Taking better pictures of your little ones! (S/O of bad hospital newborn pics thread...) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 11-02-2009, 01:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A mama on here was expressing frustration at the really bad hospital pics she received of her newborn, and not being able to have more newborn portraits made before the baby is past the newborn stage, so I thought maybe a thread about how to take better pictures of your little one at home would be a fun idea! I'm going to start by throwing out a few tips, and we can see what else people might be interested in learning about from that point. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to chime in!

Anne wife to Phil & mama to Katie
Velvet Blue ::: Seattle Baby/Child/Family Portraits
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#2 of 12 Old 11-02-2009, 01:09 AM
 
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Great idea. Thanks

Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012  mdcblog5.gif

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#3 of 12 Old 11-02-2009, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The fastest way to ruin a great picture of your newborn baby (or anyone else, for that matter) is to hit them with that red-eye inducing, face-flattening, direct-from-the-camera flash. One of the fastest ways to improve pictures of your little ones at home (assuming you aren't trying to photograph them running through a pitch black room) is to turn off your flash. Most cameras have a manual that comes with them that will tell you how to do this if you don't already know. If there is truly no way to turn off the flash, a piece of black foam board taped over the flash would probably kill most of the icky flash lighting and achieve almost the same results.

So, if you have no flash to provide light, how do you see anything in the photo? Natural light! If you have a baby who isn't yet mobile. put them in a basket or on a blanket near a window or (if it's warm enough) by an open door. Find the place in your home that gets the most natural light (sometimes this is someplace you wouldn't think of for taking pictures, like a stairway landing, or a bathtub...) and put the baby there. If the setting isn't particularly pretty (laundry in the background, etc.), use a plain colored baby blanket as a "background" - hang it behind or place it under the baby. With a baby who is mobile, this is a bit more tricky, especially in the winter. If taking them outdoors isn't an option, do the "doorway" trick, or even use an open garage door - but watch them carefully so they don't run out! You may want to use a tripod (or find something that can substitute as one - a coffee table, maybe?) to hold the camera, so you can run and grab your squirmy child if they run out of your shot.

It's too dark to shoot anything tonight to illustrate this, but I'll shoot something tomorrow to show you what I mean. But for now, take my word for it and turn off the flash!

Anne wife to Phil & mama to Katie
Velvet Blue ::: Seattle Baby/Child/Family Portraits
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#4 of 12 Old 11-02-2009, 01:31 AM
 
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Subbing to this, thank you. I hate my flash!

I'm Kellie :, married to Chris , and mom to one baby girl (7/12/09).
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#5 of 12 Old 11-02-2009, 09:09 AM
 
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Anne this is a superb thread. Yes some of Isabel's photos did look a little funny with the colours because of the flash but I never thought of opening doors and using natural light (that must be excellent pp brain working).

I love those black background photos you've got at the end of your portfolio. Holding baby on the side and holiding baby towards the camera. That sort of thing and then the lovely close up shots of feet and hands... that I've seen on other people's NILMDTS shots I'd love to be able to do. Tips for something like that would be handy.

Plus I think another thing everyone would find useful is what on earth do all the menu buttons do, I can set mine to manual and can adjust photometry, white balance, high speed shooting (OK so not so necessary with a newborn), focusing, af mode, sharpness, flash and bracketing. Plus I appear to have some special pre-sets, portrait, night, fireworks, snow... I never even knew I had those.

Generally speaking which settings do we tinker with, and which are we best leaving alone. I know I can set to inside, flourescent light, sunny... but what does that actually change, how does it alter the photo. What sort of things could we be doing now to practice actually using our cameras (rather than just point and click) so we get some good shots later.

Clare briefly mother for 3 weeks to Isabel 25-12-08, Soaking up every precious moment with my little guy Dec-10. My blog link is in my profile.

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#6 of 12 Old 01-05-2010, 03:56 AM
 
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On Christmas day even in front of our large picture window I couldn't get any decent pictures of the kids without flash (and with flash I got the issues that ruin pictures too).

My best ever shots were some baby ones I took in front of a window when the boys were three weeks old and outdoor shots as they were older. I know natural light is the best. But what about things like Christmas day when you've got to be indoors and the light just isn't good enough?
There are no cheapie solutions to that are there (I'm thinking diffused independent flash or something)?

Rachelle, mommy to 8 year old boys! 

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#7 of 12 Old 01-05-2010, 04:00 AM
 
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Just wanted to throw this out there... I like to edit pics.. so if anyone has a bad pic that they want me to make pretty send it my way and I'll do my best.

familybed1.gifnovaxnocirc.gif nut.gifMommy to my amazing 6 yr old dd, we homeschool.gif, and  27 weeks belly.gifpuke.gifand have been sick the whole time so far, grrrrr!!!!!!!

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#8 of 12 Old 01-11-2010, 01:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbgrace View Post
On Christmas day even in front of our large picture window I couldn't get any decent pictures of the kids without flash (and with flash I got the issues that ruin pictures too).

My best ever shots were some baby ones I took in front of a window when the boys were three weeks old and outdoor shots as they were older. I know natural light is the best. But what about things like Christmas day when you've got to be indoors and the light just isn't good enough?
There are no cheapie solutions to that are there (I'm thinking diffused independent flash or something)?
If you are using a DSLR, I would invest in an external flash that you can manipulate to bounce the flash off a wall, the ceiling, and my fav using a bounce card. That way it isn't blowing out your subject but providing some fill light.

Mama to Ava (12/03) , Leila (4/06) , Violet (11/08) , and bonus mama to Madison (7/98)
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#9 of 12 Old 01-11-2010, 03:16 AM
 
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sub

Wife to a great DH, SAHM to 3 great kids
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#10 of 12 Old 01-17-2010, 09:44 PM
 
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If you have a DSLR (or an film SLR) learn how to use it in manual. It's best to practice with, say, a piece of fruit or a doll that won't get tired of you.

Step 1: Take it off auto and learn to read the in-camera meter. Otherwise, it's just a very expensive P&S. For white skin you want to expose about 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop over.

Which means, when you look in the view finder you'll see a grid thus:

| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

The one in the middle is "correct" exposure, but for close ups of white skin you actually want the slider a bit towards overexposure because us palefaces are paler than % of grey that the camera uses to determine "right".

Stick it on Manual and start changing the ISO, f/ and shutter speed settings.

ISO is how fast the film will record the picture. The higher the number, the faster the film. The lower the number, the crisper the picture will look. To start out with you want to use the lowest ISO you can.

f/ is how much of the background will be out of focus. The smaller the number, the less will be in focus but the more light the camera will let in. It's hard to hit focus with anything smaller than 4.0 when you are starting out.

Shutter speed is how long the camera lets in light. My hand is too shaky to handle anything below 1/125.

I usually set the SS to 1/125 or higher, adjust the f-stop to where I want it to be, then pick the ISO based on the in-camera meter, and finally fine-tune with the shutter speed.

This shot is all natural light indoors with an ISO of 3200.

Mostly sane mother to twins.
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#11 of 12 Old 01-17-2010, 09:49 PM
 
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To get the sleeping shots like this one

OK, to get a sleeping baby shot you have to get them TOTALLY ASLEEP. Nurse them until they are FULL. Make sure the room is hot. You should be sweating. Have a beanbag set up with blankets over it - that shot has a black throw over the beanbag - and make sure the blankets are warmed. Heat them with a heating pad or hot rice sack, just be sure to take the heating pad out before you set the baby down. Have white noise going - a hair dryer works well. Have a space heater running, which makes both white noise AND adds more heat.

Once the baby is settled on the bean bag, make sure he or she is SO ASLEEP you can pick up an arm and it just drops down. Then take some cheesecloth, tuck one end under the baby and then wrap the baby up like a package. Slowly. Tuck the last end under and shoot.

Mostly sane mother to twins.
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#12 of 12 Old 03-18-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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Something I did last night. My house is very dark, even the windows are tinted -- I HATE it. Last night I could NOT get a good photo without flash, but I was photographing a box with a shiny surface, so the flash caused a glare. What I did was turn the flash all the way up, and put a piece of blank white printer paper in front of it. The light was diffused through the paper and the photo came out nice and bright without any glare or other flash issues!

You'd have to play around with the settings to get it perfect, but this really worked for me!

PS, you have to leave a little space between the flash and the paper, or else it doesn't work well. I tired putting an envelope over the flash so I wouldn't have to hold it, but that didn't diffuse the flash enough. Also, make sure the flash is totally covered, or you'll have a shadow.

Michelle, Christian , sahm, homeschooling , breastfeeding , no vax, blogging , photographer mom with ADD and Social Anxiety Disorder Mom to 4 boys, 3 girls.
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