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Old 19th of August 2010 (Thu)   #1
AbPho
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Default Need help with (fast) kid portraits

I just picked up an EF 85mm L and wanted to give it a shot. I had a practice photo shoot today with some friends of mine and their 4 year old. We headed to the park across the street as the setting. The sky was clear and it was pretty sunny. I found it difficult managing my camera settings (I shoot in manual) and trying to get the kid in focus. Since I like to keep my background out of focus I switched to Aperture Priority. Or should I have stayed with Shutter Priority since the subject was constantly on the move?

What should I have done differently with the lens? I ended up taking it off. I just found it too slow for this situation. I have the EF 85mm f/1.8. I was planning on selling it since getting the L prime. But now I think I am going to keep my 85mm f/1.8. It is faster at focusing. Would that have been a better lens to use today?

I am just looking for some pointers on camera gear and setup for shooting kids that will not stay still for longer that 0.1 seconds. Non studio work.

Thanks.
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Old 19th of August 2010 (Thu)   #2
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

what body? what focus setting? do you use?
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Old 19th of August 2010 (Thu)   #3
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

In this case the 5D Mark II. I also use a 50D. The 50D is my main go to camera body. I usually shoot wildlife, macro, etc. For portraits I want to use the 5D as my main body.

For focusing, I was originally going with centre focal point only. Sometimes I would change to one of the others. Depending where the subject was. I also tried auto focus point selection. But sometimes the camera focused on the background.

In the end I was just following the kid around and shooting from the hip. This is one I got using that method.


I wanted to get some catch light in the eyes. Even if she ever looked at my while facing the sun, it was too bright and she would have squinted. With the flash set to -3 FEC I was getting too many blown highlights.

There was just too much running around and not enough time to try different camera settings. I wanted to go home with something, so concentrated on pressing the shutter release button.
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Old 19th of August 2010 (Thu)   #4
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

This may not be a popular opinion, but if you want a true 'portrait' type shot, you need to somehow have (or parents have) control over the child. I do a ton of little kids (in fact, I'm starting to think maybe seniors are the way to go, lol). What I'm working on are methods of distraction (or bribery) that will keep them still for even a full minute. Letting them play with the light meter, mom brings a favorite snack (I've had this backfire, though, a few times), a favorite toy, etc. Sometimes I carry my daughter's zhu zhu pet in my pocket- it will make noise, but I won't let them see what it is until they sit still.

I would absolutely expect that a 4 year old is capable of listening for a bit and some cooperation, even if it's coerced. (I have a rambunctious little one, so I can relate) Put them in the shade, stay out of full sun with them at all costs, and don't chase. You will make yourself nuts that way and probably won't get many usable images to boot. If you're shooting on location try and scout out a cool tree, big rock, something of interest. I have a big green chair that comes with me everywhere . . for some reason, furniture outdoors seems to fascinate them and they actually sit in it, lol.

For focusing, the center focus, recompose has always worked for me . . . but, again, if you're going for a true portrait and not just candids, they need to be still for a bit. For settings, I recommend working toward being comfortable in all manual. at the very least use AV and definitely not shutter priority. I think the trouble is more with the child running around and the direct sun and not your lens or camera body.

I wanted to add that you definitely don't need to be in direct sun for beautiful catchlights.
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Old 20th of August 2010 (Fri)   #5
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

The way I shoot my kids (twins 2.5 girl boy) is I treat it as if I'm shooting sports. When I'm on a shoot I shoot manual but, when I'm shooting my kids I get kinda lazy and set it on the sports mode.
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Old 20th of August 2010 (Fri)   #6
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

Thanks for the help.

Redskymedic, I like using manual. Use it most of the time. I do not like how the camera thinks. This little girl was happy to be out running around. We eventually got a prop that caused her to stop for a bit.

Gherrry. I think sports mode is similar to Tv. Select a high shutter speed, perhaps by bumping ISO, and let aperture fail where it wants to. But with portraits and candids I think you want more control over the background. If the subject stays in an area that has consistent lighting then either Av or M should suit and you get complete control of the background.
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Old 20th of August 2010 (Fri)   #7
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Wink Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbPho View Post
Thanks for the help.

Redskymedic, I like using manual. Use it most of the time. I do not like how the camera thinks. This little girl was happy to be out running around. We eventually got a prop that caused her to stop for a bit.

Gherrry. I think sports mode is similar to Tv. Select a high shutter speed, perhaps by bumping ISO, and let aperture fail where it wants to. But with portraits and candids I think you want more control over the background. If the subject stays in an area that has consistent lighting then either Av or M should suit and you get complete control of the background.
I new you'd pick up on that "sports" mode thing.
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Old 20th of August 2010 (Fri)   #8
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits



I encounter many people that do not understand the simplest of camera functions. I tell them that it won't take much to learn, and afterwards they will know more and take better pictures.

After taking a SLR course I cannot go back from Manual Exposure. I really want a body that only comes with M. Kind of a waste to put a dial on just for that.
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Old 22nd of August 2010 (Sun)   #9
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

85L is slow to focus lens.

And I don't understand the logic of selecting Tv mode. Why pay for 85L if you going to stick with some ss and let camera select smaller apertures.
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Old 22nd of August 2010 (Sun)   #10
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

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Originally Posted by bobbyz View Post
85L is slow to focus lens.
Oh that is so true. Any idea why Canon would/did design it that way? What are they physics behind it?

Quote:
And I don't understand the logic of selecting Tv mode. Why pay for 85L if you going to stick with some ss and let camera select smaller apertures.
I am glad I still have my 85 1.8. I can use that if I need a fast focusing lens. Too bad the 50 1.4 is sold. It would have been great on the crop sensor body.
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Old 23rd of August 2010 (Mon)   #11
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

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Originally Posted by AbPho View Post
Since I like to keep my background out of focus I switched to Aperture Priority. Or should I have stayed with Shutter Priority since the subject was constantly on the move?
Shutter priority is good if you want to do panning. You made a good choice using Av mode. Hopefully you were using AI-Servo as well.
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Old 30th of August 2010 (Mon)   #12
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Default Re: Need help with (fast) kid portraits

My 4 year old twins will usually sit still, for a fee. Small candy, something that will not mess up their clothes, and quaters are their favorites. A whole role of shiny quaters will go along way

But there are times were nothing works and they aren't sitting still for more than a nano second. In times like this I put it on AV and AI focus. Not the best keeper rate but I usually get some that I'm happy with.
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