My YouTube ChannelSince reinventing my YouTube channel recently, I have been trying to come up with ways to mimic to some degree how I work with my tutoring clients in person. Mike Browne is a British photographer I discovered a few years ago on YouTube. Mike's videos are very informative and helpful. One of the reasons is that you feel you are standing next to him or looking over his shoulder when he's presenting some photographic concept or demonstrating a technique. He talks as he's deciding about making an exposure. He takes a shot and immediately shows you the resulting image. He comments on it. What he likes. What he doesn't like and why. Then he proceeds to try to improve that image, all the while taking you through his thought process, his decision making. Or, in this video, Mike is talking about understanding exposure and the in-video changes illustrate just what he is talking about. This other video is an even better example of what I am going after in my own videos as Mike explains how to shoot with a lot of backlighting in the scene. The Yi Action CameraI think I've finally found a way to create instructional videos that I have envisioned. Back several weeks ago when many areas of the US were still getting lots of snow, I watched a video Jamie MacDonald did. Jamie is a Michigan photographer and an Olympus Trailblazer. He had gone out after a snow storm to try and get some shots he wanted to get. As Jamie was talking ( - minute 3:30), we were seeing what he was seeing and as he took shots, he mentioned something about his settings. I know Jamie and wrote him to ask how he was doing that. He responded that he was using a GoPro knock-off action camera, the Yi. Since this little camera was only $80, I immediately ordered one.

1/4-20 to hot shoe adapter

I have used the Yi to record one of my Video Update episodes and I experimented using it in my car as Jamie does, but decided that at this point anyway, that is not something I plan to do. However, what I really wanted to do with this little GoPro look-alike was attached to my Olympus OM-D E-M1’s hot shoe and have it record the scene I’m seeing when I go out shooting. To accomplish this, though, I had to purchase a 1/4-20 hot shoe adapter that I could slip into the E-M1’s hot shoe and then screw the Yi onto the 1/4-20 mount (this is a standard tripod mount). The Yi has a wide field of view and runs off a rechargeable battery. It has a tiny microphone hole on the top and you control it via wi-fi from your smartphone or mobile tablet.

Adapter on Olympus OM-D E-M1

I got my adapter last week, attached the Yi to my E-M1, and went out in the back yard to give my theory a try. My first test video - on shooting some tulips in Manual mode but giving a priority to my Aperture to try and achieve a shallow depth of field - was a success, but I can see that I need to work on my technique. First, though, I was pleasantly surprised that the Yi’s tiny built-in mic captured pretty decent audio. Good enough, in my opinion, that I now don’t feel the need to make a backup audio recording to an external recorder. Here’s an edited version of the “proof of concept” video:

This video was a spur of the moment video. No planning. No script. When I produce the videos I want to use in my Learning Photography series on my YouTube channel, I will plan them more carefully and try to make them shorter. I will also be more on target with what I want to show. In this video my intended purpose was to use a wide open aperture (f/2.8 with the lens I was using) to achieve a shallow depth of field that would throw the greenery behind the tulips out of focus. As I did the video, the purpose shifted to underexposing by one stop to get a more contrasty, darker image. In order to achieve the first purpose, I needed to get down closer to the tulips instead of standing over them, but it had just rained and I didn’t do that!

The Yi attached to E-M1

Doing this test did serve several purposes, however. It showed me that my idea (copied from Jamie) of using the Yi camera mounted in my hot shoe to record my thought process much like Mike Browne does (though he has someone running a video camera capturing the process) was workable. In addition, recording the test video showed me what preparation I have to do for each such video.

I hope you will take a look at my test video. If this is something you would be interested in using to help you with your photography, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel ( so you will get notifications when new episodes of Learning Photography are posted.

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