Odds 'n Ends

A surefire way to be certain you're always working with a fresh battery is to use a small piece of white tape and a Sharpie to note the date a battery is placed on charge and stick it on the back of the battery. Discarding this dated tab as soon as the battery is mounted on the camera flags the pack as “used” and makes it easy to identify for recharging after the shoot.

The lighting on lecturers standing atop podiums or panelists seated at tables in large halls and auditoriums is rarely well-suited for photography. When there's no opportunity to add supplemental lighting, the harsh facial shadows created by spotlights can often be softened by covering the top of a lectern or table with white poster-board. Trim it to fit, secure it with a few strips of transparent tape, and you’ve created an invisible reflector that will bounce some of that overhead light onto the speaker’s face. You can also substitute several sheets of ordinary white paper if there's no poster-board close at hand.

Capture a more flattering view of the subject’s face during a sit-down interview by pointing the interviewee’s chair toward the camera instead of the interviewer. The person being interviewed will compensate by turning his or her head to make eye contact with the interviewer but will present less “profile” to the lens than if the subject is turned away from the camera.

While the early-days’ practice of recording color bars at the top of every tape has pretty much gone the way of the analog VTR, it's still a good idea to roll and record several seconds of bars – or the inside of the lens cap, or even your feet – whenever a fresh tape is first inserted in the camera. This serves not only to prevent shots at the top of the tape from being inaccessible if the tape is played back in a professional deck that has longer tape path than that of the camera, but also allows you to spot tapes that may still have the record lock-out switch engaged.