Longboat Day 2: Row, Row, Row your Boat!

By Gabi, Chloe, Daniel and Paradis —

Wake up at 7:00AM to leave Saddlebag for Pelican Beach. It was a beautiful morning, and we were all excited for what today had to offer us. We didn’t have our cups of coffee to help us start the day, but luckily we had skip-and-dip. We put on our swimming suits, warmed ourselves up, and then ran into the COLD, freezing water. The feeling was amazing. We later had breakfast: yogurt and granola and then began to prepare ourselves to leave the most beautiful island ever.

We got on the boat, stood by our oars, and started our journey for the day’s trip to Pelican Beach, an estimated 7.5 nautical miles from Saddlebag. If that wasn’t already a long enough journey, we didn’t have the wind in our favor. That meant that it would be a long, intense day of rowing for our crew. After rowing for what seemed like an eternity, we finally got to our first check point, which was Clark Point. We, as a group, decided to take a break so we set the anchor and enjoyed a bagel lunch. After our break, we began to row hard to catch the slack tide.

Unfortunately, the ebb was still continuing and impeding our progress. We decided that it would be in our best interest to change course from Pelican Beach to Cypress Head instead, since we could see that Pelican Beach was crowded and all the moors were taken by various sailboats.  The final push against the winds and currents to cross the Bellingham Chanel in order to get to Cypress Island was strenuous to say the least, but we did it by working together and using the power of pop music to sing our way through the struggle.

After dropping the anchor at our new destination, we eagerly unloaded all of our belongings and items we needed for the night.  The dinner crew worked quickly so we could all indulge in the wonderful comfort food of mac-n-cheese after our long day out on the water.  With full stomachs and weary bodies, we set up our sleeping arrangements in order to recharge for another fun filled day in the San Juans.

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Longboat Day 1: The First Strokes and Seeking Crabs

By: Gabi, Chloe, Paradis, Daniel —

After packing all of our belongings in countless dry bags and learning some basics of our boat: the Townsend, we finally pushed off the dock in the Marina to start our journey to our first destination, Saddlebag Island.  Within the first few strokes with our paddles, we all quickly realized that the old-timey way of transportation of longboats is not an easy task.  Rowing took some serious muscle power, but when we all worked together and got our strokes in sync, we were able to row our way to Saddlebag Island, which was about 2.5 nautical miles away.  With the winds on our side, we were able to raise two of our sails to help push us to our destination, which was a joyous relief for all of us.

Arriving at saddlebag island, we were welcomed by the rocky shores of a small beach. Saddlebag gave our crew a quaint yet great place to stay with two small grass patches just perfect for our two tents. We decided at Saddlebag that the girls and boys would be alternating between the boat and the tents for sleeping—luckily for the girls, land would be their sleeping spot for night one. But not to get to ahead of ourselves, before any talk of going to sleep happened, we all enjoyed a lovely dinner of burrito bowls and a desert of hot cocoa with chocolate squares. We all sat out by the beaches’ edge and talked over our difficult yet fulfilling first day.

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Longboat Expedition with the Northwest Maritime Center

Day 1: Setting Off

Off on the 8:05 am sailing from Friday Harbor to Anacortes’ Cap Sante Marina on a gorgeous day. The Salish Sea Sciences team meets up with Captain Sonia and Mate Chrissy in time to pack gear in dry bags, enjoy lunch, and get to know their vessel for the next 5 days, a lovely replica of the tenders used to chart these waters by Captain Vancouver’s crew in the 1790s.

Photos: Timothy Dwyer

Packed up, safety procedures reviewed, and it’s time to learn about navigation, enjoy the sun, don lifejackets, and row!


Day 2:

Day 3: Adventure at Cypress Head

The third day of our longboat voyage awoke at the luxuriously late hour of 8:00.  The day had been set aside with the initial plan to explore the beautiful Cypress Island, a much needed rest day.  Breakfast was similarly extravagant with fried potatoes, scrambled eggs and apple juice.  

We set out from our camp at Cypress Head, a peninsula shaped campground that nearly becomes an island during high tide, on the Cypress Head Trail.  A small group split off to return with Captain Soso to watch over the boat.  The remainder of us continued to the Old Airfield Trail which wandered through a former airstrip that is now part of a forest reclamation project.  From there we continued to the Bradberry Lake Trail and arrive at Bradberry Lake.

Parker (aka Agatha) hijacking an old abandoned truck we found

Our arduous climb was compensated with a gorgeous view of the inland lake.  After taking water samples and temperature recordings we sat down for a snack.  Many of us were struck by the dryness of the ecosystem surrounding the lake, the soil appeared dry and cracking in places.

The hikers who made it to the lake (minus the cross country superstar, Peter)

Upon returning we were greeted by a lunch of hummus and pita bread. Some of us took the time to swim and explore the tide pools while others settled in for a nap.

skip and dip!

We ended the day with bean and rice burritos, AGAIN, and turned in for an early evening.

Day 4: A Windy Sail to Saddlebag

In the morning of the fourth day, the boys awoke from a long and troubled night of wind and boat rocking.  The flapping boat cover had prevented sleep for all but the most drowsy of them.  Upon removal of the boat cover it was revealed to be a cloudy and windy day.  As the girls arrived from the tent site it was apparent that they had slept much better.  

We all got together on the beach at 6:00.  It was soon apparent that everyone was freezing.  After slowly loading the longboat it was suggested that we get on our bright neon orange exposure suits. We looked like a small army of orange marshmallows.


Preparing the sails beforehand, we lifted the anchor and rowed out into Bellingham Channel where we were greeted by a hair raising site, a giant oil tanker heading in our direction.  Captain Chrissy got on the walkie-talkie and called up Seattle Traffic to tell them to connect us to the tanker’s captain.  We informed him of our location and type of boat, preventing a collision.  

After the tanker passed safely in front of us we raised our sails and steered towards the northern tip of Guemes.  From there we handed out breakfast: bagels with cream cheese, peanut butter, and/or jelly.

While heading for our next destination, Saddlebag Island, we had to circumnavigate around Jack Island.  We then sailed back and forth across Padilla Bay slowly making our way towards Saddlebag.  After a brief encounter with a barge towing tugboat, some of the crew took the time to cozy up in their exposure suits for a nap.  

Finally we arrived at our destination at around 12:45 PM.  We quickly set up camp and took a few hours of free time before dinner.  

Dinner that night was lentil curry soup which we enjoyed with a side of sailor boy crackers.  We then played a friendly round of The Malorie Family Fun game, a combination of charades and a talking guessing game and went to bed for our final night of the voyage.

Day 5:

At the disagreeable hour of 5:30 in the morning, our alarms went off and we reluctantly opened our groggy eyes. The day had finally arrived. It was time to begin our journey back to the marina, where our adventure had begun five days before.

After packing the rest of our supplies, we were on our way for the last time. Before we got going, Captain Sonia and Chrissy gave up a list of challenges to complete before reaching the marina. These challenges included: compiling a comprehensive list of all the marine life we had seen, doing a 360 degree turn in the boat, setting and furling the mizzen sail, singing a sea shanty, doing 20 power strokes, performing a man overboard drill, a moment of silence, and tying a round turn and two half hitches, all with little help from our captains.

The first leg of our journey took us from Saddlebag Island to Southeast Point, right before Guemes Channel. We knew that we would not be able to take any breaks once we were into the channel, so we had some snack breaks to gather our energy and prepare us for the hardest part of the day.

As we continued to Anacortes, the wind and the current pushed against us, but our rowers worked hard to keep us moving steadily towards our destination. Throughout the trip, moral was maintained by singing upbeat sea shanties.

Right before entering the marina, we took a moment to gather our thoughts and appreciate the events of the last four days. When we pulled into the marina dock, we all sat together to reminisce over our favorite memories of the trip and what we wanted to take away from this experience.

Although we had arrived at the dock, our work was not yet finished. We still had to clean up all of our supplies, as well as our beloved boat, the Townshend. Everyone split into three groups to take on our tasks. The boat crew completely emptied the boat and gave her a thorough wash. The “dip and dry” crew rinsed our gear with water and bleach and hung it on a clothesline to dry. The galley crew washed all our dishes with warm water and soap. After completing our individual chores, we all worked together to repack the boat in order to get it ready for the next voyage. Once all of this was done, we could finally rest and eat lunch of all the leftovers from the trip, our “roadkill” as Captain Soso said. Finally, Tim showed up with the van to take us back to the ferry and bring our adventure to an end.

It was a long journey with many different challenges we had to overcome, and through it all, we learned a lot about ourselves and how well we worked together. On this trip, we shared a lot of memories and experiences that we will remember for many years.

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Whales and the Weeds

By Ben, Sonja, and Parker-

On the second full day, we arose from our chambers to a brisk summer morning. We then came into the kitchen to have a delicious meal of various cereals, fruits, and other breakfast options.

After finishing breakfast we took a quick walk to the Whale Museum where we were given a lecture about the local orca population.

Walking to the Whale Museum

During this lecture we listened to a conversation between a family of Southern Resident Killer Whales named Oreo, Double Stuff, and Cookie. We could hear the various clicks and other sounds that they used to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, these orcas face many threats to their already endangered population, such as noise pollution caused by humans, decreasing prey populations (specifically Chinook salmon), and the accumulation of toxins in predators on top of the food chain. After the lecture, we moved up to the different exhibits in the museum and were given a scavenger hunt to “dive deeper” into the fascinating lives and behaviors of these amazing marine mammals.

Listening to a lecture on orcas

If you are wondering how you can help support orca populations worldwide, it can start with simple things such as picking up trash and limiting electricity use, along with many other solutions. For more information, please visit the link above to the Whale Museum website.

After leaving the museum, in small groups, we explored Friday Harbor through a photo safari, during which we searched for areas depicted in historical photographs. Attempting to recreate the photo in the modern era, to examine the transformation in the people, landscape, and culture of the island.

san juan county courthouse

Photographer: Peter


After a lunch of sandwiches, we prepared for our longboat voyage starting on Wednesday, June 28th.

We then traveled to the Spring Street International School labs where we received a lecture on algae by Dr. Rebecca Guenther, manager of the Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory in Friday Harbor.

We learned the major characteristics of algae and how to identify them with a dichotomous key.

There are thousands of species of algae, but are divided into three main groups: green, brown, and red algae.

Later, we created plant presses of algae specimens which will be dried and completed by the time we return from our longboat voyage.

Dr. Guenther then joined us for a scrumptious pizza dinner with flavorful toppings such as potatoes, artichokes, and different types of cheese.

Now we will finish our preparations for the long-boat journey and prepare ourselves to wake up early and catch our ferry to Anacortes!

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First Day in a New World

By Gabi, Paradis, Chloe, and Daniel-

Wake up early in the morning, anxious of this new world and what it was offering us on our first day. The sun shining, the clouds low; it didn’t look like the San Juan Island. It was a new world and we are happy to be here. Some of us woke up really early to rock and roll, and some of us were ready to sing Bruno Mars’s The Lazy Song. But no matter how much were anxious or tired, we all were excited to be part of this new adventure called The Salish Sea Sciences Program.

Breakfast, the joyful part of everyone’s morning when that first meal is served, and for those of us who aren’t morning people, enjoying a cup of coffee. This morning happened to bring forth eggs, toast and VERY LARGE MUFFINS all of which tasted amazing. After eating and congregating at our first breakfast, it was decided that a tour was in order to set up boundaries and see the little town of Friday Harbor. By “little,” we mean little; this small town is so close together that its almost impossible to get lost. That being said, what was lost in quantity was for sure made up in quality as Friday Harbor was immaculately clean and all so adorable.

After walking the quaint yet charming streets of Friday Harbor, we headed back to the dorms for some lunch.  We dove into all sorts of sandwiches, salads, and more to fuel ourselves for our next outing: a visit to the Friday Harbor Laboratories associated with the University of Washington.  After arriving at the Lab, we boarded the Centennial, UW’s marine research vessel.

We headed out onto Griffin Bay so we could let down a net to trawl along the sea floor to pick up some of the local diverse flora and fauna.

After pulling the net on the ocean floor for about 10 minutes, the captain pulled up the net and released all the catch onto a sorting table for us to look through.

We were all amazed by all of the shrimp, crab, sea slugs, nudibranchs, sea stars, scallops, clams, and much more.

We all felt like true research scientists when we were aboard the Centennial, and it was a great first experience in the field for us.

After we returned from the Friday Harbor Laboratories we enjoyed an amazing dinner which consisted of pasta salad and grilled chicken accompanied by various vegetables. After we finished our delicious dinner we headed off to the Community Theater for a lecture by Dr. Lauren Mullineaux, a senior researcher and biology professor at Woods Hole, MA, which was about deep sea hydrothermal vent communities.

And now, we’re enjoying some relaxation time as we conclude our day!

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Flying — Days 2 & 3

On my second and third days of flying, we flew from Friday Harbor. On the second day, we flew three flights: one local flight with maneuvers (stalls, turns, etc.), one flight to Crest Airpark and back (via Renton, to fuel), and one night flight to Orcas, for dinner.



Here are some photos from day two:

Takeoff roll from Orcas (Above)

That’s Friday Harbor Airport at night! (Above)


On the third day, we flew to Everett’s Paine Field, where we visited the Heritage Museum, then we flew to Tacoma Narrows, with a quick detour over downtown, where we had lunch, then to Crest, and then back.


Here are some photos from day three:

Instrument Panel of ‘my’ Cessna (Above)

Doing checklists in Everett, right behind a factory fresh United Boeing 777 (Above)

Approaching Downtown Seattle for the ‘Waterfront Tour’ (Above)

Close up with the Space Needle (Above)

Super close to buildings! (Above)

Over the stadiums (Above)

Super steep turn over I-5. (Above)

You can really see the angle of our turn! (Above)


During my flight lessons, I added 11.1 hours to my logbook, bringing me up to 18.6 flight hours. See you in the skies!

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Field Biology Internship

For the sake of simplicity, the internship consisted of 3 main parts: surveys, looking at pollination, and everything else.

The surveys were held throughout the San Juan Islands, and the animals that we collected were sent to another lab that would analyze.   They included Salmon Surveys in Watmough Bay on Lopez Island and off the coast of Waldron Island.  In these surveys we would gather large amounts of marine animals, although we were mostly looking at salmon.   We would gather large amounts of salmon by tying one end of a large commercial fishing net, like ones used by Native Americans in this area, to the boat, which was 50 or so yards away from the shore, and the other end to some sort of stationary large object.  Then the boat moved 100 yards or so to the left or right, parallel to the shore.  After this, the boat moved closer to shore, both ends of the net were untied from their respective areas, and they were pulled in to shore. This took 8 or so people.  This created a area where the fish and other marine animals that we caught could swim in, but they couldn’t escape.  The sea creatures that we caught included herring, smelt, salmon, jelly fish, crabs, parasites on fish, and other organisms.  Then we would count the amount of fish that we caught and the amount within each species while tossing the other organisms back into the ocean.  Then we would take out all of the salmon to inspect.  For each salmon we would get the gut contents (what the salmon ate), a clip of one of the salmons fins, and a measure for length.  Throughout the process, we were not hurting the salmon at all.  The fins would actually grow back within 3 weeks, and the stomach contents were easily gotten without performing surgery.  Then we would release them back into the ocean, and, depending on how many chinook and how many king that we got, we would do the process all over again or stop.  When we did this on Waldron, we only had to do the process once, but, when we did this on Watmought, we had to do this 3 times.  The reason why we were doing this was because recently, within the last decade or so, the salmon population has decreased in the area because of the temperature warming in the sea.  Because of this, salmon for the most part are moving to Alaska where the water is colder and the salmon can survive.   We also did fish surveys on Indian Island off the coast of Orcas Island.  In the fish surveys we gathered the same things, but we moved the nets without a boat.  A person instead would wade into the water.  We also did star fish surveys on Indian islands.  We would count the amount of Star Fish in the area.  Star fish generally like rock crevices and areas devoid of sunlight.  We did this because in 2011 or 12 the population in the area had a severe decrease in population because of an epidemic.  Before of the epidemic, scientists on the islands would survey the area and count 500 or so individuals, but, when the outbreak happened, there were only 200 or so star fish.  Now in 2017 we did another survey, and there were 540 star fish.  Everyone of them was healthy and did not show any signs of the epidemic.

Another part of the internship was pollen related, including pollinators and the plants that have pollen.  Throughout the pollen part of the internship, we traveled to many islands, like Blind Island and McConnell Island.  The reason why we went to each island was to check for any sign of disturbance, like litter and trash, but also to look at the plants and pollinators there.  The plants include death camas, a purple plant native to this area.  The interesting thing about deathcamas is that it allows only one type of pollinator to feed on its nectar and pollen, death camas bees.  For the rest of the pollinators, it has a toxin that it releases, deterring them and sometimes killing them.  Islands like the ones that we visited generally have two types of pollinators, pollinators that stay on the island and pollinators that are from another island but go to the islands that we visited for a source of food.  The pollinators that stay on the island are small, like a hoverfly or miner bees.  Miner bees are known for digging to make houses, usually out of mud.  Pollinators that come from other islands include bumble bees, and they can travel extremely fast, almost as fast as bullet right out of a gun.  Bumble bees are extremely big bees that can carry large amounts of pollen and therefor can go longer distances, as far as 2 miles.

Along with looking at pollinators and other things on the islands, we used a drone, a phantom drone, to map out the islands.  This is useful because we can cause less disturbance to the islands as we can see most of what we need to on pictures.  We also went to American Point and looked at plants in the area and how they differ from plants in other areas of the San Juan islands.  This was a good example of a microclimate because even though there were some plants that were the same, like camas, some plants were totally different.  This was because there were invasive plants brought to the area.  We also went to Iceberg Point a few times to do the same thing.  Unfortunately, it was windy when we went there, and, because of this, a lot of the pollinators weren’t flying.  When it is windy and cold, pollinator wings seize up, and they drop out of the sky.

The third part of the internship included going to the research garden to plant native plants and get ride of plants that didn’t have desirable traits, going to the Lopez school to clean out the lab because the school was getting some construction work done there, and being crowd control on Indian Island during Memorial Day weekend because there were some interesting rare birds nesting up on the top of the islands.  These birds were Oster catchers.


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Live From The Field

If you are at all like me, then you will be thinking  a lot about India and Nepal these next few weeks. In the past, I find my- self thinking about India at odd times. Sometimes it is the quiet we have here that makes me think about the absence of horns. Other times, it is the loud, angry, and aggressive honking of a horn that makes me think about the fact that for all the honking in India, it was almost never aggressive. Today, it is the cool clean air and clean water we have here that I am not taking for granted.
I suspect that most of you are already beginning to look at your life here with a new perspective. I hope you can cherish that perspective, reflect upon it, and even write down your thoughts and ideas. Inevitably, in time, you will lose that perspective. It happens. It is sad, but it just happens. But when we reflect upon our journey and how to integrate what we have seen and learned and the friends we have made into our lives here, some of it sinks deep inside of us and takes root there so we don’t lose all of it.
I am attaching some words of wisdom from Morgan Hite that some of you may have seen already. Morgan talks bout what it is like to come back home from 3-weeks in the backcountry. But much of it applies to our journey as well.
Let’s all get together in the next three weeks and share photos and food before it is too late. Anyone up for taking the lead on making that happen?
And thanks for being such wonderful travelers. All of you. I would travel with each and everyone of you again in a heart beat.
Morgan Hite put it so well, in an ironically titled Briefing for Entry into a more Harsh Environment:
People always talk about what you can’t take home with you after being in the backcountry. You can’t take home the backpack, or at least it has no place in your daily life. You can’t take home the rations, and if you did, your friends wouldn’t eat them. You can’t take home the mountains. We seem to have to get rid of all of our connections to this place and our experiences here. It’s frustrating and can be depressing.   
This essay is about what you can take home: what you can take home, and what, if you work at it, can be more important than any of those things you have to leave behind. Let’s look at what we’ve really been doing out here. We’ve been organized. We lived out of backpacks the whole time, and mostly we knew where everything was. We’ve been thorough: we counted every contour line on the map and put every little bit of trash in a bag. We’ve been prepared: at this moment, every one of us knows where his or her rain-gear is. We’ve taken care of ourselves. We’ve been in touch with basic survival tasks. We’ve taken chances with other people, entrusted them with our lives and seen no reason not to grow close to them. We’ve persevered and put our minds to things that never seemed to end. We’ve learned to use new tools and new techniques. We’ve taken care of the things we have with us. We’ve lived simply. These are the things you can really take home.
Thanks – Louis

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Video and Music Production Internship

Monday: I met with my mentor for my music production and the festival producer for a detailed planning meeting. We talked through all that needs to be arranged for the festival: from advertising, to lodging for the artists, to who to hire for sound and lighting engineers. I then went home and made a list of all the points we talked about for the production team.
Tuesday: I worked more on my documentary. I started planning out the general order of the story and the sequencing of video footage. The whole editing process took much longer than I thought. I had a lot of extra footage to sort through to identify the actual material that I needed. I also noticed I was missing a few key b-roll shots of the art and the hospital. I think I will plan to go to San Juan Thursday to get those.
Wednesday: I met with the music festival music director, and we worked through the song list for the festival. This included figuring out who would play on what songs and how to make the show exciting all the way through and, most importantly, not too long. We then went to the Orcas Center to meet with the producer and the Orcas Center Directer to go over the contract for the concert. This also included contract details like whether the projector is included and if an operator is included in the rental of the space.
Thursday: I went to Friday Harbor with film mentor to take the last shots for the movie. We started outside taking exterior shots. We had planned to use the drone for areal shots, but the hospital was close enough to the airport so that it was in a no fly zone. We had some shots we wanted to take with the drone inside the hospital, but the drone’s software wouldn’t even let it take off anywhere within a no fly zone. Without the use of the drone, we took all the shots on his Canon EOS 7D, which is an awesome camera. We used his set of very high end L series lenses, which is Canons very expensive line of pro lenses – most of which cost more than the camera. We finished the exterior shots pretty quickly and then moved inside. The hospital was open, so I had to be really careful that patients weren’t in any of the shots. We had to film one long mural on a wall that we usually would use a drone for, but we couldn’t, so we just put the camera on a cart and pushed along in front of the mural.

Friday: I worked on editing my movie today but ran into an issue with the editing software where some of the clips in the timeline were just black. I looked online, and there were a few people who had this same issue, but no one had an answer for it. I played with the software and ended up reimporting all the clips into my project, which cleared up the issue. I then did a few online tutorials to learn how to do some more advanced 3D graphics that I could use in my movie.

Monday: I performed on stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival!
Tuesday: I edited my movie and then met with video producers to receive their feedback on my work so far. I then came home and put in a long editing session. I stayed up late working on the 3D effects to one of my film segments.
Wednesday: I edited my movie all day again today, the deadline for submission to the Friday Harbor Film Festival is Thursday.
Thursday: My film mentor came over and provided feedback on my film, and we worked through the basics of color correction. I then continued to work on the color correction and a few last little edits and finally watched the whole thing through a few times and did a few last little edits. I then compressed it into a mastered file and submitted it to the film festival.
Friday: Tonight is the deadline for a short film grant application, so I spent the day making a resume and all the other documents required.

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Photography Internship

Going into this internship I was hoping for a deeper understanding of photography. I never really knew what a job with filming or photography looked like, and I was hesitant to work with Emily and Erin because I didn’t know them. Emily and Erin bought a property 6 months ago. They didn’t go to school for videography/photography, but Erins brother did. When he became interested in it, his brother was able to teach him. Erin and Emily have been in the business for about one year and plan to keep offering their services. They do wedding shoots, wedding videos, documentaries, fundraising videos, short creative movies, and much more. When I came they were in the middle of a couple projects, including a fundraising video for the Orcas Exchange, which burned down 3 years ago, and a fundraising video for this guy named Tim Forbes, who was in an accident 4 years ago, and who is trying to raise money for stem cell surgery so he can walk again. I helped edit the exchange video, learning how to use different software like Lightroom and Premiere Pro Video editing. A couple days I learned how to format websites, which a side job for Emily. She makes people websites depending on what they want. Some days I spent editing, and occasionally we all ended up taking a nap. I helped them film the last pieces for Tim Forbes’ video at his house and was amazed by the finished product. We did a couple shoots, one for his friend and one where we went to Decatur Island to shoot for APALCO. We flew a drone and did an interview with a guy who runs the power plant. We also met with some people who are making a video to advertise a house. Lastly, we did voiceover auditions for their video which is going to be filmed on the 10th.

I think that videography is a better path than photography because videography is harder and takes more skill, which is why people want more help with it. I don’t think that I want a career in videography, but, for a side job, it is a great way to make money and learn. I took away a lot of knowledge and a new respect for videographers. I want to thank Emily and Erin for letting me be apart of their business. I want to thank them for teaching me for making me feel at home and for being abolstuely awesome people to work with.

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