When I carry a camera around campus I feel empowered. My pace quickens, my head confidently bobs-I’m on a mission.
As silly as it sounds, there is nothing like the feeling of a camera in my backpack and a tripod in my grasp. For my job we use a lot of different lenses. Technique is vital along with having a good eye for which lens would work in a situation. Here are some of my tips for savvy camera use:
Get familiar with the camera. Looking back to some of the cameras I had access to, I wish I had gotten a better feel for them. I used them effectively for my needs, but there were so many settings I didn’t tap into. When practicing, try the desired effect, and then press the record button and try it. View it later after you capture all of your effect clips and see if they turned out the way you wanted them to. Filming something interesting or themed makes this more exciting. For example, I went around campus trying out a telescopic lens filming any mopeds I found.
I’m currently in love with the wide-angle lens I have access to. Interviews I do in a small room suddenly have depth and interest. Of course, positioning items in the background to your advantage is vital. For example, I was interviewing a member of the marching band. I shot him in the student union where he could sit at a piano. I moved the piano to a better backdrop, instead of keeping the piano in front of a flat, white wall.
I recommend watching the style of this video (click image). They use a wide-angle lens in a lot of parts and it adds a lot of depth. It’s hard to film bikes and give the tricks justice. The wide-angle lens assists that a lot.
Get someone to learn from. My current mentor is fantastic. Teachers will definitely show you new things, but having someone only a few years older than you is so important. A different relationship is developed because of the peer-to-peer contact.
It is ok to desire perfection. Going back to my previous example of the boy at the piano, I was setting up my shot. I had one of my coworkers inspect the shot. After I mentioned that I saw the reflection of myself in the piano just minimally, the retorted it was fine and that when we capture the shot and edit using a tiny clip no one will notice. I couldn’t understand not striving for perfection. In a situation like an interview, striving for perfection isn’t hard. There is a lot of time to get the shot right, including selecting the right lens, adjusting the fill and key lights, and making minor adjustments that will complete the shot. Therefore, move that camera! If no one else notices your tiny reflection, it doesn’t matter. If a viewer is as detailed as I am, chances are they will pick up on the mistake.
However, respect the second opinion given. Going back to having a mentor and asking a coworker for advice on the shot, which is one of the best things to do! It definitely keeps you in check, and makes your trips carrying the camera across campus feeling confident and not boastful.
Melissa Prax is currently a student at The Ohio State University, majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in Biochemistry. As an editor and commercial producer for the honors and scholars program at OSU, she is continuing to do what she loves in and out of the class room. Her experience and first taste in writing and editing goes back to her high school Interactive Multimedia class. Since then, she is continuing to branch out her skills with new opportunities.