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The Best Camera

It has been said that the best camera you own is the one you have with you. Most of the time, that is our picture-taking (and video-taking) smartphone. Use it! Use it! Use it!

Use it to:

  • Capture funny, meaningful, beautiful moments, which include “selfies”!
  • Re-visit one or more items in a store you are considering for later purchase
  • Remember the street name where you parked
  • Record the insurance info of the driver who just scratched your car (and the scratch itself!)
  • Follow construction progress
  • Document a medical condition
  • Retain company and contact information from a sign or vehicle
  • Recall a meal or dessert you want to make, or make again
  • Take “before” and “after” photos

And while you are using your smartphone for these (and other) photo and video opportunities, here are three pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t “zoom” (take the picture at the regular distance and, if you want to enlarge a portion, crop it later)
  2. Film videos horizontally not vertically; you will be much happier with the result
  3. Learn how to email or text a photo from your phone, even if just to make a friend smile

Happy snapping!

The Ken Burns Effect

If you have watched any of award-winning Ken Burns’ documentaries — my two favorites are Baseball and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History — you might have noticed a technique Burns employs extensively to create the illusion of movement in a still image. It is aptly named “The Ken Burns Effect.”

By panning across — or zooming into or out of — an image, The Ken Burns effect “animates” pictures, making movies out of still pictures.

This fascinating technique isn’t reserved for elite filmmakers; you can do it too.

On an Apple computer, the technique is included in the editing portion of iMovie, a video making program that comes pre-installed in iMacs and MacBooks. In Windows computers, the technique is not specifically called the “Ken Burns Effect,” but the same “Pan and Zoom” options are in the “Animations” area of Windows Movie Maker, a program that is part of the Windows Live Essentials Suite.

If you are making a movie, experiment with the Ken Burns options. And look for the effect in professional documentaries; there is even a Ken Burns App if you want to see clips of the Effect.

You might be “moved.”