Need a simple shot, best advice for newbie?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by mikec, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    Hi, this is my first post on this forum. I'm trying to help get a friend's business started and while I have some experience with videography, I have none with photography. What I need to do is take a picture of this person for use on book covers, brochures and ads.

    The camera I have to work with is a Canon Powershot A520 (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona520/ for specifications)

    For lighting, when I shoot video, we're in a small room and I get away with two halogen shop lights from home depot pointed directly at the ceiling to reflect light down on the subject. And I also have a blue screen to put behind the subject for the photo.

    I know photography is a complex art that takes years to master but we're on a tight (no) budget and just need to do the best we can with what we have. I know my camera has a million different manual settings and modes, none of which I know how to operate.

    Would anyone here be so kind to tell me what I can do in order to get the best results with what I have? Whether it be certain settings on the camera, position of these lights, etc?

    Anything you tell me is much appreciated because it's far more than I already know :D
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    You will probably be OK with the camera in auto mode...or maybe Av and set the largest aperture (smallest F number). Personally, I'd suggest trying to use window light for a portrait. Get your subject close to a window and use that for light. It might help to have something reflective/white on the other side of them, just to fill in the shadows.

    If you just want an evenly lit portrait, you could use the same lights & method that you mentioned above. Just make sure to set the proper white balance or else use the custom WB function.
     
  3. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    Window light? I thought that was a no no when shooting indoors, but apparently not? There is a window in the room, directly to the subject's right side. I don't want the picture to look like it was shot outdoors though. Just a picture from the waist up, with him holding a musical instrument... I assume I should use the highest resolution? (2272 x 1704) What about the flash, should I be using it?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Window light is good. Including the window in the photo...isn't so good.
    Outdoor light usually comes from above, which isn't great. Window light comming from the side is just as good or better than being in a studio.
    Always.
    It's nice to leave it off.
     
  5. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    So I should open the blinds all the way and let all the light come in from his right side (regular 4'x5' window) and also shoot one of the halogens towards the wall to his left side?
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Open the blinds, yes. It's best to have a window that does not have direct sunlight coming in.

    Do not use a halogen light for his left side, the color temp of the light is different than that of sunlight, and you will end up with ugly colors.

    As I mentioned before, use the window for the main source of light, and if his other side is too dark, use a reflector to reflect some of the light back. It doesn't have to be fancy...a large piece of white paper or white fabric.
     
  7. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    I'm in Las Vegas so there's plenty of bright light, and it's not direct.. it's a west facing window but the building next door to us blocks the direct sunlight from shooting in at the end of the day. Thanks, I will definitely try your suggestions and let you know how it goes! I must say, I would have never in a million years thought about using light coming in from outside. Glad I came here!
     
  8. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    OK, here's an update, I'm now borrowing a friend's Olympus SP-550OUZ which is a better camera than my Canon. Do you have any additional advice using this better camera? If I want to take the pictures at night too, what's the best setup for that? I want to use my bluescreen for the background.
     
  9. acaldwell

    acaldwell TPF Noob!

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