A film still from Gary Yost's work in Fiji. Gary says Fijians and warm and welcoming people.
A film still from Gary Yost's work in Fiji. Gary says Fijians and warm and welcoming people.

Gary Yost: The Beauty of Fiji Can Make You Cry

A film still from Gary Yost's work in Fiji. Gary says Fijians and warm and welcoming people.

Marin County, CA-based filmmaker Gary Yost is best known for his short film The Invisible Peak about a project to restore the West Peak of Mount Tamalpais to its natural state. The film was shown in numerous film festivals to acclaim and awards. Most recently, Gary was invited to the Fijian island of Vanua Levu by Gavin de Becker, founder of the Naqaqa Giving Foundation to film the indigenous people of that island.

Gary Yost to Premier New Film about Mt. Tamalpais, Featuring the Work of Artist Genna Panzarella
Filmmaker Gary Yost with artist Genna Panzarella.

Gary Yost to Premier Film about Mt. Tamalpais, Featuring the Work of Artist Genna Panzarella

Gary Yost to Premier Mt Tamalpais film, Featuring the Work of Artist Genna Panzarella

Photographer and filmmaker Gary Yost will present a series of short films at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts including the premier of his new project, Mountains Made of Chalk, Fall into the Sea, Eventually The film features the work of artist Genna Panzarella, who paints a 10-foot-wide mural of Mt. Tamalpais as it was when it was whole—literally inside what used to be the mountaintop. The film will premier with Gary’s new series about Mill Valley at a special event at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 2 at 7PM.

Gary Yost: West Peak, The Project, Part 4

yost_heli_shoot

Time-lapse images of West Peak that show the contrasts between the beauty of the natural setting and the detritus of the old Air Force Station are just one aspect of the film I’m making. As I wrote in my first blog post, the overall point of this piece is to spearhead a fundraising campaign to restore the peak to its natural state. That means there will be historical material, interviews, reconstructions, and all of the things you’d expect from a storyteller such as Ken Burns.

One of the most important things I need to do is establish the location of the site so that everyone can clearly see where it is. The time-lapse material doesn’t do that very well, so I need to augment it with aerial images. I’m doing this with two kinds of aerial footage: images from a helicopter starting at the Golden Gate Bridge and working up to an orbit of the Peak, and images from a drone shot low and in the ruins themselves. I’ll be combining these with additional footage to establish the setting and emotional pace very early on in the film.

Gary Yost, Full moon, Mt Tam Radome

Gary Yost: West Peak, The Project, Part 3

Gary Yost, Full moon, Mt Tam Radome

Landscape time-lapse video requires movement to be interesting. That’s usually accomplished by motion control and (more importantly) dramatic moving light in the form of clouds and shadows. In the Bay Area that means winter is our window to shoot time-lapse of any weather besides fog. (As I demonstrated in my Day in the Life of a Fire Lookout video<, fog can be a great subject but when you’re on top of a mountain and pointing the camera upwards it doesn’t help much.) I began shooting for the West Peak project in late December and by early January I had learned a lot about what I need to do to get the shots I want. The West Peak area I’m working in is between 2450 and 2530 feet in elevation and when the cloud ceiling is just around that height the scene becomes very dramatic. The sight of the clouds rolling across the landscape and breaking to reveal the Marin headlands provides strong visual cues that we are on the top of a mountain.

Gary Yost, West Peak Project

Gary Yost: West Peak: The Project, Part 2

Gary Yost, West Peak Project

Photographer and filmmaker Gary Yost writes about his project to document the history of the lost West Peak of Mt. Tamalpais.

Over the past two months I’ve been busy conducting initial tests of new motion-control equipment I’ve acquired for creating the time-lapse portion of the project. One of my frustrations with the two-foot slider I used in the Fire Lookout piece is that it wasn’t long enough to provide enough visual parallax cues to make larger scenes look three-dimensional. These parallax cues are essential to providing an immersive sense of the scene because when the camera is moving, closer objects will move across your visual field much more quickly than objects farther away. When shooting basic time-lapse sequences you can easily lock the camera down on a tripod and shoot a frame every few seconds. That’s easy to do, but to get parallax effects you need to mount the camera on a motorized slider that will move it a fraction of an inch after every shot. This technique was invented by Ron Fricke in the late 1970s for the groundbreaking film Koyannisqatsi, and then refined for his later masterpieces, Chronos, Baraka, and 2012’s Samsara.

What’s happening at The Flow?

Here are just a few of the things that are keeping us busy.

EVENTS

The Jones Family by Liz Hingley, on behalf of Save The Children The Jones Family by Liz Hingley, on behalf of Save The Children

The Image Flow hosted the live judging of PhotoPhilanthropy’s Activists Awards on Saturday. It was a full and fascinating day! Close to 50 photo essays were critiqued and culled down to finalists by a panel of 5 impressive judges: Margaret Aquirre, Phil Borges, Alexa Dilworth, John Isaac & Denise Wolff.  A winner and 2 finalists were awarded in each of these three categories:  Amateur, Student and Professional. Liz Hingley’s image (above) was part of a series that won The Activists Award in the Professional Category.

West Peak: The Project by Gary Yost

Gary Yost
Photographer and filmmaker Gary Yost writes about his project to document the history of the lost West Peak of Mt. Tamalpais.

I am a Mill Valley-based photographer and filmmaker who likes to tell stories, big and small. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some very interesting local community activities.

One of my 2012 projects was to document what a day in the life of a fire lookout on the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais is like. I created it primarily as a recruitment piece for the Marin County Fire Department, but it saw much wider distribution as a testimony to the beauty of our mountain. There are a number of reasons for its popularity but I think the two biggest are that it shows an aspect of the mountain that nobody has seen before and it uses time-lapse techniques to illustrate how time passes in a way that we can’t see with our naked eyes.

Credit: Gary Yost

Discussion with Gary Yost: Photographing Bowling Ball Beach

The Image Flow sat down with Gary Yost to discuss his experience trekking up to Pt. Arena in Mendocino County to photograph the unusual shaped rocks that reveal themselves only at certain tides. What inspired you to photograph Bowling Ball Beach in Mendocino’s Pt. Arena? I was at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival in Sept 2010 and met an exhibitor Fred Mertz, a landscape photographer who mainly works in Northern California. We tried to make a plan to shoot …