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Photography QnA: Studio, Still, & Personal Portraiture Photography

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques : Studio, Still, & Personal Portraiture Photography

Read about techniques for personal portraiture photography, tricks for still photography and studio photography techniques here.

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Photography Question 
Sandra Wortmann

member since: 9/23/2004
  41 .  Using Studio Lights Outdoors
Does using studio light outside make for a more even lighting on your subjects? I have used my flash for a fill. Thanks!
Sandy

6/23/2007 5:53:20 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Sandra,
When shooting outdoors under bright sun, the lighting ratio is too extreme for good portraiture. Lighting ratio is a measurement about the difference in brightness between light and shadow. We generally take measurements using a reflection light meter, noting the different difference highlight vs. shadow.

Our hearts desire would be a one f stop difference (100% or 1 f stop) with more light on the forehead vs. cheeks in shadows. The facts are, under bright sun conditions, typically the forehead might read f/16 and the cheek in shadow might read f/5.6 this is a 3 f/stop difference. Often the ratio will be even more extreme causing the shadows to go black (void of detail). Todayís films and digital chips remain substandard to the human eye brain when it comes to the ability to record extremes in dynamic range.

Thus we must employ countermeasures. This could be fill flash or reflectors. The idea is to try and illuminate the subject with supplementary frontal lighting. Fill flash can be used to partially illuminate the shadows thus the righting ratio is reduced to a tolerable level.

For fill flash the trick is to know the guide number published for your flash equipment. We proceed by placing fill flash at lens height near the camera. Next we need to know the f/number we will be using based on the sunlight exposure. We divide the guide number by this lens-opening f-value. The product is the fill to subject distance needed to cause the fill light to arrive at the subject at the same brilliance as the sun light. Now multiply this distance by 1.4. We place the fill flash at this distance. The result is a 3:1 ratio.

Example: Your lens is set to f/8 your flash guide number is 100. Thus: 100/8 = 12.5. This tells us that if we placed the fill 12.5 feet from the subject, the sunlight and the light from the flash arrive at the subject plane at equal intensity. This would result in a 2:1 lighting ratio (too flat). Now multiply the distance, 12.5 x 1.4 = 17.5. The fill set to about 17 feet from subject will yield a 3:1 ratio. This is the ideal ratio for portraiture.

Rater than a photographer I am a technocracy so you should consider this as marginal technical advice.

Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

6/23/2007 10:20:58 AM

  Hi Sandy,
The reason for taking studio lights outside would be to have more power. So what can you do with more power? Well, you can do flash fill at a lower shutter speed and higher aperture. If you wanted a shot with a sharp image from the strobe and a blurred image from daylight mixed together, this would do it. Alternatively, you could use the extra power to diffuse the light from the strobe. This would make for softer fill light, thus softer transition from light to shadow. This could be very useful. I like to use Norman 200B strobes outside. I get power and portability fromm these units.
Thanks,
John Siskin

6/23/2007 1:14:51 PM

Jeff Coleman

member since: 2/5/2005
  Hi Sandy,
I think you should take a look at strobistblogspot.com
this is a blog written by a PJ about using small flash units off camera, there is a link to the strobist.com flickr group so you can see what a couple of thousand people are doing with off camera flash many out doors.
I'll be posting a couple shots here on BP that I did a few days ago.
happy shooting
Jeff Coleman

6/26/2007 4:02:01 PM

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Photography Question 
Mac 

member since: 11/10/2005
  42 .  Photography Studio Gig
Hi. I make my living as a programmer, but would love to work as a portrait photographer. I have the opportunity to start a part-time job at a "Olan Mills" type of studio. How much of a benefit do you think this would be for me? I know it isn't the same as mentoring for an independent studio, but I think the exposure would probably be good for me. Any thoughts?

5/11/2007 5:06:33 AM

  You'll definitely gain experience, but these are cookie cutter places and have a specific look that they want, and they want it done "by the numbers." So, you'll learn their method of doing things, but there is no room for creativity. These types of organizations are fine for quick turn over and assembly line work, like high school pictures. You may find the hours worked to pay ratio a bit under what you may expect.

Editor's Note: BetterPhoto.com offers several excellent portrait photography courses, all taught by long-established working professionals:

- Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio
- Studio Portrait Lighting
- The Business of Photography

5/11/2007 5:28:00 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  I do agree with a lot of what Tony has said. But I must say, I have met a lot of those who start out on their own and it takes them 2 to 3 times longer to learn how to pose their clients, relate to their clients, learn pricing, take control of their studios and master some of the other aspects you will learn from spending ONLY a couple months in a corporate studio environment.
I have taught corporate studio photographers and developed new company training concepts for years and do know how much it can offer those really interested in studio photography. I still do both and my own studio work as well. And old- fashioned "traditional" posing is very hard to find taught anymore. I was called back to a company that tried to cut it out and go all< "new lifestyle" (styled candid) and found that their clientel wanted both! They want new and trendy, but they also want that traditional portraits that hung in the family home while they grew up. So they put it back and numbers soared.
I advise this type of learning experiance for anyone who will take the time. I hope this helps.

5/11/2007 6:42:01 AM

Michael A. Bielat
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/23/2007
  Mac, get in touch with me...
Email or Private Message me.

I too am a programmer by day but started my own business and would be more than happy to give you a rundown of my experiences.

Your programming experience is a blessing in disguise!

Talk to you soon!

6/25/2007 7:51:32 AM

  Hi Mac,
The hardest part of learning how to be a photographer for me was learning how to do business. You may learn this at the studio. But you need to decide if you can put the resources to open a studio. If you canít do that now you wonít have too much more money after you work for the studio. People donít spend enough time considering how they will make it through their first year in business. There is an article on my site about building a home studio, which might help.
Thanks, John Siskin

6/26/2007 5:51:20 PM

Michael A. Bielat
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/23/2007
  True John s.

Photographers can really make a killing in this day and age if they play their cards right.

I mean you have to be good first off. Without that, you have nothing...

Secondly, you can make due with only taking out maybe a 7-15k business loan at most... All you "really" need is a good professional DSLR, a backup of little lesser quality, a couple flash units (portable, Quantums, or Speedlights for creative lighting), and a couple pieces of GOOD glass. You would also just really need a current, fast desktop computer or a portable fast laptop / large monitor, monitor calibrator, photo editing software and workflow software and a bunch of external hard drive space for backups and archiving.

All that is reasonable and could quite honestly be paid off for in the first year of business.

I am booking jobs a year and a half in advance while only having 2 Canon EOS 30D DSLRs, a couple Canon 580EX (I & IIs) and some great glass. I also have studio lights but rarely use my home studio... That is for sports and karate school photography which I do for only like a week out of the year.

I have a Macbook Pro, a bunch of photo editing software and a desktop which I custom made myself and 2 nice Dell 22" monitors.

I saved cash by being a programmer by designing my own flash website (would have cost 7-14k for another company to do it for me) and I designed ALL my printed materials from my logo to business cards to flyers.

Be sure to get involved in the Internet. Free advertising for the most part. Also, word of mouth trumps all!

Instead of all the in home studio deal, you could go the route I did where you simply meet the clients at a coffee shop or something. It gets them relaxed and you are buddies with them when you buy them a coffee. It makes them feel like they are chatting with one of their friends. Just sit and relax with them, bring your portfolio or laptop and show them a slideshow of your work. Find out what they want out of using your services and make them feel comfortable.

From there, recommend shooting on location somewhere or market yourself so you do more lifestyle / photojournalistic / controlled candid photos let nature be your backdrop and the sun your light...

There is something to say about owning your own studio however...

Home studios business means you essentially always have something to do or can do ( at least thats how I feel ).
You will have to spend extra cash for getting furniture and remodeling aspects of the house for people to meet in. The plus size is that the 999" (joking) flat panel plasma TV is a tax write off for showing slideshows to your clients or even the big projector!

An actual studio space is quite different. It really says a lot to client's that you are THAT serious (in a world of home studios).You go there, show up and do your 9-5 there know when to quit... You are established enough in the client's eyes that you won't close up or take their cash in a quick scam.

Their are plus and minuses to the whole thing. I am taking the cheaper route because I didn't feel like taking out a loan. All my equipment was paid off through my photography in one way or another. I am at the point where my profits need to be the most they can be(while not over selling myself or my work) so I can one day, get myself a studio of my own and quite the day job of being a programmer to do what I am passionate about...

6/27/2007 11:51:52 AM

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Photography Question 
aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  43 .  Mother's Day: Better Photos of Kids & Teens
What props - if any - would you use for 3 girls ages 16, 15 and 12? Thanks!

5/5/2007 2:03:05 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Have them come in their favorite outfits.

5/5/2007 9:08:35 PM

  That age group makes me think of make-up, lipstick, etc. Also you might try hats. Are you going to shoot them together or individually?

5/6/2007 4:01:11 AM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  Hi: Thanks for the response. WS, I have told them to bring clothes that they want to wear and they can change as many times as they want. Carolynm I love the hat idea - I never thought of that. I will also tell them to bring lipstick, etc. I plan to do them in groups and also separately. Thanks again!

5/6/2007 11:33:25 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
 
 
  GRANDPA AND ME
GRANDPA AND ME
FUJI S2 /200/f22 3 light system
untouched- SHOT IN A BLACK BOX I MADE-GREAT GRANDPA SHARES HIS BIRTHDAY WITH VETERNS DAY-THIS IS HIS WWII UNIFORM-AND PITURES OF HIM GOING IN AS A KID-COMING OUT AS A OLDER MAN.
 
 
Aileen,
Wicker chairs are great, and stools of course. A mirror effect is always a WOW shot! Pose the oldest with two youngest in mirror or youngest playing with make-up and pearls, etc., with older girls behind with "Oh NO" faces or a bit angry expressions - like they just caught her in their stuff. Mom, will love them!
Debby

5/7/2007 6:14:34 AM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  Thanks debby great idea I will give it ago can I ask a silly question how do I focas the shot is it mainly on the mirror or the person or can I manage to get it all in focus. I think I will practice with my daughter first to make sure I can do it.
Aileen

5/7/2007 9:39:07 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  You focus on the Mirror.

5/7/2007 11:20:38 AM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  thanks debby I will give it ago and let you see the results if that ok
Aileen

5/7/2007 12:39:49 PM

Melinda Hambrick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/19/2005
  I have taught all three age groups in school, and I have a thought to share. I think there is the potential that a twelve year old will resent being posed as if make-up and all are too grown up for her. Believe it or not, many of them wear it regularly. I would ask the girls how they feel about that idea beforehand, and see if it's a fit for their personalities. It may be, and they may love the idea. But if I were doing the shoot, I'd go for something more natural and casual - have them wear jeans and white shirts, and group them together outside in a really pretty spot. Much like I would for three adult sisters. It will draw the focus to their similar features, and the bond they share, and will be a more "timeless" shot in the long run. Teenage girls are young women, and want to feel as adult as possible, and the hat and make-up thing just makes me think of 5 year olds playing dress up. Go for a shot that puts them on equal footing and highlights their lifelong bond as sisters.

Just my thoughts... hope they help.

Melinda

5/8/2007 6:46:36 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
"Teenage girls are young women, and want to feel as adult as possible, and the hat and make-up thing just makes me think of 5 year olds playing dress up."

Isn't that what ALL women of ALL ages LOVE to do all their lives long: playing dress up.....?

5/8/2007 6:55:59 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
 
 
 
really!
I agree, I do this all day every day and have not found to upsat a kid yet.
and a great sitting should have all of these not just a single shot series.
The more you provide the happier mom will be.
And if I am still correct no matter the age, Mom brings them in and Pays for it ,because SHE wants portraits.
I know with my Teenage boys, I make them, 16 & 15 or not,lol.

5/8/2007 7:40:34 AM

Anne Harb Photography
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/23/2006
  I agree, girls wanta have fun! Here are some more ideas...Cell phones & laptops, and funky patterned pillows,a bed! Bedroom stuff, lamps, old bears..a table full of cookie baking stuff and bring it outdoors! Go to get ice cream, coffee or big giant cookies.
Lots art supplies spread all over the place or go outdoors with an easel with some past piece of art on display and one girl pretending to paint/draw...Shoes,shoes, & more shoes... favorite books and if they own a series like Harry Potter..stack them up to sit on, flowers...picking or smelling even just standing in a row showing the size of each child with simular flowers draped across arms.

5/8/2007 10:31:21 AM

Mary E. Heinz
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/23/2005
  First, I think you have an awesome opportunity to do the photography with
all three....I did some teens recently and they were so much fun....I took them outside and used my backdrop ...
I had to "hang" it from the side of my explorer and then out on the grass/ it worked...or taped it to the brick building nearby....

Now,,,I even took a magazine and had
them "read"...etc....

samples...at http://www.pics-ties.com
under TEEN gallery 2007

I love candid photos...and you can
"set" up candids...ex. in my gallery
above...

When I read this I thought about some
really neat Senior shots I've seen/
on location...wading in the water, etc.

Good luck/ let us see what you get !
I did 2 girls and a boy/ sister/ brother/ and cousin.

5/8/2007 12:28:27 PM

Mary E. Heinz
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/23/2005
  I would just do at least a set/ try to
get them enjoying themselves together/
like I said, candids...those are the
most "expressive" to me. Find out what
THEY enjoy doing.

5/8/2007 12:31:28 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
Hi Mary,

"candids" are photos of subjects who are NOT aware that they are being photographed. The photos you describe, however, are set up, directed photos, where the subjects are very MUCH aware that they are being photographed.
Your descriptions paint "Life magazine cover" style photos, so they can be great.
But "candid" they are NOT.

Have fun!

5/8/2007 4:12:45 PM

  Hi Aileen,

http://supermodels.com/profile.php?id=17776

You might look at this portfolio online. It of a young lady Keshia (age 12) that I shoot on occassion. It has different works by different photographers in the portfolio. Click on view photos.

You can also click through on the site to her One Model Place site. Click on the portrait with her name on it by Bruce Smith.

There are all different kind of ideas in the two portfolios that can be obtained by looking at them for shooting teens.

Kerby

5/8/2007 5:53:58 PM

Betty L. Saunders

member since: 3/13/2007
  Aileen,
Have the teens bring some of their favorite music CDs that they can play and hear on your CD player. This puts them at ease and releases their shy-before-the-camera attitude. Helps them move a bit, too!
Betty

5/9/2007 7:00:49 PM

Denise A. Zabor

member since: 4/30/2007
  For little girls you can use teddy bears or other stuffed animals, hats, flower bouquet, a single rose, white lacy parasol umbrellas like you would use at a wedding shower, ballons,large plastic crayon banks you can find at most dollar stores. For the older girls teddybears hats and flowers still apply. China town sells beautiful Chineese umbrellas with colorful designs that make beautiful backdrops, pillows, colored tulle to create a draped effect, cardboard stars painted with silver metalic paint. The list goes on.

5/11/2007 9:01:22 AM

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Photography Question 
Heather 

member since: 11/23/2006
  44 .  Portrait Photography: Tips on Posing
Hey, I was wondering how to pose for portrait photos? I would love to learn some different ways! So if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. Also, what are some ideas for props? Thanks.

4/27/2007 8:34:06 PM

Heather 

member since: 11/23/2006
  Also, what are some ideas for props?

4/27/2007 9:24:43 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
Try some photo portrait magazines, Heather.

4/28/2007 3:58:12 AM

  Hi Heather,
Good question! Photo magazines are always excellent resources for studying different types of photography. Here at BetterPhoto, there are many options: Check BP's contest finalists for outstanding pics in a number of categories, including People. For portrait shots you particularly admire, simply click on the photographer's gallery to see more images!

In addition, we have an excellent 4-week online course on the subject: Posing and Portraiture Techniques with Ibarionex Perello Plus, you'll find some great ideas in Ibarionex's BP article: Portrait Photography: Lighting and Background

Hope this helps!
Kerry

4/30/2007 10:08:15 AM

Who Me? 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/19/2007
  try practicing in front of the mirror.

Keep it bright.

4/30/2007 11:32:16 PM

Marius Liebenberg
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/21/2005
  Our photography club has portrait nights with studio lights and strobes for the members to use and volunteer models come along to pose and in return they get free photos. I have found that to be a good way of getting experience in posing techniques and communicating with the model which is essential for good photos. Some models are natural at it and some not.

5/1/2007 2:02:32 AM

Who Me? 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/19/2007
  don't be a poser

5/1/2007 3:45:07 AM

Catherine Johns

member since: 6/22/2004
  Hello Healther,

Don't laugh, but I watch America's Next Top Model.

The photos are incredible and I find the suggestions that are given to the models help me guide people into posing who dont' know how to pose. Plus I learn from the novice model's common mistakes. I've also learned which poses are better depending on the model's facial features and structure.

If you are looking for unique poses, I get a lot of ideas from this show.

Cathy Johns

5/1/2007 5:46:42 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Hi Heather,
you can also learn alot on the Studio Photography Threads.
from Babies to Seniors
here is The link to thread #1 there are 23 of them:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=17534

I do hope this helps,
Debby Tabb

5/1/2007 8:14:06 AM

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Photography Question 
Heather 

member since: 11/23/2006
  45 .  Make Your Own Backdrop or Background Stand
I was wondering: Has anyone tried making their own background stand or backdrop? If so, how did they turn out? I want to make both a backdrop and a background stand, but I'm on a budget! Plus, I'm a beginner ... so if anyone has any info, please let me know. Thanks!

4/24/2007 5:57:08 PM

Sobia Chishti
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/13/2002
  Hi Heather,
To make your own backdrops, please go to this BetterPhoto link. I've found the article very helpful and, in fact, have made two of my own backdrops: How to Make Your Own Backdrop
For the background stand, a couple of years ago, my husband made a stand for me from PVC pipes. You can find it in any home improvement store. You can get the pipes in any length and than join them with the joints available in the same aisle. Once the background and the stand is done, you can clip or pin up the background with the stand or you can sew a sleeve in one end of the backdrop and use it to put your pipe in it. I've found the PVC pipes flimsy, though.
Another thing that I did was to hammer two nails in the wall of my garage since that was my first trial studio, and I fastened a rope from one nail to another. I then attached my backdrop with cloth pins. If you find nails and rope ugly, think of putting up a curtain rod, but it will cost you more than mere rope and nails.
You can start with these or you may want to think about spending $100 on the background stand. I hope it helps.

4/24/2007 6:28:43 PM

Ashley 

member since: 7/12/2004
  I recently received two homemade backdrop stands, both made out of PVC pipe. One was all solid but the other was split into 2 foot sections so that I could make it different heights and witdths. If there is someonwhere I can post pictures, I can try to do that. I love how they turned out.

To make the base, you take a 2 T splitters. You would just need 4 short pieces of PVC pipe to put in the T splitters to make it stand. Then how ever tall you want it. Elbow a the top and another piece across. On the top piece, I have curtin rings to hold my backdrops.

Like I said, you could make it as fancy or simple as you want. :) I love mine!

5/1/2007 12:33:27 PM

Jo Jones

member since: 9/19/2005
  I too have one made with PVC. I use 1/2" conduit for my rods to hang the backdrops on. I made the stand so the pole was about 4 ft long with another pole that slid down the center with a hole drilled though the top of the outside section and holes at different levels on the inside sections so it is adjustable for different heights. I use a pin that I got at the hardware store that has a wire hook attached to secure it so the pin can't slip out of the hole. I have a T that slips over the top of the pole, with 2 elbows that stick up. This allows me to hang about 4 backdrops and easily just drop one to the floor to use the next one. It works great and is easy to transport.

Good luck!

5/1/2007 12:59:50 PM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  All sound advice and deserves a tip of the hat. Consider fiber glass curtin materila at the Home Improvement store. This is fireproof and a good choice if hot lights are employed.

Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

5/1/2007 1:25:22 PM

Shirley Fairley

member since: 3/18/2005
  You can use two lightstands, a pice of wood dowling from the local hardware store and some clamps. The good thing about this is you can use the lightstands for their appropriate use too!
Shirley

5/1/2007 2:18:30 PM

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Photography Question 
Girish Vaghela
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Girish
Girish's Gallery

member since: 4/29/2005
  46 .  High Key Photography
What is a "High Key" image?

4/10/2007 3:17:12 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  That's an image with lots and lots of light. Often the "color" white dominates in those images.

4/10/2007 3:53:02 PM

Michael A. Bielat
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/23/2007
  Think model head shots: Clean, white and not a lot (if any) shadows.

4/10/2007 8:51:27 PM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Girish,
High Key:
A style whereby the resulting image is comprised mainly of white and near-white tones. Mid-range tones are permissible but the scene is devoid of black and near-black tones. Lighting and background set the mood, which is light and airy. It works best if the subject is light-toned as well. Thus, the background is pure or nearly pure white. The set-up requires more light on the background than on the subject. The background is generally quite evenly illuminated, and the background light is set to illuminate with twice or better the intensity as compared to the strength of the main at the subject plane.
The final image consists mainly of white and light gray tones. Some shadows are required, or else depth perception is lost. To achieve, shadows are well filled by a lamp positioned close to the camera lens. This fill lamp is adjusted so light energy from it arrives at the subject plane at 1/2 the brilliance produced by the main light. This achieves a 3:1 lighting ratio, which is the maximum ratio that retains the high-key effect. Additionally the high-key effect is best achieved by positioning the main light near to and above the camera (frontal lighting).
If the lighting is flat 2:1 ratio, shadows are too well filled and depth perception is lost. If the fill and main arrive at the subject plane with the same brilliance, the result is a 2:1 ratio.

Alan Marcus

4/10/2007 11:08:31 PM

  Thank you W. S., Michael, and Alan.
Do you have examples where I can look?

4/11/2007 6:28:08 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
 
  HKNP
HKNP
 
 

Norman Phillips wrote a book about it, Girish. But there are dozens more.

4/11/2007 6:39:05 AM

Who Me? 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/19/2007
  opposite of "low key"

4/11/2007 8:09:40 AM

dennis w. mcclain

member since: 8/2/2004
  i have a really thin while muslin backdrop. I place my strobe behind the backdrop, directly behind the subject, and aim it back towards the camera. you have to play with the intensity. I use my 430ex and a gf lightsphere, for fill lighting. makes for a pretty cool effect, and no shadows behind the subject.

4/14/2007 1:18:27 PM

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Photography Question 
Khurram Khalid

member since: 4/5/2007
  47 .  Products Shooting?
I'm new in photography and looking for help about product shooting for printing catalogue and Web sites. The products I want to shoot are medical/surgical instruments made of stainless steel, soccer balls, leather garments, leather and textile gloves, etc. I have a Nikon D80 with 18mm-135mm AF-S Dx Lens. what other accessories do I need for setting up a small studio?

4/5/2007 2:33:01 PM

  Hi Khurram,
You need lights, preferably strobes. A couple of strobes with about 300 watt-seconds would probably do. You should also build a couple of light panels or buy them. There is an article here about making Light Panels, the article under Resources. The tripod is also very important; Manfrotto makes some very good ones. You may want a lighting tent, but I usually get along without one.
Thanks,
John

4/5/2007 4:08:00 PM

Khurram Khalid

member since: 4/5/2007
  Hi,
Thank you, John, for your advice. Please suggest any online tutorial for my specific photo shooting requirements. I mean how to manage aperture/lighting/shutter speed, etc., for still products shooting. Thanks!

4/5/2007 4:43:24 PM

  Hi Khurram,
I teach an online course right here at BetterPhoto: Introduction to Product Photography. If you are interested, you can still join the current session.
Thanks,
John Siskin

4/5/2007 6:32:07 PM

Khurram Khalid

member since: 4/5/2007
  Hi,

could you please tell me detail outline of this course and also could you provide any visuals in you course

4/7/2007 10:03:03 AM

  www.betterphoto.com/courseOverview.asp?cspID=69

Or, go to the "courses" button at the top of this page, select "4 week", you'll find it in there... :-)

Bob

4/7/2007 10:41:39 AM

  Thanks Bob. That's were all the details are! John Siskin

4/7/2007 11:15:20 AM

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Photography Question 
Lisa Miller

member since: 4/4/2007
  48 .  Photographing Large Groups: Focus Issues
When photographing large groups, sometimes I have a hard time getting all of the people in focus. Any tips? It's digital SLR. Thanks!

4/4/2007 5:14:39 PM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Lisa,
Your problem most likely revolves around depth-of-field, which is that span that remains in acceptable focus. The span extends both towards the camera and away from the camera as measured from the point focused upon. You need to know that this zone is not split down the middle but extends 2/3 further away from and 1/3 towards the camera. To maximize depth-of-field, try not to focus on the center row, instead focus on the next row that is closer to the camera. You can compose and focus on an individual in this row and lock focus by partially depressing the shutter release. With this pressure maintained, you re-compose and then complete the shutter release action. This maximizes the depth-of-field span.
- For large groups, it is advisable to set the rows as curves rather than straight lines. This reduces the camera-to-subject distance for those at the end of the row. This simple act equalizes somewhat the subject distances, thus it maximizes the depth-of-field zone.
- Depth-of-field significantly increases when your camera is set to the smaller apertures.
- Select a slower shutter speed when shooting groups.
- Selecting a higher ISO setting will also force the use of the smaller apertures, thus expanding the depth-of-field zone.
Sometimes poor focus is actually camera movement. When possible, use a tripod or other stable mount. A cable shutter release is an asset as well as the self-timer function. Both minimize camera shake caused by a heavy handed photographer.
Overall subject-to-camera distance is a major factor. Just stepping back increases this distance and depth-of-field increases too. This is accomplished by leaving room on both ends when composing. Setting the zoom to a shorter focal length also expands the depth-of-field zone.
One or more of the above can be employed to solve your problem.
Alan Marcus

4/4/2007 10:57:10 PM

Lisa Miller

member since: 4/4/2007
  Thank you for your response! I tried these techniques (a combination of a few of them) and it was a huge help. Thanks for your time and for sharing your knowledge!

- Lisa

4/26/2007 8:04:03 AM

GEORGE VIVANCO

member since: 5/1/2007
  Alan, great tips. My question is if you at the beach with a group of people say 15-20 what ISO and shutter speed would be best mid day sunny? I know sometimes you have to take some test shoot but, I ill be with a class of 4th graders and they my not stane still for more than a few seconds. Any advice would be great.

5/1/2007 11:11:00 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi again Lisa,

Digital cameras have a sensitivity setting that is a good imitator of film speed known as ISO (French spelling) English translation International Standards Organization. Now most digitals allow you to select starting at 100 and going up quite high. Best performance is realized at the lowest. As you bump sensitivity up you increase what is known as signal-to-noise-ratio. Kind of like turning up the sound on your audio device. Yes the sound gets louder but you also amplify static and other defects present. As you turn the knob up, soon you will hear hisses and pops. The more the volume is upped, the elegance erodes as the noise becomes all that more noticeable. The moral of the story, donít turn the sensitivity up unless needed.

At the beach, in daylight use the lower sensitivity setting i.e. 100 speed.

Now at the beach, with a large group your problems are over. Itís a slam dunk. Fist you must step back to gain the necessary distance to enscopes all. The act of stepping back is sufficient to gain the necessary depth-of-field. Depth-of-field is as much a function of subject to camera distance as any other ingredient. The other factors are focal length. The shorter the focal length the greater the depth of filed. Thus using a short lens setting allows you to get closer. Consider, if you used a normal or longer lens setting you would need to step back. Longer is better in this case as distance is good as it expands the span of dept-of-field.

Using a tiny f/number like f/11 or f/16 causes the depth-of-field span to increase. So a moderate shutter speed like 1/125 of a second forces a tiny opening (aperture). At the beach in sunlight, the aperture will be automatically be tiny thus this act will give you the needed dept-of-field. The 1/25th will be just fine to arrest subject and camera motion.

OK to group in rows as this will allow you to get a little closer than with just one row. This The idea is to gain a head size that will allow the parents to recognize their kids. Curve the rows at the edges, towards the camera, slightly, this will equalize distance, camera-to-subject, kind of like a curved screen motion picture screen keeps the edges in focus. Focus on center of group but not the middle row; choose the next one closer row to you the photographer. Depth-of-field carriers further to the rear so this technique maximizes depth-of-field.

OK to be too far back with room on both sides of the viewfinder as you can alwasys crop and compse when the prints are made. This medthod expands depth-of-field.

Above all, donít worry; a group shot at the beach is a piece of cake. However, bright sun will give too deep shadows and facial features will be lost. Hope for an overcast day, this is your best bet.

Best of luck,
Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

5/1/2007 11:55:12 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Correction:

The 1/25th will be just fine to arrest subject and camera motion.

Should read:
The 1/125th will be just fine to arrest subject and camera motion.

5/1/2007 1:21:15 PM

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Photography Question 
aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  49 .  Taking Photos of Kids
Hi! My friend has asked me to take photos of her 3 grandchildren ages 8, 18 month and 4 month - the older two are boys. Can someone tell me the best poses for them, how I can keep their attention, what props if any to use, outfits for them, etc.? Thank you in advance.

3/28/2007 11:15:57 AM

Joan Bellinger

member since: 9/6/2001
  Consider silly hats, stuffed toys and ask Grandma to bring a favorite toy for each child. Try to get a time scheduled after meals and naps when the children will be in a better mood. Have moist wipes on hand, along with something small - maybe cookies or wafers - to reward the children after a good photo shoot. The white tops, blue bottoms are a great idea.
Consider a barefoot photo, a black and white photo, maybe even sepia-toned. Line the children up by size for some photos with oldest on the left or maybe with all three facing the camera with the 8-year-old in back with legs stretched out, the 18-month-old in the middle and baby propped up on the 18-month-old's chest.
You will want to get down on the floor to get closer to their level. Be prepared to spend a little more time than you think you will need. And don't forget to have fun!

Editor's Note: Also check out the excellent online course right here at BP: Photographing Children by photographer, author and studio owner Vik Orenstein.

3/28/2007 11:30:23 AM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  Aileen, if your camera supports it use burst exposures. Often you will catch an unexpected expression that you would otherwise missed.
Bill

3/28/2007 11:56:36 AM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  Hi William
Ihave never heard of burst expposures. My camera is a canon digital eos 300d, maybe someone will be able to tell me if it does and how I use it.
Aileen

3/28/2007 12:46:08 PM

Doug  Elliott
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/18/2004
  J and Bill both have great ideas. Lay them down in the grass if you have grass. Here in Central Texas, we are now doing Bluebonnet portraits. Look at some of the images you see on pro sites who do children. Wagons and pillows are a great help. Matching outfits. You want the viewer to look at the faces, not what they are wearing. One of the things I use is a coiled roll of paper on a stick and I can throw it towards the kids and it comes back to me. You might find it a party shop. Have an assistant who will be standing right behind you and, at your level, to handle the props. Shoot on their level, and take your time. Use an off-camera flash or a large (36 x 48) foamcore from Hobby Lobby. Look at some baby magazines for ideas on posing. If you have time, go to your library and check out books on baby photography.
Gooooooooooooood luck and keep smiling and keep shooting.

3/28/2007 1:07:02 PM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  thank you doug unfortunatly I dont think I will have grass, I am doing it at the kids mums house, I am taking my back ground and lighting, and umberellas I do have a flash that sits on top of my camera but I dont have an off camera flash(yet). I will go to my library and have a look at books. the kids gran and mum will be there so I will get them to stand behind me and get the kids to look the only prob I can see is that the kids would want to go to mum but with any luck this wont happen, what would you recommend should mum be there or not, I was hopeing that mum would go in some shots with the kids.
Aileen

3/28/2007 1:23:33 PM

  Burst mode is a means of the camera taking several pictures in a row by holding the shutter down. The Canon 300D I believe can take at a rate of 3 frames per second.

3/28/2007 2:06:08 PM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  thank you I know now what it is I use it to take photos of my kids when they are doing sport is it the mode that looks like someone running
Aileen

3/28/2007 2:09:26 PM

  I know on my 30D the sports mode (someone running) will do burst mode, but you can also set in the manual modes as well.

3/28/2007 2:11:57 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Aileen,
I tell most people who are starting out to spend time looking at galleries and other photography companies that specialize in children's portraits. This will give you great ideas. Also, read through the Studio Photography thread for some help with eye direction, etc., and again check out the work that the photographers there have done. I do hope this helps,
Debby Tabb

3/28/2007 4:20:24 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Oh also,
I know we had a great discussion
on attention getters.
This will really help.
I'll try to find the thread

3/28/2007 5:03:22 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  I'm sorry Aileen,
I'm not up to finding it, I did try.
I believe it is around 5-7.
but it's also on the childerns CD and Pet one as well.
you'll have those soon.
When is the Shoot?
because if you haven't gotten them, I will find a way to get you the info.
thanks,

3/28/2007 7:23:01 PM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  thanks debby the shoot is on the 12 april so I have a couple of weeks to get reading and studing as I want to do really good photos,then the mum may show the photos to other mums who may want photos of their little cherbs. I am not planning on charging for taking the photos I am just charging them for ink and paper. do you think this would be ok, I would however tell them that it is just for them I am doing this and I would charge anyone else for taking the photos as well as charging for printing, but how much should I charge for my time incase someone else does want me to go to take photos.

Aileen

3/28/2007 11:19:32 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Aileen,
Thats great that you have time!
and I alway think if you have a very social or involved mom, it's a great way to start your "word of mouth Advertizing" with her.
So do something nice to make her feel special ,only helps your cause and exposure.
I gave my hairdresser a beach shoot recently as a trade, charged $100.00 towards services as friends.
48 hours later shes telling me she needs more of my cards people are asking.
the prints are at her station, and clients are in a chair looking and thinking " how long has it been since we had portraits taken?"
This is Networking and This Works.
Now, what you charge is strickly up to you , but I ALWAYs suggest you call around the redius you want to travel and get some ideas of what a photographer is worth.
Then price middle of the line- not to low.
It is much easier to give a deal, and look good.
then to raise your prices on your clients later.
I do hope all this helps,
Debby

3/29/2007 6:14:42 AM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/14/2005
  Aileen,
On the 300D, you can set the drive mode when you are shooting in Av, Tv, manual, etc. by pressing the drive mode button located just to the right of the power switch. This button toggles between single-shot (indicated by a single rectangle), continuous mode (indicated by a stack of rectangles), and self-timer mode (indicated by a clock). Selecting continuous mode will allow you to take multiple shots when you hold down the shutter button.

This mode is selected by the camera when you shoot in the Sports mode, but I wouldn't recommend using that mode for portraits, since it will also set your ISO to 400.

Another tip: you mentioned having the kids' mum in the room to help get them to smile. I've found this works best if she stands behind you, as close to the camera as possible. This way, when she gets the kids' attention, they will be looking at the camera, instead of off to the side. Try to minimize any other distractions when working with kids. If other adults are in the room trying to "help", and they are not near the camera, you will have a hard time getting shots with all of the kids looking at you.

Good luck,
Chris A. Vedros
www.cavphotos.com

3/29/2007 7:03:23 AM


BetterPhoto Member
 
 
 
Hi Aileen;

Let me just say that the best way I've found to capture children is to always be ready. A Leica R3 and the Sunpack 622 flash are doing you no good if you're talking to uncle Jim while the children are trying on aunt Freda's Sunday best. Be very as you follow them and you can capture some awesome images.

3/30/2007 1:11:38 PM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  Thank you all for the advice I am taking the photos tomorrow nite about 5.30 any last bits of advice and ideas for poses would be great I spoke to my friend today and she has told me that her mum( the kids great gran) has been given about a week to live(she has cancer) and the family wnat one of the photos for her to keep with her, so I am wanting to do a good jub for them and as I am only a beginner and have told them this I am starting to worry I dont do them justice.
thank you in advance for you help
Aileen

4/14/2007 1:41:31 PM

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Photography Question 
aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  50 .  Does Anyone Use These Umbrellas?
White Translucent Shoot-Through Umbrellas ... I have just bought 2 with a digital lighting kit and wanted to know the best way to use them. Thank you in advance!

3/20/2007 2:43:33 PM

  Hi Aileen,
I use umbrellas like this in small spaces to take architectural shots. You can also use these umbrellas as a bounce umbrella, but without a black cover, you get a lot of light bouncing around your set and this can be a problem. My favorite umbrellas are 45 to 60 inch white satin umbrellas with a black cover to prevent spill.
Thanks.

3/21/2007 5:44:03 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
 
 
 
I will see if I have a set up picture for this as well for those who need to see them set up.

3/21/2007 5:53:09 PM

aileen cockburn

member since: 7/23/2002
  Thank you for you help. I plan to use them to practice. I was planning on using them in the sitting room with the round bit of the umberella facing the subject with the lightings shinin through facing them( hope that makes sense?)
could you tell me if this is correct.
Aileen

3/22/2007 7:21:33 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Aileen,
yes, that is how you do it.
I was tring to find a pic, but got side traked, I will look.
just reverse how normally you'd shoot into an umbrella.
Good Luck,
Debby

3/22/2007 7:49:59 AM

  I first started using umbrellas more that thirty years ago. Back then, everyone set them up as bounce, rather than shoot-through. Except in small spaces, I still do. With a shoot-through umbrella, you get a lot of light coming out both sides. This can cause reflection problems. This is why I prefer umbrellas with black backing: less light spread.

3/22/2007 8:02:33 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
 
 
  Bounce Umbrella
Bounce Umbrella
 
  shoot thru
shoot thru
The main light should be a foot above the subjects head at a 45 degree angle with the Hot spot towards the chest.
 
 
Aileen,
I tryed to copy pages out of my CD but I could not.
I can't seem to find those "shoot thru" Pics.
but heres the next best thing,
one will show bounce.
one shows a shoot thru, this is a intresting umbrella and inexpencive as well.
It goes on like a shoot thru umbrella,
but works as a soft box.
will find you a link.

3/22/2007 8:14:20 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Thank You John! I am sorry I had left my screen in respond as I went to find pics on other computer.
Yours are great!

Ok and here is a link to a set, one halo ( as seen) and one square (smaller)and they include a reflector as well, always handy.

http://www.nextag.com/ACME-UNITED-Westcott-Portable-55192358/prices-html

wishing you a lot of fun in your tests,
Debby

3/22/2007 8:25:24 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
It would be interesting to see a head-to-head comparison. Side-by-side images of the same subject in 2 versions: one illuminated by a shoot-through umbrella, the other with the same umbrella though used as a bounce umbrella.

Actually SEEING the difference beats any description.

3/22/2007 8:51:12 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Aileen,
All of these comments are good. Naturally, it depends on you subject matter and how close to your light source your white umbrella is. Farther away does bounce more light around the room. Shooting through the umbrella gives an effect much like a softbox, which is designed to work in close to a subject. Shooting through the white umbrella gives a softer light than an umbrella with a black cover or other umbrellas. This technique might be great for portraits but a disaster for products. As suggested, test it and see what you like.

3/27/2007 6:06:19 PM

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