How Do Camera?

Light
We are all reflections of light.

Everything you see, you are not seeing, it is simply a reflection. Light from the sun, or light, or flash reflects off of the subject and then back into our eyes. Our brain then interprets this light into refractions of wave lengths of colour, then vibrates in those frequencies so that it can be interpreted into a binary code of sin/cos/tan that some how makes sense to the brain.

That in mind, the most important thing for video then is light. You need good light. Most importantly, enough light and not too much.

Learn how to control light and the quality of your video & photography will increase seven fold.

Basics of Lighting


This doesn’t cover {natural} or {naked} light, or what most call sunlight. The sun is above you, most of the time, if it’s not; it’s either setting or we’re all about to die.

Learn to follow the sun, and keep it at your back facing your subjects. Or not, every shot requires it’s own unique lighting set up and you’ll never know what that is until you see it. Practice the basics and use them in your own set ups that you create for your specific needs, budget, what have you.

Time
Real quality comes from time, preparation, and patience. Sometimes you won’t have the amount of time you need to get your shot, so either argue for it, or just get faster. There is no good rule on this.

Now you’re ready to pick up your camera. Turn it on, is it on? Look at it. Listen to it. Spin every dial, push every button. Just play with it so you know where everything is and what everything does. Throw away the manual. Wait don’t – you already did? Damn. You’ll need that at some point. Just not right now. Put it somewhere you can find it, but only you can really teach yourself how to use your camera.

Once you feel comfortable how to turn your camera on and make it purr, look at your surroundings. Are you inside or outside? These are the only two places you could be, or underwater. How are you reading this underwater? mad cool

Interior/Exterior
Your surroundings affect what kind of light you have, the quality, and the quantity. The sun is super fucking bright if you hadn’t noticed by now. Even on a cloudy day, the sun offers a shit ton of light. Indoors, not so much. In video we label this interior/ exterior, as a short hand for shit ton of light, or we need a shit ton of light. Say you’re shooting outdoors, which you should be, nature is incredible man.

ISO
First thing I always do is set my ISO. In the old days this meant selecting your film stock, so I still follow this method to this day. ISO is a formulaic representation of how reactive the sensor will be to light. This use to be a chemical calculation to the reactive agents in the film itself, but science man.

If it is really bright out – low iso. 100 or less. If it is super dark out, high iso – upwards of 1600. Anything after 1600 and you have considerable quality loss. I won’t even go over 800 if I can help it. Not enough light? Get more. You can’t … wait? You can’t…bump the iso…sad face.

White Balance
Now it’s time to white balance. Your camera should have presets for day light, shade, cloudy, tungsten, flourescent, auto, and some grab bag goody ones. Learn to use the custom. It’s set to a Kelvin scale. 3200ish is tungsten, 5600ish is daylight, and 7000ish is cloudy. Basically all light has colour that you need to balance back to white. Most light we encounter aside from LEDs and some flourescents, is either orange (Tungsten) or blue (daylight) or tubro aggro blue (cloudy) By balancing your white to the temperature of the light or Kelvin scale you will make white the same frequency as white in that spectrum and ergo balance everything. You balance incorrectly and everything becomes blue, or orange, or with flourescents green/pink. LEDs are all different, learn to love them and hate them for a multitude of reasons.

Shutter
Have your framerate? Double it. That’s your shutter speed. Don’t argue with me. That’s your shutter speed. 24fps=1/48. 30fps=1/60, 60fps=1/120. Break this rule if you want to, but if you want a true 180 degree shutter (the way true film processed light) then always double. You can experiment with other shutters but you’ll find it looks strange or unnatural. Don’t do that. Bad cameraman. OH NO! MY CAMERA DOESN’T HAVE 1/48 SHUTTER!!!!!!! WHAT DO I DO????

     “Use 1/50th and cowboy up.”
Canon Rep.

Wow, you’re almost ready to shoot someone.

ISO, WB, FRAMERATE (could choose first), SHUTTER, now you choose your aperture, or f/stop if you wanna sound hip and cool.

“Yo, drop that a stop – copy that.”

F/Stop
f/stop is the iris of your camera’s eye. When the human iris is super open it is letting in more light, when it is closed tightly it is letting in less light. Cameras are no different. The only confusing thing here is that f/stop numbers seem to be labeled backwards. The smaller the number 1.2, 1.4, 1.8, 2.8 – actually means the aperature is more open, letting in more light. The higher the number 5.6, 8, 11, 16 – the aperature is tighter letting in less light. You can use the f/stop to account for light loss because you choose a lower ISO, or you decided to mess with the shutter. Why did you do that after I specifically told you not to. Idiot.

F/stop also determines the depth of field in a shot. Because you are letting in more less light, the focus or intensity of that light is skewed. With a larger aperature (lower f/stop number: 1.4,1.8,2.8) the focus is shallow because the light being let in is so spread out. Meaning whatever you focus the lens on will be in focus but just about everything in front or behind will be out of focus. Cool effect! Impress your friends! The standard low f/stop is 2.8 for having the majority of the subject in focus, background out of focus, but like always, experiment.

When you have a smaller aperature (higher f/stop 8,11,16) the depth of field is more focused because light is entering the iris with precision focus. You can see further, and more detailed. Experiment.

The middle setting is 5.6, sort of what you see is what you get f/stop. Everything you focus on is more or less in focus, in front and behind. Great place to start until you find the look you want.

Most of these decisions will be affected by the focal length you choose for your lens, whether it is zoom, or fixed, where you are, budget, time constraints, general style, and how awake/focused you are. Don’t be lazy, do something with yourself. Drink coffee constantly while shooting.

Focal Length
Speaking of focal length, who/what/where do you want to shoot? The 50mm focal length most accurately depicts what the human eye sees. Here’s something to try at home, put the 50mm on, or set your zoom to 50mm. Now go back and do all the settings correctly beginning with ISO, WB, FRAMERATE, SHUTTER, f/stop (5.6 will be fine for this unless it’s too dark, or too light {ie, underexposed, overexposed})

Hold your eye up to the viewfinder, open your other eye, and look at something this way. Looks almost identical. Cool right? I know, that’s why I had you do that.

A wider angle lens, 20mm for example, shows a wider view than the eye is capable of. A telephoto lens, 100mm for example, is a closer view than the eye is capable of. Simple, keep it simple.

Final Thoughts
Get a tripod, build a shoulder rig, forget about audio. That’s not your job, and DSLR are not built for audio. Find someone who does audio and have them record it. Don’t worry about audio, you’re video. You do your job. Couldn’t hurt to get a small attachable LED light for your camera when in dark places and you need to get some quick light on a subject.

Less is more, don’t be afraid of the dark, it is legal to film the police outside.

Goodluck!

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