Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Camera Tips n Tricks part 1

I was browsing through some videos on YouTube the other day and I was disappointed not to find any decent clips. By “decent” I mean clips that I found interesting. But I was also dismayed at the number of clips that could have been decent but were sorely lacking for technical reasons.

That’s not to say that I was expecting steady-cam colour-corrected CG-enhanced creamy goodness. But there are so many clips that could be so much better with just a little effort. Especially the ones that are obviously “intended”. As opposed to those clips that just happened to catch a moment and are spectacular to watch. I can just imagine some chap with a camera going over to the scene of the crash and saying “Excuse me mate, can you back the bus up and crash again? I didn’t have it in focus.”

Anybody can prattle on about how something was deficient or wrong, so instead of just griping about it, I’m going to offer some basic tips that anyone can use. Hopefully someone will read it and make a better clip than they originally would have. On the off chance that someone actually does, put “Thanks Dr_Neo_Lao” in the comments. Yes, I am that narcissistic.

Tip #1: Use sunglasses.
Have you ever gone outside and squinted because it was too bright? Has putting sunglasses on helped? Well, they can do the same thing for your camera! Find a cheap pair of sunglasses and pop out one of the lenses. Then mount the lens in front of the camera lens. You will need wire, duct tape or insane quantities of chewing gum, depending on the materials you have available and your skill in attaching the sunglass lens. The technical term for professional lenses is “ND filters” (Neutral Density) and they perform for the camera the same function as sunglasses for your eyes.

Most cameras have settings for outdoors / sunny conditions but they tend to be software-based rather than physically allowing less light into the camera. Obviously the more expensive the camera, the better it is. Interestingly: the more expensive, the more ‘optional extras’ that you can buy. This method is quick, cheap and easy. Just be careful that you don’t damage your camera in the mounting process, and that you don’t cover any buttons.

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