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.

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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 microphones attached to them. Definitely a great way to go for remote interviews and documentary video work, but in a controlled environment, most videographers would use a higher quality sound recording device.

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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 video lights and can be used in still photography as well. So, you get a twofer.

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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 and stills. But rather that discuss all of these at the same time, I will be breaking up camera settings, video lighting, and sound recording into at least three separate posts.

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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 topic a lot of people are interested in.

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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 hours of practice. At 20 hours per week, this comes out to 10 years of study and practice. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have 120 years to master 12 areas of photography.

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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 look through his Costa Rica book, and the photos are just gorgeous. I must warn you though that this is just a picture book. You will not find any of Ian’s photographic words of wisdom in this book.

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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

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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 itself.

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Canon Selphy CP720 Compact Photo Printer
(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Daniel Quitoriano / Flickr

This is a guest post written by Joseph Eitan, Managing Director of Photo Paper Direct. Joseph has been working in the professional printing industry for over 25 years helping amateur and professional photographers alike. I think you will find his information on digital photo paper very useful. After reading his post, please be sure to check out his blog for more of his posts. And, if you’re also interested in writing a guest post here on Digital Photography Mastery, please contact me, thanks! –Wes

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