Ecuadoran Amazon Challenges iPhone 6+, FiLMiC Pro

SARAYAKU, Ecuador, 28 June – 2 July 2015 – I think this shot made from the foot bridge that spans the Bobonaza River illustrates some of the shortcomings of the system I took for this assignment in the Ecuadoran Amazon.

I’m standing on the footbridge spanning the river in the autonomous indigenous region of Sarayaku when a canoe carrying some folks comes down the river, goes under the bridge and onto the shore. I’m using the FiLMiC Pro app and my iPhone 6+ is set on manual control of exposure and focus.

To change those settings in conjunction with changes of the images I’m making, I have to touch the iPhone screen and drag on the controls, up and down the screen. This, of course, is difficult to do without shaking the camera. So as the boat moves down the river, I have to adapt the exposure and adjust the focus – without shaking the “camera” – which in this instance is an iPhone 6+ on a hand-held and somewhat flimsy monopod or tripod. This turned out to be a real challenge.

Zooming to bring the subjects in a bit closer is another matter. On the right hand side of the FiLMiC Pro screen are buttons to zoom in or zoom out. But I’m faced with the same issue of adjusting the zoom while trying not to disrupt the shot. To help get around this, you can buy lenses for the iPhone.

To see the clip, click HERE.

So before you grab your iPhone and head to the Amazon, or any other place where conditions may be adverse, you really should consider some of that system’s shortcomings. At the end of the day, I would have taken the same system, as I think the advantages outweighed the shortcomings.

I went to Ecuador on assignment for American University’s (AU) Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) to do a short film on religion and the environment.

Bill Gentile