This morning I wanted to record HD video with a very closeup view of my fingers on the fretboard of my acoustic guitar. I also hoped to get high quality audio from the brief recording. All of this can be quite a challenge for a hackjob of a guitar player like myself!
Anyways, I aligned my Canon EOS 60D DSLR into position, manually prefocused my Tamron SP 90mm VC macro lens, moved an articulating LED lamp close to my hand for lighting, and dialed in my exposure settings on the camera. Many many takes later I did an acceptable job of playing a short musical package, and was able to get some portions of my hand and fretboard partially in focus while doing so. The post-processing was no walk in the park either!
I recently shot a few very short HD DSLR Video clips of one of the more common and easily recognizable wading birds in New Jersey, a Snowy Egret. My personal goal for wildlife still photography had as been 2 archival quality captures of any subject that I found interesting. Archival quality captures to me means focus is spot-on, exposure will not require significant post-processing, and the composition is pleasing to my eyes. I also try to avoid repetition in my photos. I’ve “upped the ante” on my nature shooting goals, and will now also try to film 1 or 2 quick sequences when I am in the outdoors.
Back to the point, I had been shooting all of my recent photos with a ballhead on my tripod. Having no experience with fluid tripod heads, but realizing their importance in the video industry I started doing some research. I already have Manfrotto RC2 quick release plates attached to most of my cameras and lenses so I wanted a fluid head that was designed for the RC2 plate. I wound up purchasing a Manfrotto 128RC Micro Fluid Head and it has remained atop my 055x ProB tripod ever since. This allows me to perform the steady panning motions needed for dynamic video work.
The above video was filmed using the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC Lens and the Canon EOS 7D. Manual video mode settings include: ISO 100 F/14 and the Shutter Speed set to 1/80th. I muted original audio from the clips in post-processing because of the loud hissing of the wind. Guitar playing is me strumming my Washburn D10 Guitar, and I ended up recording this with my Samsung cellular phone. Audio post-processing involved noise reduction, addition of a Phaser Effect, and overall Volume Reduction. Video post-processing included trimming video segments, cross-fade transitions between shots, contrast enhancements, and split-tone color processing.
A short guitar video (of myself) that I recorded and edited recently in New Jersey.
Manually prefocusing two cameras on the position my guitar would be at was a challenge in itself. I actually took a cardboard box from a photography light stand and laid it in place as a marker for focusing. Took me about 3 tries to really guess exactly where my Ibanez guitar would be. I had external microphones from both cameras wired fairly close to where my small guitar amplifier was on the ground.
After setting the manual video exposures on both cameras, I started rolling and slid myself into position. Took me about 7 minutes on this take to get a 45 second musical passage that I was happy enough with.
Video post-processing first involved syncing the full 7 minute clips by matching peaks on the audio waveforms. After that, it was a matter of cutting to whichever video feed I wanted to be viewed for the guitar part being played. I did some color corrections, highlight tweaks, and selective saturation before rendering out the AVI file.
I dusted off my Alien Bee’s AB800 strobe to prep for some portrait work, draped my black muslin over my backdrop holder, manually pre-focused my 17-40mm lens (very small working conditions), and was happy to come up with this self-portrait.
Self-portrait with Strat
I’m actually sitting on an unseen stool here, so that was what I prefocused the lens on. I thought I’d try a pretty stark sidelighting angle with the AB800 angled slightly downward on camera left to create a “masculine lighting effect”. I do have the diffused beauty dish adapter, so I left that mounted on the AB800. I’m happy that there was not much light spilling on the background, which helps contribute to the somber and mysterious mood of this image.
One of the best parts of shooting on black is not worrying about background exposures!