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Portrait Advice

portrait d3200 advice lens settings maternity engagement

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5 replies to this topic

#1
jms310

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This has been a big summer for our family...my brother-in-law and his girlfriend are expecting a baby in October, and my sister just got engaged. I've been taking pictures for a while, but only recently have dived into the M,A,S,P settings instead of the presets. When I have taken pictures on these settings before, they are hit and miss--sometimes they turn out great, and other times, not so much. 

I've been asked to take engagement and maternity pictures for my family, and I don't want to mess up the pictures for them, or spend lots of time trying to figure out the settings while they are sitting/standing around. So I thought I'd ask fellow Nikon users for some advice and insight.

 

In a maternity and engagement photo shoot...

-What lens would you use? (I currently have the starter kit (AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 and the AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm 1:4-5.6) and a prime lens AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8)

-What settings do you find work best?

-Any advice on taking engagement and maternity pictures? 

 

Thank you fellow Nikon photographers!



#2
ScottinPollock

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Portraiture is all about the light, and unfortunately that's not something you learn overnight. If budget is tight, a couple of Yongnuo flashes and remote trigger, light stands, and shoot through umbrellas is a good start.

Start practicing. Shoot on manual and expose for the natural background, then add flash (one as a key light and another as fill).

The 55-200 can be a decent portrait lens on the long end provided you can have good working distance and good separation from the background. Otherwise the 35. In either case shoot as close to wide open as ambient light will allow.

If you must work without lighting, things will be harder to control. Consider outdoors in shade, with maybe a poster board or two for reflectors. If you have to work indoors, consider window light, again with a reflector or two to balance the light on both sides of your subject.

There are a number of good one/two light portrait tutorials on youtube by TN, Joe Edelman, and Matt Granger et others. Start there to find one with a look you're going for.

And if you don't have the time to practice this enough to be truly confident, warn your family you're learning as you go and temper expectations (in case they may want to go with a pro).

#3
morticiaskeeper

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Get some practice in, gradually introducing flash or reflectors and noting the differences.

Poster board makes a good reflector, but a folding White/Silver/Gold reflector can be had for £10 on eBay.

Keeping the aperture open will give you a smaller depth of field, this is important, because you want the eyes to be pin sharp, but the background to be a nice fuzz. Getting the subject to step away from the background makes a big difference.

If you can afford a couple of flashes and soft boxes, a whole new world opens up for you. If your camera has the CLS system, it's even easier.

The best tip I've ever learnt about flash photography - expose for the subject. Get the flashes going as high as possible, expose for that power on the subject. If you can do this, the background will always be underexposed, even a patterned white background will be black if you have enough power.


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#4
dem

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With portraiture getting the lighting and background right and keeping the subject happy and relaxed are the most difficult things.

 

The camera setting are easy: aperture is your main tool - it affects the depth of field (how much of image is in focus). Keep it at f/1.8 and you'll get only eyes in focus, change it to f/11 and you can take a group portrait with everyone in focus. Use shutter speed about 1/200 to reduce possible motion blur.

 

The 35 mm is the sharpest and the fastest lens you have. I would use it for full body and half body shots.

 

For head shots use the 55-200 and put the camera on a tripod. If you don't, you might see some camera shake.

 

Practice, practice practice and good luck.



#5
dcbear78

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I love flash, but I think that's a bit advanced for the OP. You have to have a good grasp of shooting manual before introducing flash. And the OP has stated they are struggling with the semi-auto modes.

My suggestion would be to shoot in aperture priority mode (A). This way you are controlling the way your photo looks. You are in control of the the depth of field.

For portraits, and the lenses you have available to you I'd shoot on as low an aperture as they will allow you. This will help you get some subject isolation.

When shooting in aperture priority all you need to do is just keep an eye on the shutter speed the camera is selecting for you. You should always make sure it is fast enough to avoid camera shake. General rule of thumb is the shutter speed should be faster than 1/(focal length). So at 200mm you will want a faster speed than 1/200s. If this is getting too slow, increase the ISO until it is satisfactory.

Once you have settings nailed it's time to focus on your subject and getting the best photos from them.

#6
ScottinPollock

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IMHO, flash (at least manual) means one less thing to worry about; shutter speed. It also gives you more control over your exposure than in camera metering. Once you've dialed in exposure through chimping, you're good to go.







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