BURBANK, CALIF.—I'm fortunate that I've been able to make my living doing what I enjoy—traveling around the world shooting documentaries and non-fiction television and capturing images that most travelers only dream of. This year alone, I've been to the Arctic with biologists tagging polar bears, was on a dig in Colorado for mammoths and mastodons, hung out with treasure hunters in California and journeyed to Columbia with miners searching for emeralds.
David Linstrom Since 1994 I've been shooting and directing most of my projects for National Geographic Television. To be successful in this kind of work, you have to develop a certain set of skills. Making the right decisions and trusting the people around you, as well as your equipment, is all-important.
That's why I've always relied on Sachtler gear. I've used a variety of different Sachtler heads throughout my career—most recently Sachtler's Video 18III with carbon fiber legs. This package is light enough to carry with one arm and sturdy enough to hold my camera package. From a heavy 2/3-inch sensor camera to a DSLR, I can dial the balance in quickly and be comfortable and confident that I'm making great shots.
Lately I've been using a Sony PDW F800, with the camera/lens/battery package adding up to some 30 pounds. With Sachtler's Video 18III, I can set my balance and friction quickly and know exactly how it's going to perform. It's always smooth, solid and dependable.
My recent shoot in Columbia was incredibly rewarding and challenging. We drove into the Muzo mining region, six hours from Bogota, via some of the most dangerous roads I've ever experienced, with mountains rising up around us for thousands of feet. Some of the most precious emeralds in the world are found here.
On arrival, we were lowered down thousands of feet into one of the mines, with water flowing throughout its shafts, up to our knees at times. It was hot and wet and black on black, with naked light bulbs serving as the only illumination. After beginning this shoot, I quickly realized that if the pumps were to fail, we'd have only a short time before the shafts were filled with water. We needed to work quickly in order to get the shots we required, and conditions were less than ideal. The one piece of gear I never had to worry about was my Sachtler tripod.—it always performs. After the shoot and all of the associated dirt and mud we encountered, I just hosed it down and dried it off and it was as good as new.
Like me, my equipment needs to be adaptable to many different challenges. At one point I had a shot of a miner pushing a cart of dirt out of a tunnel. I captured him going directly beneath the camera by extending the tripod's legs and stationing myself above his path. Even fully extended, the Sachtler's legs were rock solid. I was once again very impressed and wished that all gear was this reliable.
David Linstrom is a director/director of photography who has been working in non-fiction television for the past 20 years. He may be contacted at He can be reached at email@example.com@yahoo.com.
For additional information, contact Sachtler, a Vitec Group brand, at 845-268-0100 or visit www.sachtler.us.
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