Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shooting Lessons pt. II: When in Doubt, Zoom out!!

     Now that I have trained myself to wait for my subject to be closer before recording and follow the previous rules, I have yet another bad habit to fix: zooming in too far. I am not quite sure why it is, but for some reason every time I see an aircraft approaching through my viewfinder/screen I zoom all the way in. Once I get home and see the video I am again disappointed that the video quality is less than what I remember when shooting.  Just like time compression in my previous post (Norm, you know what I'm talking about!).  The plane jumps all around the frame in a blurry mass if metal. Ever been there? Again, taking notes from my still photography, it took me a while to back off when I first got my Sigma 50-500mm lens. I wanted to be able to see the look on the pilots face as they passed by. Several years later that amusement has warn off for better things such as framing. Same should be done with my video. I need to back it off.
     Today, as a matter of fact, I applied this very rule, with very good results.  I can't see the pilots faces, but I can see the entire aircraft and its proximity to the ground.  This, I believe, makes for a much more pleasing clip.  Extreme closeups have their time and place but should be used sparingly.

     Just like in still photography, there is an exception.  Extreme closeups can be very cool, and add a lot of energy to your video.  However, it must be done with great consideration!  Here are some rules that I follow with my still photography and am trying to apply to video.
1.  Make it look intentional!  Clipping just the very end of the nose, tail, or wingtip looks sloppy.  If you want it full frame, zoom out a bit.  If you want it cropped, zoom in so as your viewer knows you are trying to focus on one particular aspect of the aircraft.

2.  Make it look smooth!  At least, as smooth as possible.  You never know if you don't try, right?  Try to find a zoom range that works for you and your equipment and make a mental note for yourself to NEVER go beyond that range.  Make a small mark on your camera if you need to. 

3.  Just like real life pilots, make yourself some personal minimums.  Go practice shooting and determine the amount of zoom that you like for those shots you MUST keep in the future.  But, be sure that when the moment counts, you don't press your luck and assume you'll be "just fine" this time out.  I've ruined too many amazing photo opportunities because of this.  Some photographers will tell you to take the risk, I tend to say err on the conservative side.  I'd rather have a clip that leaves me wanting more, than one that leaves me wanting less.

Equipment Consideration:

Not all image stabilization is created equal, and none are perfect!

Again, consider your focus points.  I know I mentioned this in the last post, but you must be aware of the focus point(s) in the camera you are using.  I cannot tell you how many times I wanted have nice 1/3 framing, only to find my camera kept trying to focus on a blank background, which ruined the shot.  In this case, what I should have done is zoom out more so I can still keep my subject in the center (focus point) and the ground on the bottom portion of the screen.

I hope these tips help in some way, either in shooting video or still photography!  Please comment below and share with your friends!

Blue skies and happy shooting!!


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