Nervous about photographing a friends' kids in about an hour..


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Apr 21, 2011
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She's demanding and I'm stressed because she wants some portraits. I'm scrambling to get my lighting equipment together. Batteries not all charged....

I'm a mess.

Suggestions for shooting indoors with a 1 year old?

Take one along for mom as well.
If I shoot wide open with a 50mm using a white muslin backdrop, will that help blow out the backdrop? I can't put enough light on the backdrop to blow it out.
Have the parents stand behind you playing peek-a-boo!
Have a favorite stuff animal nearby!! Have the parents tickle them w/ it and get out of the way.
I don't do studio work but have worked with little kids... I'd probably get set before you get the child situated, and plan on being quick, depends on what stage the child's in but I would expect plenty of movin' and groovin'. Not time to explain a lot of techniques working with kids that age, if nothing else to keep the child's attention you could try being expressive and silly, make silly noises etc. Or maybe use mom as a helper to activate toys to interest the child. Or even maybe move it outdoors?? Good luck.
You probably will need just a few minutes' time to get the shots. A tickle feather is nice. Same with a bell or squeeky toy. Not sure what kind of lighting gear you have. Batteries??? Buy some AA-alkalines if you need to. They recycle better than most rechargeables for the first 50 shots.

You need to set the camera on a tripod, frame the shot, and shoot when the expressions are "there". Not really advisable to shoot wide-open unless you're far enough away that focus is 100% assured...
Relax Jdubs and just think about having fun with your own kids. Think about what makes them laugh. Be yourself. You got this.
The sure way to get a blown out bg is to point a flash or light at it.

Not knowing your setup it's hard to decide what to do.
Tell them you don't have all the gear yet.
Don't let the parents get out of control. Keep em calm. If the kid gets upset, just give him time to settle down, just stay ready with the camera.
The sure way to get a blown out bg is to point a flash or light at it.

Not knowing your setup it's hard to decide what to do.

Yes...we don't really know "what" you have to work with. if the background is white muslin, it ought not take much flash power applied to make it WHITE in the final shots. If you have even 1 f/stop more light light (incident light reading) than the subject (also incident light), then a white cloth is gonna be white in the image.

You can also lift the highlights a bit in post, to make sure the white is pure white. You do not need to literally or figuratively "blow it out" do not need to "NUKE" a white fabric to make it white. In fact, if you just use LESS LIGHT ON THE SUBJECT, the background will automatically be what is called key-shifted, to a higher place on the curve...and the backdrop will automatically be pure white.

This is a very simple process, key-shifting, that experienced studio shooters learn. It was a Dean Collins lesson 30 years ago in Peterson's Photographic. Instead of trying to apply more and more and more flash power to a background, the easier solution is to apply LESS light to the foreground subjects, and thus increase the differential.

The difference between foreground and background is what is important--not the absolute amount of light being applied!
Thanks for the posts. You people ROCK! :mrgreen: I pushed off to tomorrow. Batteries on the charger.

I'm working with 2 white shoot through umbrellas. I didn't want to mess with the soft boxes for this one. I have a white muslin backdrop on stands. It's EFFING huge. 20x40. I doubled it over itself.

Wireless triggers and YN 560 II units.
Here's a "budget" way to do this in a small space with two lights and an umbrella. Assuming you have a white ceiling and white walls. . . . .

You can put one light in the umbrella, behind you in the corner of the room aimed at the subject, this will provide the key on one side, while the wash of light that floods the room will provide the fill. You'll end up with softer light than you think. ;) Then take the second light and use it as a hair light to give good separation from the background. So long as you have a solid background you won't have any issues replacing it or brightening it. With the light so far from the subject the falloff won't be too bad and you should get a solid, light grey background.

I shot this the same way (AB800 in the corner with a white shoot through umbrella in a beauty dish, AB1600 behind as a hair light, background was a green screen)

Natasha in a Black and White Dress by tltichy, on Flickr
This reads as though you have two lights. If so, using one for key with a reflector opposite leaves you one for the backdrop. (and possibly rim/hair light)

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