Following on from Part 3, one of the most important things when it comes to producing good video is not the gear, it’s the story you’re telling and the planning that you do beforehand, which may include screenplays, scripts and storyboards. When I once mentioned this on a photography forum, I was immediately ridiculed for suggesting that anyone needs to do these things to make a video. It was the usual knee jerk reaction, without any thought being given to the general concept behind these words. I wasn’t suggesting that you needed formal planning, screenplays/scripts and storyboards to make a video, but having even a rudimentary story and plan will help in producing something meaningful. It’s like taking a holiday where most people don’t simply jump in a car or plane and travel to some place without any though as to where they want to go and what they want to do. In this context, planning is vital. Even millennials sometimes plan their photography/video trips.
Continuing on from Part 2 and as a prelude to Part 4, which will be about planning, I thought I’d cover how I intend to get all the video footage I will need for what will hopefully become a short movie. I’ve already discussed one aspect of how I intend to achieve this in my story about my new ‘action cam‘ and in this part I’ll cover the additional tools that I’ve put together so that I can get as diverse and as comprehensive a coverage of the things that we do on our Cruises. Since our Cruises involve a wide variety of environments including highways, dirt roads, rough tracks, river crossings, and then camping in varied bush settings including High Country huts, I have to consider the numerous ways in which I can cover those potential scenes, especially while on the move. It’s all part of the planning and, to do that, I’ve come up with various solutions.
Continuing on from Part 1, even though many cameras can produce say 1080p video, they don’t always provide great results because they haven’t been supplied with the proper Codecs and other features. However, modern cameras are getting much better and most new digital cameras, as well as action cams and even dash cams, will produce excellent 1080p and good to excellent 4K. The more expensive the camera, usually the better the results. Even smart phones are now producing some amazing 4K video and getting better all the time. Cheap video cameras, like many action cams, can promise a lot but deliver little, so quality is always going to come at a price. That said, there are now very high quality video cameras available that are quite compact and at exceptionally good prices, Blackmagic is one brand worth considering.
I’ve noted previously that there’s barely a camera that can’t take decent photographs or video and much the same applies even to mobile phones nowadays. So I was really keen to find out how the TG-5 performed, especially in the role for which I’d bought it and that was video in place of my earlier action cams. But I won’t ignore still photography, as this camera has some features that are quite surprising and, if they work well enough, potentially quite rewarding. I also wanted to get away from the typical action cam, fisheye lens, look and the modest wide to telephoto zoom of the TG-5 is perfect for what I want. So continuing on from Part 1, I want to produce video that is along the lines of traditional movies, not more examples of some extreme sports fanatic’s YOLO world view. The latter is one reason, amongst several, why I wasn’t interested in the Olympus TG-Tracker action cam.
In my quest to find an action cam that will suit the sort of video that I want to produce, I’ve gone through several camera iterations and have been disappointed every time. So once again I went in search of another action cam and this time took a completely different approach. This story is about the Olympus Tough TG-5, a versatile compact camera, and why I think it may well be the ideal camera for use as both an action cam, all round video camera (as well as a regular stills camera) and a great addition to any DSLR or mirrorless camera kit. I’ve come to the conclusion that with certain products you simply won’t be happy buying at the bottom end of the market and It’s not that cheap is always bad, but with things like action cams, cheap usually means bad. And then there are other things to consider.
I’d like to note from the outset that I’m not a professional videographer, but I can and do take video and do so for many events and activities. To me, a professional or serious amateur videographer is an individual that does more than just own a capable video camera and who goes about pointing that camera at all and sundry and doing little more than minor editing (if that), like some happy snappers with high quality still cameras are known to do. I’ve had several discussions on photography forums about video, from a stills photographer’s perspective, and it never ceases to amaze me how many seem to think that video is easy and the higher the quality available (such as 4K), the easier it is to produce. It often sounds just like the old/new megapixel wars that wax and wane year after year.
One of the most discussed, debated and often heated arguments on photography websites and forums revolves around the use, or not, of protective filters on lenses. On one side of the camp are those that believe filters are useful and beneficial additions to expensive lenses and do not affect image quality and, on the other side are those that believe any filter degrades the quality of any lens. To be up front, I have always used high quality filters on all of my lenses from day one and believe that the benefits far outweigh any minor issues that they may cause. There’s a reason for that and I’m going to explain why. While at the end of the day you might not agree with me, I will at least have provided my side of the argument for the use of filters.
An old axiom goes along the lines of: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘. That axiom has some history behind it but I don’t fully subscribe to it in the way that it’s often interpreted. However, I feel much more comfortable with a related one that says ‘Every picture tells a story‘ (not the Rod Stewart one). While the two may sound similar, I think there are some fundamental differences between what they mean or how they can be interpreted. The former suggests, to me, that a picture is proof or evidence of something, while the latter suggests that a picture evokes questions, emotions or one’s imagination. So what is my story all about? Well, it’s a bit of navel gazing as I’ve been giving thought to the things that I write and photograph for this blog, why I do so and where it might lead or what else I might do to keep it relevant (for me anyway).
Panoramic photography is something that has been practised ever since the very advent of photography; to show sweeping landscapes and the like in a single photograph. In the early days of photography, the production of panoramas generally involved printing several photographs and compiling them into a single print. It was a novel and effective method that continued for decades and still does to some extent even today, with the like of triptychs etc. Eventually technology caught up and specialty cameras and lenses were devised that could take a panorama in a single shot.
Blur or Bokeh (Japanese for blur which sounds fancier, a bit like jus instead of sauce/gravy in cooking circles), is an effect describing the out of focus background (and even foreground) elements of a photograph. The intent is for the subject matter to dominate and grab one’s attention, while distracting background details disappear into a smooth and subtle out of focus blur. Many photographers strive to achieve this look to give their photographs a ‘unique’ appearance, but then so does World + Dog nowadays.