Let’s continue the series on video. Check out the introductory post if you have a minute. My goal in this series is to convince those of you who’ve been happily capturing still photos to give video a try. If you’re already doing it, good for you! Either way, read on for some tips on composing videos and making the transition as seamless as possible. The main theme of this post is that the two share more similarities than differences. For the videos, click the title at top first, not the play button. You’ll go to my Vimeo page.
Videos: What’s the Use?
I’m a still photographer first and foremost. Even so, I’ve been capturing videos almost from the beginning. It’s not because I love video. To be perfectly honest part of it is the mere fact that video was available on my DSLR. But that’s not a good enough reason is it? I think in the very near future video will be part of every professional photographer’s portfolio. I wish I’d been more committed from the beginning, but I have to admit that it’s been an “if I’m in the mood” kind of thing. I shoot video to mix things up and have a little fun. That’s more than enough reason for you too
Here are a few ways you can use videos:
- If you are putting on a slide show, having nothing but still pictures is, let’s be honest, a little boring. Mix in some video clips, short and impactful, and you’ll have more attention given to those still photos. The point is that any presentation of still pictures is made more interesting by just a couple-three short video clips. As long as they are relevant to the general theme and not totally jumpy and bad, they can only add something.
- Telling a story. Although a series of pictures can do the same, a single video can tell the whole story more completely. A combination may be ideal.
- Capturing and creating integrated audio. This is a very important aspect of videos, one that sets them apart from still images. You can add music to a video and fade it out to the soundscape that’s native to the video. And then back to music if you want.
Getting Started: Cautions
So how to get started? Most DSLRs are very easy to switch to video mode. You simply throw a switch to go into video mode, and press a toggle button to start & stop recording. I recommend starting out on a tripod and composing things just as you would a still image. And then don’t move it, recording a shortish clip designed to capture interesting sounds and/or motions within the frame. You may have to keep trying in order to catch just the right sound and movement. Later on you can pan the camera, zoom, and change compositions.
Here are a few things to be aware of and guard against when starting out:
- Compose carefully. You should do this with stills as well, but with videos it’s easier to forget. Check out the corners and edges, watching out for a tripod leg or some other distracting element. Recompose so that your subject is clearly delineated. And speaking of subject, find something both interesting and easy to spot. You don’t want it to get lost in the background. If either subject movement or the soundscape (or both) is able to hold your interest then others are likely to find the video interesting.
- Watch out for exposure problems. For example if you place your subject against a bright sky, you might end up with a silhouette. That’s fine if it’s what you want. Just realize that you might have a smaller range of editing options, especially if you’re planning to learn the major video editing software later on. I recommend simply metering the scene as you would with a still image and going with those settings. If you’re not moving the camera around then whatever mode you normally shoot stills in is fine for video.
- Don’t move around or touch the camera unnecessarily. Every time you touch the camera the microphone, which is built in, will record the sound of that. Every time you move you run the risk of the mic capturing the shuffle of your feet. And of course don’t move into the frame yourself unless you are a subject.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for more on video. I really feel with video that it’s important to start off simply. You don’t want to bite off too much initially. Have fun out there and happy shooting!