I have had some people as me (and I asked a million people before me) how certain shots are set up. The lighting, the lenses, the editing, etc. So I thought I would start to share these set ups on my blog. If anyone knows me they can tell you I love three things; talking, photography, and tech-nerd stuff (my wife will vouch for this...)
So in one of my first of many installments on how-to's I wanted to share how I set up a certain newborn session I did for my friends Kristin and Matt with their newborn twins Gia and Luca.
I usually prefer to shoot newborn photos with available natural light. But....what a photographer wants and what they have to work with always doesn't work out. This tutorial displays how to shoot without available natural lights and a one off camera light set up. I am using an off camera strobe below, but an off camera flash will work as well.
Below is a comparison shot of how I set my Alienbee's AB800 light shot through a large softbox and the resulting shot that the lighting provided. (click image to view larger size)
Do you need a studio light, a softbox and triggers to take newborn photos? of course not and I actually recommend using natural light as much as possible. But you don't always get a choice and this tutorial will show you some examples of how I did this shoot in particular on a cloudy day in a house without a large source of light from beginning to end.
READ MORE AFTER THE JUMP!
Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Nikon Nikkor 50mm 1.8
Light: Alienbees AB800 strobe, wireless triggers to activate flash, and a large softbox
The Set Up
photographing newborns is easy....as long as they are newborns. Trying to get a "newborn" photo with a baby that is any older than 2 weeks is tough. By two weeks they are opening their eyes more and wanting to feed on anything that comes close to their mouth. Unless your client wants the alien baby eye look with their mouth wide open, then I highly recommend suggesting to your clients that shooting under two weeks is super important. With in the first few days and you are money.
A sleeping baby is very important to the shoot. Make sure the mother has him or her all fed and full. Since the baby will most likely be naked, it is also important to keep the room warmer than usual. One tip that I do is to run a hair dryer under the bean bag chair or onto the blanket they will be laying on. Obviously feel the temperature of the blanket before you lay the baby on it.
Bean bag chairs are key! (you can walk into any Target and buy one for around $20) I have used pillows and other options before, but using the bean bag chair allows the baby to kind of mold itself into a comfortable position. This also allows you to mold the positioning of the baby or move the chair around into a better position without having to constantly touch the baby...which they hate...a lot.
Shutter/apeture - 1/200 at 2.8
ISO - 200 (when using an off camera flash or studio strobe set your ISO to as low as it will go to ensure a sharp crisp image.)
Metering: spot metering - best setting for the camera to pull the light from the subject with a dark background
When it comes to lighting newborn photos, I personally, do not like a bunch of different sources of light (i.e. the mall studio artistically challenged lighting technique) I like the depth and dramatic look of the source of light coming from one direction.
You can see in the diagram, I set my light up at a slight angle. If you don't have a light, shooting this shot near a large window or door will work as well...and actually the natural light will give you more in camera control. If I can, I always shoot newborn shots with natural light, but again its not always up to me on the timing of shoots or even the location for that matter.
Other than that its just enjoying the session. I love getting down close (well kind of have to with the 50mm) and getting on the level of the baby and shooting at an even plane with the baby rather than up high or above it.
Have any question? Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org