How to film action videography on the fly with the Nikon Z6III

Jan Vincent KleineВідеографія21 черв. 20247 хвилин читання

Understanding your athlete’s motivation, varying angles, and planning your story is key to filming action videography on the fly, says adventure and expedition photographer and filmmaker Jan Vincent Kleine

With photographer and filmmaker Jan Vincent Kleine, you’re right there with his intrepid subjects: you feel every breath, the sweat on their brow, the anticipation of their next move. He has, after all, photographed the greatest adventure athletes and expeditionists alive – from Alex Honnold to Reinhold Messner – capturing from the remotest of ice caps to thickest of jungles. This time, he’s recently returned from testing out the new Nikon Z6III in Cape Town for the second edition of The Human Prompt, a Nikon exclusive series. Here, the Nikon Creator shares his top tips to elevate your action filmmaking and photography.

Jan Vincent Kleine

Стежте за Jan Vincent Kleine в соцмережах

What’s in my kitbag?
Set out your goal

Before filming, says Vincent, establish what you intend to achieve. Having received Nikon’s prompt ‘/Capture: everyday athletes, unexpected performances’, he immediately wanted to capture the essence of climbing. “It’s the act of exploring new places, to find structures that inspire you to interact with them and the grace of movement that fascinates me,” he explains. “In a way, these rock formations are a canvas. An invitation to explore. An invitation to interact with them. An invitation to be creative, to read the rock and to see challenges and opportunities – both for the climber as well as the photographer.” While this was his main goal – and response to the prompt – he was just as curious to test the Nikon Z6III’s video capabilities. “Instead of filming a few test clips, I opted to film a short piece about the connection my climber, Naadirah Moola Te Water, has with climbing,” he explains.


Scout your location

Research and planning are key, but remain flexible, Vincent advises. When thinking of climbing and bouldering, South Africa has an iconic location of international reputation: Rocklands in the Cederbergs, three or four hours away from Cape Town. For his photographic series (below), Vincent aimed to capture the abstract essence and beauty of climbing rather than an established route. For this, he and his talent decided at the last minute against Rocklands, instead opting for a place with a vastly different type of scenery: Llandudno in the Western Cape. With their proximity to the ocean, the unique and almost featureless rock formations provided just the right background for the graphic minimalism Vincent envisioned for this series. 

Roadmap your story

“It helps me to keep an abstract script as a rough roadmap in the back of my head to guide questions and to make sure I’m getting the essential shots,” Vincent says. “I think it’s important to consider this a guide and to leave enough breathing room for the story to unfold in front of the lens. Ultimately, I want to understand who the people are that I’m photographing or filming and what drives them. My climber Naadirah had just finished her PhD in Molecular Biology and works to help those with a less privileged background experience the empowering nature of outdoor sports. She is a very inspiring person with a story worth telling.”


A tripod and handheld camera are all you need to start filming

If you’re making the move from stills to video, focus on storytelling and narrative before purchasing gimbals, monitors or sliders, Vincent advises. “A simple tripod and a handheld camera can get you very far,” he adds. “A captivating story is much more important than fancy camera movement.”


Think angles: long shots to close-ups

“Take a variety of camera shots and angles, from long shots to close-ups, establishing shots to details,” Vincent says. “In order to be able to jump from one angle to the other in edit, I shot Naadirah from different perspectives during her two or three attempts of the climb. When you’re alone but have more than one camera available to you, it’s also possible to have one camera locked off on a tripod and move around with the second camera to get a variety of angles in one go. This can also work well for interviews.”


Ensure connectivity

“Think about how to connect scenes,” he says. “With photography, we often look for a singular moment that tells the story in a single still. In video, the story develops over the course of many sequences and scenes that need to connect.”

Z6III + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 33m, 1/400 sec, f/9, ISO 100, ©Jan Vincent Kleine
The Human Prompt: a photographic series

These days, mainly thanks to the capabilities of hybrid cameras, photographers are also filmmakers and vice versa. So, how did Vincent get on with his stills responding to the prompt ‘/Capture: everyday athletes, unexpected performances’?


“We found this cave open two sides and I immediately thought of taking two photos, one from the darkness in to the outside and one from the outside in,” he says. “In this image (above), you have a beautiful minimalist rock structure and the darkness of the cave, acting as a black backdrop to her performance.


“I had to take this photo when it was overcast because, when the direct sun hits, you create lots of little mini shadows on the rock structures and bigger rocks create larger shadows and this will all distract from the reduced, calm tonality which focusses on the climber.  I was waiting 45 minutes, with Naadirah ready and in position, for a cloud to be strong enough to put herself in front of the sun so that the light would be softer.”

Left/above: Z6III + NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S, 1/1600 sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, ©Jan Vincent Kleine. Right/below: ©Jarno Schurgers

“If done right, with natural light portraits you can see an incredible sparkle in the eyes,” explains Vincent. “I looked for rocks left and right of Naadirah to put shade to the left and right of her face. I put a black fabric over the two boulders to avoid any light hitting her from top down. There was indirect sunlight from the front, and little bit of backlight coming through the boulders. I selected an f/1.4 aperture to really focus on her eyes and these started to reflect the surroundings in front of her, creating a sparkle. When I’m in a more artistic mood, I like to switch to black and white, which when you’re photographing in RAW is essentially a camera preview, but it helps me focus on the tonalities as it takes away colour distractions.”

©Jarno Schurgers
The Nikon Z6III in review


How did you find the Nikon Z 6III for filming video?

“With only 15 minutes of filming time before the onsetting rain would end all further climbing, this was a great test for how the Nikon Z6III would perform in a fast, nimble, run-and-gun-style scenario. In order to keep it as simple and as approachable as possible, I did not use any fancy film accessories. Just an on-camera shotgun mic and a variable ND filter.


“I shot 4K 25fps, and 4K 120fps. The 120fps slow motion does not come with a resolution penalty. I remember when the Z9 launched, and it had the opportunity of filming 4K at 120fps and it felt mind-blowing. Now three years later, we have these features in a body that is even more approachable.”


How did the camera perform photographing stills?

“What struck me the most – and very immediately – was how nimble and fast the camera feels. What I like in a camera is when it disappears in my hands, when it feels as if I’m not looking through a technical object, but that it’s a natural extension of the eye and of my fingers. To me, it felt that there was no resistance.”


Who would you recommend the camera for?

“When testing this camera, I had two audiences in mind. First, those looking for a second or third body as a backup or for when you need multiple camera angles filming videos, for example. I would be very happy to use this camera as a backup body, or for filming a second angle as the quality keeps up with the Z9 and the handling is very similar to the flagships. I also wholeheartedly recommend this camera to someone who is advancing into photography and filmmaking and wants a more affordable and nimbler camera. You would be hard pressed to find something or be in a situation where this camera would limit you in any meaningful way and that’s amazing for such a relatively affordable body.”


Any features that jumped out to you?

“The 5760k dot display EVF. Two months ago, I was traversing a glacier in Norway in very bright sunlight with ski goggles on, and I struggled to view my screen or EVF and had to take my goggles off which was blinding. The Nikon Z 6III’s enhanced viewfinder brightness would have come in incredibly handy in that scenario.”


What’s the best way to make the most out of this camera?

“Configure the camera to your taste. Look at the configuration of the autofocus, especially the back button autofocus with 3D Tracking and subject recognition, and the secondary autofocus configuration on the second button. This can be incredibly powerful both in stills and video. I spent ten minutes putting my configurations in after I first received the camera, and then it immediately felt like my Z8 and Z9.”


Watch Vincent’s The Human Prompt: The Creative Athlete & the Z6III episode below.


Episode 1 | Nikon Z6III with Jan Vincent Kleine

In the first episode, we follow filmmaker & photographer Jan Vincent Kleine as he embarks on a creative adventure with the new Nikon Z6III for the very first time. Get a glimpse into his workflow, as he shoots a test vignette on-the-fly, showcasing Vincent's adaptability and impressive capabilities of the Z6III. Watch to see how he interprets our prompt - /Capture: everyday athletes, unexpected performances.


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