Dave’s blog: Bad light/bad karma

I had kind of a bad shoot a few weeks ago.

Not an awful shoot, by any means. The equipment performed the way it was designed. I showed up on time with everything I needed. I was prepared and knew what was expected of me. The client was a gracious and enthusiastic person, and I got along with everyone. All in all, I’m confident I gave the client her money’s worth.

Why was it bad, then? It just didn’t come out all that well.

This was a dance/performance piece up in Burlington. It took place in a large space in the middle of a rectangle of chairs. Lighting came from bulbs suspended from the ceiling at different heights, and here’s where I encountered the problem. You see these lights were the old-fashioned kind, with a bright filament inside clear glass. They were piercingly bright, but threw off very little ambient light. The bulbs created hot spots in the footage, but didn’t illuminate much in the way of anything in between. 

Initially I tried to use a telephoto lens to get between the bulbs, but there just wasn’t enough light. Wide shots were better, but you still had to push the exposure, resulting in grainy footage and bad colors. Nothing that resulted was very satisfying.

With a bit of time to mull it over, I realized there wasn’t much I could have done about it, but I still kind of beat myself up a bit. 

I should have done a better job.

I should have better equipment.

I should have more knowledge about shooting in low light.

I had warned the client ahead of time, and honestly she was very cool about the whole event: “I knew any footage from that event was going to be grainy,” she said.

Self-doubt is no fun, and I confess I still have moments I wonder if I have any business trying to make it as a professional videographer. 

It’s a journey, I know. I learn more with each shoot. My confidence grows. In time I will buy better equipment. I will focus on the times when I can create beautiful, inspiring video, and know I did my best in those other assignments.

Since then, the work I’ve completed has made both myself and my clients happy. Keep on trucking. Happy celebrations, everyone!

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