Welcome to the month of Strobist Photography. During this month, I plan on introducing you to what being a strobist is all about, cover some of the basic and advanced gear that can be used, and describing some of the basic techniques that can take your flash photography to the next level. If there is time, I want to also go into some detail about the various flash modifiers like gels, snoots, and grids, and discuss some of the various light mods like soft boxes, ring lights, and bare bulbs.

Worse Possible Way to do Flash Photography

Nearly every camera made, read more

March just flew by. Video production is one of those subjects that I could easily spend the rest of the year exploring and writing about. But, the goal for this year is to sample and learn the basics of a new photo or video topic each month.

I believe I accomplished my goal for learning video production in March. Granted I have a lot to learn yet, but I am now able to setup my camera, light the set and add some good quality sound to my videos. That’s more than I could do at the beginning of the month.

What did I learn during the Month of Video Production?

Setting Up The DSLR

  • Set the white balance manually in order to prevent automatic white balance changes during production.
  • Set the DSLR for manual exposure.
  • Set the shutter speed of your camera based on the frame rate of the video. 24 fps=1/50th of second, 30 fps=1/60th, and 60 fps=1/125th.
  • Set your f/stop to achieve the desired depth of field. For talking head and interview videos, f/2.8 or f/3.2 with minimal depth of field is good.
  • Adjust the camera’s ISO to achieve the exposure level needed for a good video.
  • Use manual focus to prevent focus motor noise in your videos and to prevent focus hunting in the middle of the video.

Lighting The Video

  • You don’t have to spend a small fortune for video lighting.
  • The cheapest route to go is to use natural lighting and fill in the shadows with some kind of reflector. Overcast days provide a nice soft light.
  • Low cost, daylight balanced LED lights work on or off camera. Light output is good, but not great.
  • Continuous output compact fluorescent lighting kits are available at a price that most can afford. These produce a lot of daylight balanced light.
  • For talking head or interview videos, three-point lighting is a good way to light the set.

Capturing and Recording Audio

  • You don’t have to spend a small fortune to capture and record sound.
  • To start out, all you really need is whatever sound recording device your camera provides.
  • A shotgun mic, like the Rode Videomic Pro, plugged into the microphone jack of your DSLR will improve your sound.
  • A microphone like a lavalier placed close to the mouth, greatly improves sound and reduces room noise.
  • Recording high quality sound with a sound recorder and synchronizing to the video during edit is a great way to go.
  • Make sure whatever microphone you use has the right jack to plug into your recording device.
  • Use a wind screen when outside.

Being the Talent

I learned two things about being read more

Similar to video lighting, you don’t have to make a huge investment in sound equipment to start out in video production. There are free and low-cost options available to use until you are sure you want to pursue video more actively. You will quickly discover however, that the more you invest in sound equipment, the better your sound quality is.

Free Sound Option

Any camera capable of shooting video, also has the capability to record sound. This includes pro video cameras, camcorders, DSLR’s, point-and-shoot cameras, and even cell phones. Typically, the professional quality video cameras have high quality shotgun read more

If you are just starting out in video production, you don’t need to go crazy and spend a lot of money on video lighting. There are several free and low-cost options available.

Natural and Existing Lighting (free options)

You really don’t need to invest in any lighting to get started in video. Mother Nature provides a wonderful light source if you know how to make use of it.  Here are a few ways to utilize the sun and existing lighting.

  • Outdoors on overcast days. A slightly overcast day is one of the best sources of natural light. It’s natures giant softbox giving you a nice even lighting.
  • Outdoors with clear skies and sunny conditions. Creates harsh shadows on the face. You can still make great videos, but it would help to put your talent near a light, neutral colored wall or use a large bounce card to fill in the shadows.
  • Indoors with talent near a large window. Same rules as above apply. Cloudy conditions would be best. Regardless of lighting outside, you will want to use some kind of bounce card to reflect some light back into the shadows on the face.
  • Indoors in any evenly lit room. The thing to be most concerned with here is determining what the primary light source is and setting your camera’s white balance accordingly.

Continuous Video Lights (low-cost options)

For a small investment, you can dramatically improve your videos by using a continuous light source. Here are a couple options that make good read more

When learning to shoot video with a DSLR camera, the first thing I discovered is that I had to learn several things simultaneously. In order to experiment with camera settings, I needed to at least have a decent foundation of good lighting and white balance. In order to experiment around with different types of sound recordings, I needed to know a little bit about the camera settings.

Basically, while experimenting with the various camera settings, lighting conditions and sound recording systems, I had to set up and record a series of short videos read more

Welcome to the first month of
“A Year of Photographic Exploration”

To kick this yearlong project off, I’ve chosen video production. I’m not talking about making movies or music videos. I have no aspirations to be the next Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. Although I do enjoy making short music videos. I’ll put links to a couple of my videos at the bottom just for fun.

What I want to learn during March is how to produce and edit short, good quality instructional videos. This is an area of video production that will be most helpful to my brand and business. And with the popularity of social media sites like YouTube and Facebook, it’s a read more

For the next 12 months, I’ll be exploring and experimenting in various avenues of photography. What I am calling, “A Year of Photographic Exploration.”

My goal is to explore avenues of photography that I have little to no experience in. It’s my way of broadening my photographic knowledge and skills, and also a way to share my discoveries with you. Hopefully, you will find some encouragement in my writings and try some new things in photography yourself.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliners: The Story of Sucess, to master any subject takes 10,000 read more

Ian Plant's Costa Rica book coverJust a short post to let everyone know about a fantastic opportunity to get your hands on a beautiful picture book for free.

Nature photographer Ian Plant just returned from a scouting trip to Costa Rica. It was so successful, that he released a new 40-page free picture book showcasing the monkeys, parrots, and all the other forest wildlife he saw there. He is now offering a workshop there as well!

If you follow Digital Photography Mastery, you know that I’m a huge fan of Ian’s. I’ve had a read more

This guest post was written by Judith Monteferrante, a retired cardiologist turned professional fine art photographer. This article appeared earlier this year on her blog as the January Photo Tips. I hope that you find the beautiful photography and great information valuable in your pursuits in animal photography. After reading Judith’s article, please be sure to check out her blog for more of her posts. And, if you’re also interested in writing a guest post here on Digital Photography Mastery, please contact me, thanks! –Wes


What makes animal or any wildlife photography special? What makes someone want to linger over an image? Emotion or read more

Tis the holiday season again. Lot’s of parties to go to. Lot’s of family and friends to visit with and talk to. Lot’s of great food to eat. As the officially, or unofficially, appointed photographer, it has fallen upon you to document the event for the historical archives. Since you are the one family member that always has a camera in their hands, you are the chosen one everyone will expect to make photos. But that’s okay. If you are like me, photography is a labor of love. It’s a part of you that happens as naturally as breathing. Personally, I enjoy making the photos more than I do the party or event read more