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Amateur Help With Family Photo


TPF Noob!
Jul 24, 2003
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A friends dad has invited me to my friends great grandmothers 100th birthday to take pictures. I am somewhat experienced taking photos, although Ive never taken a formal photography class.

Ive been taking photos of scenery mostly, and know very little about taking pictuers of people. I know he doesn't want something entirely 'proffesional', but is still looking for something that will look better than Grampa Bob with a disposable camera, you know?

Im not sure if this will be inside or outside, or how large a group Ill be photographing, but Im nervous about messing this up somehow, because obviously you dont get a second change at a 100th birthday.

As for the finished product, Im not sure if he wants like a CD with JPEGS on it, or I can take it down to this photo shop that prints Digital Camera pictures for like 40cents each. The highest quality setting takes pictures 1600x1200 in TIFF format. Will this be enough for a moderatley large sized print?

So please, if all you kind folks could give me some tips on what I can do to make this work out the best it can. They can be really simple of advanced, I'd appreciate any help with this.

Thanks... Some info on my camera below .

Now Ill be using an Olympus Camedia Digital Camera C-2100, seen here:

Heres some specs I got from a website.

Recording system: Still image; JPEG (DCF: “Design rule for Camera File system”), TIFF (non-compress), DPOF support.
Motion picture; Quick Time Motion JPEG*.
Sound; wave format.
Imager: 1/2 inch CCD. Total pixels: 2,110,000. Effective: 2,020,000.
White balance: iESP (intelligent Electro Selective Pattern) full-auto TTL, manual (daylight, overcast, tungsten light (lamp), fluorescent light).
Lens: Olympus 10x zoom lens. 7.0 - 70 mm, F2.8 - F3.5 with 13 elements in 10 groups.
(Equivalent to 38 - 380 mm lens on 35 mm camera).
Digital Zoom 1 - 2.7x (max. 27x with optical zoom).
Aperture: Wide: F2.8 - F8.0; tele: F3.5 - F8.0.
Light metering: Digital ESP metering system with imager. Centre weighted / spot metering possible.
Exposure control: Programmed auto exposure.
Manual exposure compensation: ±2 EV in 1/3 EV steps.
Aperture priority: Wide; F2.8 -F8.0, tele; F3.5 - F8.0, 1/3 EV steps.
Shutter priority: Still image; 1/2 - 1/800 sec. (with mechanical shutter), 1/3 EV steps.
Auto bracketing: Selectable from 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV and 1 EV; 3 or 5 images.
Manual exposure: Shutter speed up to 16 sec.
QuickTime Motion JPEG image mode: 1/30 - 1/10,000 sec.
Focusing: TTL system autofocus (contrast detection system), manual focus possible.
Working range: Standard mode: Wide: 60 cm - infinity / tele: 2 m - infinity.
Macro mode: Wide: 10 cm - 60 cm / tele: 1 m - 2 m.
Sensitivity: Auto, selectable to approx. equivalent to ISO 100, 200 and 400.
Viewfinder: 0.55 inch wide-angle colour TFT LCD monitor with 114,000 pixels (low-temperature poly-silicon).
1600x1200 will technically allow you to print up to 8x10 without pixelation. It's not very sharp at this size generally.
Take your photos at the highest pixel setting and at the least compression.
Your biggest concern for these photos you are speaking about will most likely be lighting. Exposure and focus is easy as your camera will do all that for you. Overcast weather outside provides excellent lighting. Keep your eyes on shadows and the way light hits your subjects. Frontal lighting is the most difficult. Avoide it in portrate shots. Unless of coarse that is the effect you are going for but I doubt it.
I suggest that you do some practicing shooting some objects in different lighting. See what your results are.
A friend of mine had one of those and it was quite impressive for a 2Mp camera. As voodoocat says, 8x10 should be OK but that's as big as you can go without significant loss of quality.
It does have image stabilization but don't forget the tripod anyway.
You may want to look into a wide angle lens to help get the whole crowd into the picture but if you do make sure there's plenty of light from sources other than the flash because the lens will cause large shadows from it.
my advice isn't the most technical there is, but one way that generally helps to avoid is to take a whole lot of pictures, the more you take the more likely you are to have one that looks good.
oh cool, i have an Olympus 2500L digital ...

the lighting will be ur best friend ... i would even try to get them outside with the natural light .. but indoors can be problematic (at least for me anyway) .. a lot of times the subjects will come out too yellow

you'll want to use ur spot meter if ur subjects are facing against the sun .. i believe that camera has a white balance that u can set with a white sheet of paper .. most times its pretty accurate ... but sometimes it gets confused..

i dont know what ur experience level is, but i would check the shutter speed with the program mode (most times u get a decent shot) ... if its too dark, then i would go to manual and take it down about 2 notches ...

also, i would try to avoid flash at all cost, except for "fill-in" light when ur outdoors in the sun. .... and most of all, take spare memory cards and batteries ... the more photos you take, the greater the chances of u getting a few good ones

.... if all else fails ... theire's not much photoshop cant handle :D
Dew said:
.... if all else fails ... theire's not much photoshop cant handle :D

very true indeed...
I talked to a real photographer a few days ago, he told me alot of stuff to think about, although he wasn't familiar with digital cameras. He gave me some books on how to arrange groups of people. So thanks for your comments, Im feeling way more confident about this already.

A question... a book said that if the background is going to be disturbing, just blur it out. Well Id love to, but it seems the only way I can achieve a soft background like this is if I stand 30 feet away from the subject zoomed in all the way. Is this just my lens, or some setting perhaps I should use? The photographer said something about adjust the F number. Mine goes between F2.8 to F8.0 I think, but the only effect it seems to have is making the image very dark. Any help?
Adjusting the f number means controlling the aperture. The higher the number the smaller the aperture (f8 is smaller aperture than f2). This affects the amount of light allowed to go thru the lens into either the film or the sensor in a digital camera. Of course the smaller the aperture, the less light and the darker the picture if all other variables are equal. But most importantly, this controls the "depth of field" The smaller the aperture, the bigger depth will be in focus.
Imagine you are taking a picture of an incoming train. (don't stand on the track :D ) If you focus on the third car of the train, a wider aperture (f2) will make it in focus but will throw the other cars out of focus, including those in the front. A smaller aperfure (f8 or f16) will make more cars in focus. This is a bit difficult to explain in words, but it is very simple.
In your case, you want to use a wider aperture to blur the background out of focus while focusing on the subject. Be careful if the background is close to the subject. The best way is to take the same picture with different settings and then decide which one is better.


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