The cool thing about shooting video on DSLRs starts with the quality-- cinema-like, crisp video with colors that pop. I don't care if you're using the entry-level Canon Rebel or the beloved 5D Mark III. Both cameras have image sensors that are some 20 times the size of what you'll find on even the most expensive video cameras.
The trick is learning to shoot video from the back of an LCD, keeping your image in focus and steady, and applying good sound techniques to your production. I'll do all that in our session at Creative Photo Academy, so bring your cameras and questions--we'll do lots of hands on in the class.
A common question I often get--what are my favorite types of videos to shoot? Visual extravaganza's that tell a story. For instance, I just did a piece for USA TODAY in San Francisco. One was about an alternative cab company, Lyft, that charges less money than Yellow Cab, and gets accessed via a smartphone app. The cabs drive around town in big pink mustaches on their dashboard. So beyond just interviewing the folks who created the app, we got shots of me calling the cab on the app, the car pulling up to greet me, driving me around and entering the headquarters for the interview.
This is called storytelling 101 and can be applied to any type of video. Making a sports production about your son's soccer game? Open with him putting on his socks and cleats, leaving the house, entering the field, giving high-fives to the teammates. Tell the story.
An opportunity to do something important!
My wife and I just returned from an amazing four days in Hawaii. It was an opportunity to record a historic moment. One of nine surviving USS Arizona sailors was telling his story for the first time and returning to Pearl Harbor to honor his best friend and shipmates. I was asked to photograph the event and help create a documentary film on the event. It was physically and emotionally draining yet one of the greatest honors and one of the most important events I have ever covered with my camera.
The Second to the Last to Leave project will be a Ken Burns style documentary film highlighting the harrowing escape of Lauren Bruner and 5 shipmates from the USS Arizona on that fateful morning. My task was to capture stills of the participants. Technically it was easy… Nikon D800 with 24-70 and 70-200mm lenses. Using the natural light, adding fill-flash, close-ups and environmental images all came into play, and was the easy part. Being unobtrusive, sensitive, respectful and reverent while making the photos was difficult!
Our cameras can be powerful instruments of creativity and good. It is a privilege to be included in such a historic project. What is your project? How can you use your camera for good?
“Street Walking” at night is lots of fun with a digital camera. Photography after dark while on vacation, in the city, at your favorite theme park or by the coast can yield fantastic results. Let the movement and the color be your subject. Look for the brilliant neon, flashing and moving signs or swiftly moving traffic. Techniques are simple… let’s learn to do it! Most beginning photographers worry about shooting at nigh... it’s just like daytime except dimmer!
Low light photography requires one of two techniques… hand-held photo or tripod shooting. For hand held pictures choose a high ISO film setting (ISO 1600 or 3200 on your digital camera) and use your lens at the brightest lens opening (2.8, 4.0 or 5.6). With a compact camera zoom to the widest position where the lens is the brightest, turn off the flash and shoot! For better color, more creativity and all around better photos tripod shooting is best. Use 100 or 200 ISO setting sturdy tripod and remote release. You may find your camera making exposure from 1 second to 30 seconds on the average scene. Choose aperture priority with F-stop 8 to have the majority of the scene in focus and shoot! The longer shutter sped will creatively blur moving items and equalize the “twinkling” lights.
Check the light for color and effect. Daylight, tungsten or fluorescent lights will affect the color of your end result. Your camera is most likely set to AUTO white balance. “White” light bulbs with film come out orange, to correct for this choose the “tungsten” white balance to make white lights white. Play with Tungsten , Fluorescent and Sunlight white balance settings as well as Auto to achieve the color you desire.
To make your photos more “exciting” choose to add a star filter. A Hoya Star-6 filter, Promaster Cross-Screen or Lee Multi-Star add the “extra spark” to your City Lights photos by turning every pin-point of light into a star!
Photographing at night is a great adventure. On most of our photo outings we’ll do a night shoot or go out after dark… just for the fun of it. Try these tips next time you have a chance and don’t forget to send me a copy…. Sharing photos is the most fun of all!
Here’s a check list to make it simpler!
1- Use a tripod and remote release. Our exposures will be 1 to 60 seconds! Make sure the tripod is level and steady
2- Matrix light meter
3- Program exposure mode for beginners or Aperture priority if you’re comfortable! Remember, F8 and be there!
4- ISO 200 film or setting on digital cameras
5- Turn OFF the flash, use the ambient light only
6- Turn OFF Stabilizer or shake reduction
7- Test Auto and Tungsten white balance on digital cameras… see what looks best!
8- Fill the frame with your subject. Avoid lots of “dark areas” with no lights in the picture
9- Take the picture and enjoy!
**Get some practice during one of our night photography excursions! Join us for our City Lights Bus Tourin downtown Los Angeles on August 15, or for our Star Trails photo shoot with Bristlecone pines in the White Mountains on August 2-4.
A few items in the store have been flying off the shelves lately -- some last minute Father's Day shopping, perhaps?
The new Canon Rebel SL1has claimed the title of the "world's smallest and lightest digital SLR camera." With 18.0 megapixels, a 12800 ISO range, 4.0 frames per second, and a 3.0 touch panel LCD, it might become your new favorite travel-friendly toy.
Black Rapid sling straps: these straps boast that they are the "world's fastest camera straps." Slide your camera up the strap without missing a beat to capture that perfect shot. The under-arm safety tether helps to keep the strap in place.
An essential tool for the "iPhoneographer": a tripod mount for the smartphone. This mount fits most smartphones and fits easily into a jacket pocket. This would be a great "throw-in" gift for dad -- it's only 20 bucks!