I’ve started a YouTube channel named Blackout Doors. Or BlackoutDoors. Or Black Outdoors. I’m still finding my groove and figuring out the technological logistics – POV video and quality sound are my biggest challenges right now – but I’m getting there.
My goal is to bridge the gap for people who are interested in camping and hiking but don’t have the know-how, gear, or inspiration.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
I like making things. I like being outdoors. I like photography. I don’t really like making videos. Well, I like making them but I don’t like editing them. But I love the look of high quality video and the way it captures colors, details and textures, especially when it has that almost cinematic feel.
WHY “BLACKOUT DOORS” OR WHATEVER? IS IT A RACE THING?
Kind of, yes. Well, it’s more of a culture thing, really.
ISN’T THAT DIVISIVE?
No. Not at all. I know it may make some people uncomfortable. I just want to bring more people to the table who may not even be aware that the table exists or who are under the impression that there’s not a place for them.
I’ve recently met people who have literally never gone on a hike before. Adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. All of them are minorities – black and Hispanic. I’m stunned every time. I go on meetup.com and REI outings, trips, and classes, or I go to local parks to explore and folks are missing out on some powerful and empowering experiences.
As I go about my business of soaking in and taking advantage of the great outdoors here in the Mid-Atlantic, I want to help bridge the knowledge and inspiration gap as a side benefit. As an intended unintended consequence.
I don’t just want to see more diversity out on the trails and on the waters. I want to see people bridging cultures and trading experiences out on the trails and on the waters.
IS THIS A POLITICAL THING?
Hopefully not. As I see more outreach and more people getting back to nature, I’m noticing that people are clumping in their respective groups. Black outdoors clubs and trips, Hispanic, Asian, women only, LGBT, silent hikers, nude hikers, Christian, 20s, 30s and 40s, over 40, over 50, post-graduate, single moms with kids, pug owners, etc. You name it. Those are actual groups on meetup, by the way.
This is wonderful in a way, but only if these experiences are preparing people to come together and share nature. Let your pug walk alongside a corgi, why not?
Everyone is more comfortable within their self-identified group – whatever gets you out there – but I hope that it’s a stepping stone.
YOU’RE GETTING PREACHY
I am. Hold on. Where’s my soapbox?
There are a lot of people who aren’t used to dealing with other cultures. Just get outside. Y’know.
It’s not always comfortable, physically or socially (I’m definitely an introvert). Good. That’s often the first step to growth and connection.
Share a scenic view or sunset with someone you normally wouldn’t. Get caught in a rainstorm or freeze your ass off with someone you normally wouldn’t cross paths with. Get to talking. All of a sudden you have something in common. You have a shared experience.
Learn from people who come from a different place or even generation. YouTube provides a great start and is the ultimate library of visual information and resources. It’s hard to beat.
THAT’S A LOT OF ENO STUFF SACKS. WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH GEAR? ARE COMPANIES SENDING YOU PRODUCTS?
Nope. I wish. I’d disclose that, of course, but I’m not sponsored nor do I have any formal or informal relationship with any company. (Call me.)
I have so much stuff because I’m a gear head. I spend too much money on gear. I have more than I need – for me. But I’m not just gearing up for myself. I’m gearing up so that I can take a friend or two with me in comfort.
Always wanted to try hammock camping? Okay. I can show you the ropes and you can use my backup hammock setup.
Want to practice starting a fire? Me, too. Let’s try five different types of tinder, some of which you can find around the house.
You can virtually join me, if not physically.
ARE YOU MAKING MONEY DOING THIS?
Haha no! I’m neither knowledgeable nor pretty enough to have a viewership. With an average of 0 views per video and less than 20 views/likes per blog entry or uploaded photo album these days it’s safe to say that I’m a long ways away from seeing a penny.
That won’t stop me from making quality content, though. I’m not in it for the views or ads or whatever. I’m in it for the ego. No wait. I mean, for the joy of creating?
WHY SHOULD I WATCH ANY OF THESE VIDEOS?
Life is too short to spend a lot of time online or in front of screens, which is something I’m guilty of. So I’d much rather you go outside than watch videos about that time I went outside.
But if you’re interested in a certain type of gear, a park that I visit, or an activity, then take a few minutes to check out a few. I learn something new with each video and they get more substantive as I go.
I risk looking like a douchebag out there with cameras, tripods, and talking to myself in front of a camera so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
WHAT CAMERA AND SOFTWARE ARE YOU USING?
I have a few cameras. They each have their pros and cons.
I can never decide on which lens to use, but I like to use the faster lenses for more background blur and separation when possible. The e-mount primes like the 35mm f1.8 are sharp and rich. The 18-105mm f4 is versatile so it spends the most time on the a6000.
The Sony stuff isn’t weather resistant, though, so it’s a gamble. I’m always nervous taking it on the water even with the pelican case.
Nikon 1 AW1
It has a 1” sensor and it’s completely waterproof. Like, underwater waterproof. Shock resistant, weather proof, and even operable with one gloved hand. It also has slick features like Slow Motion View and Smart Moment selector. I really need to practice with this thing. Only two waterproof lenses, though. The one I use is a 24-70mm equivalent. Not quite the reach I’d like and not a fast lens but – waterproof, you guys (except for the lens I destroyed snorkeling last Summer).
Sony RX100 iii
This little guy is almost perfect … when it’s not malfunctioning. I dinged it up at the beach (and probably got some sand particles in there somehow) so the lens couldn’t close properly. Sent it away for repairs (not under warranty, ouch). When it came back it worked and then suddenly malfunctioned. So sometimes it works and then suddenly it won’t work for a few days. Then it’s fine, then it’s not. Point being, it’s fragile for outdoors use. Expanding and contracting lenses can get moisture and particles in there that are not good for the camera. Still, a 1” sensor, amazing image and video quality, feature rich, and a fast lens – top notch.
Olympus Stylus TG4
I should sell this one. It’s also underwater waterproof and is a little beast of a camera except it’s very hard to go back to a tiny sensor after 1”, APS-C, and full frame sensors. The image quality is depressing but it’s the only camera I’d take on a river tubing (with light rapids) trip. Wait a minute. I have a GoPro.
GoPro Hero Black 3
GoPros are ubiquitous and for good reason. But that tiny sensor. Again, image quality is depressing, especially in high contrast lighting, after using cameras with bigger sensors. It definitely gets the job done, though, and with practice and experimenting with the right settings it is undeniably an indispensable tool.
Adobe CC Products
Windows Movie Maker
For when my laptop can’t handle Adobe Premiere CC and crashes. Windows Movie Maker is like iMovie except uglier. It’s a robust tool, though, except the image stabilization left artifacts in my video. Wasn’t happy about that. I usually export video from Movie Maker and then put it in a Premiere project for polish and titles.
On iOS devices, iMovie is surprisingly easy to use. Almost everything you need. Videos uploaded to Facebook from iOS look like crap, though. What’s up with that?
WHAT CHANNELS DO YOU WATCH?
In no particular order, here are a few of them. A lot of them come from YouTube suggestions.
- Joe Robinet Bushcraft – Skills, techniques, and outings. I want that dog or one like it.
- REI – Take more of my money.
- Backcountry Edge – Extensive amount of reviews on all kinds of gear.
- Backpacker Magazine – Gear reviews and instructional videos.
- Bear Grylls Man vs Wild – This guy.
- Bicycle Touring Pro – This would require more gear.
- Black Owl Outdoors – Useful content and great videography.
- Everyday Tactical Vids
- Far North Bushcraft and Survival – I particularly appreciate the fire building techniques.
- flatbrokeoutside – Focused on the Appalachian Trail and how to do it without breaking the bank.
- Hammocks Expert – Is this the guy that wrote “The Ultimate Hang”?
- junglecrafty – Leeches? No thanks. But the knot tying shortcuts video is priceless.
- Shug Emery – Some of the best hammock info out there. He operates at an 11 out of 10. You’ll see.
- Survival Lily – Hunting, bushcrafting, shelters, food.
- TA Outdoors
- Ultimate Survival Tips
- Survival on Purpose
- Prepared Mind 101