I have a new hobby!

I’ve never enjoyed video making. Instead, I’ve used still photography here on my blog. I’ve never gotten into making reels or video shorts for social media. But after spending so much time this winter getting into YouTube, I wanted to learn more about how videos are made.

I needed a project that provided learning opportunities but also got me outside in nature, away from computer and phone screens. Because that is my happy place. It is good for my soul.

After some brainstorming, I thought – why not film 15-minute still-camera videos to just show a Yukon scene or landscape? That seemed like a perfect length of time – the same time length of a coffee break. Nice little 15-minute view that could be used for calmness or meditation or just to have something on your screen that isn’t distracting. I’ve seen a bunch of these on YouTube – often a campfire in front of lake or a stream running through a forest.

I thought, I can do that! And that doesn’t need my face or video or personality. Perfect!

And while I film these, I could sit quietly by, enjoying the same scene, not on my phone, not listening to anything but nature. Just doing my own meditation.

So one afternoon I went into the woods. I hiked off the trail, through thigh-deep snow, and sat on a log. I set up a GoPro to my right and my iPhone to my left and pressed record on both. And I sat there and listened. And didn’t move. Feeling so smart that I was making two videos at once, pointing the cameras in different directions.

But it is not that easy to make nature videos. No sir, not at all. My videos were terrible.

Nothing moves in winter. There are no birds. No wind. Basically, I was taking a 15-minute long still photograph. I was so ecstatic when a neighbour walked by with their dog in the distance. And then my cameras died because it was too cold. That sums up February in the Yukon.

But I’m not one to give up! I went out again as February turned into March and captured a few more videos. But the wind! Oh my ears! It was so loud – my videos didn’t feel too calming – more like spending 15 minutes in a wind tunnel!

I picked my friend‘s brain who has much more experience with this stuff, and he recommended using the Final Cut Pro software for editing my video and audio, and getting a separate sound recorder rather than the audio from my cameras, so I could really capture the sounds of nature. So I did!

And now, several more videos later, I’m still truly terrible at this, but I’m trying!

And now I know why videos like this on YouTube often have a campfire – you need something to watch.

Continuing to learn new things is also good for the soul

I’m learning so many neat things! I started a new YouTube channel to share these videos and made a website for the channel, where I could talk about each video, show the behind-the-scenes stuff, solicit tips and feedback, and play with some other things too. Namely:

  • I set up WooCommerce on the site (shopping cart open-sourced software) and added some print-on-demand merchandise. I’m on several local community boards where I may use this combination for fundraising so I wanted to try it out first. I have no vision of selling anything through this new site, but I went through the steps of designing a logo, setting up a print-on-demand service provider, setting up WooCommerce Payments, and a shopping cart. Now I know how it all works! Years ago I used to sell merchandise for some websites I ran and I’d have to order it all and keep it in stock and ship it out. Now none of that is necessary! You can partner up with a print-on-demand service, and when a customer orders something, they print and ship it directly to the customer. You pay the printer. Customer pays you. You pocket the difference. I was years ahead of my time slogging my CanadianGoldens.com shirts and caps and Synflex canine glucosamine supplement orders to the post office years ago.
  • I’m playing with a theme on the new site that is entirely block design only. This is the future of WordPress and while I use and troubleshoot WordPress all day long at work, I rarely get to play with blocks, nor do anything creative. This has been fun to play with! If you have no idea what this is, you should sign up for a free account at WordPress.com and set up your own website or blog to play with. If you need a hand, let me know!
  • I’m learning about YouTube and how it works to upload videos and grow a channel. I have 4 subscribers to my new channel already, and two of them are Jeff and me 😊
  • I’ve been learning Final Cut Pro. This software is $400! Thank goodness I’m using a 90-day free trial still. There is so much to learn! Every time I have a question, I just Google it and find a YouTube clip that walks me through how to do a task. The files sizes to produce 4K videos are so enormous I filled my laptop hard drive accidentally last night so there is some more I need to learn. Do I need to save any of these files for anything once they are on YouTube?
  • I am learning a lot about audio (I knew nothing). I aim to minimize wind noises and maximize nature’s noises like birds and squirrels. This is not easy, and I have not mastered it yet. But I’m learning, playing, tweaking. I’m learning about the audio frequencies that birds use and how to use compression on my audio track.
  • I’ve been playing with AI (artificial intelligence) – namely ChatGPT and Midjourney. I asked it some questions early on about what I should name the channel and ways to brand it. Then I went to Midjourney and asked it to draw some graphics for me! For instance, I asked Midjourney to draw an “Alaska landscape emblem, old log cabin in the distance, vintage, fireweed, trees” and it drew me this in just a couple of minutes!

Neat, eh?

So I named my new video project “Way Up Yonder”. I took this phrase from the end of Robert Service’s poem called “The Spell of the Yukon”. The last lines are:

It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease,
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.

Robert Service was a poet (and bank manager for a time) who lived in a cabin a half block from here in the early part of the 1900’s. His cabin is preserved to this day.

Get on with it already! Give us the link!

Without further ado, here is my new site: WayUpYonder.com and the Way Up Yonder YouTube channel.

While I started with this idea of making these 15-minute still camera landscape shots, they are incredibly dull to watch. I need to find better subjects. I suspect I’ll morph into more action, maybe people, who knows. Maybe I’ll get good at this stuff, maybe not. Either way, I will have no regrets for all the learning opportunities and skills I can bring back to my job and other hobbies and to the organizations I’m involved with locally.

I have a million ideas for future videos, but most are inaccessible until summer. Cabins, views, rivers, lakes, and trails. If you have any requests, please let me know! In the meantime I’ve been getting outside more often, driving around, hiking where the snow has been plowed, daydreaming of scenes to share with you.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. To John (Dad) and Gerry (mom’s cousin) (hi!) who reached out to light a fire under my butt to blog something new, now you know what I’ve been busy doing. To tide you over until my next update, here’s a photo of a fox that I saw walking along the Dome road between videos I shot a couple weekends ago: