I a teaching video with DSLR to a high school for a few days. Fun stuff: you can do so much movie stuff with a modern DSLR. As long as you know the limitations, you can do pro work—and then some. Today, a few randomly selected tips to give you a taste. Worked all day, up at 6am, so a very quick post. Don’t worry, I will make it up to you all!
One of the DSLR video limitations is focus. Tip: generally, do not try to focus during a scene; instead, focus before the scene on where the subject will be. Shoot short clips. Re-focus for each clip. If you must focus during a clip, use manual focus only.
Another one is sound. The built-in microphone is not very good (to say the least). Here’s a cool tip: use one or more iPhones to capture sound, and in post-production, mix that with (or use that instead of) the camera’s captured sound.
Finally, with a CMOS equipped camera, avoid the jello-cam effect:
This is due to the fact that the sensor is read from top to bottom. While it is being read, the prop moves. Weird effects ensure.
Anyway: get ready, More to come about video. You have a great video tool: let’s use it!
Normally, if you ask me “what is the studio portrait setting”, I would say 1/125th sec, f/8, 200 ISO.But sometimes, even when you are essentially shooting “studio-type” photos, you can use narrow depth of field.
Like in this picture, where the only thing that is in the plane of focus (i.e. that is sharp) is the face:
This was an 85mm lens set to f/1.4. The light was a bounced (behind me) flash. The f/1.4 gives us a depth of field just enough to have the face, and only the face, sharp.
So when you do a portrait, ask “what type of portrait”. You will not often want to go as wide as f/1.4, but the question is always the same. Whether you are in a studio, or shooting studio-type flash pictures in any environment.
I often do a quick self portrait—all photographers should. Both so you understand what your subjects go through; and just to remember.
Here’s a selfie in Aruba the other day:
Done with an off-camera flash and a Honl softbox and the self timer.
And here’s me in the Air Canada Rouge aircraft the other day, at around 24mm, handheld:
And here, the same but zoomed in to around 70mm. See how “filling the frame” can be effective?
In the latter two shots, I set the camera to choose the focus point automatically.
The point of this post? That you should have some fun with your photography. And that you should document every part of a trip, even the trip itself, the taxi to the airport, the airplane: you name it.
And if you feel like an assignment, here it is: go do a selfie or two.
Why, I am often asked, do you use prime (non-zoom) lenses? And why such fast (low f-number) lenses?
Consider this, a student today at f/1.2:
If you look at that full size, you will see how wonderfully sharp it is, and what incredibly shallow depth of field it has. So why do I have fast lenses?
- They are crazy sharp, and I like crazy sharp.
- They are consistent (zooming, on the other hand, makes every picture an adventure in different depth-of-field, acceptable slowest shutter speed, etc).
- They give me blurry backgrounds if I want (see the picture).
- They allow me to use a fast shutter speed. If I shoot in a living room at 400 ISO at f/1.4, I can use maybe 1/250th second. But if my lens was an f/2.8 lens, I would need to use 1/60th second (or I would have to raise the ISO). And with an f/5.6 kit lens (brrr), I would have to shoot at 1/15th second!
That is why I use fast prime lenses. And if I were you, I would get at least a 50mm f/1.8 or even f/1.4 lens.
Consider this, the Aruba resort I stayed at:
So how do I decide on the settings for a shot like this?
First, of course I need a tripod.
- I want the trails. To get these, I need a long exposure time, of 10 seconds.
- To get this, I need a low ISO, so I start at 100.
- Then, with exposure time and ISO given, I figure out the aperture I need. Which was f/16.
- That’s good – because the “starburst” effect is due to the small aperture of f/16.
- If I had needed a smaller aperture than f/16 (say, f/45), I would have had to increase ISO. If I had needed a large aperture (say, f/4), I would have had to wait until it was darker, or I would have had to use a neutral density filter.