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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre People Talk 
Thread started 19 Jan 2011 (Wednesday) 15:15
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Semi-formal dance portraits, HELP!

 
helloyo53
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Location: Sarnia, ON
     
Jan 19, 2011 15:15 |  #1

Hello.

So this year at my school, they are going to try to do portraits for the semi-formal dance. I was chosen to be the photographer since I "have the fancy camera". I accepted, but that I got thinking about how I may not have that great of equipment to do something like that. The things I have are:
-Canon EOS 500D
-18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
-50mm f/1.8 II
-100-300mm f/4-5.6 USM
-Speedlite 270EX

Would any of the lenses be okay for portraits? I was thinking about using the 50mm, but I'm not sure. Any suggestions?


-Brandon
Canon EOS 60D Gripped | EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM | EF 85mm f/1.8 USM | EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS

  
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BioSci
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Jan 19, 2011 15:58 |  #2

Hi. I would use the 18-55mm, but mostly at 55mm. The option of changing your focal length on the fly would be useful. The 100-300 would be too long. The main concern I have is with your lighting. The 270 EX Speedlite doesn't have a lot of oomph, and worse, would be attached to your camera. This would create fairly harshly lit portraits. Any additional lighting you could obtain, preferably continuous lighting, would improve the appearance of your photos. Good luck!


EOS R | EOS 7D
RF 800 f/11 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L II | 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L | 17-55 f/2.8 | 11-16 f/2.8


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helloyo53
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Jan 19, 2011 17:56 |  #3

BioSci wrote in post #11674006 (external link)
Hi. I would use the 18-55mm, but mostly at 55mm. The option of changing your focal length on the fly would be useful. The 100-300 would be too long. The main concern I have is with your lighting. The 270 EX Speedlite doesn't have a lot of oomph, and worse, would be attached to your camera. This would create fairly harshly lit portraits. Any additional lighting you could obtain, preferably continuous lighting, would improve the appearance of your photos. Good luck!

Good point about the lighting. If I had the flash on the camera with a flash diffuser, would it make a difference with the harsh lighting?


-Brandon
Canon EOS 60D Gripped | EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM | EF 85mm f/1.8 USM | EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS

  
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BioSci
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Jan 20, 2011 15:26 |  #4

helloyo53 wrote in post #11674660 (external link)
Good point about the lighting. If I had the flash on the camera with a flash diffuser, would it make a difference with the harsh lighting?

It'd help a bit, but if you can bounce the flash off a white ceiling or wall, that'd soften the light even more. One idea would be to have the subjects stand near a corner. Bounce the light off one wall, and use reflected light from the adjacent wall as a fill. This only works if both walls are white or neutral, otherwise your portraits will take on the color of the walls.

Also, you could probably use your 100-300 zoom, so long as you shoot at 100mm, to get a better 'flat' appearance (rather than a distorted 'fisheye' look) to the faces. Just pull back a few feet more to be able to get the whole scene in your frame.


EOS R | EOS 7D
RF 800 f/11 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L II | 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L | 17-55 f/2.8 | 11-16 f/2.8


Tyo Photography (external link)

  
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Wallpap3r
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Jan 20, 2011 20:21 |  #5

Definitely use the 50mm for portraits.


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40D || 50 1.8 II || 18-55IS || 85 1.8 || 430EXII || YN560 x2 || Cheap umbrellas x2 || QBox 24 || Cheap macro crap

  
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Darren09
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Jan 20, 2011 22:24 as a reply to  @ Wallpap3r's post |  #6

50mm is good enough. It's one of my favourite lens. :)


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TakahiroW4047
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Jan 21, 2011 23:09 |  #7

If you are doing a walk around shoot you might be in trouble. Here's my reasoning. Correct me if I'm wrong.

When I think "semi-formal dance" I'm thinking dim rooms with relatively high ceiling. Worst condition would be a gymnasium with ultra high ceiling. If it is really dim you will need a flash no matter what (direct, or bounced) especially with a crop sensor, despite the f/1.8 of the nifty fifty. In the worst condition with ultra high ceilings, no speedlight has enough power to do a bounce shot. You will most likely resort to direct on-axis flash, creating harsh lighting similar to those taken with a point and shoot. You could try getting a bracket to hold the 270ex off axis connected with an ETTL cord. It'll give nice off axis catchlights, and give angled shadows around their faces (still 'harsh' but better than on-axis).

Lens wise, I would choose the full range of the 18-55mm. 50mm is too long in a room full of people. If you move back for a group shot, you will most likely have a couple or two go twirling in between you. I would also shoot at least around f/4 to have deeper depth of field. I've done major blunders with the f/1.8 in the past. The front row being in focus, while the second row just half a foot behind them out of focus. With direct flash, you'll have plenty power even with the 270EX to pull off f/4.

As for the 100-300mm, same argument as the 50mm except now you will have half the room in the way :lol: I once thought "hmm this would be great for candid shots. They'll never know I took it!", but I just brought more attention to myself with the bigger lens and could never get a clear line of sight. I'd certainly leave that one at home.

...but if you were doing Portrait Sessions outside of the dance floor....well...that's a different story haha ;)




  
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helloyo53
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Feb 11, 2011 18:57 |  #8

Sorry for bumping this thread, but I just wanted to give an update.

I did the portraits yesterday and they turned out really good! I ended up using the 18-55mm lens, which the zoom did come in handy. I was able to get a hold of some actual continuous lights so I could illuminate the set better. And some really good news from this, I even had some people come up after seeing the results and ask me if they could model for me in some photos. Of course I said yes! That gives me some more incentive to get into people photography.

So all in all, it turned out great. Thanks for all the advice!


-Brandon
Canon EOS 60D Gripped | EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM | EF 85mm f/1.8 USM | EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS

  
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chrisshelley
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Feb 24, 2011 00:30 |  #9

That's great news, Brandon.




  
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Crystal ­ W ­ Photography
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Feb 24, 2011 09:47 |  #10

Use the 50mm, but have the 18-55 handy. The 50mm is a fast lens, which you will need. To take these portraits, you will need to set up a backdrop or find a nice background to use. Set your camera on a tripod to know exactly how far away you need to be for a single shot of a couple. Do not move the tripod/camera. Otherwise, there is a good chance that every photo you take will look different from someone's elses portrait. Maybe you walk closer or further back. Maybe you walk a little more to the right or left. Maybe the camera was tilted etc..
If you need to shoot a group portrait, that is when you use the 18-55. You can shoot at 18 if need to get everyone in the portrait.


Crystal
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Semi-formal dance portraits, HELP!
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