what am i doing wrong? focus/sharpness/lighting help needed...

Jeremy Z

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now this was shot at 35mm and would not be possible with the 50 mm lens at that same position, correct?
Assuming this is the original framing and not a crop, yes. You would have to be back 42% further.

I think you're being a little too hard on yourself. You have an uncooperative model and less than ideal situations. These shots are very good.

Does your camera (I couldn't see what kind it is in your profile, but I seem to remember reading that it's a Rebel XT or XTi...) have a depth of field preview feature? If so, are you using it?

If you can manage to start shooting outdoors, somehow, I think it will make your job as a photographer much easier. You can have her a good distance away from the background, you'll have room to back up far enough to use 50-105 focal lengths, shutter speeds won't be so much of an issue...
 

Jeremy Z

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In the meantime, just keep practicing. Consider keeping a log of your shots, changing one thing at a time. (EXIF data will help) For instance, at a given distance, try different shutter speeds (and apertures, of course, since they are linked) and observe the difference.

Then try it again at different ISOs.

Then try it again at different focal lengths.

I bet you will find an ideal mix in there somewhere.
 
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jerseygirl

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I think you're being a little too hard on yourself. You have an uncooperative model and less than ideal situations. These shots are very good.
thank you, i know i'm picky...
Does your camera (I couldn't see what kind it is in your profile, but I seem to remember reading that it's a Rebel XT or XTi...) have a depth of field preview feature? If so, are you using it?
i don't think i have that, will check...it's a few years older, a plain EOS Rebel i believe...
If you can manage to start shooting outdoors, somehow, I think it will make your job as a photographer much easier. You can have her a good distance away from the background, you'll have room to back up far enough to use 50-105 focal lengths, shutter speeds won't be so much of an issue...
i don't have too many of these problems outdoors, although i would like to learn more about lighting. it's the indoor shots that have become a nightmare, and i am flash illiterate...
 
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jerseygirl

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In the meantime, just keep practicing. Consider keeping a log of your shots, changing one thing at a time. (EXIF data will help) For instance, at a given distance, try different shutter speeds (and apertures, of course, since they are linked) and observe the difference.

Then try it again at different ISOs.

Then try it again at different focal lengths.

I bet you will find an ideal mix in there somewhere.
this is pretty much what i have been doing, but it's gotten extremely frustrating :lol:. my friend is going to allow me to play with her macro lens prior to making any sort of additional purchase, so i'll have a chance to try before i buy... i'm sure i'll post those shots with additional questions when the time comes.

thanks for all your help :D
 

RacePhoto

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this is pretty much what i have been doing, but it's gotten extremely frustrating :lol:. my friend is going to allow me to play with her macro lens prior to making any sort of additional purchase, so i'll have a chance to try before i buy... i'm sure i'll post those shots with additional questions when the time comes.

thanks for all your help :D

Hopefully it's not a Macro lens but just one that has macro features. Otherwise you would be getting 1:1 images of the kids nose. :sexywink:

If you have a Canon 28-105 f/3.5 lens, that should be all you need. It's not the lens or the camera, it's just a matter of getting the fine points and it will all come together.

Lighting is what's at issue. I'm not expert and lighting is always a challenge for any picture.


Like others have pointed out, you need to get more light from the front. Just think of the light coming over your shoulder or somewhere behind you, into the face of the subject, and less from the background. If it's mostly from the side, you'll get heavy shadows and you won't like that either.


With that here's a tip that might be helpful. #1 Find a white handkerchief if you can. (which is a joke, because just finding one is pretty hard now)
So find something white, that will let most of the light through, and drape it over the flash. This will give you the light from the flash, but diffuse it. Heck I've used a cocktail napkin or paper towel, so it's not high tech. Just make sure it's white, because anything else will color the image. You can make a flash diffuser out of a paper towel and some scotch tape. Then you won't get those dots in the eyes and harsh washed out pictures when you get closer.

That brings up point #2, the color of the walls or ceiling will change the color of a photo, because of the reflected light coming from them. So lets say you take pictures in a room that's salmon colored, everything can have a salmon tint to it, which will drive you crazy!

If you can do anything, like hang a sheet on the wall, or something to get a lighter background, that might help. I can't tell, but it looks like you have tan walls? I suppose you could go the other way and expose for the childs face and have a darker background, who would also make it drop out and be less distraction to your pictures.

#3 (and then I'll shut up) :D You really do need to read some books on photography, not even the whole book, just the section on depth of field. Go to the library, it's free. Oh wait, that's the old way. Go on the internet and just search for Depth of Field. Just a couple of articles and you'll have a mental image of what's going to happen, before you take the picture.


Here's the part you want to remember. Focus, when refering to depth of field is not 50/50 front and back. It would be simple and nice if it was, but that's light and optics for you.

Depth of field is roughly 1/3 front and 2/3rds behind. That means 1/3 in front of the point of focus to 2/3rd in back of that exact spot.

If you focus on the shoulders, with a really shallow range, the tip of the nose may be out of focus, but the feet would look fine. Focus on the nose and with that 3.5 lens, the feet may be out. That's why people are saying shut down to at least 5.6 or your depth of field isn't deep enough to have the whole child's head in focus.

For your example, pictures of a very young child, I'll just make up some hypothetical numbers. You need 18 inches of depth. So you should be focused at about 6 inches BEHIND the closest portion of the picture you want in focus, with a depth of field that will extend back 12 inches, that's 18 inches total. Just because something is within the focus range, doesn't mean it's tack sharp in that whole range, just that to the eye, it doesn't appear out of focus. If you only care about the face, then that's fine. Much less depth of field needed.

On your first pictures the sweater is sharp and the childs ears are starting to get lost. You are focused in front of the subject.

Here's a really entertaining experiment, well maybe only for people like me, but I think it's entertaining. :thumbup: Take a yard stick, if you don't have one, take something with writing on it that's large enough to see if it's in focus or not, and a couple of feet long. Put the camera at one end and take a picture along the yardstick.

Do this during daylight, not like I just did. What it shows is the closest point that your camera can focus. I could probably squeek by at 8 inches with this one, maybe 7 1/2? It also demonstrates to some extent, depth of field. If I can re-shoot it tomorrow in the daylight, I'll swap the picture for a better one.

focus.jpg
focus.jpg



What I'm heading at is if you try to shoot at 110mm you can't get as close, shoot at 28mm and you can be closer and have more depth of field. But it changes the field of view and the way the face will look. Have some fun, try standing close with wide, then further back, take the IDENTICAL shot, same framing, then back a little more, zoom until you get the same image. When you look you will see that even thought everything in the picture is the same, it looks different. In fact look at my avatar. :confused:

Your zoom lens at about 50-55mm would be 80-88mm field of view and many portrait photographers through the years have used 85mm lenses.

I understand that you have a potentially moving subject, restricted light, and situational limitations. Maybe if you can diffuse that flash it will help. Do you have a tripod? That would remove one source for movement.

The backlighting on the first picture is interesting. You just need a little more light from the front. Neat part about digital is you can shoot and shoot and shoot and it doesn't cost anything. Experiment. Have Fun!
 

markc

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Not with flash! Thought that was understood since we were talking about indoors.

True, not with flash. The EXIF data is those first ones say flash was on, but it really doesn't look that way to me. Further down she says that she would rather not use flash. I shoot indoors a lot and very rarely use flash.
 
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jerseygirl

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If you focus on the shoulders, with a really shallow range, the tip of the nose may be out of focus, but the feet would look fine. Focus on the nose and with that 3.5 lens, the feet may be out. That's why people are saying shut down to at least 5.6 or your depth of field isn't deep enough to have the whole child's head in focus.

For your example, pictures of a very young child, I'll just make up some hypothetical numbers. You need 18 inches of depth. So you should be focused at about 6 inches BEHIND the closest portion of the picture you want in focus, with a depth of field that will extend back 12 inches, that's 18 inches total. Just because something is within the focus range, doesn't mean it's tack sharp in that whole range, just that to the eye, it doesn't appear out of focus. If you only care about the face, then that's fine. Much less depth of field needed.

On your first pictures the sweater is sharp and the childs ears are starting to get lost. You are focused in front of the subject.
wow, thanks for all the info :D...

here's another shot that i belive illustrates the DOF example you were describing. i love this shot, but wish the hand was in focus...

Shooting Mode - Manual
Shutter Speed - 1/125
Aperture Value - 4.0
Metering Mode - Center-weighted averaging
ISO Speed - 800
Focal Length - 70.0mm
Flash - On
Flash Type - External E-TTL

i had to adjust the color a bit in PS, but would be curious to know what settings (if i bump up the aperture value, what would be the associated shutter speed to keep lighting constant) you believe would have captured the top portion of her body in foucus leaving the bottom and background out of focus as is. i used a flash pointed up, reflecting off a white ceiling (the walls are tan).

i've started to experiment with the flash a bit and will try diffusing head on. i took some shots in the bathroom during bathtime and experimented with different flash angles (all reflecting off white tile), but my daughter was out of focus :confused: :banghead:


thephotoforum9.jpg
 
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jerseygirl

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True, not with flash. The EXIF data is those first ones say flash was on, but it really doesn't look that way to me. Further down she says that she would rather not use flash. I shoot indoors a lot and very rarely use flash.
yeah, no flash is the goal, but if i "have to" use it, i need to learn how... :study:

here is a no flash and flash shot by the same window, they both look flat to me...

thephotoforum10-1.jpg


thephotoforum11-1.jpg
 

markc

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The hand is blurred from motion. It was moving too fast for the shutter speed to freeze. In the other ones, much of the shot is in shadow. I don't see it as flat, as there are defining shadows, but when the face is in full shadow, you lose that. Using a reflector on the right would have livened things up a little. You can use a piece of white foam core, a white bed sheet, or a white shower curtain. I carry a white translucent shower curtain with me, as I can use it as a reflector or as a giant soft box if the window light is too direct.
 
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jerseygirl

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The hand is blurred from motion. It was moving too fast for the shutter speed to freeze.
so how should i have compensated for that?
In the other ones, much of the shot is in shadow. I don't see it as flat, as there are defining shadows, but when the face is in full shadow, you lose that. Using a reflector on the right would have livened things up a little. You can use a piece of white foam core, a white bed sheet, or a white shower curtain. I carry a white translucent shower curtain with me, as I can use it as a reflector or as a giant soft box if the window light is too direct.
i guess i'm misusing the term "flat" where i really mean not as sharp or in focus as i would have liked...
 

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More light, a wider aperture, higher ISO. They all let you use a faster shutter speed. A bright flash will also freeze motion.
Did you have the flash on? I see a tiny highlight in his eye, and the EXIF data says it's on, but it must have been turned way down if it was.
 
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jerseygirl

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More light, a wider aperture, higher ISO. They all let you use a faster shutter speed. A bright flash will also freeze motion.
Did you have the flash on? I see a tiny highlight in his eye, and the EXIF data says it's on, but it must have been turned way down if it was.
correct, i guess i'm looking for a "magic combo" :lol:. is there a priority one should consider? like 1st adjust the aperture, then adjust the shutter speed and ISO accordingly, or any other order, or does it not matter...

the flash i do believe went off, but it was pointed up. i just took a bunch of shots i am downloading with the flash head on diffused...we'll see what happened...
 

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