Check out these tips for capturing better baby photographs! I’ll show you how to set the scene for beautiful images, how to capture close-up images, and I’ll share information about using the right memory card in your camera so you never miss a shot.
Archive for the ‘camera features’ Category
This Digital Photography 101 DVD contains 21 short videos designed to entertain, educate, and inspire. The content is focused on the photo-beginner and enthusiast and makes the perfect gift for anyone interested in taking better pictures, from teenagers to seniors and everyone in between!
Here’s one of the videos from the DVD:
Memory Cards – What to Look for and How to Use Them
Wondering how to create that blurred background effect in your images? Just set your camera to Aperture Priority (AV), choose a large aperture setting (represented by a small number (like f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4, f/5.6), stand back from your subject and zoom in to fill the frame. That’s all you have to think about, the camera makes the decision about the shutter speed for you, depending on the light in your scene.
Ring in the New Year with beautiful baby pictures! The following excerpt from Chapter 8 in my latest book, Portrait and Candid Photography 2nd Edition, will help you create images that are treasured forever.
GET COMFORTABLE WITH THE BABY
The term “comfort” is subjective for many adults, but for babies there is a special formula to ensure their comfort. If you intend to shoot for more than 30 seconds and capture happy, spontaneous expressions, these guidelines should help.
Plan the timing
One way to photograph babies is to make sure they are already rested, fed, and changed before your photo shoot; then position them in the area you’ve prepared for the photo session. Another way is to follow the action in a photojournalistic manner and record moments during a baby’s daily rituals. Either way, you need to adjust your photo shoot around the baby’s schedule. Every infant has a ritual of eating, sleeping, bathing, and changing with some crying, bonding, and play intertwined. If you’re the parent, by now you know your child’s optimum times for interacting. If you’re photographing someone else’s baby and don’t have all day to follow the action, be sure to communicate with the parents about the baby’s schedule. Ask them when the child seems most engaged — some babies are more alert in the morning, while others seem more animated in the afternoon. Ciaran, perched on his father’s shoulder, had just finished a nap and was giggling at my assistant’s funny faces when I captured the shot in 8-1.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Ciaran faces indirect window light as he looks over his father’s shoulder. The sepia image and sloppy border effect was created with Silver Efex Pro™ 2 – Nik Software. Taken at ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/160 sec. with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens.
Create the right environment
If you show up with a camera and abruptly start shooting pictures, you run the risk of upsetting the baby and missing out on those special moments you intended to photograph. If you aren’t familiar with the baby, take the time to slowly introduce yourself with smiles and coos, get down on the baby’s level, and say hello. If you plan on getting in close for upcoming baby shots, it’s a good idea to introduce your camera, too.
My photo shoot with 7-month old Lily and her family began inside my house, as we looked over clothing, smoothed over hair, and prepared to go outside. This gave me time to meet, coo, and play with Lily a little bit before the shoot. In 8-2, Lily and her mother shared an embrace at the beach while I captured the candid moments.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO The weather was temperate at the beach, and 7-month year old Lily had on a sweet little dress, but her mother brought along a warm blanket too. Taken at ISO 320, f/4.0, 1/250 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
When babies feel comfortable with your presence and your camera, they soon forget the camera and this can lead to capturing many memorable pictures.
Just like Baby Bear’s porridge, the temperature must be “just right” for the baby, which means it errs on the warm side. If you are inside, make sure the shooting environment is cozy and quiet. Music can also influence the ambiance. Newborn babies are soothed by soft music and are startled and frightened by loud, unexpected noises. For a more active photography session, older babies through toddlers can be energized by rhythmic dance music.
You might be short on time or frustrated with your equipment, the light, or other people in the room, but do not allow this stress to enter into the shoot. Babies and toddlers are human sponges, picking up all the emotions and tension in the room. Take a deep breath, be patient, and don’t let any negativity ruin your baby photo session. These moments are important and priceless.
Accommodate for the age
Depending on the age of the baby you are photographing, certain challenges can be expected. For example, newborn infants are like rag dolls and must be held for any pose, while 18-month-old babies will be walking, exploring, and playing, and unless they are sleeping, in constant movement. The following list explains how babies generally behave and respond according to their age, as well as offers ideas for forming your approach:
* Zero to three months. Babies in this age range have no mobility or strength. Unless they’re sleeping or in horizontal poses, they must be held for a photograph. They sleep a lot. Take some shots of the baby sleeping and being held by friends or family members, and don’t forget those close-up pictures of fingers and toes. Anya is only six weeks old and needs to be held in order to take the photo, as shown in 8-5. Outside, in soft, open shade, I positioned her in the doorway and zoomed in close to capture her expressions and isolate her from the background, as shown in 8-6 and 8-7. This helped eliminate any surrounding distractions and you’d never know that she was being held.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO This little baby needed to be held, but I was still able to capture some great shots. Taken at ISO 200, f/4.0, 1/200 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Zooming in to the frame with a telephoto lens helps eliminate any background distractions. Taken at ISO 200, f/4.0, 1/250 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Getting in close to the baby provides an intimate feel to the image. Taken at ISO 200, f/4.0, 1/250 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
* Three to six months. They can raise their heads and chests when they are put down on their tummies. Take shots of the baby lying on the floor, in a crib, or with a parent, or position the baby over a blanket mound or sofa cushion. Little three-month old Poppy is positioned on a furry blanket in a classic baby portrait pose in figure 8-6.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Three-month-old Poppy was comfortable and happy when I positioned her on a warm blanket. Taken at ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/1000 sec. with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
* Six to nine months. Most babies are beginning to sit up on their own and can feed themselves with finger foods. You can creatively pose them, but prepare for movement at any time. Think about taking candid action shots when they are eating or playing. Six-month-old Amelia was sitting at a table, happily playing with her toys when I captured the candid moment shown in 8-7.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO By positioning myself at Amelia’s level and remaining ready with the shutter button, I was able to capture a natural expression in this photograph. Taken at ISO 200, f/5.0, 1/100 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
* Nine to twelve months. Now they are reaching for toys, can pull themselves up, and may be beginning to walk. Capture a moment with a baby and his blanket or favorite stuffed animal. Figure 8-8 captures a playful moment between eleven-month-old Mia and
ABOUT THIS PHOTO I placed Mia on her dad’s lap and took a lot of photographs when they began to play. Taken at ISO 400, f/11.0, 1/125 sec. with a Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8 lens.
* Eighteen months. The baby is walking — get ready to follow the action! The world is a new and exciting place for babies and toddlers. Try to capture their interactions and fascination with the experience. Eighteen-month-old Natalie is full of wonderful expressions as she reacts to her mother’s storytelling in figure 8-8.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Natalie was running around the house but stopped to listen to her mother’s stories. Taken at ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/1000 sec. with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Less is more when taking beautiful baby portraits. Think Zen. Clean, calm environments with few people, minimal noise, and unobstructed backgrounds allow you to focus completely on the baby and produce quality images that everyone wants to see.
I hope the information from this excerpt has been helpful. Now it’s time to get out there and take some pictures!
Click HERE to find out more about my new book Portrait and Candid Photography, 2nd Edition.
Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Erin Manning’s NEW Digital Photography 101 DVD
Are your pictures looking a little…blah? Are you overwhelmed with all your camera options? Would you like to know more about the light and composing a good shot? Do those “techie” videos make your brain turn off and your eyes glaze over? You’re in the right place. This DVD is focused on the photo-beginner and enthusiast. It also makes the perfect gift for anyone interested in taking better pictures, from teenagers to seniors and everyone in between!
Painting with light can produce images that range from ethereal and beautiful to funky and fun, but how do you paint with light? What are you painting with? What are you painting on? Is expensive equipment required? Why does this technique sound so mysterious?
Find out how! Read my article on the Canon Digital Learning Center
Whether you’re gathering for a family reunion, celebrating a birthday, or capturing your favorite sports team, a group photo is always a good idea. The problem is, a successful group photograph can be a challenge for even the most experienced photographer – from impatient subjects, to closed eyes, bored expressions, bad light, and blurry images, what’s a person to do? Don’t worry, with a few tips and a little practice you’ll feel confident about directing the group and your pictures will look fabulous.
You bring your digital camera along everywhere you go, snapping photos of people, places, and things that are important to you (even if just for the moment). Problem is, you can’t seem to capture the image you were hoping for and you’re frustrated! Sound familiar?
With a few tips and a little knowledge about your digital camera, you can start capturing those special moments in a way that is both practical and gratifying. I’ll start with the problems, briefly explain why they occur, and follow up with some real-life solutions. In no time, you’ll be on your way to taking better photos!
READ MORE >
I’m getting ready to go to PMA 2009 (March 3-5 in Las Vegas) and I’m so excited! The Photo Marketing Association trade show is a great place for photo retailers, professional photographers, and educators to learn about the hottest imaging products for the year. Last year I visited a few of my favorite booths and decided to create a video so you can see some of the cool stuff I found in 2008. Thanks to my producer, Michael Welch, for shooting and editing this video for me.
The holidays are here! Lights twinkle, candles cast a warm glow, and fireplaces illuminate the room, creating a beautiful, festive atmosphere. Most people try to capture this mood in a photograph, but often end up with underexposed, overexposed, or blurry images that don’t reflect the feeling of the moment. Low-light photography can be a challenge, but with a few simple tips you’ll be on your way to successfully capturing those holiday memories that you and your family will treasure forever.
If you’ve ever tried to capture a picture of an ornament or other holiday decoration in low-light, you may have experienced a few problems. Following are a few examples:
I shot this photo using the Auto Flash mode and Auto ISO. You can see how the flash caused a distracting reflection and overexposed the image.
I shot this second photo with the Flash Off and the ISO set to 200. I’m hand holding the camera and the image turned out blurry.
The final image was shot with the Flash Off using an ISO of 1600, and I’m still hand holding the camera. By setting the camera’s ISO to a higher number, I’m letting more light into the camera which allows for a faster shutter speed and results in a sharper image. Keep in mind, when you raise your ISO you introduce noise into your image (similar to film grain). This translates to tiny, discolored pixels in the dark areas of your image. Typically, dSLR camera sensors are better at handling higher ISO speeds, but now even compact camera sensors are producing less noise at higher speeds. Personally, I’d rather deal with a little “noise” than have a blurry shot. Experiment and see how your camera responds.
Your camera’s flash reaches approximately 10 feet so it won’t illuminate anything past that distance. When shooting a landscape in low light, turn off your flash, steady your camera on a tripod or solid surface to prevent blur, and take advantage of your camera’s two-second self timer to prevent any accidental camera movement.
- If you’re shooting with a compact camera, you may not be able to manually select a slow shutter speed, but your camera will adjust for a decent exposure.
- If you do have manual control over your shutter speed, or you’re using a dSLR, set your camera to Manual, your ISO between 200 and 400, and try various slow shutter speeds (1/30 of a second and slower). Adjust your aperture to create an exposure that looks good on your LCD viewfinder. Every lighting situation varies, so experiment and don’t be afraid to take chances. With digital photography, you can take as many pictures as your memory card can hold.
Every December our local pier dresses up for the holidays. I try to capture a different angle and lighting condition each time I venture out to document this tradition, and I always take a lot of pictures. As the light changes, I adjust my camera settings. Some of the images from this session were very dark, others were lighter, I thought this one was just right.
Here’s the deal - it’s dark outside and your subject is standing in front of some very festive lights. You’d like to capture the glow, yet still light up your subject. Poof! You take a picture and your flash goes off. The resulting image shows a well lit subject, but the lights look….washed out. What happened?
The Auto Flash works well in some situations, this is not one of them. Notice that my subject is illuminated, but the background lights look dim.
Most compact cameras and entry level dSLRs have a Night Portrait or Night Scene setting denoted by an icon on the Mode Dial or in the Menu settings. If you don’t have this option, look for Slow Synchro in your Menu settings. Night Scene, Night Portrait, and Slow Synchro use a slower shutter speed that captures the ambient light in your scene, while the flash still illuminates your subject. Since the shutter speed is slower, you may need to use a tripod or rest your camera on a stable surface to reduce image blur. Or you can use the blur as a creative element in your image. Try it, and see what happens.
This family photo was taken using a slow shutter speed (1/30) and flash. This setting allowed me to capture the glow of the tree lights and the flash cast a nice, even light on everyone’s face.
I hope these low-light photo tips inspire you to capture and remember the important people, places, and things that make your holiday special.