How to Shoot Video Using a DSLR

Video is a fantastic tool to add to your creative list.  It gives you an entirely new and different way to tell a story about a moment or event.  But if you don’t know anything about shooting video, the learning curve can seem a bit steep.  Let me be the first to say it’s not as hard as you think, especially if you already know the basics of photography.  Before I get into the camera settings, let me give you a few tips on how to put your mind in “video mode”.

If you’re capturing a still image of a moment, you’re concentrating on freezing time in the exact right spot, with the right light and the perfect composition.  If you’re putting together a video of the very same thing nearly everything changes about the way you think.  First, you’re now “tracking” action in your frame and your number one job is to keep the subject focused and in the frame at all times.  That’s why working with a fluid-head tripod is so important, because it allows you to smoothly follow a moving subject.  Next you have to look at your scene from several different angles.  One stagnant shot of a scene is pretty boring, especially if you’re shooting with a wide-angle lens to keep everything in frame.  If the moment lasts more than a few seconds you’ve probably lost the viewers attention unless the shot changes.  So try shooting multiple angles of the same scene, then you’ll have some interesting shots to work with when you get the footage back to a computer for post production.  The key is to come back with several video clips that all look a little different, but work together like pieces of a puzzle to tell the visual story of that moment.

Now to the camera settings.  One thing that’s essential to capturing correctly exposed and natural looking video, is to know what your DSLR’s video settings are and how to use them.  Below is a short video I did for B&H Photo that explains the basics of DSLR video settings.  This clip is just an introduction, but it will get you up and shooting in 8 minutes.  For a full class on shooting video that includes all your settings, what gear to use, how to stabilize your camera and some techniques to try with your DSLR, take a look at this class I did over on Kelby One.

Capturing video can be intoxicating once you start, it opens up a whole new way to fuel your creative engine.  So stop hesitating and get shooting!