Children's Portraiture Lighting

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by mjphotofan08, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. mjphotofan08

    mjphotofan08 TPF Noob!

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    I've become interested in children's portraiture but I have some questions about lighting.

    Indoors- I'm guessing you shouldn't use a flash because you don't want to blow out a baby's soft skin. Can you use a flash with an older child or adult? I did a baby photo shoot last weekend and she was too young to take outside. I don't have any sort of studio, I'm just starting out, so I went to their house. They didn't have any real natural lighting so I was limited to the lighting from their house. Here's the question... I don't want to raise the ISO too high because of noise, maybe above 800? But even if I had the apeture down low to 4.0 and the shutter speed up to 1/60 or 1/80 it was too dark. If I lowered the shutter speed to create more light I didn't capture the fast movements and smiles of the babies, so a lot of the pictures came out blurry. What do you do in this situation?

    Outside- When do you use a fill flash and when do you use no flash?

    General question about children's photography- I find that with apeture priority I can't get the shutter speed up high enough. With shutter speed priority I don't feel like I have enough control of the apeture, so I perfer all out manual. But how am I supposed to control all of this fast enough and make changes at new locations when I have babies, 2, 3, 4 etc year olds waiting on me?

    Thanks, I'm new so hello to all!
     
  2. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi.

    Wow! That's a LOT to address.

    I'll begin. INDOORS: Yes, you can use flash. But to do anything nice, you won't want to use any on-camera flash. And you'll need more than one. You're right to want to keep your ISO at 100, so you will need some strobes.

    I'll let someone else add to this.

    Welcome!

    -Pete
     
  3. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First, if you are talking about the built in flash, it doesn't look good on anyone. Take a piece of duct tape and put it over the built in flash so that you're not tempted to use it. A good hot shoe speed flash on the other hand can really enhance portraits of anyone. http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/

    You can also go and buy some studio strobe flash units as well if you really want to get into it. www.alienbee.com is a good place to browse. A ring flash is kind of an in between in that it mounts to the camera, but is a strobe flash.

    Outside, you use flash to try and eliminate the shadows.

    In my experience, you really are hard pressed to keep up w/ 2, 3, 4 year olds w/o a flash unless you are outside w/ good light. Otherwise, you are going to get a lot of motion blur. My pics of my daughter (now 3 years old) really improved once I got a flash unit. With a flash unit, you can easily maintain shutter speed of 1/180 (sync speed) and freeze their movement.

    Also check out www.abetterbouncecard.com to add this to a speed flash.
     
  4. mjphotofan08

    mjphotofan08 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your replies but I can't afford to buy any extra equipment at all. I'm literally living off of pennies right now and hoping that I can build some sort of photography business once my portfolio grows.

    So there's no way of creating images with solid light and no blur without an add on flash indoors? Is my best bet just using an "auto" setting?
     
  5. Timbo1961

    Timbo1961 TPF Noob!

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    Well, if you have no budget at the moment, and I don't know if this is something to try in front of a client, but you may want to try and work out some sort of reflector or diffuser system.
    It sounds jury-rigged for sure, but if you do the proper white balancing and use a 100 watt bulb (or halogen would be better) shine the light off of a reflecting surface (white sheet etc.) you can really soften the light quite a bit. I have even seen the use of a halogen desk lamp through a bedsheet work wonders ... try folding the bed sheet twice with an air gap in between... have your "assistant" hold the sheet for half an hour ... that'll make 'em earn their money !!! :)
    You can also put a thin strip of white paper taped to your on camera flash, bend it in front and around and under the flash once it has popped up and by adding two or three sheets, you can diffuse the flash a lot.
    However, the colour balance if you use both together will be off however... it will take a bit of experimenting.... don't know if your child will sit still long enough for dad to experiment...
    Try the set up on a doll first ... and then put the baby in the picture.
    Sometimes homegrown ideas are the most rewarding....
    Worth a try !
     
  6. chrisburke

    chrisburke TPF Noob!

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    sorry to tell you, but in order to make money, you gotta spend money... your not going to get a photography business going if all you have is a camera... you need some lights and fun stuff like that... its just the way it is..
     
  7. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Then you are going to be limited to natural lighting and using reflectors. Take advantage of outdoors when it's warm enough to do so. Without some investment, it's going to be hard to build a portfolio of sharp images of toddlers. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some truly amazing photos of kids that were lit merely by window light and a well placed reflector (like a really big piece of mat board - cost about $5). If you can't afford a flash unit right now, I'd jack the iso to at least 800 open up the aperture as wide as it will go and try something like neat image or noise ninja to try and remove some noise.
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "solid light." But I do understand what you mean about working with what you have for now. Since you working with little ones, you can usually get by with window light. Yes.... you'll have to bring your subject to the light, even if it means dragging a table to a window and tossing a comforter on it. Find the largest window without direct sunlight for this.

    I'd rather see you stick with the manual settings. You'll have more control and will learn a lot more.

    -Pete


    And, oh... you'll HAVE to have a tripod.
     
  9. Mystwalker

    Mystwalker TPF Noob!

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    Until I got external flash (580), indoor shooting was a "nightmare". Even with the 50mm f/1.8, I could never get it fast enough to eliminate movement blur. If you are in position where you can get toddlers to pose (hold still), you may be in a better position.

    I find bouncing flash off ceiling or back wall works well for me - do not have blown-out baby skin.
     
  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Fast prime lenses can be helpful.

    An on-camera strobe bounced off the ceiling, walls, or an impromptu reflector (white baby blanket, towel, mom's jacket lining, etc...) gives a lot of easy to find and use directional lighting options. Some homes have crazy colors, but many have nice white or light colored ceilings and walls. Shoot raw for easy wb correction.

    Google keywords like "window light studio lighting" etc... There are many tutorials and examples of simple window light, on location studio set-ups.

    Do some practicing with high ISOs. You might be surprised at how clean high ISO prints can look if properly exposed and processed. Besides, if you are capturing personality and emotion, and use the available light right, most moms are going to overlook a bit of softness or noise. If they wanted straight studio shots they have plenty of cheap choices. They want feeling!
     
  11. asc

    asc TPF Noob!

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    Definitely try to take advantage of window light.

    Took this with a North facing window, early in the morning to try and capture some "long light"...bed was next to the window, I was pretty happy with the outcomes. (Just watch for too high ISO/grain, and you may have to PP to correct tone...which I didn't do)

    [​IMG]

    Good luck with your photos and business!!!
     

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