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Photography Question 
Melinda Hambrick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/19/2005
 

Pictures of children at the beach


We are leaving for Florida in three days, and I'm taking my kids to the beach for the first time. I want to get pictures in the late afternoon or evening, with my girls in matching white dresses. I have always had problems with lighting in my photos(usually they are too dark, or too blurry because I use a low shutter speed, or too grainy because my ISO is too high...) and I've heard horror stories about how difficult it is to get good results at the beach because of the bright sand. Since we live in KY, this may be my only chance for a long time to get beach pictures and I want to do it right! I have a Canon 40D and a Tamron 18-250mm lens. Can anyone give me a simple, surefire strategy for getting pictures I'll be happy with? I'm still very new to photography.


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6/1/2009 5:23:13 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hello Melinda,
I recommend using fill flash to illuminate the girls. If you have a speedlight or other flash, try using 1/2 power and this should get nice the girls nicely lit and allow for the background to be prominent as well. Do a couple of test shots and see what is working - you may need full power to get what you want. If you want a blurry background use a shorter DOF like f/2.8 or f/4 and if you want the background details to be part of the image use more DOF like f/16.
With a speed light, use 1/250 shutter speed (for syncing) and this will also help with sharpness. If you only have the pop-up, use that and again keep your shutter speed at 1/250s. I sometimes drape a thin white cloth or napkin over my pop up to cut down on the harshness and it helps a little with spreading the light.
The 430EX & 580EX flashes are great investments. Sto-fen Diffusers are also cheap and do a great job of softening & spreading the light. They make them in both the 430 & 580 sizes.
It would be worth it to pick up a flash for your trip. There are several different models at various prices.
Hope this helps - Have fun,
Carlton


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6/2/2009 10:31:35 PM

 
Melinda Hambrick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/19/2005
  Thank you, Carlton! I forgot to mention that I do have a Canon Speedlite 430 EX. How do I set it at half power?


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6/3/2009 5:42:39 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hi Melinda,
The power levels are 1/1 is full power & 1/64 is half power and it goes down to 1/128 (I am trying to do this from memory as I dont have my flash with me). Press the SEL/SET button and the 1/1 will flash then use the + and - to set in the flash power in 1 stop increments (1 to 1/64).
Start at 1/1 then maybe 1/32 and down to 1/64. You will need to do a couple of test shots and see what you like. If you have a diffusor, use it and go with full 1/1 power.
Use ETTL and set you "zoom" to match your lens length (24mm, 50mm, 105mm. etc..)
I hope I got this right :)
Carlton


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6/3/2009 9:12:17 PM

 
Melinda Hambrick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/19/2005
  Thank you so much! We leave tomorrow morning - hopefully your advice will be a big help!
Melinda


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6/4/2009 8:58:41 AM

 
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