The jump from camcorder to DSLR by Jerry Hooper
I made the jump. I went from HDVC, hi-def video camcorder, to a DSLR, Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. I saw what these new DSLR cameras could do, and I wanted in. I had to have the incredible high quality images taken from one of those ‘really nice cameras’. So, I jumped, and at the sticker price, there would be no going back.
On Tuesday, I shot for the last time with my Canon Vixia HV30. I cannot even remember what the footage was of. On Wednesday, I unboxed a new Canon 7d. On Saturday I was in the field testing; a swimming party. Remember the television show LOST? That would be me standing by the pool – camera in hand with the bewildered look on my face. LOST.
I felt like the old dog learning new tricks must have felt like; at a complete and utter loss. Suddenly, nothing about shooting video was familiar. There was no tape, no tape eject button. There was no zoom push/pull button. Without a doubt, I was not in Kansas anymore. On a whim, I flipped a switch that said ‘Video mode’ and and pressed the record button. The camera geared up, clicked, something spun and locked in place. In that moment, I felt a rush of excitement. My heart rate jumped, I became shaky and giddy; like a kid with a new toy. This was an excitement that came in 24 frames per second, or in 720p, or however I wanted it. The 7d and I were live.
Like any videographer would do, I placed my eye up against the eye peice. Nothing. Puzzled, I backed away from the camera body and looked at the display, I was filming the fence. Nice. The swimmers were nowhere to be found in the frame. Repoised and slightly the 7d wiser, I once again slowly raised the camera display. I saw the red recording light; I saw swimmers. I said to myself, “This here footage is going to be epic and maybe even viral, if it gets enough views.” My euphoria came to a screeching halt when I realized what would come next: focusing. Manual focusing while holding the camera. Keeping the camera steady. Picking the right shutter speed and aperture settings all at the same time. I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.
A few weeks have passed since the epic swim party field test shoot and the learning is still, how do you say; curving? For example, the choice of lenses are unending, I’m not used to changing lenses for video. Now I use a smart card and a card reader. Importing footage is a cinch. Ten minutes of video doesn’t mean ten minutes of importing like it meant with tape. All of the camera settings are manual; almost nothing in video mode is automatic. The results, however, are surreal. The picture quality is like in comparison to viewing photos in a plastic photo album to seeing a movie at IMAX. Remember that feeling all you veterans out there?
The ability of this DSLR is incredible and I have not even begun to tap its arsenal of features that’ll make me look like a pro. With great anticipation I eagerly anticipate my next shoot.
And if you are wondering, my epic swim video has 47 views.Details
Tiger Woods won’t let me be his new caddy. Honestly I haven’t called him to apply, but I think it’d be a pretty cool job. I’ve played a round or two of golf each year since I was a kid and I have a decent set of golf clubs. I watch at least 30 minutes of the major tournaments and have even been to Tiger’s tournament here in SoCal. I’ll go as far as saying there have been a few people impressed with how far I can drive a golf ball. Doesn’t make me qualified you say? I’m crazy to even be thinking about it? Maybe so…
The paragraph above does sound crazy now that I type it out…but how different is it than today’s crop of photographers, myself included. When does the switch go off in our brains that say “yes I’m going to go out and become a photographer”? We had a class in high school and maybe even shot some photos with a Polaroid when we were younger. We own a decent camera…perhaps one that is a few steps above entry level. Maybe we’ve impressed our friends with some photos we’ve taken and ran them through a few steps in Photoshop. They ask us to take their Christmas card photos or shoot their cousins wedding for free. We read how-to’s online and some attend a workshop put on by a “real” pro. We post some shots on Facebook and our friends “Like” them and stroke the ego even more. Then I guess it happens….the next step….it must be starting your own photography business. Another “cool” job!
I’m not saying that it can’t happen. And I don’t think Im comparing apples and oranges here. I’m wondering why it sounds so much easier than being Tiger’s new caddy. Maybe like my golf game it should remain a hobby?
Anyone have Tiger’s number?Details
If you are like me you probably return from a trip and review your photos…making note of your favs and skipping the rest. I often go back through all my shots to see if maybe there are photos that I might like better a week, month or a few years later. The photo below is one of those shots. I took a mountain bike trip to Sedona Arizona a couple years ago and came home with many photos that I liked but I guess I missed this one on my first pass. Forgotten or ignored no more….Details
In 2005 I had a unique opportunity to go to Africa for a few weeks. The trip to Ethiopia was not a photography trip, but I knew that taking photos would be an important part of it. At the time I was far from having any notion that I might one day be a “photographer”
I was with a group of people who are a part of something called the Mossy Foot Project. A visit to the Mossy Foot website will give you some great information way beyond what I can type out here. Mossy Foot in a nutshell is a debilitating disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people in Ethiopia and beyond. The people, who are already some of the poorest in the world, take an even lower spot in society when they have the Mossy Foot disease.
With my first digital SLR in hand and a single lens I began documenting our journey. Dirt roads, animals roaming, landscapes and the people within my group…then we stopped at our first Mossy Foot clinic site…and I stopped shooting. I didn’t stop for long, but long enough to try to figure out what I was doing and why I was there. I was in Ethiopia, had just traveled for about 24 hours and about to take photos of people I didn’t know…I didn’t speak their language…those were only a few of the things I was trying to wrap my brain around.
After a few minutes of observing and being observed…I reached for my camera and began taking photos of faces. I was at a distance and still felt a bit uneasy as it was explained to me that many of the people I was photographing had not seen a camera before. Shooting photos of the people became a bit easier with time….but I knew there was more to shoot than just their faces.
Documenting our trip would mean shooting images of the disease. I was shown a few photos before our trip of people with Mossy Foot and they were disturbing. Of course viewing a few photos does not prepare you for the real thing. Once I began shooting I noticed many of the people “wanted” me to shoot their feet. I was told that they didn’t know if I was a doctor or exactly what pointing my “device” would do for them. All of it became easier as the days went on, but nothing can really prepare you for such an interaction.
The trip gave me a unique opportunity to grow as a photographer and a lifelong desire to continue to help the people with Mossy Foot.
More info can be found on the Mossy Foot website.
**Some of the images of Mossy Foot below are pretty graphicDetails
This image was captured on a mountain bike trip to Moab Utah…Currently being used in an ad for Bike Magazine Germany.Details
Not sure about you but I often sit in front of an image…stare…wonder if I even like it…stare some more. Maybe try it in black and white..maybe sepia. Revert it back to the original. Crop it…revert it back to the original. Then I might just shut down Lightroom or Photoshop and not use that image. Or one of those steps just makes sense and I end up being happy with the image. In the image above I ended up really liking the cropped version and the original. I ended up going with the cropped version because I’ve learned that I end up getting more activity/views on Flickr with tighter cropped action shots. So did I publish an image to make the masses happy? This time probably.
For this image I used my Boling light kit (single strobe) and had my voice activated light stand Charles off camera left in the bushes. We took a few test shots with out the rider in the frame until I was happy with the lighting. In certain circumstances I can’t ask the rider to do the same move time and time again. This berm had a very strange run in and I didn’t want to keep asking the rider Travis to go through the motions. I’m pretty sure we shot 3 or 4 times. Using the new PocketWizards I was able to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/3200 of a second at f/4.
I’ve put the non cropped version below so you can see which you like better. Maybe I posted the wrong one to Flickr?Details
There are times when I take a break from being in “photo” mode…Sure I still shoot and have a camera with me, but it’s also nice to not feel any pressure to capture everything I see. Our family just returned from Colorado and it seemed like the trip had a good balance of shooting and taking time off to just enjoy the trip like the non-photogs do. Love the Colorado clouds that rolled in every afternoon…I could get used to shooting those.
I’ve put a few photos below from our trip. Click images for larger views.
It seems a bit odd to me that when I read other photographers blogs and they continue to mention max sync speed and how it changes or limits their shot(s). Since I’ve been involved in photography all of us photogs have been in the 1/250th choke hold when using strobes. Sure there were a few people syncing a tad bit faster in a few different ways, but generally speaking the rest of us were at 1/250th.
Then it happened. Pocket Wizard killed 1/250th with their latest remotes…no need for CPR here since no one was/is complaining. No need to spend more tax dollars on a drawn out court case as the DA for photographers certainly knows this was justifiable homicide.
Yet how come there weren’t more people celebrating? Was I? YES! As an action photographer I was thrilled to read about it. With a bit of hesitation of course since there have been all sorts of magic bullets in the past with photography gear. So I waited, read reviews and after a few months and a few more action photo shoots stuck at 1/250th, I knew I needed (wanted) a new set of Pocket Wizards. Yes I already owned the Pocket Wizard Plus IIs, and yes they were and still are bullet proof….but again stuck at 1/250th.
So there I was wanting…reading…and not pulling the trigger on a set of new PWs. Why? If you’ve read any of my gear posts in the past you’ll already know that I’m not a gear head. I’m not one to run out and buy the latest and greatest new thing. And most of the reviews I read were written by guys using top of the line lighting equipment. The main question was would the new PWs work with my Chinese light kit (read very cheap kit…..but have worked great for 2 years now).
I did make the purchase and I was able to use the new PWs with my light kit…beyond thrilled….as a whole new world of sync speeds opened up for me. Now I can go out and shoot at whatever speeds I wish…I’ve tested pretty much every speed with success. It’s now to the point of not thinking about it.
A big thanks to Pocket Wizard for killing 1/250th. I know there are other reasons that people out there can’t make the change ( price, compatibility etc) but I shouldn’t be reading any blogs by Canon or Nikon guys complaining about being in the sync choke hold any more.
I’ve put a few examples and the sync speeds used below.
I had the good fortune of visiting Red Bulls SoCal HQ last night. While the building and items in it were
impressive, I was not invited there to stare at cool things. Red Bull was putting on a special screening of the mountain bike movie Life Cycles. I’d seen the movie on the big screen before and even own a copy of it at home. So why go see again? It’s not often that action sports movies make it to movie theaters…maybe for a one day showing. Typically it’s straight to DVD. So I jumped at the chance to see this one again on a big screen.
I’ll admit I had my initial doubts on how big a screen the folks at Red Bull would have in their office building, but I was reminded that this is Red Bull ..they don’t do anything small. After waiting around a bit someone pushed a magic button and what I thought was a wall turned out to be a giant roll up door…behind it was Red Bulls own theater and yeah it had stadium seating. In we went and as promised we watched Life Cycles.
I won’t spend too much time talking about the movie since it has been reviewed and talked about for months now. I will say that it motivates me as both a rider and photographer. The best part of the night was listing to director Ryan Gibb talk about creating the film…and taking the time to answer questions. Ryan noted how many of the sponsors they approached for this project didn’t understand their vision for the film and said no to helping out with funding. Ryan and crew pressed on with their own funds, stuck to their original vision and created an amazing film.
I’m sure most creative people have run into a similar situation where your ideas don’t make sense to anyone else. This is another example of moving forward with your ideas and making them work.Details
Part two of my interview at Outdoorinformer.com is up…Details