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Today on The Slanted Lens we are photographing children with strobes for a commercial project at Prestige Preschool Academy. I will share some of the tips that I have learned over the years when it comes to photographing children. We will discuss how to get into their world quickly and produce the best images with the most efficient set ups. We will also look at how to quickly create the look of window light when shooting on the run. Let’s get started and see what we can do. Keep those cameras rolling and keep on clickn’.
The Lighting Breakdown
#1 Here is our shot with just the room light. It’s boring and lacks punch. We are exposing for the room light. I want a full exposure with the ambient light from the room.
#2 Now we add the strobe light from camera left and slightly behind the subject and it changes everything. I love the look of the 72 inch shoot through umbrella by Photoflex. It works perfectly with the Dynalite MH2050 head because the throw is so broad on that head that it fills the 72 inch umbrella up and gives you a soft beautiful light. Great combination. We will shoot on Auto white balance because the color mixture is going to be all over the place with florescent, strobe and tungsten light sources in the same shot.
#3 Here is a portrait with ambient light only.
#4 With two people together simply turn one of them into the light and it creates a nice butterfly on their face and the person looking at the camera is in a nice rembrandt. You are looking into the shadow side of both their faces. The darker side in this instance.
#5 Finally, we used a lightbox for x-rays to shoot several images of children. I love that light. Always look for interesting opportunities where the light is motivated by a source – open window, door, etc. It was a great shoot. Keep those cameras rolling and keep on clickin’.
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[Jay P Morgan] Hi, this is Jay P Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens, we’re going to take you into a preschool and give you some tips on how to photograph children. We’re going to show you how to get into their world, to be able to move quickly. We’re gonna show you how to combine the natural light of the room, kinda’ the ambient light of the room, the nice highlight from the strobe, but most importantly, we’re gonna be able to move quick, be able to get into their world, and get some great shots of kids. So let’s get started and see what we can do. This ought to be real easy.
There are severals things I’ve learned over the years about photographing children. The first is, schedule. Now, we’re gonna be photographing all the different ages today so it’s important we fit our schedule to their schedule. We wanna shoot at times that are best for the kids and not at the best for us. So we’re gonna watch them after their naps, after they’ve eaten. Those times that are key for the different age groups. Be patient. Know that it’s gonna be hard and it’s gonna take time. Don’t get frustrated in that. Just keep your cool. When things aren’t working, just laugh and just keep shooting. Eventually that tide’s gonna change almost as fast as start. If you’re patient and you just keep shooting, then eventually things are gonna start to happen. So be persistent. Just keep shooting over and over again. Encourage them to back into the place you want them in. Talk to them. Encourage them wherever you want them to stand. Do whatever’s necessary to get into the place, to get the shot you want. You can’t shoot a bunch of ’em just by looking down on them all the time. Getting down on their level help you get a much nicer shot. I love to show them the images while I’m shooting, “Hey, look at this.” They’ll crawl over you. They’ll be so excited. ”Yeah, I’ll do it, I’ll do it.” It keeps the energy up.
You show ’em the images, let them be part of the experience. You gotta’ interact with them. You know, they need to know that you’re there. Talk to them. Joke with them. Uh, you can’t just hide behind your camera. The minute you start hidding behind you camera, you’re no longer a person. You’re disappear. You gotta’ keep talking to them. Keep them engaged with you so they know you’re there and you’re interested in what’s goin’ on. Their attention span is short. So you gotta’ keep things changin’ and moving all the time. Keep them engaged and excited. Bribe your subject. Not with candy and sweets but with opportunities. Things like ”Well, if you let me take a few more pictures of you, I’ll let you wear my hat… look right here for a couple of seconds while I take your photo then you can take my photo.” Bribe them with things they get to do that are empower them, make them feel excited. Okay, only with my only kids, but I have given them candy and toys when I’m really desperate. You know, it’s not a bad idea to buy a small bag of cheap danda’s toys. Remember their attention span is very short. So you can’t make them work for an hour before they get to grab some another bag. Few shots and a grab. And then they’ll do a few more. Then they look again. Let them take a toy out of the bag if they sit and do what you want them to do for a couple of seconds. Shoot when they don’t think you’re shooting. I shoot this with adults as well as kids. So like hold the camera to side, now just keep shooting. Click, click, click, click. And I keep talking to them while I’m clickin’ away. Or I put it on tripods. So it’s framed up on ’em. and I stand on the side as if not doin’ anything. I’m clickin’ away. I use a ot of auto focus because of this. You wanna keep it in focus. Let it be spontaneous, let them get excited, get outta’ control a little bit. I love to get a few kids together. Just kinda’ push them together and ask them to each other and kinda’ roll around the floor together and then shoot away. You know, there’s so much energy in that. They may be out of focus a bit rolling around, but jst shoot away, you’ll get some great images. To keep a spontaneous so you gotta’ shoot fast. You gotta’ be ready. If you have to, put it on piece it all just shoots for itself if you don’t have strobes goin’. Keep lookin’ and changing obviously to get caught up if you’re little behind with exposure, what have you. It’s more important you can fix later in photoshop if you need to but get something shot when there’s somethin’ happenin’. I can’t tell you how many great moments I’ve lost because I’m laughin’ at what the kids said.
Photograph when those moments happen. That’s when it’s the funniest, they’re saying funny things, they’re doing funny things. Just keep shooting, shooting, shooting. You cannot shoot enough. There’s a an old National Geographic sayin’ that, you can tell how good a photographer is by the size of his trash can. Well that’s in the days of slides. So nowadays, there’s just no excuse. A lot of images are gonna be out of focus or poorly framed but just keep shooting. Keep workin’ it. Sometimes those yield the best images, the best moments after everything is totally over. When we’re shooting for commercial application, we can’t have logos on the shirts like Spongebob Squarepants. No, we’ve gotta’ have clean, colorful, nice lookin’ shirts. So we go down to Target, we get a bunch of cheap shirts and Julene standin’ there with a clothing rack, shirts on hangers, and she just pulls them over top of the shirt that the child already has on. That gives us a nice clean look, gives us some nice colors that match the things that are goin’ on the room or the color scheme we want for the logo or for the client. It’s not even a bad idea when you’re shooting a portrait bring a few extra shirts, slips somebody into a t-shirt or a colored shirt. That gives them somethin’ to wear just didn’t quite bring the right thing. Especially for kids it’s important because kids spill somethin’ on his shirt or they drool or they… You know, It’s just easy to throw them into a new shirt and keep on going. I know there’s photoshop, but there’s also an extra shirt. Bring a few simple props that either relate to the shoot that you’re doing, or just interesting fun things. You know, sometimes that just changes the look of the whole image. You know, even me when I start visually kind of exhausted, I can’t think of anything, nothing’s happanin’, stick a hat on the kid, or put somethin’ on their hand. All of a sudden I can see something visually completely different I can go after. So bring something that they’re gonna relate to, that’s kinda’ fun, that you can pull it out when you-you’re goin’ “I just… I need their attention now.” There’s those great toys I see at shows, that little stuffed animal that goes around the lens of your camera. You can’t have it there all day, pretty soon they’re bored with them but get it in and off and it really makes it interesting.
You know, let’s draw attention on how we lit the images. I use a simple process that looks a lot like window light but makes it fast for me to move around and gives me that nice kinda’ window light anywhere in the room I want to shoot. I want the ability to move quick, so I take a Dynalite power pack attached to a stand with a travel head. The pack was plugged in the XP800 battery pack. And that I tie to the stand. That really acted as weight, for the stands like a sand bag would. So I got my strobe head, my powerpack, and my battery pack all in one stand. My assistant’s gonna carry that around the room powerin’ the pack up and down, give me the right exposure. So makes a very quick way to move and shoot. You know, I love the look of that 72-inch shooter umbrella by Photoflex. It works perfect for that dynalite and MH 2050 heads. That’s our travel head. That head has a very large pro so it fills that entire 72-inch umbrella up. It really gives a nice light because it fills so much of that umbrella. Here’s our shot with just a room light. You know, it’s borin’, it lacks punch. I could bring the exposure up a little bit and make it a little better but it’s just gonna feel like room light. It needs a better directions of the light, something more interesting. I’m exposing for the room light. It’s kind of my basic exposure. I’m on a Tamron 70 to 200mm lens so I need a fast shutter. A rule of thumb is twice your focal length so if you’re on a 200mm lens, 400 to a second for your shutter. But you know, I’m cheatin’ that. I know in 80 of a second, I’ll have a nice sync with the strobe, I’m not gonna push that. I’m just gonna be very cautious as I hand hold it. I know, I’m gonna lose some of the stuff on movement but because of that strobe that’ll freeze my access as well, sometimes a little bit of movement can look cool. I’m gonna shoot on auto white balance because there’s just too many color sources in this room. I’ve got flourescent, I’m usin’ my strobes, there’s tons of light sources, so I’m gonna put my camera on auto white balance which allows me to shoot a little faster and just move quick. Because I’m shootin’ raw, I can go in later, play with that color balance, kinda’ fine tune the images that I like the best. Now, we add the strobe light for the camera left just slightly behind the subject, it really changes everything to this image.
It has a nice feel about it. It looks well lit, it seems interesting. It takes an average image and makes it far more powerful. If you’re up your exposure just a little bit, again it’s that large soft shoot you umbrella with a strobe head that fills that whole light source gives us a very soft light. When I’m shooting two people, I simply turn one of them into the light and that creates a nice butterfly light on their face. And the person at the camera’s in a nice rambrant. So you’re lookin’ into the shadow’s side of both of them, ‘cuz the light is to you left. What I mean by shadow side is the darker side. That doesn’t mean that it’s a dark image. It can be a very high key. But because I’m looking into it darker side, that’s more interesting. This gives a wonderful light on their faces. I love this look. You know, you take advantage of the room light but add just a nice highlight, and that makes it easy to shoot anywhere in the room and it feels like you’re at a window. Take out the light and move it and shoot again. It’s really a great way to work. While we’re shootin’ there I saw a light box that they had in the corner that they put x-rays on. I thought man, that’s perfect. So I dragged that out in the middle of the room, plugged it in, turn he room lights off, I expose off from the light that’s in the light box, and we got these wonderful shots of the kids lookin’ at the x-rays. So look for lightin’ motivated experiences. A lamp, uh, like the soft box was really a goldmine, a light coming through a doorway, something that makes a richly lit image, kind of interestingly different from what you see normally. You know, photographing children can have it’s challenges but I think it’s really a lot of fun and it’s really worth the time and the effort. Dogs and kids, uh… that’s another story. But maybe we’ll talk about that soon. So keep those cams rollin’. Keep on clickin’.
Special thanks to Prestige Preschool Academy which allowed us to share our commercial shoot with you today.
Hi, this is JP Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens, we’re going to do a review about the new XP800. This is a Dynalite battery pack. It’s made to be taken out in locations so you can run your strobes out of monoblocks or pack and heads off from this as a power source. It really makes you so don’t have to carry generators. It’s really a decent weighs about 12 pounds. It’s make you so you can et hundreds of flashes off from a single single battery. The battery’s the bottom unit here so you can have a separate battery that can hook on, pop this up, put on the next one, and continue going. So they’re really nice in that way. Gives you the ability to not only run it as a battery unit, but if you take this off, and you switch it around, it allows you to hook it up and to now run this directly to a car battery. That’ll give you power to this unit, that’ll give you power to the strobes you’re workin’ on set. It’ll do from 750 to 1400 watt second packs. Uh, if you have a 1600 watt second pack, it’s just a little too much for this. It’ll actually put it into overdrive, it’ll just shut itself down. Just dial that back about a third you’ll be able to use this just fine. They’re really ideal for Dynalite’s 800 watt second packs. Really perfect for this set up uh, or any monoblocks, the new one by uh, Photoflex called the Flexflash, perfect for one of the seeing effects. You can run two Flexflashes off of one of these, I did it not too long ago. Uh, very easy to run those monoblocks off from a single battery uh, power source. I just think they’re-they’re par.. a perfect power supply. They’re lighter than a generator, they’re quiet, uh, they’re just, I lo-uh, very portable. A lot of the times I will tie this to the stand so that now this becomes a sand bag. This charges in about three hours which is a good charge time. Uh, if you have two of the batteries, you can quickly change out the battery and use the next one. Generally speakin’ if I’m usin’ an 800 watt second pack, specially if I’m using like 400 watt second Flexflash, I can’t exhaust one of these things in a shoot. It’s gonna ba plenty of power to get me through the shoot. Even though that I’m shooting hundreds of frames it really gives me plenty of juice. So I think these really are a trmendous, uh, asset on set. It’s the XP800. Uh, they run about $999, about a thousand dollars. Uh, but really a great power supply when you’re out on location. So check that out, Dynalite’s new XP800.
Hi, this is Jay P Morgan. This year for our holiday give away. We’ve got bags and tripods by Vanguard. Go to theslantedlens.com bags and tripods. There’s thousands of dollars of equipment we’re going to give away. Go to theslantedlens.com. There are several ways to win so go to theslantedlens.com. it’s gonna be a great holiday season.