I am getting ready to take senior portraits and really need help NOW PLEASE HELP


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Aug 28, 2010
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Please help me i've recently just bought a Nikon D90, and am going to take senior portraits for a friend of mine, and i need help figuring out what settings are best for doing portraits, i don't like the quality i got the first time with the portrait setting, and am trying to figure out the manual modes, p s a, i've read the book, looked online, and am still having a problem, please help. I've adjusted the ISO, and recently have even tried turning off the auto iso, i've adjusted the f/stop, but still need something more, how do i go about setting the adjustments and then saving them to use when i take his photos, does anyone know anything about this camera, that can help me, please.

Thanks and GOD bless all of you
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The settings you use depend on many factors, there isn't a specific set that you should use.

Generally, you will want to shoot portraits with a low F-stop for a low depth of field. (This will give you the blurred backgrounds while your subject is in focus)

Keep the ISO as low as possible. High ISO will introduce noise, and the image quality will degrade.

Shoot in soft light, avoid harsh shadows. If shooting outside, don't do it in the middle of the day.

Really, photography takes years to master so if you've just recently bought your camera, don't expect pro results right away.
It's not about the mode you use, or even really the settings you use. It's about knowing what the different settings can do for you and how they control the exposure.

And more important than any of that, is the light. Knowing where the light is coming from and where it's going....knowing how to use it. Knowing how to position your model in that light and knowing how to use the camera to capture that light.

From the questions you're asking, it sounds like you're concentrating on the camera, and while knowing you camera is important, it won't make your photos any better.
Thank You, i went out this evening and took some pics, it doesn't seem to matter what i change the camera still is showing the pics are overexposed, how do i make them come out correctly? i've tried changing the iso, the f/stop, it's already on active d lighting, and no matter what i change i still see the three little lines on the screen, showing it's overexposed correct?, I've used a sony cybershot for several years, but wow this is nothing like a point and shoot at all,
Maybe you all will know too, i am looking into a macro lens, but don't have one thousand dollars to put into a lens, and am looking at the tokina 100mm, what do you all think of that one, is it worth the money, i want one for portrait, and also wildlife, my husband hunts, and would like to take it sometime when he's hunting, maybe ha ha
I'd suggest a good book on exposure. The one that gets recommended most often, is 'Understanding Exposure' by Peterson.

In a nutshell, there are three main things that we use to control the exposure. The aperture (F-stop), the shutter speed and the ISO.
In the auto modes, the camera will adjust these settings to give you an exposure based on it's built-in light meter.
You can change the settings, but as long as the camera is still exposing to that meter, you'll get the same exposure.

You can adjust the exposure, in the auto modes, buy using EC (exposure compensation). Check your manual for how to do it.

Alternatively, you could use Manual mode, but I'd suggest starting with EC for now.
I'm not sure which three lines you're referring to. The camera's light meter will help you select proper settings.

It sounds to me like you're not really sure what any of these settings do, so I recommend you purchase Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson. It will help you understand the basics of aperture, exposure time and ISO.

As for the macro lens, why would you buy one for portrait and wildlife? Yes you can use a macro lens for portrait, but there are better options out there. And for wildlife you will need a telephoto lens, not macro.


Lol, Mike beat me to it.
thank you, as you know i am very new at all of this, i will definately check out that book, and what lens would you suggest for portraits, i've got the 17-105, and 70-300, but i really like the up close shots that come from a macro, thanks again for replying so quickly
so by wildlife then are you talking bugs? if so then yeah... I could see getting a Macro. If you're talking wildlife like birds, a tiger, deer, etc. then you'd probably want a telephoto lens.
Well obviously if you want to take macro pictures then buy a macro lens, but if you just want to shoot portraits, a faster lens would be better (By faster I mean a lens that goes to a lower F-stop). A lower F-stop will give you a shorter depth of field, and will also allow you to shoot in poor light. I like the 50mm 1.4 AF-S. Costs about $500. Some people say that 50mm is too small, but its good enough for me.

Your 70-300 would be a much better lens for wildlife photography.
Take in mind what everyone else is saying about the f-stops, ISO and auto modes. Also the other thing to do is to just keep on practicing. For me I learned more about my camera by trial and error. Then after I grasped how to use my camera I went over the terminology of what it was I learned. Which by that time I learned through trial and error.

This is going to sound very amateurish but I'll risk that none the less. When I first got my D90 it was a gift and a surprise one at that. In any case I had no clue what any of the numbers and dials meant. A bit of clarification was found in the book, but the problems came when I wanted to put that knowledge to use on my camera. Basically I said screw it took my camera out and started changing up the dials. Soon I saw that if I bumped up the ISO the darker my images would get. The lower that number was the brighter and seemed smoother the photo got. This continued with the other settings on my camera. I never committed to doing portraits or anything of the sort till I had things sorted out.

From the sounds of it this is going to be a practice run on a friend? I think that's always a great thing. However you don't want to leave the good shot to chance. If you have a friend you can take out today and do a few shots I feel it will help you immensely. Not only with your camera but it will probably help you feel a bit better with posing a subject and learning how to use angles.

Goodluck. I know what I offered obviously hasn't helped much. Other than what's already been said I can't suggest much else. I do think a fundamental understanding in exposure would be of great assistance to you.

BTW I saw the date that this was posted in August. Did you already do the shots? If so how did it go?

Sorry for digging up an old post.
My best advice is to NOT shoot in direct sunlight. Contrary to popular thought, sunny days are some of the worst because of harsh light and high contract between light and shadows.

My other piece of advice is to just practice and take as many shots as possible before your shoot with different settings. You will develop an eye and feel for it the more you practice-much more so than reading books will ever help!

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