Friday, August 21, 2009

Learning to see and penmanship

It is important for any photographer to learn to see both with and without the camera.  After all, don't you see what you want before you even put the camera up to your face?  I do.  I have learned a lot from my mother who is an artist.  She has taught me to see.  I have also learned a lot from taking drawing and painting classes. Both required me to see in a different way.  Photography requires me to imagine what the camera could do.  Painting requires me to readjust reality to suit the composition of the art not the other way around.  Both disciplines require different ways to see the world.  It is very helpful to start to realize that the world can be seen in more than one way.  Not all art is created through the same process.  I am currently working to improve how I see by practicing a little bit of penmanship.  I hope to improve my ability to create consistent and accurate shapes.  Drawing is another way to pop open the brain and to evoke creativity.  One of the ways my mother taught me to get to the ability to draw is to focus on simple shapes through penmanship.  Not just writing, but really trying to create good, consistent shapes.  I am retraining my brain to see the world through my hands.  

Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting to know your camera

There are simple things you need to know about your video camera.  This list is not exhaustive but it gives you a general idea of where to start.

How long your battery is good
How to focus
Set white balance
Set your audio levels
Adjust your iris
Adjust your zoom speed (if you are going to use it, not everybody uses zoom.)
Shutter speed (not all cameras allow you to adjust this.)
How to navigate through the menus
How to find the histogram.
If it also takes stills, how to use that function.
Where are your Zebras?  How do you set those?
Set time/date.
The settings for your LCD screen/viewfinder.  You can often adjust for the camera operator's eyes, for example my Dad is near sighted and wears glasses, well, I'm not and I have to readjust the camera for my eyes.

Also, its really good to know how to get back into manual mode quickly if you have a need for it such as a sporting event or news event that you want to cover.  For example, maybe you are at the park getting a talking head interview and all of a sudden there is a UFO in the sky over head.  You might want to switch to auto focus when focusing on infinity to get that UFO nicely crisp.  Well, you get the idea.

Other things you might want to know are what kind of other devices can you hook up to and replay your video on.  You might want to google what those jacks are and what they really do.  Its very cool to know your gear.  There is no shame in being very geeky.