In the last year or so there's been a major shift in the photo quality that viewers expect, even if it is just for the Internet. Long gone are the out-of-focus photos of mediocre sandwiches and instead we are being subjected to unreal looking long exposures and magnificent depths of field. In fact, Instagram isn't even that instant anymore. The norm now is to carefully select the best photo you've taken that week (heck, maybe even that month), post it up and sit back and watch the 'likes' roll in. So if your iPhone photos just aren’t cutting it anymore and you want to invest in a real camera to document the upcoming season, here are a couple tips to get you started:
The first step to purchasing a camera is figuring out what you primarily want to use it for. Photos? Video? Both? Figure that out before you make any pricey purchases. The Canon Rebel T5i, 7D and 60D are all intermediate cameras that have endless capabilities. The 7D has the best photo/video capability if you are interested in shooting both. Nikon also has a lot of great entry-level DSLR’s. The D7100 shoots 1080 full HD and actually comes weather sealed, which makes it great for shooting wakeboarding. If you are looking for something more high-end (and pricey), the D750 is a pro-level DSLR with a higher image resolution. It may take a longer time to get accustomed to, but definitely worth it in the long run!
Invest in a good lens! The rookie mistake is to buy an expensive camera body and then a cheap lens. The camera body is only as good as the lens it is looking through. I recommend a 70-200mm lens. This is your go-to lens for 75% of wakeboarding shots.
While the Canon and Nikon lenses will cost you some money, they are definitely worth it. If it’s still out of your price range, take a look at Sigma. They make a high quality product for much less. You can also save money by buying an F/4 instead of F/2.8 if money is tight. If you are not sure what these terms mean or what the difference is, I recommend a lot more internet researching. Just DO NOT go out and buy the 55-250 because it’s cheap. Your photo/video will turn out looking cheap too.
A tripod is a necessity when shooting video. As tempting as it may be, do not just go out and buy the $50 ball head tripod at Wal-Mart. Go online or to your local camera shop and invest in a nice fluid head tripod. You've got to be able to swivel the camera smoothly without any jerking visible in the video. This is a big problem with cheap tripods, so don’t make a mistake because you are impatient.
Your camera is an investment just like your boat. Don’t leave your camera bag in a hot car or in the sun without protection. Make sure to get a nice bag that is water resistant and protects your gear. If you are shooting wakeboarding you are constantly dealing with water, so it’s always better to err on the safe side.
Another common mistake people make when purchasing a camera is not getting the right memory card. Make sure you buy a class 10 memory card when shooting video. If you buy something lower, your cards buffer space will probably cut your filming short and possibly cause you to miss a trick, which isn’t fun for you or your buddy.
Have fun and shoot as much as possible. The only way to get better is to make mistakes shooting. Study the shots you messed up on and figure out how to make them better. Even the top pros still make mistakes and miss shots.
Once you invest in some gear, put it to good use with your first wake edit. Software is fundamental in making a good edit. Most Macs come equipped with iMovie and that works just fine. If you want to look into something a little more professional, look at Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier. Adobe has a great program where you can pay monthly and always get the latest software. It may take a little while to get familiar with your new software, but there is literally a YouTube instructional for every little question you may have.
As well as using your new camera, think about investing in a GoPro camera. There are some angles that are only available via GoPro, which is why they are so popular. A common mistake while shooting GoPro clips is to have it on the wrong settings. For some inexplicable reason, the GoPro comes out of the box on the worst possible settings. If you are shooting wake, make sure you are set to 1080p with 60fps or higher. The higher the frame rate, the better it looks in slow mo.
Think of the tricks and the angles you want to achieve before you start filming. Maybe even go as far as to writing them down in a list. More preparation = more 'likes.' If you know certain tricks look good from a tube, shoot with a GoPro and try to nail all those in one set. Then move onto your other tricks or maybe a day at the cable filming. This way you can ensure you are utilizing your time and money to the fullest.
Background music is really the glue that holds a video all together and it can make or break an edit. Thankfully, dub step is out and alternative seems to be making a comeback. A general rule of thumb is that if it's playing in the top 10 on the radio, just rule it out altogether. Some people like to choose a song first and then use that as the basis of their edit, piecing the clips together to fit the song. Others like to get all their bangers together and then choose a song after. Everyone works differently, so choose whichever way suits you best. Check out some of The Outsiders playlists to stay ahead of the masses.
Vimeo and YouTube have restrictions on song copyrights now, so you may not be able to upload a video with a copyrighted song in it. However, there are some ways around that. You didn't hear it from me, but a if you slightly speed up the song tempo it may slip through the music robots. Other alternatives are to use some of the websites that offer music licenses for certain music for free or very cheap. Vimeo even offers a service where they provide a selection of music you can use for free. You have to do some searching, but there are some good songs to be found. The Sean O'Brien video below uses a free song from Vimeo.
Make sure you export your video in the right settings. H.264 works well and is the most recommended codec. Vimeo has a great document with some tips for the best way to export.
Remember to have fun and don’t take it too seriously! Good videos take time.