Exposure, Focus & White Balance – Part Deux

February 12, 2009 at 3:01 pm 2 comments

OK, I am jealous at how many posts our awesome lighting director has been racking up!  Way to go Oz!

In my last post I discussed the basics behind what is needed to obtain a proper exposure and now I will jump into another important aspect of making a great image, Focus!

Focus as it pertains to us in the world of IMAG literally means the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.  As proficient camera operators we need to be able to obtain proper (or critical) focus of the subjects we are framing in our viewfinders.  Having a soft or blurry subject will distract from the overall quality of our work and leave the audience wondering whether or not they need to schedule an appointment at their local optomitrist the following Monday.

Now while most of us are familiar and very comfortable with the fancy Auto-Focus systems on our digital photo cameras (brace yourselves), we are not going to be using this wonderful technology.  We are kickin it old-school and we will be manually focusing our images. There are a few reasons behind this, two of which I will talk about here.  First off, we want the flexibility to be creative in our ministry and in doing so, our subjects will not always be in the center of the viewfinder.

Here is a for-instance:  In Auto-Focus mode when our key subject is framed off to one side in a nice creative composition, maybe with a vocalist in the background, the camera is going to try and focus on what is in the center of the viewfinder… So if elepahntsthe vocalist happens to be in the center of the viewfinder, our key subject will now be blurry and our background vocalist has now become the sharp focal point in our shot.  So by going to Manual Focus, we gain so much more control over our images.  Manual focus will also give us the ability to shift the focus as well from one subject to another, so say you wanted to shift focus from the key subject to the background vocalist, you can do that without ever moving the subject in the viewfinder.  The viewfinder screens on our new HD cameras are all very accurate, bright and easy to see.  If you are farsighted though, you may want to always wear your contacts or glasses so you can see them properly.

And secondly, the opposite side of sharp focus will be soft focus.  There will be times where you can exercise your creativity as an artist and get some cool out-of-focus blurry or “soft” images.  We of course need to limit this creativity to worship and use it sparingly but… some shots can be framed way out of focus and then slowly brought into focus (as im sure you have seen in movies before) for a very pleasing effect.  You can also go the other way and start with a nice sharp image and slowly fade to a blurry image.  These are just a few ways to bring a little creativness into our work.  Adding dynamic elements like this to your toolbox will make you a strong camera operator.

One quick note on how to obtain the sharpest focus of your subject.  These cameras we are using have powerful zoom lenses attached to them, you can use this zoom feature to make sure your subject is is perfect focus.  Start by zooming your camera lens ALL THE WAY IN on your subject.   Now twist the focus control on the camera until your subject in the viewfinder is in sharp focus.  Look at the subjects eyes if you can and make sure they are tack sharp.  Then zoom out and frame your shot, your image will always been tack sharp this way!  Once I demonstrate this during training, you will see how easy it is to get great in-focus shots.

Stay tuned for Part 3, White Balance!  Oz, our lighting director has posted about this subject already in regards to his lights and color temps.  If you can, read up on this post, specifically about color temps as it will make my white balance post make more sense.



Entry filed under: Video/IMAG.

A li’l light dancin’, perhaps? Channel dynamics – Part 2 – Limiters, Expanders, and Gates

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Oz  |  February 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I noticed that our projectors display a cooler image than our big video monitor in the booth. Looking forward to playing around and finding the right white balance with the video crew.

  • 2. Light Art « Wamnation’s Blog  |  February 27, 2009 at 11:33 am

    […] is also an area with a temptation to stay “safe.”  Just as in Chris pointed out here with regards to video, focus can be a awesome tool towards artistic impressions.  Initially, you may be tempted to use […]

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