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No Extra Charge: a Foray into Video.

 

Black Eyed Susan in a Field (Sony RX 100 Mark III)

It is easy at my age, to stay within ones comfort zone. Its less trouble to stay with skills which you have already acquired, to maintain the status quo, to embrace the familiar. I feel very much this way. Yet I recognize, that a failure to tackle new hobbies, or new activities is a failure to expand one’s mind, a mind that as we age, tends to contract anyway.

Still photography for me is very familiar. I do try to improve my skills, both in image acquisition and image processing. Towards that end, I was watching on YouTube, tutorials published by Adobe on the various aspects of the Photoshop product. Among those videos, was a lesson on using Photoshop to edit video. Really? I watched with interest and learned that Photoshop, from CS 5 on, has had fairly robust video editing capabilities.

Hmmm.

Currently I have a variety of cameras available to me. Like many cameras these days, they are capable of  shooting very competent video, a capability I have tended to ignore. It occurred to me that maybe it was time I looked into this further, apparently as  all along I have had video editing software on my computer. Hey, its all free.

Looking over my camera collection and doing a little research, I find I have some very capable equipment. First I have a Panasonic GH 1, that I have shot video on before. I don’t use this camera much , but is still quite capable in the video realm. So too is my Sony Rx 100 Mark 3. The Fujifilm cameras in my cabinet are capable of video, but this capability is not really optimized.

My Nikon bodies however, particularly the D800E apparently are capable of more sophisticated  video capture, and have control layouts and menus that offer significant control of the process. The optical view finders also facilitate manual focusing. None of my cameras will shoot “4K” video, but the 1080p video capability of the Nikons and Sony should be more than adequate for most of my uses.

So I went online and availed myself of multiple tutorials online on how to acquire video footage and then how to edit it in Photoshop.

Speaking to fellow still photographers who have not yet dabbled in video, this is what learned from reading various sources on the web..

#1 Explore your cameras video capabilities. Learn about formats, frame rates, “shutter angle” and all of those terms unique to video capture.

#2 Realize that for the first time, sound will accompany your images. When shooting video in the forest, I hope woodland sounds such as birdsong, wind noise, and perhaps leaves rustling will be part of the sonic landscape. Almost invariable as I begin to record, an airliner will invariably fly over, or an open piped Harley will drive past on a nearby road. Such things can obviously be ignored in still photography. By the way, in a camera with the microphone on the top surface, your own breathing noises will be featured prominently in your video, unless you either step away from the camera, or hold your breath. Directional microphones can be a godsend. At the end, if necessary, you can just drown out everything with a musical background.

#3 In video, time is a dimension. Shooting settings can visibly change during the video if they are set on automatic. Thus auto-focus and auto-exposure settings which can be useful during a fraction of a second  capture in still photography, can visibly changes over tens of seconds recorded in video. This occurs particularly if there is any movement in the subject, or change in the lighting. Full manual exposure and focus looks a lot less weird.

#4 Short segments (and short videos) are the key to avoiding boring presentations particularly while you are a novice. If you think your friends get bored looking at a few of what you believe are your best photographs, wait till you try to show them a half hour video.

#5 In the beginning, keep camera movements, as well as zooming to a bare minimum, as you probably lack the equipment to perform these actions smoothly. Photoshop does have some animation’s you can apply to the video while it is playing.

#6 Don’t steal music clips. if your going to post online or otherwise distribute. Would you like someone stealing your photographs? If you want background music either find it on a legitimate free site, or pay for it.

#7 Don’t overdo transition animation between slides. Keep it simple.

Here are the results of my first effort, for simplicity, shot with the Sony RX. I think the video nicely illustrates most of the mistakes I discussed above.

 

 

Look, I’m still an extreme novice at this. The point of the post is to let other crotchety old photographers (like me) know that there are capabilities in our cameras and our software that many of us have not suspected, but  are relatively cheap and easy to exploit.

Try it, and expand your horizons.

Don’t ever contract.



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