Portrait questions - shooting toddlers

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by lilmorecowbell, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. lilmorecowbell

    lilmorecowbell TPF Noob!

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    I am a total newbie and have the d40x. I am trying to shoot pix of my toddler daughter who won't really stay still for too long.
    I just got the 50mm 1.8 per recommendation from another board and I'm impressed but hate that I have to manually focus since I am already trying to shoot in Manual and it takes too long to focus, get my exposure meter correct, etc... before my daughter has changed positons or has had enough.
    Anyways, I am shooting indoors with natural light. I feel as if I am not getting 'crisp' enough - my photos still seem a tad blurry and not focused. I am not sure what I am doing wrong - is it that I am not focused as best as can be with manual?
    What tips do you have for making these shots better, and keeping my daughter sitting long enough for me to snap a correct pic?
    http://media1.dropshots.com/photos/270791/20070908/045511.jpg
    I believe I was shooting at 1.8f/stop and I forget which shutter speed - whatever 0ed out my exposure meter... ISO either 200 or 400 - I forget.
     
  2. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Your daughter is a cutie for sure. Your exposure should stay about the same for each lighting condition so you should be able to set and forget until moving to another location, or like when shadows change outdoors. Use the little electronic focus indicator in the viewfinder. I don't use a D40 but I assume it has one. This will help get the focus spot on as she moves. Try to adjust your ISO up until you have at least a 1/125 shutter speed, this will help freeze her motion when she is a little animated. If she swings her arms a lot, a higher shutter speed might be needed. Hope this helps, let us know.
     
  3. Richard

    Richard TPF Noob!

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    lilmorecowbell,

    Another suggestion is to try to bring your aperture 1 or 2 stops down. Try to stop down to at least an f/4. This will give you deeper depth of field; f/1.8 really doesn't leave you much room for error. I was in that same situation back in March. I have a D40 and I also bought the a 50mm. Jstuedle is right there is a green dot when you look through your viewfinder on the bottom left that will appear when you are in focus but if your child is constantly moving then by the time you see the green dot it will just disappear because your child has moved. I usually find it easier to use the kit lens to shoot at that time. Infants are the best for the 50mm manual, they just lay there. This is one of the main reasons I want to move up to the D80 so I can have my 50mm in auto for the kids with energy.
     
  4. lilmorecowbell

    lilmorecowbell TPF Noob!

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    Thank you guys! I will try with an aperture of 4 or 5 and see if that helps. I have heard that the 50mm is more of a newborn lens but the only other lenses I have are the stock ones and I was told I really needed to switch lenses to get decent shots. I wonder if Nikon will come out with a 50mm version for the d40x???
     
  5. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi, you can do great work with your 'kit' lens. If you use a flash off camera (see strobist.com) and a reflector ((white foam core works great)) you can use any f-stop you want and not have to worry about the time of day.

    About the kid moving around. Try having your SO lay on your couch and drape a backdrop or blanket over them (just enough for the camera) and have the child sit on mommy or daddy.

    See chapter 10 here...
    http://www.msnusers.com/Asktheoleproaboutphotography/joezeltsman.msnw
     
  6. jemmy

    jemmy TPF Noob!

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    Hi, Another idea might be to switch to A1focus or A1servo if your camera offers these focusing features... this sure helps me while shooting mobile littlies! ps... your daughter is Beautiful!
     
  7. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think bout the only thing that is going to do that for my toddler is ropes and since that is prolly conisdered abuse I guess I have to accept floowoing her with my camera till she at least slows down a little. Really I think a that age unless you are wanting formal portraits the running around pictures are a great illustration of that stage in life.
     
  8. ~Stella~

    ~Stella~ TPF Noob!

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    As a practical matter, never underestimate the power of a bribe. Fruit chew treat and bits of cookie/animal cracker if they sit still for a few seconds worked for me.....as well as anything can at that age.
     
  9. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No, her camera does not have those modes. The D40 has no internal drive motor for auto-focus. It requires a "S" series lens. These have a "silent Wave" motor internal to the lens. Nikon has no 50mm lens with this feature, yet.

    And yes, her little munchkin is adorable!
     
  10. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    a bribe, or get the help of another person to sit her down while you are all ready to take the picture, that way she is set down, the helper moves back, and you take the picture.

    I work at a mall portait studio and mom is usually the one helping here.

    And yes, your child is very cute.
     
  11. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ooOOooo what a cute little one!

    knee pads.... The thick soft rubber type used by constuction workers. My first toddler shoot was done without them and my knees were killing me after being on them for several hours constantly chasing them around a playground.

    As already posted, shoot the smallest aperture allowable with a shutter speed of around 1/125. Don't be afraid to bump up the ISO on your camera a little or use fill flash. If the lighting doesn't change throughout the toddler's playing area, meter once, set the camera, and leave it there. Focus on staying focused on the child (especially the eyes). I also shoot in burst continuous mode... subtle changes in the child's expression are wonderful to capture. Bribe, play, shoot during times the toddler is in a good mood. (My 9 month old is always best in early morning to early afternoon). Have your SO play with the child and know cues to quickly jump out of the frame for a quick shot. Don't forget shots of your toddler interacting/playing with the parent too.....

    Lots of patience since toddlers rarely have any...... as most parents already know.

    Say hi....

    [​IMG]
     
  12. three_eyed_otter

    three_eyed_otter TPF Noob!

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    I am nowhere near being a pro photographer, but this is somewhat hogwash. You would be better served understanding things like exposure and composition before needing to ditch your kit lens to get a wonderful portrait of your daughter. Pull out your 18-55 kit lens and chase your child. You will definitely come up w/some wonderful portraits. Just my 2 cents:confused:

    have a good one
    3Eo
     

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