Moving Pictures

I’ll admit it: occasionally I have an urge to shoot pictures that move. Like the simple photo of pine needles here: wouldn’t you rather see them bobbing gently in a breeze, and hear the softness of that breathing? What a feeling!

But I shoot stills, and even if I had video of the pine tree…what could I do with it?

To enjoy it would require…require…buying new video editing software. My computer’s showing it’s age, so…to work with video it would need additional RAM and probably a larger hard drive. No, undoubtedly a larger drive. I’d have to check the video card, too, as it might not be up to the tasks at hand.

After I’d made those upgrades I’d still need to add edited footage to the pine tree’s performance…perhaps close-ups of a nearby apple tree’s ripened bounty, or gray squirrels working noisily high in the oaks…to produce a video that would barely begin to be interesting to anyone except myself. And unless I’d invested in digital sound recording gear my efforts would be silent, and far away from anything Buster Keaton created.

And since I’m a professional photographer, the bottom line on video would be: does it pay for itself? Where would I sell it?

The reason I’ve mentioned this is, you may also be tempted to shoot video, and sooner than you think. First Nikon, with its D90, and now Canon with the upcoming 5D MkII, offer the capability for video and traditional still images from the same camera. This isn’t a surprising development per se (although some commentators were surprised it’s happened so quickly) as it follows predictions of the convergence of stills and video from photographers who use both.

Interest in the new cameras is phenomenal. After photographer Vincent Laforet produced a short video using a 5D MkII his Web site received over a million visits to view it and download clips in ten days. Were you one of those heard to yell Yahoo! (Or was it YouTube!?)

If you’ve read my previous post you know a couple of reasons why I believe photography may seem complicated, and adding video to that mix only increases the likelihood. Certainly, computer time will increase, and the question Which camera should I buy? is now colored by Does it shoot video, too?

Reviewers who’ve had an opportunity to shoot with the new cameras emphasize that neither is truly a video camera: they are still cameras that also capture video. And that’s probably how we should view them, because it gets us back to the serious question: are you a still photographer, or do you really want to make movies?

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