It’s a Big Country, The Movie


The last few years, just before Christmas, we have published a slideshow story of our year. This year, we didn’t manage to get anything put together before Christmas and so I promised a New Year’s slideshow.

But, inspired by a new camera to play with and a copy of iMovie that came free with our laptop, I thought I would have a go at producing a short video. Something I have been putting off because of the incredible time sink that doing video even half-way properly represents. Actually, since most of what follows was made from still photographs, claiming video expertise is a bit of a stretch. Still, I learnt some video editing skills that will be useful for some of our technical posts.

Also, as most of you know, Morgan’s Cloud has been out of the water for a bit over a year while I recovered from breaking my femur in a nasty hiking accident, so a slideshow or video about us sitting at Base Camp, while I spent way more time than was fun with physiotherapists, would have been, well…a huge yawn. Instead, I decided to focus on our recent train trip across Canada. Therefore, if you are only here for the offshore sailing content, you may want to stop reading now and wait for our next post.

Having put in the time to learn a little, a very little, about it, I’m not at all sure about this storytelling through video thing. My main objection is that the size constraints of video-over-internet really reduce the quality of the end result.

By the way, all of this, both video and stills, was shot with what I firmly believe is the ultimate cruiser camera. In fact, it’s the best camera I have ever used. I’m serious. How serious? Serious enough that all my Canon professional gear goes on eBay when we get back to Base Camp.

The camera that has won my affections so convincingly is the Olympus OM-D E-M1. If there is enough interest, and we can fit it into the already crowded editorial schedule, I will post at a later date on why it’s such a great camera for voyagers. Please leave a comment if you are interested.

With all that said. Tad dah…John Harries, alias he-ain’t-ever-going-to-be-confused-with-Spielberg, presents:


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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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10 comments … add one
  • Tom Clements Dec 31, 2013, 6:16 pm

    John – Having followed your advice, I am now using a Panasonic DMC-G3 w/ the stock 14-42mm lens, a Panasonic 45-200mm telephoto zoom, and the 25mm/f1.4 Panasonic prime and thought I was happy. I would be most interested in your comments about switching to the Olympus. Presumably the lenses could follow along and not need upgrading immediately. Do tell more! Many thanks, Tom

  • Mark Johnson Dec 31, 2013, 6:17 pm

    Please do post on the Olympus gear. I’m hunting for the best sailing camera – having already unloaded all my Canon 5D gear (yes, on eBay). At first blush this Olympus may be it. Am not familiar with mirrorless technology. Is shutter lag an issue, as it is in p/s cameras? Which lenses would you recommend? Happy New Year and appreciate the shots of your cross-Canada trip!

    • John Jan 2, 2014, 3:09 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Not to worry on shutter lag. The E-M1 is the most responsive camera I have ever used. Way faster than my 5D II.

  • richard e. stanard (s/v lakota) Jan 1, 2014, 11:02 am

    stephen, your gifts are much more apparent with the stills so please stick with them…may be in the market for a new camera so please do post re the olympus you like although i must admit i have developed an unexpected fondness for the camera on my samsung mobile phone which also has a great flashlight…it has a memory chip i can access to make impressive prints from my photos (it will also do video w/ sound)…rather skimpy on versatility, but my aging minolta maxxum can fill in that gap for a while longer probably (takes good ol’ film)…happy new year to you and phyllis…hope you are feeling back to normal by now or at least in the immediate future…fyi, santa is giving me a slightly delayed membership to the aac e-books…should kick in by mid jan…probably will enjoy that even more than the smooth-feeling and smooth-working victorinox swiss army-style pocket knife he brought me…hope i can hold onto this one as my pocket knives have a way of suddenly evaporating…cheers

  • Pat Kelly Jan 1, 2014, 7:00 pm

    Hi Phyllis & John
    Great video and beautiful still shots – thanks. Next step would be to get and play with FinalCutPro that will let you animate stills and many other toys for your next video adventure.
    Warm regards

    • John Jan 2, 2014, 3:07 pm

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Yikes, learn FinalCutPro? Then I really would have no life!

  • Ray Verlage Jan 1, 2014, 10:17 pm

    I dumped my big Canon gear two years ago, and bought Olympus E-M5, and never looked back!
    Watertight construction, low light capability, and great stabilization tech make for the ideal camera for shooting other club members racing an evening thermal wind. People love photos of themselves sailing their own boats. Sometimes I shoot from a vantage point at a mark, and sometimes while I am pseudo crewing. Congrats on your decision.

  • Steven Schapera Jan 3, 2014, 9:57 am

    Hi, I am really interested to hear more about the Olympus. I’ve been using (heavy) Nikon gear for 30 years and am finally ready to ditch it all in favour of the Fuji x100s and X Pro 1. Your comments, though, have made me hold off until I hear more !

  • FAIVET DANIEL Jan 3, 2014, 3:26 pm

    J utise un ” numerique” NIKON 16 megapixels , rapide d utilisation pour des prises instantanees ou spontanees
    ce type d appareils assez simple leger, peu encombrant est pratique dans des voyages ou il faut etre tres mobile ( forets tropicale, descente de riviere, escalades, prise d animaux exotiques etc )
    Il y a des années pour les memes fonctions le matériel que j utilisais pour mes voyages autour du monde représentait plusieurs kilos c est extraordinaire comment l appareillage photographique a évolué
    Tres cordialement et mes compliments pour le film ULYSSE

  • Steven Schapera Jan 10, 2014, 6:36 am

    I’d be really interested to know which lenses you have selected….please share with us.

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