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Old April 29th, 2014, 08:38 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 1,149
Photo vs video thoughts

I'm practising some photography now, so wanted to post a few musings on how I'm finding it compared to video. If anyone would like to offer any guidance on anything I'm doing wrong, or could be doing better, I'd be really grateful!

-- Horizons don't seem to matter so much in photos. You can Dutch tilt all over the place, and it often creates more harmonious geometry, or frames out clutter, or makes a more eye-catching or "dynamic" shot, or adds to the feeling of naturalness. As a video person, I guess I find that sort of freedom of movement liberating and terrifying. Too much choice in how to shoot.

-- Geometry seems to matter more in photos, and stray background elements matter more. In video, if a clip is 1 or 2 seconds long, you can get away with all sorts of dodge and junk in the background. In photos, the viewer has time to study everything.

-- In video, my taste is for either wide or close, because I want to do eye-catching shots and defamiliarise the normal way of looking at the world, so I don't really like medium shots. I find 50mm lenses frustrating -- always feels either too close or too wide for me. (And, strangely, I'm not alone in this preference -- disliking mids seems to be a pattern with many Australian DOPs.)

But medium shot sizes seem to suit photography better, because they provide context. I read a random YouTube comment by a guy who reckoned that close-ups work well in video because you can always follow that shot with more shots to tell the story, whereas a photo should be more self-contained. The viewer is always looking to reconstruct the story behind a photo.

-- A really simple idea, but one that I'm finding is really useful: tell them not to look at the camera. If they look at the camera, suddenly you're into different territory; it's posed and not natural.

-- For candid shots, manual focus seems to be my friend; I don't always frame with subject dead centre. The problem with autofocus is you miss the moment if you have to aim dead centre, half-press shutter button, recompose, activate shutter.

Manual focus is pretty second nature for me anyway, so this seems like the way to go generally, unless I'm shooting under controlled, posed conditions or am not sure if a shot is focused properly.

-- Exposure is something I'm still trying to get. What I've been doing is using the exposure guide in the viewfinder, then previewing the photo to see if I nailed exposure. I think maybe most photographers work like this -- take a few shots to judge the lighting conditions, then more or less leave it at that setting and snap away.

-- Depth of field is also a bit of trial and error for me. I mean, in video, you can see in live view what sort of depth of field you're getting, and can adjust blur to taste. In photo, I'm having to constantly go back and check the result. I haven't yet worked out how to use depth of field preview button.

-- White balance I just leave at auto; but, then again, I usually just leave it at auto for video as well (shh!).

-- Picture profile I've got no idea about. Just been shooting at Neutral with default Canon settings and adjusting in post.

-- The various effects with long shutter speed I really haven't been thinking about. I've mainly just been shooting in a video way: decide on aperture first so the image has the depth of field you want; basically leave shutter speed at 1/focal length; ramp ISO up and down; if lighting conditions are too bright at minimum ISO, increase shutter speed; if lighting conditions are too dark and you need to bump up ISO above 1600, then I stop and think about how much motion there is in the shot and whether I'm willing to risk camera shake and motion blur by decreasing shutter speed, or whether it's better just to pump up ISO.

-- No idea how to use flash just yet...
Adrian Tan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2014, 04:37 AM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Crookston, MN
Posts: 1,353
Re: Photo vs video thoughts

The best photog I know shoots aperture priority, so don't feel off about that. It sounds like you're using a respectable way to setup your exposure triangle.

May I recommend Scott Robert Lim? He's got a great Creative Live workshop, and he covers off camera light, posing, and portraits in it. Off camera flash will let you get some amazing photos.

The rest sounds good to me, but is actually out of my depth, so my opinion doesn't mean squat.
Robert Benda is offline   Reply

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