This is article #32 in the DSLR Video Weekly series.  If you’d like the whole thing in one shot, check out the book Creating DSLR Video: From Snapshots to Great Shots.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.

When it comes to video, you really want to get the shot as close to right as possible in the camera.  The reasons for this are twofold:  First, rendering color correction filters during editing is relatively time-consuming with video because there are so many frames to process.  Second, what you can accomplish both in the field and at the computer is relatively limited compared to a raw photo workflow.  Always do your best to shoot your footage right from the very start.

Better Under than Overexposed

Although you can do a lot in postproduction to fix exposure, video files are a lot like working with JPEG images (as opposed to raw photos). Push an adjustment too far and you’ll get a posterized image where details are clipped. Shoot too dark or too bright and you’ll have no information to work with, and possibly quite a bit of noise.

The key is to always protect your highlights. Don’t let the bright areas of your image (like skies or faces) get clipped. On your camera, you’ll likely have a histogram view.  You can typically see this histogram after taking a photo or cycling through your view options (in most cameras you can push the Info button or press your navigation dial from side to side to cycle views). If the histogram is pushed against the right edge, it means you have no information to work with. Blown out highlights will be pure white, and there is just no way to recover the details.

Be careful and avoid slamming your histograms to the right.

You can see the same scene shot two different ways.  In the image on the left, I shot things a little hot.  With color correction in post, I was able to recover many details.  But you’ll notice that a lot of the details in the highlights are clipped.

In addition, I also shot the scene and exposed for the “boring middle.”  In this case the histograms were more balanced, and I had a lot more information to work with.  After color correction (a Levels and Saturation adjustment), the shot looks a lot better.

It’s better to slightly underexpose than overexpose when shooting video.  Notice how the shadowy details in the rocks are preserved better in this version.

I’ve mentioned the use of a loupe or viewfinder a few times in this book. With outdoor shooting, the addition of this equipment is essential.  Bright light on your LCD just makes the shot darn near impossible to judge.  If a loupe is out of your price range, wear a hat and use it as a shield from time to time to judge exposure.  I can’t emphasize enough that a loupe should be one of your first investments if you become serious about shooting video on your DSLR camera. By removing all light pollution, you can make accurate decisions.


If you haven’t taken the hint yet, you need a loupe.  It doesn’t matter which brand you buy, just get a loupe.
Photo by Robert Vanelli.

Join us each Saturday for the next installment of this weekly series.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.