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Sanjeev Nanda on How To Make Stop Motion Video

23 Jul
Sanjeev Nanda How to Guides

Still from Flushed Away

Stop-motion animation is one of the simplest, most fun animation techniques. Mix equal parts digital camera, computer, and imagination (you’ve got all three), and you’re on your way. Although flashier computer-generated animation is in vogue, stop-motion has a rich heritage of its own.

And it’s not limited to claymation, either–Tim Burton used stop-motion and puppets to create The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Comedy Central’s Robot Chicken uses stop-motion with action figures and toy props.

You can use just about anything in your stop-motion animation, and thanks to digital cameras and computers, creating one is now super easy. There are many ways to go about shooting, editing and finalizing a stop-motion short; Sanjeev Nanda your guide will be covering the simplest. Don’t be discouraged by the number of steps! It’s much easier than it first appears.

Things You Need for Stop Motion Video

Sanjeev Nanda how to guides

An idea is all you need

The first thing you need is, of course, an idea. Try to stick with something simple for your first one–any action that can be split up into smaller parts works well.

You may wish to make an inanimate object appear as though it is alive; for example, a sock inching its way across the floor or a piece of paper that crumples itself up. While brainstorming, keep in mind that you can expect to shoot around 10 photos for every second of film.

Second, you’ll need a digital camera. Since you won’t be printed these photos, you can set your camera to the lowest size image setting. This will let you fit more images on your memory card at a time. Depending on how long you’d like your movie to be, you may need to “fill and dump” your camera (copying the photos to your computer and erasing the memory card) multiple times before you are finished.

Finally, in order to turn your images into an animated video you will need video editing software like Apple’s iMovie or QuickTime Pro. There are also a number of free and shareware programs for Mac, Windows, and Linux, some of which are listed at the end of this tutorial. More information about these programs is available on their respective websites.

Step 1: Shoot Your Animation

Sanjeev Nanda how to guides

Take as many images as you want, it will give depth to your video

Let’s say, for example, that you would like to make an action figure move itself across the floor. Start at the beginning: place the action figure somewhere and take your first photo. Remember, you want to use camera (still frame) mode, not movie mode.

Using a tripod and only moving your object will make it appear as though your object is moving through your frame. Keeping the object in the same general area in each frame by moving the camera along with it will make it appear as though you are traveling with the object. It’s up to you.

After you’ve taken your first photograph, move the action figure slightly in the direction you want it to travel and take another photo. Move it again by the same distance, and take one more. Continue this until the action figure reaches where you want it to stop. You can manipulate your object in creative ways to add visual interest to your film, just make sure that whatever movement your object makes is done slowly over several frames.

Finally, if you make a mistake while shooting, delete that picture on your camera and take another. This will save you from having to edit your film later.

Step 2: Download Your Photos

Now that you’ve captured your images, you’ll need to get them onto your computer. This process varies widely from camera to camera and computer to computer. Consult your camera guide and software “Help” if you are unfamiliar with this process.

First, import your image files to the camera, and give them their own album. Once your photos have been imported, open any movie authoring software, for eg. iMovie for Mac, JPGVideo for Windows.

Step 3: Animate Your Photos

In order for your animated short to play properly, you must tell the software you are using, how long you want each photo to appear before showing the next one. It’s kind of like creating a slideshow, except instead of giving each image a few seconds, you give it only a fraction of a second. The timing you choose will affect the overall tempo and length of your film.

For action figure example Sanjeev Nanda used a duration of 3 frames-per-photo. Normally movie authoring softwares play at 30 frames-per-second, a setting of 3 frames-per-photo means you’ll see 10 photos every second. Now you can see why you have to shoot so many photos!

If you use the 3 frames-per-photo setting, you can easily estimate how many photos you’ll need to create a movie of a given length. In our example we used around 100 photos, for 10 seconds of video. If we wanted to make an animation exactly 30 seconds long, we’d shoot 300 photos.

This next step is very important, so stay with us! If you are using iMovie, select all of the photographs in your stop-motion album (the quick way to do this is to click on the very first photo and then, holding down the shift key, scroll down and click on the last photo.) Now click “Show Photo Settings” and type in “0:03″ for your duration in the floating window that appears. Click the Apply button and your photos will start getting sucked into the timeline at the bottom of the window.

Once iMovie’s finished filling the timeline, hit play. You just created your first stop-motion animated video short!

Final Touches: Music and Sharing

To fine tune your animation, you can slow it down by choosing to use more than 3 frames-per-photo. You can also add music to your short by dragging MP3s or AIFF files to the timeline. To share your stop-motion video, you’ll want to convert it to avi or mp4 or any other popular format.

That’s it! Don’t forget to save your project often as you go along, and check out Vimeo — a cool place to upload your finished videos!

One of the best stop motion videos i’ve seen:


Sanjeev Nanda tips for Great Wildlife Photography

7 Jul

9 Rules For Great Wildlife Photography

Sanjeev Nanda shares his experience and best tips for taking amazing photographs of animals in the wild….or at Zoo.

Many people are curious about secrets for taking excellent wildlife pictures. I don’t know any secrets—but I do have 9 rules that will help you take great photos.

Rule #1: Have Patience

Sanjeev Nanda rules for photography

Patience is Virtue

When you spend a lot of time with an animal, you’ll see amazing things. So when you’re shooting in the wild, in a zoo, or at home with your pets, you’ll need lots of patience to get an amazing photo. I often spend hours watching an animal in the wild or at a zoo exhibit, just waiting for the perfect opportunity.

Rule #2: Take Lots of Pictures

Sanjeev Nanda rules for photography

Sometimes it takes 1000 photographs for that one perfect shot

Give up your old film habits, and shoot a lot of pictures with your digital camera. Like humans, animals have “good” and “bad” expressions and postures, so the more pictures you take, the more likely you are to get a great shot. For example, in a four-hour game drive, I will shoot about 500 images, not worrying about the “bad ones.” Then during the editing process on my computer, I will select the best ones.

Rule #3: Use Standard Settings

Animal photography is motion photography, so being ready is very important. Set your camera to standard settings (see below), and return to these settings after you’ve altered them for a specific situation (if time allows).

Standard Settings

    Shooting Mode: Aperture Control AV; P for flash use
    Image Recording Quality: JPG Best Quality; or RAW
    White Balance: Shade (outdoors); AWB (indoors)
    ISO: 400 (good weather); 1600 (bad weather and indoors)
    Metering Mode: Center Weighted
    Drive Mode: Single Shooting
    Auto Focus Mode: One Shot; AI Servo if object is moving towards you or away from you
    Auto Focus Points: Center Point Only

Rule #4: Keep the Eyes in Focus

Sanjeev Nanda rules for photography

Eyes give photographs character and depth

Remember that an animal is not a cathedral—you’ll only have a few seconds to compose a shot. When using “center point focus,” you are in control of the focus, not your camera, so make sure that the animals’ eyes are sharp and in focus. Compose the shot so that the eyes are in the center of the picture, and leave extra room around your subject so you can crop the image later.

Rule #5: Learn How To Over and Under Expose

Sanjeev Nanda wildlife photography tips

Play with exposure settings to get surprising results

Once you have your standard settings, you can use the exposure compensation feature (+/-) to adjust for a perfect picture. If your subject is much darker than the surroundings, use the over-expose (+) to lighten the image. If your subject is much lighter, use the under-expose (-) to darken the image. I usually adjust in increments of .5, but experiment with the feature to find what works best (and what doesn’t).

Rule #6: A Higher ISO Is Your Friend

With animals, you need short exposure times because they’re always moving. I rarely use use a tripod—though sometimes I’ll use a monopod—so I can adapt to their movements quickly. When I use a full aperture set, I’ll use a higher ISO (800-1600 or even above). Older digital cameras will usually have visible noise over 400 ISO, but results with newer digital SLRs are much better. I think it’s better to have an image with a little more noise than a picture completely out of focus.

Rule #7: Get Down There!

Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Take photographs anywhere but eye level

If you want tension in your pictures, get on eye level with your subject, or even below eye level. I often find myself laying flat on the floor when shooting in zoos. Many exhibits are below the observer, which is good for watching the animals but bad for photography!

Rule #8: Avoid the Flash—Use a Flashlight Instead!

I don’t like flash pictures because they’re mostly flat and have no depth. In wildlife photography, you seldom have the time for good flash setup (with multiple flashes) anyway. I’d rather use a higher ISO and try my luck without a flash. A standard, hand-held flashlight can help by producing a glint in the eye of an animal and lightening up a dark corner.

Rule #9: Eliminate Fences

Sanjeev Nanda wildlife photography tips

Zoom through the gap in the fences

When there are fences between you and your subject, get as close to the fence as possible without touching it (legal moves only, please). Extend your zoom to the largest telephoto setting, and open the aperture full. Ideally, your subject will be in the middle, between the front and back fences. Shoot through the shaded parts of the fence, and the fence should disappear from your shot.

Sanjeev Nanda tips for Shooting in the Dark

28 Jun
Sanjeev Nanda tips and tricks

Night time aura is mesmerizing

There’s something mysterious and seductive about nighttime photography. Perhaps it’s the romantic air of celebratory fireworks or a gentle snowfall.

Maybe it’s the eeriness of an old, dilapidated farmhouse or an ancient cemetery on a foggy eve. A spooky scarecrow or an old wooden fence may also make great targets for your camera’s roving eye.

Even still, a crisp and cool fall evening produces great subjects with harvest-ready pumpkin patches and silhouettes of trees with half-fallen leaves.

Here are some tips that will make your night photography a delight:

1. Select a creative subject.

Sanjeev nanda tips and tricks

Light illuminating the structure at night

You might choose a romantic cityscape or the boardwalk at night. You may find favorable opportunities in shooting fireworks or other light shows. Don’t forget about bridges and other structures that may be lit at nightfall.

2. Begin with the night mode setting

Sanjeev Nanda tips and tricks

Night Mode Shot - Using a tripod is a good idea

Until you are comfortable with your camera and its settings, practice photographing nighttime scenes and subjects with your camera’s presets.

3. Elongate the exposure time

Sanjeev Nanda tips and tricks

Playing with exposure time can surprise you

A longer shutter exposure will help you to capture sharper nighttime images.

4. Don’t erase imperfection!

Blurry and out of focus images make for a unique, artistic touch. Remember, you can always delete images later, but you can’t recreate the opportunity very easily.

5. Allow a tripod to do the dirty work

Sanjeev Nanda tips and tricks

Tripod not only enhances stability but also gives you patience to click those stunning images

Affix your digital camera to a tripod for ultimate stability and elimination of camera shake. It is vital to keep the camera steady if you want to capture the best shots.

6. Consider shooting without a flash

Sanjeev Nanda tips and tricks

Low light photograph without flash

Switch between a flash and settings based on your proximity to the subject. Close subjects may benefit from flash whereas distant subjects will not. Where you have natural light, such as a full moon, overhead streetlights or bright city lights, consider shooting without a flash. You can also take photos during or just after sunset for a beautiful glowing hue.

7. Be camera-happy

Take as many photos as you like, and then take some more. If you shoot a large number of photos, you are sure to have more “keepers” than if you merely shoot a handful of each subject.

8. For situations with limited light, adjust your ISO to a higher setting

This enhances your digital camera’s sensitivity and thereby reduces blur.

9. Gradually increase your settings for best results

This is known as “bracketing,” a technique photographers use to adjust and modify their cameras’ settings without making any drastic changes. After you take a number of photos with each different setting, you’ll be able to examine the images on the computer and determine the best programming.

10. Shoot at different angles.

In addition to standard horizontal and vertical angles, get a little bit creative. Shoot wide shots for landscape and city line images and vertical shots for tall subjects. Experiment with aerial shots from atop bridges, buildings and other structures. If it is a warm evening and you are in a safe, clean location, lay on the ground and take a shot upward. Modify your angles until you find the ones that best suit your shooting style.

Many people consider nighttime photography to be a tough facet of digital photography to master. Low lighting calls for modified settings on the camera, and multiple shots to achieve the best possible image. Take your time, practice and you’ll soon discover your own talents in nighttime photography.

Sanjeev Nanda tips on Photography

4 Jun

Photo Tips & Tricks:

Ordinary = Extraordinary

“Under construction” is usually code for “will not photograph well because of all the heavy machinery and equipment clutter”. But even when you think extra clutter will make a place less photogenic, it’s usually a matter of reorienting your vision to figure out how to use what’s actually there in front of you. The mesh behind the two figures was put up specifically to keep dust and debris away from visitors, but at the same it catches late afternoon light coming in through the windows perfectly. Even when things look unappealing to the naked eye, a slight change in composition and exposure can take something ordinary and turn it in to something extraordinary. Similarly, a discarded orange peel on a bus seat – how dull?
Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Even orange peel can look beautiful

Extraordinary photography - Sanjeev Nanda

Turning ordinary to extraordinary

Reflect on reflections

I’m always thankful for any architect anywhere in the world that’s incorporated glass into a building. It immediately gives you twice the visuals to play with – 1) the real, and 2) the reflections. Look for how you can play tricks on the viewers’ eyes with those reflections. Look for patterns that blend reality and the artificial across the surface of the building. I’d say 90% of the time you can confuse the viewer – give them a moment where they’re not exactly sure what they’re looking at – your image is successful.
Sanjeev nanda photography tips

Superb Class reflections give depth

Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Most beautiful pictures are work of imagination

Context can be overrated

A little decontextualization never hurt anyone. I think there’s often a tendency to want to put too much information into a photograph, to give it too much context. You have a chance to create an image that is more captivating, that viewers often have to sit with a little longer when you leave contextual elements out. It distills your images into more of a mood than a literal translation of a time and place – and that’s a good thing.
Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Sometimes a photograph without a subject is more engaging

Sanjeev nanda photography tips

Beauty lies in the imagination

Anywhere but eye level

It usually never hurts to change your point of view. Look all the way up. Look all the way down. Crouch. Stand on something. Shoot from anywhere but your natural eye level, and more times than not you’ll create something more dynamic than pedestrian.
Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Eye for detail is all you need

Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Sometimes the most intriguing pictures are the most simple ones

It usually gives your images a sense of mystery if you expose highlights as mid-tones and mid-tones as shadows. Or vice versa, shadows as mid-tones, and mid-tones as highlights.
Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Its your picture take it the way you want

Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Even darkness can be beautiful

Patience and composition

If you see the outline of a photograph you want – sit and wait until all the compositional elements fall into place. Even if that takes an hour.
Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

Patience is virtue

Sanjeev Nanda photography tips

It's all about knowing what you want from your photograph

No photographer is as good as the simplest camera – Edward Steichen
All these photographs attached are copyright of Jeff Hutchens. I’m his biggest fan.