Recently I shot a series of Thai Longtail boats racing along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok for an upcoming article in the August 2016 issue of Bangkok 101 magazine.
I also made a short video from some of the still photos, which is more like a slideshow, but I incorporated some slight pan and zoom effects into the video to give the still images some movement.
Some people refer to this use of still images in videos (with background music added in) to be the Ken Burns Effect, as he was a bit of a pioneer in this style of modern day storytelling.
So in this article I am going to briefly cover how I setup my camera for this high-speed shooting on the river as well as just a bit about my video production work.
First of all, I shot this series of photos using a Sony a6300 because it has some of the fastest auto focusing in the world of any camera, as well as a very high frame rate for burst shooting thus, making it the ideal method for capturing fast moving subjects.
As I already have quite a few Canon lenses, I used a Metabones Mark IV Lens Mount Adapter on the Sony body together with a Canon 70-200 L F/4 IS lens. Since the camera has an APS-C sensor, and a crop factor of 1.5, this gave me a maximum focal length of 300mm with this lens. This is great because I was standing on the edge of the river when shooting the boats and often quite far away from them. It also allowed me to get some nice, tightly cropped shots with water spraying out from the propellers, but without getting my gear wet.
I set the camera to shutter priority mode in order to maintain a consistent shutter speed for all my shots. I used a shutter speed of 1/800th of a second to ensure that the water spray, and other movements of the boats, would all be in sharp focus without any motion blur. Next, I set the ISO to 200. Normally I shoot at ISO 100 in daylight for maximum image quality. But to achieve such a high shutter speed means I would also need to shoot with a wide aperture. So in order to get one extra stop of depth of field, I decided to raise the ISO up to 200 to allow the camera to shoot with a slightly narrower aperture for increased sharpness.
For light metering, I just used the matrix meter mode setting on the camera. This is best since the amount of light would be changing all the time when pointing the camera at the boats from different directions.
I then set all 45 focus points to active since I wasn’t certain which part of the frame the fast moving boats would appear. This autofocus setting allows the camera to focus anywhere within the viewfinder and on any object closest to the camera. This also helps the camera focus faster as well when it is able to just focus on the closest object it sees.
I set the exposure compensation to 1/3 of a stop over. I did this because I was assuming that some of my pictures could be too dark and underexposed when shooting with water. Since water is reflective, it can sometimes fool a light meter into thinking there is more light than there actually is thus, resulting in exposures that are too dark. I was really impressed though, this camera’s light meter works excellently and, in hindsight, it wasn’t even necessary to overexpose at all.
And finally, I set the focusing mode to continuous. By not allowing the autofocus to lock onto a fixed point it allows the camera to continuously focus on a subject when shooting a burst of multiple frames.
This camera is able to capture up to 11 frames per second, but that of course depends on how fast the shutter speed is that you are shooting at. But at a shutter speed of 1/800th of a second, there’s no problem to capture 11 frames per second.
After that, I just pointed the camera and shot without really needing to think any further about my settings. With that setup the camera was easily able to just do the rest. I often got 8-11 frames from a sequence of movement with nearly all in sharp focus, which was great as this allowed me to later select the exact shot I felt was best from each burst.
When it came to creating the video, I used Photoshop for my editing. Photoshop has been able to edit and render video for a few years now. And for very simple editing work on video it does a great job. So if you are already an experienced Photoshop user, then the video editing learning curve will be much easier.
In the screen shot above you can see my video editing timeline for the Longtail boats video. If you are editing with still images in your timeline then you can simply right click on any of your images within the timeline and a settings box will appear that allows you to set motion options for that frame.
I chose the Pan & Zoom motion option for most of the frames in this video. It also allows you to set the direction of the pan and zoom by setting it using the degree of angle you want. I set the direction differently for each image based upon where the main point of interest fell within the image. This way the zoom goes in the direction I wanted it.
Below is the final video I created with some short added opening and closing titles, background music, etc.
So those are all the main elements of my set up, shooting, and editing on this project. If there are any other aspects that you are wondering about then please feel free to comment below.