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Simple Video

Video is now in nearly every new digital camera, from point-and-shoots to DSLRs. Video can be a lot of fun, but it is a little different than shooting still photos, so many photographers are a little intimidated by it. Then when you shoot the video, you have to “do something” with it, meaning edit it, then output it for others to see.

Does that seem intimidating to you? Certainly if you look at some of the gear on the market today for video, you might be even more intimidated. Who wants to look like an escapee from a Star Wars movie if all you want to do is shoot some video.

Fear not! I want to reassure you that it is possible for any photographer to shoot video, edit it quickly, and come out alive! Even having some fun along the way!

The video clip shown here is posted on YouTube and Vimeo. Those are two great places for you to post any video you might do, though you still have to let people know it is there to be viewed. This video was shot very simply.

Superior Water from Rob Sheppard on Vimeo.

You can see this larger at YouTube and Vimeo. I was in Northern Minnesota in September doing some shooting along the North Shore of Lake Superior, one of my longtime favorite locations for dramatic scenery and nature photography.

I was shooting a variety of photos for my files so I have fresh images for books, articles and blogs, plus some stock work. In addition, I was shooting video for stock. I had thought about doing a short video on Lake Superior for fun, but the days were mostly cloudy and rainy, except for a brief time on the morning I was leaving. Big landscapes of Lake Superior really do not look very good with a lot of ill-defined gray sky.

I did not let the rain stop me, though. I love that area, so a little GoreTex outerwear and an umbrella got me going. I consider a small umbrella an essential part of my photo gear because I can set up my camera on a tripod and keep it dry as I shoot by using an umbrella.

I was going through my images and video back in my office and something occurred to me. There was a little story here about water and Lake Superior, so I put it together with some music from There is nothing fancy about this other than these steps:

  1. I went through the video to see what I had.
  2. I looked for some sort of order, at least looking for a beginning and ending. This is a lot like putting together a slide show.
  3. I started shortening the clips in Premiere Elements (a $99 program) and putting them in order on a timeline. I was looking for interesting moments and movement if there was some. I also removed audio that was not working. If audio causes you headaches, forget about it and only use music.
  4. I played the emerging video program as I went to see how things went together.
  5. I played some music in SmartSound and picked something I liked, specifying a length of 2 minutes for now.
  6. I put the music in and played with it and the titles at the beginning of the video.
  7. I revised a few clip lengths to better fit the music beats.
  8. I added a few simple dissolves between scenes to make some flow together better.
  9. I finished the “story”, then added some tail-end titles. All titles were very simple, white on black.
  10. I went back to SmartSound and built a length of music exactly suited for the length of the video. SmartSound makes this very, very easy to do and the music is royalty-free, meaning you can use your video as you want without worrying about someone suing you for using commercial music.
  11. I output the video for the web, then uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo.

That’s it! You don’t have to do anything fancy when editing video. I like Premiere Elements because it is low priced, fairly easy to use, and allows you to control audio (far better than even the new iMovie, by the way).