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Shooting in worst conditions


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#1 Malik Sajid

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 08:10 AM

I was shooting the documentry, and it was decided to shoot all natural. There were comments from people, shooting buildings, shrines. I was using Sony DSR 450p, and a big part was shot hand held. I had problems during the shoot, as there were lot of people, a rush situation. I was shooting the comments of a singer and i was constantly pushed by the people around.

I want suggestions shooting in such conditions. I set the camera to auto mode, and shot almost on auto. ON couple of interviews i made the manual settings by setting the white balance and other settings, but what should i do when worst conditions are there? Should i shoot on Auto? What should i bring with me during the shoots? I was shooting on a sunny day and at time which is concidered wrong for shooting.

Another thing, i was shooting 2, 3 minute interviews standing, i had my camera on shoulder, and i was very much tired, actually i was on a ockward position, and i took a heavy breath as soon as i stopped recording. Are there any exercies or positions while shooting handheld, or shoulder?
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 09:48 AM

Personally, I'd never shoot on auto using a camera like a DSR 450, correctly set up the viewfinder is very much what you see is what you get. plus you've got the zebras as a reference. I might use auto if I'm having to do a stop pull in the middle of a complex shot when also adjusting the focus at the same time, but that's quite rare.

The problem with auto in difficult lighting conditions is that it makes an exposure compromise which mightn't be the choice you actually want. For example, you might want the subject to move in and out shadow, the auto will hunt the exposure and lose the effect

I'd start doing some physical training, because 2 or 3 minutes isn't that long for a hand held interview, 5 to 10 minutes is pretty common. Tai Chi is commonly recommended for camera operation.
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#3 Mark August SOC

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 11:13 AM

I was shooting the documentry, and it was decided to shoot all natural. There were comments from people, shooting buildings, shrines. I was using Sony DSR 450p, and a big part was shot hand held. I had problems during the shoot, as there were lot of people, a rush situation. I was shooting the comments of a singer and i was constantly pushed by the people around.

I want suggestions shooting in such conditions. I set the camera to auto mode, and shot almost on auto. ON couple of interviews i made the manual settings by setting the white balance and other settings, but what should i do when worst conditions are there? Should i shoot on Auto? What should i bring with me during the shoots? I was shooting on a sunny day and at time which is concidered wrong for shooting.

Another thing, i was shooting 2, 3 minute interviews standing, i had my camera on shoulder, and i was very much tired, actually i was on a ockward position, and i took a heavy breath as soon as i stopped recording. Are there any exercies or positions while shooting handheld, or shoulder?


Shooting documentries in the worst the conditions will in the end make your a better operator! I would be careful on shooting all auto when your 'Running and Gunning'. My suggestion is learn basic photography and basic natural lighting. When you think you have it down, take what you have learned and build on that! Learn to rate your camera's ISO (which by the way is Tungsen based 3200k). Never! Never! Keep your camera lens on auto foucus or auto iris when recoding a interview. If you do! You are setting yourself up for many mistakes.... I have make the mistake myself and the interview is going great and then, he or she moves just a bit during the interview and the camera foucus's on the back ground or the iris opens or closes. Which tells me I did not turn off Auto... Learn how to operate the camera and study the camera's manual... Most camera manuals can be found on line for free. If you do not understand a feature of your camera learn about that feature and how it works. As for lighting learn to use bounce cards to shoot natural lighting or look it up on-line. There are many older books on basic photography on the subject. Have fun with it... As for the breathing question I would look at taking a class on yoga and learn to slow down your breathing and relax (it helped me)... Also, if your going to make this a living/ career as an operator, I would keep yourself in good shape and eat right. Holding a camera all day can take a lot toll on your body so take care of yourself as you would your camera gear.
As for your question on shooting where there are large groups moving around you during an interview. I would look for a light pole or something that cannot move and put your back to it! This way no one can hit you from behind and it will also give yourself a position to balance yourself on. Keep your arms in close to your body so no one can push you from the side and then, all your thinking about is your subject (Sound, lighting Etc.)! Also it is your job to tell a story with a camera and never mind what people are saying, as along as its within the law. Make sure to ask about filming in the city and filmimng permits. Contact the city hall or ask a local police officer before filmimg, call ahead! It will be safer and a permit will cost less then a ticket or worst jail. If filmming shires ,I would always take the time to ask first! You should also ask questions about the shires and learn about it from the people whom work there. Make new friends and ask them what is the most beauitful time of time of day to view it! You may learn something and get that one shot no else as been able to get because its hard. If you plan to visit it will make it easier than just showing up! Ask yourself this question how would you it if someone just showed up to your house with a camera? Call ahead and set it up to talk about the building and go there with pre-planned questions... Your images will show you did your home work and you care about how it looks.

Hope this helps! Have fun and good Luck!

Mark August, S.O.C.
Hollywood , California
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#4 Steve McBride

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 09:56 PM

Look into getting a cheap body-pod, it has a shoe that attaches to the bottom of your camera and has a pole that extends down that you put in your belt and a strap that goes around your neck. It supports all the weight, you just have to hold it to make sure it doesn't move too much.

As for people bumping into you, get one (or more) of your friends and see if they'll come along with you and you'll give them a meal. Then just have them stand behind you making sure people don't hit you.

As was said before, never use auto focus and iris. If you have to, auto focus is alright, but always use manual iris. Anyone can get annoyed when your background/ foreground keeps getting lighter and darker, it is horrible to watch! For manual focus, if you have a body-pod it is a lot easier as the camera won't be moving as much, you may just have to make slight adjustments if your subject is moving.

For lighting, if you're outside, reflectors, bounce cards, flags, whatever to adjust the natural light in the environment without use of actual lights.
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#5 Malik Sajid

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 04:21 AM

Thank you Mark and Steve.............that is extremely information for a bigginer like me. Sure i will take care of these things.

One thing more that i want to know. I shot this shrine which almost 4 hours drive away from my place, and we shot all day. We reached there at around 12:00 pm, which is worst time to shoot, but we had to because we couldn't afford to stay. Should i always plan my shoot before that sunny time; i mean after 3 pm or before 11 am; which are times when light is not that even and falls from an angle. So should i wait and plan my shoot before these hours?
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#6 Mark August SOC

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 04:22 PM

Thank you Mark and Steve.............that is extremely information for a bigginer like me. Sure i will take care of these things.

One thing more that i want to know. I shot this shrine which almost 4 hours drive away from my place, and we shot all day. We reached there at around 12:00 pm, which is worst time to shoot, but we had to because we couldn't afford to stay. Should i always plan my shoot before that sunny time; i mean after 3 pm or before 11 am; which are times when light is not that even and falls from an angle. So should i wait and plan my shoot before these hours?





Malik,

If you can 'shoot a test!' The light in the early morning on a clear day can make for some wonderful colors going from a dark blue into these great reds into yellows with natural light. Get up two hours before sunrise and watch the ski (with a cup of tea or coffee) and the if you have a light meter just watch how everything changes around you. Then ask yourself, "How can I get this on film or video?" Then shoot a test and make notes to see how to get that look you want! It can be fun and you learn from it! Once you have that, set up a time it get your shot of the Shirne with great dark blue to warm colors and show the viewer your images in a diiferent look of the shrine. Plus your day will start early and end early!
Most people do not stop to look at a simple thing like the light in front of there face. Your job is to show it to them! Not many people are looking around at early mornings to watch the lighting and seeing the colors around them when there on there way to work! Look for the beauty in the area your filming to show some harmony and attractiveness in your images with the light!

Good Luck!

Mark August, S.O.C.
Hollywood, CA
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#7 Malik Sajid

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 01:17 PM

ok here are the couple of frame grabs of the shoot that i had last week. These are raw footage grabs with no color correction or any thing. I would want to hear from you guys on these frames. I am disappointed by the output mainly because of the exposure, light was so much at that time of the day. Please tell me what mistakes you find in these images and what should have i done. Shot with Sony DSR 250p on mini Dv.

Shot indoor with natural light coming from the side through a window in a 12x10 ft. room.

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This is the shot from the other side(see the window)
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This is one of the frame from the timelaps sequence. Shot for almost 5 min.
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another one shot outdoor in shiny day at around 12'o clock noon
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Performance happening in the shades of the shrine (see the under-exposure in wide)
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Do we have to light up always. I mean suppose we see at something with eye and see that is ok, even then would i light up in order to look good when it is recorded. Increase the exposure or throw a light or whatever.

Should i apply an ND filter and open my iris????
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Aerial Filmworks

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FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

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