Minor Photography mistakes to avoid


By: Mandy Mitchell

When you have been in this business as long as I have, you have made EVERY (Well almost every, I am sure there are more) mistake you can make with a camera.

I have come back with blue video, really hot video, really dark video, no video. Yes. No video. I didn’t hit record!

I have come back with overmodulated audio, really low audio, no nat sound, no audio at all.

Name it, I have probably done it!

So here are a few ways to avoid these mistakes so you don’t have to learn the hard way. Yes, I know this may sound elementary to some of you, but someone I work with recently plugged into a “line” feed and came back with some pretty crappy sound. It happens…even to the veterans.

Wear headphones

This is a great example of do as I say, not as I do. I am awful at remembering to do this. One-man-banding creates all kinds of issues. You are thinking about the story. The writing. The bites. You have your notebook and forgot your pen. You are looking for a pen. Oh wait, headphones! I know, I know. Try to remember. I was saved by headphones at a press conference two weeks ago because I noticed the feed was pretty hot. Looked fine on the camera levels. It was not. It was hot. It wouldn’t have been usable. I told the person operating the box and we fixed it. No headphones, I would’ve been saying the F-word when I returned to the station.

Check your levels. Both of them

Ever shoot an entire day without your NAT sound mic? That’s because you were not paying attention to the levels in your viewfinder. Get in the habit…HABIT! of checking for two lines. Get in the habit of knowing what it is supposed to look like, so when something is turned off or down, you notice. A lot of people share gear. Don’t get caught with no NAT sound. Make checking for it as natural as white balancing the camera (please tell me THAT is a habit).

Use zebra lines

I know. You are super talented and you don’t need zebra. You can “see” what looks good. That is until someone messes with the settings on your view finder. Someone made it darker and now you have super hot video making people look like they are walking on the sun. Zebra. Trust me.

Don’t trust the color viewfinder

I didn’t have a color viewfinder when I started. I had to learn what the white balance number should be when outside or indoors. Learn the numbers. If you don’t know, ask someone. Most “old vets” will be thrilled to help. The numbers won’t fail you. The viewfinder absolutely can and likely will.


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