Posts Tagged ‘zoom’

Quarantine 2 – Video Conferencing

Quarantine 2 - Video - conference call screen shot from my setup ┬ęTimeLine Media
Screen capture from a Zoom conference call

Home Office Setup

Since we are weeks into this quarantine – video conferences have replaced in person meetings. To be sure this is not my favorite way to network and meet business contacts. However, the current state of our world has forced this style of communication for everyone.

While the advances in technology have made the webcam an adequate conduit for this communication, I am a photographer. Thus, I want to have the best picture quality! Of course I would look better myself, but it would also help my business profile. If my little box looked the best out of all of the boxes in the meeting, it would stick with some people that I know how to make a good looking image online. Moreover, it would show how much I care about how I project myself online, and how professional I can make my clients look. To this end, I looked at how I could use my professional cameras to stream online. My lenses and lighting could then be used to elevate the look from my studio.

Quarantine 2 - Video - overview of lighting setup with laptop, camera, and lighting ┬ęTimeLine Media
Video conference lighting setup

Quarantine 2 – Video Setup

As an overview, my laptop is positioned next to my camera on a tripod. The lens is set to a 50mm focal length. If you are using a smart phone for your calls, I would select a portrait style mode to zoom in closer to your face. Seeing that this is the most important thing to see in the video, fill your frame up with your face! The microphone captures a nice clean audio from me sitting about a foot and a half away from the camera. The background of my shot is 10 feet away from where I am sitting. With the difference in distance, the background is blurred out nicely. As long as there is some difference between you and the background, you can have this same effect.

Camera tethered for video streaming with shotgun microphone
Camera tethered for video streaming with shotgun microphone

Once you have the camera set, the HDMI cable comes out of the camera and into a video capture card. For this setup, I used the Magewell USB Capture HDMI Gen 2. From here the audio and video is transferred by USB to my laptop. From here, you can choose your USB connection as your webcam in Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, whatever program you would like to use. Both your audio and video will be sent through.

HDMI to USB capture card
HDMI to USB capture card

Lighting Setup

Similar to the separation of your face from the background, the lighting setup follows. I have a very cheap shop lamp with an LED bulb to my right. It is shining into an umbrella that softens the shadows but still gives dimension. With the bright light only about a foot from my face, the exposure is set for my face with the background becoming dark. This makes for a nice dark background. As a matter of fact, this is a good way to hide a messy work room ­čÖé

Shop Light firing into an umbrella
Shop Light firing into an umbrella

Again this may be overkill for most video conferences. However, I want to be remembered as a photographer. With this setup, it makes it easier to make an impression as someone that produces professional images! Please let me know if you have any suggestions, or questions. I am very knew to this, but am pleased with the results so far!

Quarantine 2 - Video post results ┬ęTimeLine Media
Quarantine 2 – Video post results ┬ęTimeLine Media

TimeLine Media –

Zoom Your Flash! – Tech Thursday

┬ęTimeLine Media - motorcycle action photo with zoomed flash head

Of course you can zoom your lenses, but did you know you can zoom your speedlight flash? Depending on the model that you have, your flash head can be moved internally. On the Nikon SB-910, the flash head can be zoomed from 24mm to 200mm – a much larger range than their previous model, the SB-800 which had a range of 24mm to 105mm.

Speedlight Features

If you have this flash connected to modern Nikon cameras, the flash and the camera will talk to each other. They will automatically set the zoom of the flash to match the focal length of the lens that you are using by default. This is a great feature! As you use a longer focal length, the flash head will automatically zoom so that more flash power is given where you need it. Here are some example photos showing the difference in the light produced by the flash at different zoom lengths:

┬ęTimeLine Media - Nikon Speedlight set at 24mm
┬ęTimeLine Media – Nikon Speedlight set at 24mm

This first photo has the flash zoomed out to 24mm. It is giving it’s largest spread of light against the wall. If you need to cover more area with the flash, this is will cover a wider area. This also corresponds to a wider area seen by a camera lens set at 24mm.

┬ęTimeLine Media - Nikon Speedlight set at 70mm
┬ęTimeLine Media – Nikon Speedlight set at 70mm

At 70mm, the light beam becomes more focused. There is not as much spread of light up and down from the flash. The more you zoom in with your lens, the less that you need the light to be spread out across the frame, so this only flashes what you need without worrying about the areas that are not going to be seen in camera.

┬ęTimeLine Media - Nikon Speedlight set at 200mm
┬ęTimeLine Media – Nikon Speedlight set at 200mm

Zooming Flash

The tight beam of light that comes from the flash at 200mm is the most extreme setting. If you are zoom out this far with your lens, there will be a corresponding small area that you need to iluminate that far from the camera. Having these options for you gives you creative possibilities to focus light. You can manually set the zoom on the flash apart from the focal length of the lens. This works well to create more dramatic portraits just by zooming the light you are already carrying! Try it next time and let me know how it goes.

┬ęTimeLine Media - Racer suiting up
┬ęTimeLine Media – Racer suiting up
┬ęTimeLine Media - motorcycle action photo with zoomed flash head
┬ęTimeLine Media – motorcycle action photo with zoomed flash head

TimeLine Media –