Posts Tagged ‘children’

IMG_0052A small park used at an Orphanage by dozen’s of children in Peru (South America).  I took this shot as they left the playground, heading to lunch.  It’s amazing what things like this can do for the spirits of a child in their situation.

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As I’ve mentioned before – Last February my daughter “Zelda” was born.  I love taking pictures of this girl!  It’s nice because its always so much fun taking pictures of kids, but it can be odd and creepy if they are not your kids, you know?  She is one of the main reasons I’ve progressively been improving in this hobby/skill.  Well Recently my wife has been saying we need to get some really nice portraits done of our little girl.  Knowing how much they could charge for such a session of pictures, I did what any red blooded American man would do.  I said, “Honey, just let me do it – I could do it better for cheaper!”

…She reluctantly accepted my challenge.

The Gear & Equipment
Here is a quick list of everything I used to take these pictures

  • Nikon d5100 with 18-55 zoom lens & 55 – 200 zoom lens, tripod
  • 4 standard house hold lamps with the shades off
  • 3 Yards Golden Drape.  1 Yard of Golden mesh.  1 Picture Frame.  All from Joe Ann’s Fabrics
  • Christmas Lights from our tree & ordainment – Rocking Horse

The Set Up


So I thought to myself, what would I need in order to do this?  I looked at some videos on youtube and pictures other people took and really you just need some good lighting, some sort of backdrop and a few props for the child to interact with.  So I went to Joe Ann’s Fabric to get the back drop.  That was what cost the most money (about 50 bucks for 3 yards of the drape).  I knew that Zelda was going to be dressed in a medium tone red and white, therefore I didn’t want to pick a dark color as the backdrop – because the red would blend with it to much. And I didn’t want to pick red or white, because it would take away from the beauty of her dress.  Gold is a nice accent color for red, so I picked the golden color.  I went with the drape fabric because it doesn’t wrinkle easily.  All the other fabrics were too thin and already had wrinkles in them.  That’s bad because it would create distracting shadows.  I also made sure the pattern wasn’t too busy.  Again, the back drop was going to be out of focus in most of the pictures – so I wanted a pattern to give some texture, but nothing to over powering.

After that I came home and moved all the furniture out of the way.  Pinned the drape on a wall with some push pins and let it flow onto the carpet.  Very important that you don’t create a hard edge where the wall and the floor meet.  Pull the material away from the wall and let it flow down so you can’t tell (visually in the picture) where the floor ends and the wall begins.  Helps to create the illusion that there is more space then is actually there.

By the time we started taking pictures it was already night time, so I took 4 lamps, took the Zelda_Happyshades off, and turned them all on to light up the room.  I knew working with a baby who could crawl I needed to be able to take the shots with as short of a shutter speed as possible.  That meant I needed A LOT of light to get a proper exposure.  Flash wasn’t an option for me, because I only have my camera mounted flash.

Once that was all in place I took about 45 minutes playing with a bunch of prep shots.  Making sure I knew all the shots and poses I wanted to try to capture.  I saw a good tip to make sure you know what shots you want to take in advance because you have a limited amount of time that children will corporate.  So I set up tripod and tested different exposures – lenses.  Made sure I got that blurring effect in the background that I wanted.  I think its called “Bokah”  NOW IM READY

Zelda_FrameLights Camera ACTION
Okay!  Got Zelda dressed and we were ready to go.  Word of warning.  Never try to do this by yourself.  I would not have been able to take the pictures without my wife constantly getting her attention, getting her to smile, bringing her back when she would crawl away every 30 seconds or so.  My wife was exhausted by the end, but it was great because then I just had to focus on capturing the moment without having to get up every 30 seconds.  I ended up taking about 300 pictures.  Adjusting often.  Playing with Manuel mode, complete auto mode, No flash mode, apature mode.  I just worked on the fly with whatever worked best.

I'm a MONSTER!

I’m a MONSTER!

We have her play with a few props.  The picture frame I bought, I took the glass and everything out of it so it was just the empty frame and I ended up getting a lot of great shots with that.  We even got this one shot where she is making this monster face while emerging through the frame!  I love this shot!  The main thing that bugs me is that is it fairly blurred because she was moving, and I hadn’t had a chance to adjust the exposure and shutter speed to her moving around.  By the time I was ready for it she was done playing with the frame and I couldn’t get her to do it again.  None the less I loved the shot so much I just retouched it a little to make it a bit sharper and some people might look at it and just think its an effect I was going for lol.

Zelda_HorseOver all my wife and I had a BLAST doing it.  It was a lot of hard work.  Cost some money.  But the experience of doing this as a family was priceless. Could a professional photographer do it better?  Absolutely.  But it wasn’t about that.  It was about using one of my hobbies to engage my family in a fun activity together.  And it yielded some memorable results.

Tips for next time?
The main issue I ran into was the lighting.  Even though I had 4 lamps, and it felt pretty bright, with my basic lenses, my aperture isn’t wide enough to capture enough light for me to be able to freeze the action.  Her movements were a challenge because of the lighting.  Therefore I’m looking into getting a prime lens with a wider aperture. Specifically a Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens.  That will give me a much wider apature than I currently have and allow me to capture a lot more light – which gives the ability to freeze the shot more effectively in low light settings.  The great thing about this lens is it runs for only about 120 bucks these days!  wow!  I can’t afford a 300 dollar lens right now, so this makes sense for me.

The only other tips for myself next time is also trying to utilize the daylight.  I purposefully didn’t intend to use daylight because I was thinking more of a clocked box studio where you can control the light completely.  Next time however I want to take full advantage of the huge patio window in our living room and shoot during the day or during the “Golden Hour” for some get contrasting shadows – or simply a warmer color.

Well that was my experience!  Please leave your comments below – I would love your feed back.  Isn’t my daughter ADORABLE?!