Senior Pictures

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by NiKeZz, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. NiKeZz macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    #1
    Well this is kind of a big question but I my girlfriend is wanting me to do her senior pictures for her. I have a Canon 60D with the kit 18-135mm Lens It's not terrible but i know its not a great lens for shooting portraits. Were going to be taking pictures at a beach in Mississippi during spring break. My question is what lens should I look at and is there any thing I should go ahead and pick up for the shoot. Camera Protection? Lens Filters? Lens Hoods? I really have never done senior pictures before or done a photo shoot. Is there any online tutorials I could check out that would help me or any tips from you guys out there? I know it's not going to be completely professional but I think I could pull this off quite well with the right tips and gear.

    Thanks,
    :)
     
  2. Keleko macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #2
    I've never done portrait pictures, either, but if you don't have a lot to spend, the ~$100 50mm f/1.8 lens would do a pretty good job for portraits. I also have a 60D, and the 50mm is the only other lens I have beyond the kit. I can't really give you any other advice since I've never done anything like that, either.
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #3
    Honestly, almost any lens of the right focal length is good for portraits- it doesn't need to be ultra-sharp or massively contrasty to work well. Trust me, unless her skin, hair and makeup is absolutely flawless, sharp is your enemy.

    Telephoto has the most flattering perspective, so towards the long end of your lens will give you the best results, though you may have to pre-plan poses if you have to stand too far back. Your lens has more than enough range for this- don't buy more glass.

    The thing you really need for great senior portraits is great lighting. At least key and fill, though I'd add a background light (or more likely use the sun as one) to add some 3-D to the image. Unfortunately, I don't think the sun cooperates often in MS as far as sunrise or sunset being over the water, but if you can find somewhere that it is, that'd be the place to start. Get a nice sunrise or sunset sky behind and use manual flash to get a good key- that way she's not squinting at you because of the light. You can use a reflector for fill if you can stake it in the sand or get someone to hold it for you- a gold one to warm up the reflection would be good. You'll want a CTS or CTO to gel your flash too.

    You might want to start reading strobist.blogspot.com, as there are a lot of good examples on that site- I remember seeing some pictures of a young lady in a field right before sunset a few years ago that were great examples of good lighting that'd make a good senior portrait and I'm pretty sure they were on strobist.

    Paul
    Paul
     
  4. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    #4
    Thanks for the reply. I just started into my major and I don't know a lot of what your talking about besides lighting being a key component to photography and making shots work. So if you could... English please ;)
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #5
    Which words don't make sense?

    Key is the main light, fill is used to fill in the shadows to make the face more pleasant and take away distracting shadows. Automatic flash generally sucks, so you'll have to go into manual mode and figure out what flash setting gives you the best look. Gels are little pieces of cellophane-like substance that you put over the flash to change the color temperature. Generally, a full CTO is used to white balance a flash to the same color temperature as incandescent light, CTO stands for "Color Temperature Orange," and CTS is "Color Temperature Straw." Either will warm up the flash so it looks better. A reflector is a reflective piece of material that allows you to use natural light as a fill, you can use any reflective surface, but again, something warm toned like a gold colored reflector (or even one of those foil-like car sunscreens) will give you a nice warm light. Using a reflector saves you from having to have two flashes and some sort of remote triggering mechanism.

    I also recommend getting a copy of "Light: Science and Magic," every photographer should read it. But go to strobist.blogspot.com and start there, it's free and you'll need some time to soak it all up.

    Paul
     
  6. mkubel macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    #6
    The best thing you can do is relax and have fun with it. Shoot between 80-135 and keep a shallow depth of field. Use the natural light and watch how the shadows are falling on her face. If you have time, shoot once look over your pictures and go back and perfect the ones you like.

    Think more about bringing out her personality and making her look good. Don't over think the technical stuff.
     
  7. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    #7
    Will that range work good for full body shots? or should I get the 55mm?
     
  8. wheezy, Jan 18, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011

    wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Alpine, UT
    #8
    Rent the Glass, Face the Sun

    If you're lens goes to 135mm then you've got a great focal length for taking portraits; you'll want to stay in the 50-135mm range. Go any wider and you'll put her out of proportion. If you're feeling like you need to spend money on extra glass I completely recommend just renting something, can get the 70-200 F4L IS for 4 days for $65 from lensrentals.com (used them several times, fast server, excellent support, Rental Link)

    As far as taking the picture, try to go in the evening. You'll get a warmer, softer light and can fare pretty well without any kind of flash/strobe/reflector/other modifier. Light, no matter where it comes from, is light. Also, once the sun is beginning to set she'll be able to face right into the sun and not have to squint, and you'll have a lovely fill light on her face.

    If you're out shooting and it's still pretty bright, put her back directly to the sun, have her nose pointing at her shadow. By doing this you'll prevent any light leaking onto her face causing blown highlights and funny light shapes. You'll also need to A: Bump up your exposure compensation, or B: Use your flash for fill flash. One way or the other, the sky will be much brighter than her, and you need to overcome that and properly expose her. Once again, I recommend waiting until the evening when the colors are warmer.

    If you're feeling a little adventurous and can pull your car out on to the beach, wait until after the sun has set and the sky is starting to turn a dark blue. Turn your camera's white balance setting to tungsten, put her back to the east and point your car headlights on to her. Your car headlights are most likely a yellow bulb (tungsten) and your camera WB set to tungsten will give you a nice white balance with her, BUT, as a very nice bonus, it will really deepen the blue skies. If you happen to have a nice bright yellow-light Flashlight or one of those spotlights those will work better as it won't spill the light around so much.

    Top and bottom photos done with a Surefire Halogen Flashlight, middle with a $30 battery spotlight from Target.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    #9
    Im confused on the part about pointing her nose towards her shadow..
     
  10. Ish macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    Can I just ask: What are senior pictures?

    I was expecting photos of old folks!
     
  11. rusty2192, Feb 16, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011

    rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #11
    In the US, it is a common tradition (sometimes even a requirement?) to have portraits taken during one's senior (final) year of High School. The photos are then used for the school yearbook and used as keepsakes. I guess the tradition was started to signify the major shift in one's life from relying on one's parents all throughout the first roughly 18 years of life, to being more on their own during either college (University or Uni I believe it is more commonly referred to in the UK?) or moving directly into the working world.
     
  12. Ish macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    ^ ^
    Thank you!

    Uni or university, it probably depends who you're talking to. The first one is slang but saves time if you use it frequently in an informal context. :)
     
  13. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #13
    Recently I experimented with an off-camera flash and wireless flash trigger for the first time and was able to get this portrait. We had one off-camera flash on the right and slightly above the subject, halfway between me and the subject, as well as another person on the left side holding a white sheet of paper for fill, and a 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM shot handheld indoors. The settings were 1/100s shutter speed, f/8 aperture, ISO 100 and a focal length of 70mm. The off-camera flash helped provide an even distribution of off-center light and it maximized the sharpness of the photo. I know some people don't like sharp photos but I do (you can always remove sharpness in post-processing, but trying to add sharpness back doesn't work so well). I think you could do the same thing with the 18-135 and get great results. As for outdoor portraiture, I recommend buying, renting or borrowing a 50mm f/1.4 USM and getting some photos near sunset at f/1.4. You'll sacrifice sharpness but the background blur (bokeh) you'll get is amazing. You may even find that you are getting too much background blur, in which case you can increase the f-number by using the Av (aperture priority mode) on your camera. The f/1.8 version of the 50mm also produces a lot of bokeh but it doesn't look as good because it only has a 5-bladed aperture. To use a large aperture prime lens such as the 50mm, set your auto-focus point to center only, then press the shutter down halfway while focused on the subject's eyes, then recompose your framing while holding the shutter down halfway and then press the shutter down the rest of the way to take the shot. It is important to focus on the eyes because the depth of field is extremely narrow at f/1.4 -- so much that if you focus on the nose, the eyes will be slightly out of focus. Here is an example of a portrait taken at the beach in Florida as the sun was setting (this is called the "golden hour"). The subject was facing the sun and I was slightly off-center to allow the sun to get past me and evenly illuminate her. You'll notice that golden hour shots produce extremely warm colors. The indoor flash shot earlier was an example of more neutral and controlled lighting. Then there are some folks who do outdoor flash to evenly illuminate subjects in otherwise dim scenes. Which approach you take depends on the circumstances, the effect you are going after, and what the subject wants if they are the ones receiving the photo. Best of luck, get some practice in beforehand, and have fun shooting!
     
  14. silvrbullet macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    #14
    Solid advice. I'd spend a lot of time on stobist looking through the lessons. All the information you need is there, and it's a great learning tool. You have plenty of time to practice before you get there, so have her be a model in your test shoots.

    It recommend looking at purchasing a flash unit (580exII, 430exII, YN-460II, YN-560, etc), light stand, and convertible umbrella with a wired or wireless trigger. That's how I started, and it worked very well.

    There is also a wealth of information at photography-on-the.net - it's a forum for mostly Canon shooters.
     
  15. NiKeZz, Feb 18, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011

    NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    #15
    I got me a 430ex II today from BH Photo Video. I still have about a week and three days until I go do her shoot. I have been down at the local skate park shooting photos playing with the light practicing to get great photos with good contrast and great colors. I haven't done any portrait work before this so I've been studying as much as I can. I have been reviewing over at least 15 other beach portrait photographers all while studying and shooting for my PJ classes. It's a lot of work but I'm looking forward to seeing my results. She relieved some of my stress the other day saying that she just wants a couple pictures and she wasn't expecting anything out of this world. I have a little over $60 to spend without diving into my funds for my trip, anything else I should go pick up before heading down there or would it be overkill? I have a UV filter, my 60D, 430ex II. Should I get a monopod/tripod or any other filters??
     
  16. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #16
    If you don't have a spare battery, that would definitely be a recommendation. Nothing is worse than running out of battery without having a spare!
     
  17. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #17
    Well unless he intends to shoot upwards of 500+ pictures during the shoot, I don't think a second battery is necessary, just as long as he charges it the night before.

    Ruahrc
     
  18. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #18
    Not necessary, just recommended. :) I know I've gotten carried away with photo shoots before and was very glad to have a spare battery handy.
     
  19. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    #19
    Well my car ended up needing some work done on it before i left, its a shame its only 3 years old. I ordered me a Lens hood and some Sanyo Eneloop batteries with a charger for the flash. Less than 8 days away. I'm excited, yet nervous...
     

Share This Page