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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Still Pro Gets Started In HD Video

Award-winning still photographer Mark Edward Harris takes us on his journey to becoming proficient with HD video


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More than ever, I’ve found diversification to be the name of the game. Having more irons in more fires increases opportunities. The balance between specialization and diversification has shifted to the latter. Stock photographers have seen the price of their images drop dramatically, while the web has produced more opportunities for sales. We need to constantly produce imagery to make this a viable income avenue. In the past two years, I’ve been able to upload my images to Getty Images far faster and with less roadblocks with their digital Portal delivery system that checks for mistakes with every click of the mouse. Now, with the ease of hybrid HD-video capture, I’m exploring uploading video footage.

I have to travel light on travel assignments, and in some places I work—North Korea, Iran and, for my most recent assignment, Myanmar—I can’t show up with cases of photographic equipment, let alone professional-looking video cameras. The hybrid camera system is the ideal solution.

I’ve been adding to my repertoire by doing HD-video shooting with hybrid DSLRs since 2009, a revolutionary year for photography. It ended the idea that stills are stills and video is video and never the twain shall meet. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II shooting at 1080p and the Nikon D90 shooting at 720p were the first DSLR cameras to shoot at a quality high enough for professional applications. (Editor’s Note: By the time you read this, a new firmware update will be available to enable the Canon EOS 5D Mark II to shoot at 24 fps rather than the original 30 fps.)

Like many of us, I had dabbled with moving pictures over the years, including producing and directing a parody of 60 Minutes that won an ACE Award. Despite some success in that field I never want my still photography to take second place to the moving picture. There’s something so magical about freezing a moment in time—it will always be my first priority. But now that it’s feasible to do both with one piece of equipment—a hybrid DSLR—combined with my enjoyment of travel documentaries, I think it’s time to revisit this arena.

In order to get a better understanding of the current needs and opportunities for travel videos, I attended the Travel Channel Academy’s four-day Travel Video Journalism Boot Camp at the network’s headquarters in Chevy Chase, Md., just outside of Washing-ton, D.C. Attending workshops and going to photo festivals and exhibitions is a constant source of motivation, inspiration and knowledge. I wanted the tools to understand the big picture when it comes to producing viable travel video content. The world is a big place with countless travel stories waiting to be told. Some of the techniques I learned are counterintuitive to our still-photo sensibilities. This comprehensive course covers everything from shooting to editing to the legal aspects of production, and most importantly, the art of storytelling.

 

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