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Need help with (fast) kid portraits

FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Kids & Family Talk
Thread started 19 Aug 2010 (Thursday) 11:07   
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AbPho
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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.

Post #1, Aug 19, 2010 11:07:09


I'm from Canada. Isn't that weird!

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gherrry
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what body? what focus setting? do you use?

Post #2, Aug 19, 2010 11:11:26


30D | Tonka 11-16 2.8 | 24-70 2.8L | Think Tank Retrospective 20 | Lowepro Fastpack 350 | Lr3 | PS CS5

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AbPho
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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.

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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.

Post #3, Aug 19, 2010 11:22:26


I'm from Canada. Isn't that weird!

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redskymedic
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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.

Post #4, Aug 19, 2010 23:08:44


Melissa
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gherrry
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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.

Post #5, Aug 20, 2010 07:39:28


30D | Tonka 11-16 2.8 | 24-70 2.8L | Think Tank Retrospective 20 | Lowepro Fastpack 350 | Lr3 | PS CS5

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AbPho
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Thanks for the help.

Redskymedic, I like using manual. Use it most of the time. I do not like how the camera thinks. :D 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.

Post #6, Aug 20, 2010 08:34:42 as a reply to gherrry's post 55 minutes earlier.


I'm from Canada. Isn't that weird!

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gherrry
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AbPho wrote in post #10756015external link
Thanks for the help.

Redskymedic, I like using manual. Use it most of the time. I do not like how the camera thinks. :D 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. ;)

Post #7, Aug 20, 2010 09:46:54


30D | Tonka 11-16 2.8 | 24-70 2.8L | Think Tank Retrospective 20 | Lowepro Fastpack 350 | Lr3 | PS CS5

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AbPho
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:D

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. :D

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. :lol:

Post #8, Aug 20, 2010 09:51:40


I'm from Canada. Isn't that weird!

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bobbyz
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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.

Post #9, Aug 22, 2010 22:37:01


5dmk3, Sigma Art 35mm f1.4, 35L, 85L II, 24-70mm f2.8 II, 70-200mm f2.8 IS II
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AbPho
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bobbyz wrote in post #10769577external link
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?

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.

Post #10, Aug 22, 2010 23:08:32


I'm from Canada. Isn't that weird!

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Gatorboy
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AbPho wrote in post #10750414external link
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.

Post #11, Aug 23, 2010 09:22:21


Dave Hoffmann

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PhotosByEric
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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.

Post #12, Aug 30, 2010 01:36:02


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