Points in Focus Photography

The Rocky Road to Video: Introducton

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When it comes to getting my head around video, I’m seriously reminded of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch. Every time I think I’ve sorted something out or made progress, I find yet another thing, or three, that leave me feeling totally lost again.

I come to the world of video as a still photographer. In fact, it wasn’t until early this year, when Canon announced the 5D mark 3 that I even really considered shooting or working with video in any serious way.

When it comes to still photography, I feel as though I at least have a handle on what I’m doing. I may not always be as successful at what I set out to do as I’d like, and there are certainly many areas I have a lot of learning to do; but at least when it comes to being behind the camera, on the computer, or composing a scene, I don’t feel like a fish out of water.

My limited experience with video so far is that virtually none of what I thought I had a handle on applies. In many ways, about the only thing I find video and still photography have in common is that they both use cameras and they both capture light, outside of that it’s a very different can of worms.

To make matters worse, not only is it different, there’s a whole lot more to deal with as video has a number of extra dimensions that simply aren’t an issue or consideration for the still photographer. If taking a photo is a 6 variable problem (depth of field, shutter speed, exposure, composition, perspective/focal length, and lighting), video adds another dozen or so variables on top of that. Things that are simply not a consideration, like sound, or a consideration in one way, like camera motion, are first-rate considerations, and not always in obvious ways.

I’m not necessarily looking to become a Hollywood cinematographer, or start producing my own indy shorts. In fact, I haven’t really developed a real direction for where I want to go with video beyond using it as a complement to stills where video tells the story better or more concisely than stills or text does. At a minimum, to me this means at least having a functional understanding of how to light, shoot, edit and process video content. Moreover, not having the budget for a production company, means being able to do it all myself.

This brings me to what I’m trying to do with this series.

I’m sure I’m not the only photographer who’s decided to try their hand at video, and I’m not at all convinced I’m going to be able to make a successful go of this. Nevertheless, I thought it would be worth sharing some of the hurdles, thoughts, and solutions I’ve come across along my rocky road to video.

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