Shot a Day: Week Two


Here is week two of the Shot a Day Project. As I’ve been taking a shot each day (or close to it), I want each shot to be a small highlight of that day. At the end of this project I’ll be able to look back and have a visual journal of these six months. With that said, here’s week 2:

Shot List

Shot 1. Tuesday night it snowed a little and left some ice that closed some schools and businesses. Wednesday morning came around and my dad got his van stuck in a ditch so I went out to help him get back to work. As I was scraping off my windows, I got the idea to do a little cameo of my car in the snow.

I hoped to get some nice static shots this week. To pull off a static shot well, you need some motion in the video to keep the viewer interested. The windshield wipers gave just enough motion and also helped set the scene of inclement weather.

Shot 2. I found the pattern of the icicles pretty interesting on my car and icicles are a necessary staple to a snow day, so they made the cut!

Shot 3. As I was getting shots of the explorer, I found this angle pretty interesting for whatever reason. It showed a bit more of the car, like the snow, and it had some depth that gave a little more context as to where it was parked.

As I was framing this shot, I thought of trying to get some exhaust to add motion. At the time though, it wasn’t cold enough to see the exhaust. Instead, I boiled a cup of water and placed it in frame so the water vapor passed across the lens. It’s not quite convincing enough to be car exhaust, but it still fit into the shot to show how cold it was.

Shot 4.  That Wednesday night my iPhone took a fall and wound up with some pretty intense screen damage. I got it fixed on Thursday and I knew it had to be the shot of the day since it’s not every day you shatter an iPhone.

This type of shot is difficult. How do you take a still, inanimate object and make it interesting short of just moving the camera? It often seems like I’m trying too hard to make the shot interesting when in fact it’s just a boring shot. Moving the camera and playing with focus just seems pretty uninteresting and overused.

The solution to a shot like this is to use it in a sequence. By putting this shot between two other angles you can add more interest and even tell a story of how the phone fell or if it still works. By itself, it just borders on uninteresting.

Shot 5. Thursday I rearranged my room and this is my new desk setup. I’ve gotta say, this shot sucks. I really only kept it because of the visual journal aspect. How would I fix this shot? I’d either stick it in a sequence with a close up of my lamp, then my Mac’s keyboard  and then a wide shot of the desk or I would use a slider to add interest (but that’s not my monopod so it would be against the rules).

Shot 6. On Friday, I went to staff meeting for my day job and we met in a different location than usual. We spent the afternoon there getting a lot of work done and I got this shot of my boss working.

Shot 7. Lunch on Sunday is always the best with my favorite rolls here. They’re just Food Lion brand yeast rolls, but they’re delicious! Initially, I was going to be a shot of the bread being taken out of the oven but instead I just kept it still.

Shot 8. No Sunday lunch is complete without some sweet tea! I was going for a close up of the glass, then my girlfriend came and poured me some tea, making my shot that much more interesting. This shot just looks nice. There’s great depth of field, the glass is perfectly in focus and the tea makes it that much more interesting.

What I’m learning

I want to talk about the things I’m learning each week and I’ve put them here in bullets so you can easily skim them and refer to them later.

1. Natural sound. There’s something powerful about natural sound with no music. While great music can change how the viewer reacts to video, well captured natural sound adds a greater sense of realism and pulls the viewer even further into the scene.

2. Shots belong together. Working in a sequence is the key to telling a story. Sequences give context to what is actually happening in a scene. Shots 4 and 5 seem pretty out of place by themselves, but adding them into another shot can quickly turn an abstract shot into a story.

3. Warm color. Trying to grade things to be warm is tough. Making an image cooler is insanely easier than making it warmer. To make an image cooler, you really just take down the red and green channels to get the cool look you’re going for. Maybe add some blue here and there. It’s much more forgiving if you don’t have the perfect white balance out of the camera. To keep things warm, you really have to nail it the white balance and decide to shoot warm in camera. There’s definitely not as much grace with warmer grades.

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