when shooting video? 

When I’m shooting video in the classroom, I use XLR audio with 2 inputs - the shotgun microphone on the camera, and the presenter gets a mic, too. The only time I use a tripod is in the classroom; otherwise, I am hand-holding the camera with the in-camera mic.

What software tools do you use? 

Vimeo PRO, at $200/year, provides a platform for posting videos. Vimeo is a small community of professionals, with no advertisements, and allows you to password-protect your shared videos.

Adobe PremierPro is a full-service video editing studio that can be leased as a stand-alone software for $21/month or as part of a larger suite of Adobe photographic editing tools. 

Sonicfire Pro 6 from SmartSound is the source of music I’ve used for 15 years now. It automatically synchronizes with the rhythm and transitions in the video and can easily be added in and overlaid onto video tracks. 

Can you describe how you manage and process your videos? 

Creating the Video Components: I rarely edit files on my camera because it’s time consuming. Instead, I dump all the files onto my computer. Let’s say I bring in 50 files, some around 40 seconds or so. I start looking at them one at a time and put them into a timeline, creating a folder for Day 1 files, and so on.

Utilizing Adobe PremierPro: I move the files into a library in PremierPro. I want my video to move quickly, so within the video editing program, I start to cut down the time of the scenes. In the end, I may take 15 hours of video and condense it into a 1-hour composite. After the first edit, I add titles, transitions, and externally created material such as the music. I often use Apple’s “Motion” program to create maps with moving lines showing where we are/were traveling. Then I do the voice-over, sometimes using a script I’ve written, but most often just ad-libbing my commentary.

Utilizing Sonicfire Pro 6: Picking from the Sonicfire music portfolio, I select different tracks of music that emphasize the mood of the scenes.

Finalizing in PremierPro: I import the music file (AIFF) into PremierPro and polish the video for final publishing.

Uploading to Vimeo: The final step is to publish the video and share the password to users.

Dick took a series of videos of a pair of foxes and their two frisky kits in his backyard this year.

Utilizing the software tools and steps outlined above, he walked me through the process of creating a short video story. 

Here’s how it turned out.

What are your top three videography tips for us newbies?

  • Get Started!

  • Apple has iMovie and Windows has a free video editing program that is pretty simple for beginners.

  • There are online classes to help, also. I subscribe to a weekly live webinar by Larry Jordan to improve video skills


Dick shared these additional wonderful photos from his travels. His dedication to the quality and success of our chapter’s program and to his fellow travelers is felt throughout Hays County and beyond.

Separator Line rev 31Dec18.jpg