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Exposure and Focus Basics for DSLR Video

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When recording video with your DSLR, you’ll find that the two technical hurdles of exposure and focus can be quite challenging. In this chapter, Richard Harrington introduces exposure and focus and offers tips for getting comfortable with them.
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When you start to get serious about shooting great-looking video on your DSLR, you’ll likely begin to disable several of the automatic features on your camera. Additionally, you’ll likely be attracted to the more artistic capabilities, like a wider range of contrast and shallow depth of field. Of course, these artistic options can quickly become frustrating limitations without a solid foundation of knowledge combined with a good deal of practice.

Poring Over the Footage

While shooting in the desert outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, I decided to capture the sunrise. Although the mountain range provided some interesting shots, I was drawn to the local vegetation. The light levels were a little low because I was shooting at dawn. So, instead of worrying about contrast levels in the camera, I shot “flat.” Making sure the image was in focus and exposed for the middle of the histogram, I was able to capture highlights and shadows. In postproduction, by using a Curves adjustment (see Chapter 11, “Editing Essentials”), boosting the contrast was easy and added a more dramatic punch to the image.

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