New Here, and some questions re: lighting


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Supergal

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#1
Hi everyone!

I've just joined, glad to have found this place!

I have some questions regarding lighting for portraits of my kids. Now, keep in mind, I'm a stay at home mom, and I know practically nothing about photographic lighting, and I don't have loads of money to spend on high tech equipment. I just want to take some nice portraits of my kiddos.

Any suggestions? I'll be shooting with a Nikon Coolpix 5000. I don't have an external flash for it because.... well because I don't know much about using it. I usually do macro work, and just make the outdoor lighting work for me.

Edjumacate me please...

Oh, and backdrops, I could use some info on what to use as a backdrop.
 

roygoh

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Jan 18, 2002
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#2
Originally posted by Supergal
Hi everyone!

I've just joined, glad to have found this place!

I have some questions regarding lighting for portraits of my kids. Now, keep in mind, I'm a stay at home mom, and I know practically nothing about photographic lighting, and I don't have loads of money to spend on high tech equipment. I just want to take some nice portraits of my kiddos.

Any suggestions? I'll be shooting with a Nikon Coolpix 5000. I don't have an external flash for it because.... well because I don't know much about using it. I usually do macro work, and just make the outdoor lighting work for me.

Edjumacate me please...

Oh, and backdrops, I could use some info on what to use as a backdrop.
Welcome to CS, Supergal!

For portrait, my experience is that diffused lighting generally gives a much better effect than harsh lighting. That means:

- use natural window light, or
- use bounced flash

The first option generally requires slow shutter speed that makes it challenging or even impossible for photographing kids.

Then you are left with the second option. Which means that I am going to recommend that you get an external flash for your CP5000.

For background, a plain wall is usually good for indoor portraits. Just position the subject such that the wall is 2 meters or so behind him/her and use a wide enough aperture to throw any cracks or marks off focus.

If you have a slave flash in addition to your main flash, you can point that flash at the background wall and use a colour filter to change the colour of the background. The possibilities are endless.

Also, your house setting could be just fine for photographing your kids. At the dining table, on the bed, sofa, etc. Just make sure that you compose the picture with care so that it does not look cluttered.

That's all I can think of now. Happy shooting!

- Roy
 

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Supergal

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#4
What about building a diffusing screen? I have some lights I bought at the hardware store a long time ago, and recently saw something about building a diffusing screen from PVC and white cloth. Would that be practical for what I'm wanting to achive?

I'm so uneducated when it comes to lighting. I usually shoot outdoors, and my subjects are seldom people. I'm so used to doing macro work that I'm not sure how to go about portraits! :bsmilie:
 

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Supergal

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#5
OMG! Your kid is just gorgeous Roy! I guess this means I have to buy a flash for my Nikon, and learn how to use it! Good thing I found this site, I'm gonna need help learning how to use flash!
YIKES!
 

roygoh

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Jan 18, 2002
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#6
Originally posted by Supergal
What about building a diffusing screen? I have some lights I bought at the hardware store a long time ago, and recently saw something about building a diffusing screen from PVC and white cloth. Would that be practical for what I'm wanting to achive?

I'm so uneducated when it comes to lighting. I usually shoot outdoors, and my subjects are seldom people. I'm so used to doing macro work that I'm not sure how to go about portraits! :bsmilie:
Yes, diffusing screens or light boxes will be great for portraits.

However, if you are planning to use normal lights in your light box, it may not provide enough illumination. You can try to add a slave flash to the light box alongside the normal lights. That way the normal lights can be used as modelling light for you to have an idea of the lighting effect, and the actual illumination for the shot will be provided by the flash.
 

roygoh

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Jan 18, 2002
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#7
Originally posted by Supergal
OMG! Your kid is just gorgeous Roy! I guess this means I have to buy a flash for my Nikon, and learn how to use it! Good thing I found this site, I'm gonna need help learning how to use flash!
YIKES!
Thank you!

And those shots were not taken with elaborate lighting setups. I simply bounced the flash off the ceiling or wall.

Getting a Nikon flash will be the easiest as it should work well with your camera. You can also consoder third party flash such as Vivitar or Sunpak, which are generally cheaper than Nikon. It is important to get one with a pan-and-tilt flash head.

Hope to see your pictures soon!
 

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