Christmas photos...need advise.

N'Kolor

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Hello friends, a lady that I work with seen some of my photography and wanted to have me come to her house to take some Christmas family portraits and I need help. It is herself, her husband and her daughter (her daughter is about 15 yrs old, so no fighting children...lol).

Here is a list of equipment that I have...
Canon 40D
Canon 28-135 3.5-5.6 lens
Canon 70-200 f4L lens
Sigma 50mm 2.8 Macro lens
Canon 580EX II Flash
Canon EG2 Battery Grip
Monfrotto Tripod
1x2GB Card
2x2GB Card

Here is what she is looking for. Indoor shots of family in front of Christmas tree* and outdoor shots at park. I requested that all outdoor shots start at around 4pm since sunsets at about 6pm. I am heading to my local photo shop to pick up a large reflector so I can get some natural light on the subject (if I need it). My wife is going to be my assistant with the reflector and helping to set-up the shot and look for things out of place. I also plan to use the reflector as a bounce for my flash since I currently do not have studio lighting.

*my concern here is exposing for the tree and their faces. Should I just plan to shoot in RAW (like always) and use one image to make two images out of, one exposed for the tree and the other for their faces or is there a trick? I have one week so I plan to take some test shots of my wife in front of our tree.

I already told her that I would not be charging, I am still new and no matter how well the photos turn out, I can't see charging her. If they turn out well, then I will consider a paying job.

Please let me know if you can think of anything else I may need or any tips/tricks.

Thank you.
 

jols

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you seem to be covering all the angles, especially the practise session.

also discuss clothing for the family it is good if they co ordinate colours and keep them plain no jazzy prints.
 
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N'Kolor

N'Kolor

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Good idea on the non-jazzy prints! I will talk to her about that tomorrow.
 

Alphaem

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When I shoot photographs with lights in the background I drag the shutter so as to get better background exposure on the lighted area. So expose for the subject with flash and shoot at a slower shutter speed to bring out the tree and lights.
 

Neuner

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Personal opinion, but I don't like photos in front of Christmas Trees. They are difficult to expose correctly and the tree with the ornaments, branches and lights are too busy for a background.
 
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N'Kolor

N'Kolor

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When I shoot photographs with lights in the background I drag the shutter so as to get better background exposure on the lighted area. So expose for the subject with flash and shoot at a slower shutter speed to bring out the tree and lights.

Ah, great idea...any suggestion for an "ideal" shutter speed?
 

Alphaem

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It will all depend on how light it is when you get there, but I would guess an eighth of a second would do it for you. But test with your wife before hand and bracket your exposures when you are on the job and you should be fine.
 

JIP

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Personal opinion, but I don't like photos in front of Christmas Trees. They are difficult to expose correctly and the tree with the ornaments, branches and lights are too busy for a background.

I am so glad yo uthink that way so I guess you should not get yours done that way but the person asked the OP to shoot them like that. Personally if it were me I would just shoot it in your own style that is what she likes your pictures right?. I think the more you sway from your own techniques the less like your images they are going to be. But I say use a tripod ttry a few test shots to get a good exposure of the tree and bounce your flash to light them up. Just remember the shutter speed controls the ambient light and the aperture controls the flash.
 

Neuner

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I am so glad yo uthink that way so I guess you should not get yours done that way but the person asked the OP to shoot them like that.

That's why I stated 'PERSONAL OPINION'. You're just looking for a fight, aren't you? Now you're going to try and take the OP question off on a tangent when all it was was a harmless comment. Way to go...
 

JerryPH

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Personal opinion, but I don't like photos in front of Christmas Trees. They are difficult to expose correctly and the tree with the ornaments, branches and lights are too busy for a background.

It's difficult only if you are not sure how to handle off camera strobes. :)

2079099902_18e6f0c444.jpg


2078308565_7ce87df7a8.jpg


2063440891_e01c5a0854.jpg
 

Neuner

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It's difficult only if you are not sure how to handle off camera strobes. :)

Sorry, but for me, those photos weren't very convincing. For the first photo the santa outfit blends in with the tree color and the tree casts a flash shadow on the curtain. On the second one the face has weird shadows due to the light coming from below and not up above and the beard appears to be over blown. The third is the better of the three, but as you said, pulling this off is difficult if you're not sure how to handle strobes. I do like the distance separating the subject to create excellent bokeh.

So N'Kolor, hopefully getting back on topic, since this may be a difficult task, I would manage the shoot and lead her to a backdrop that may prevent you and their family from wasting too much time. If not, give it your best shot and then I'd suggest at least having another backdrop as a backup in case they aren't turning out.
 
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N'Kolor

N'Kolor

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Thank you for all of the suggestions fellas. I am going to try everything out tonight...I will post a pic to see how it looks.
 

Lorielle99

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have they already decorated their tree? if not i think it would be pretty cool if it was just a plain tree or just some ornaments here and there. i think it would be a classy and timless photo. but again u have to discuss what she wants, i mean its just an idea tho, some may not like it. and yes i agree they should dress simple so when they look back at the photo they dont say "wtf?!!??!?!" also if ur going to use the idea of a simple tree, i think a b&w picture would be very pretty. just play around a bit with different styles and pick what u like the best and ask her bc she may like something completly different. hope i helped, i may be amateur but im just spitting out ideas.
 

JerryPH

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Sorry, but for me, those photos weren't very convincing. For the first photo...

Sorry, I wasn't asking for a critique. :er:

These shots (there were about 10-12), were taken in under 15 minutes (strobe setup and processing included!!), in response to another thread for a users here as an example of different ideas of how he could shoot his kids near a tree in another thread.

The point is, the results are superior than if you leave the flash on the camera, it washes out the tree lights and makes it a lot harder to control where the light falls.

You are more than welcome to post your on camera flash made pictures in the critique section and we can discuss it there... I will be happy to comment in the proper section of the forum.
 

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