Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re going to take a look at lens choice and camera settings for doing a family portrait out on location. I’ve got the Dinnendahls and the Eichs here with me today. They’re going to be our models as we show you how to set up the scene, how to light it, how to choose that location and then most importantly how to pose the people. It’s not easy with seven people. You want that rise and fall, rise and fall, beautiful masters kind of posing. So let’s get started and see what we can do.
Special thanks to Saal Digital for sponsoring this video. They’re going to provide prints for the Eichs and the Dinnendahls. You’ll see us deliver those prints in another video.
So my lens choice when I’m photographing a family is a zoom lens. I’m going to use a 28-75mm f/2.8. It’s a Tamron Lens for the Sony camera. I love this lens because it gives me a range. I’m going to want to do a lot of these at 50 millimeters. And it gives me a 50 millimeter. But it also gives me all the way up to 75mm which is getting very close to an 85mm. That allows me to get in tighter. It brings the background in, makes the background a little more out of focus. If I can get back far enough I’ll shoot some of that big family with that 75mm. I’ll shoot a lot of them at 50mm and I may even shoot some at 35mm where I see more contextually the whole scene and it just gives me a lot of options. I’ve got two different families here so I’m going to shoot three people, I’m going to do two people, I’m going to do one person. This allows me to jump back and forth. I can zoom in tighter for a single person and come out to 50 millimeters for two people. It just gives me a lot of options. So I love working on that 28-75mm. I can just shoot, shoot, shoot. And it just gives me all the options that I really love.
So there’s a look at 35mm, 50mm and 75mm.
The 35mm we see a lot of the trees and I think it kind of looks too much away from the family and creates too much sky.
Whereas the 50mm looks just right straight down the trees and gives us a nice beautiful background.
The 75mm is nice but I feel like it brings that background in a little too close. And it doesn’t, it’s not really needed. I think the 50mm looks perfect for this setup. I generally end up on a 50 millimeter lens just because it allows me to be in close to the family. I can work with them, get everyone framed. It’s just an easy way to work. And it gives me a beautiful look at the background. So, there’s a look at the lens choice. So that 28-75mm just gives me all the options that I really love. And I can work quickly with it. That’s why I use a zoom lens.
So for the ISO and white balance I set the ISO at 100. I may push that up to 200 ISO if I need to. But I think I’m going to stay pretty much at 100 ISO. That gives me a really nice fine detail on the sensor to make it so I can blow this up to a great print. Then I’ll set the white balance at 6000 degrees which matches strobe and is a little bit warm. Which will make the portrait look really nice.
Now let’s set our aperture. The aperture is a little tricky because I’ve got two layers of people here. I’ll focus on the front row. At f/4 it should hold the back row. I’d love to go to f/2.8 but it won’t hold the back row. And I feel like that’s going to be too dangerous. So I’m going to go to f/4. I may need to go to f/5.6 just so I can make sure that the people in the front and the back are in focus. Remember, this is going to be blown up to a large print. And if Brian in the back row is out of focus he’s not going to be happy with me. So if you look at f/2.8 I’m not holding the back row very well. At f/4 I’m starting to and at f/5.6 I’m definitely comfortable. I’m going to shoot at f/5.6 just for safety reasons. What I love about wide open is that it makes the background all fall out of focus and it just looks so beautiful. So I don’t want to go to something deep like f/8. That just brings all that background into focus and it keeps the composition from being simple. I want that background to fall out of focus. So I’m going to try to go right to the edge. I’m going to go f/5.6. I may shoot a few at f/4 just to make sure that, just to see if I can get away with it. It’s important when you set this composition up that you don’t get people way forward and way back because now you’re in trouble. You got to keep them pretty close together and let that rise and fall happen in a tight frame work next to each other. And that’s going to help keep them in an area that’ll keep them in focus at a much shallower depth of field. And let the background fall out of focus. Definitely at f/5.6 I’m comfortable. I got the everyone in focus, so f/5.6.
So let’s set our shutter. The shutter is super important because the shutter is going to allow the ambient light to either become brighter or darker. A longer shutter will make it brighter. A shorter shutter is going to make it darker. We need to blend it together.
I’ll start at 250 which is the fastest that my strobes will sink with the camera.
And then I’m going to just lengthen that shutter until it starts to blend the two together.
So it’s really very much a dance. You have to change it as the light changes.
Because as the light changes you’ll need to lengthen it. As it gets darker you want to lengthen it.
In this case the sun is going down. We’re going to want to lengthen it as that sun goes down. So I’ll start at 250 and I’m going to lengthen it until it looks right with our strobes.
So this is the Saal Digital print that the family chose. It’s a gallery print. That acrylic surface is reinforced with aluminum. So it’s very strong. It’ll be a nice size print they’re going to put up on the wall. It’s got seven colors, UV print. It’s a beautiful print, a beautiful look. It’s going to look modern on the wall. So I’m excited to see this when we deliver it to the family.
The first thing I look for when I’m going to photograph a family is a place just like this. I’m in the shade, complete shade. I can now come in and put my light in with my strobes and paint the light on my family. It gives me complete control for a long period of time.
But I’m looking out into beautiful sunlight. There’s depth, there’s light depth behind me. So I’m in the shade and then I want that sun to either be behind me or to the side. It gives me a little bit of rim light and makes it so I have complete control of the light on their faces.
All right, let’s talk about posing here. We have seven people. The goal is to give ourselves a rise and a fall, rise and fall. It’s very much a masters painting kind of way to compose. We want the eye to just kind of move from person to person, to person to person. And they want to give us just a little kind of let down at the end. So first thing I’m going to do is, I’m looking at this image and I don’t want to put my tallest person in the middle because that builds it in a pyramid up to the middle. I don’t want that. I want it to push off to one side. So I’m going to have Brian come in. Brian’s going to be our tallest person here and we’re going to put him just slightly to one side in the background. Then I’m going to bring Scott in. He’s going to be just off from Brian’s side. So we’re already starting. Just kind of rise, it’s coming up. Then Kealia, let’s slide Kealia right in there. So gentlemen, don’t square up too much. Just turn slightly, not too much. Ladies are going to definitely want to turn in. There you go. And now let’s bring in mom. Come on in Amy. Let’s slide to your right here. Kayla come on in. Kayla right there and you’ll turn towards your mom. There you go. And slide in. So I want to make sure, Amy you get between Kealia and Brian. So come out just a little bit there Kealia. She’s right in there. Brian come over just a hair. I want, I don’t want the heads to start lining up with each other. Okay, so now we’ll get Bodie here and we’re going to leave one little spot there for Bryce. Come on in Bryce. Bryce becomes our arabesque. This is what’s called an arabesque. Okay, so Bryce is our arabesque. And what this means is we’re going to have, it’s going to come up to Scott and it’s going to drop down to Bryce. Then we’re going to come up from Kayla up to Brian and down to Mom here. Then we’re going to come up to Kealia and Kealia’s arm is going to lead us off at the end and kind of finish it. A little punctuation on the end. So we want, everyone has their head space. The hardest point for me is right here because we’ve got mom and daughter. They’re turned towards each other. And that, just want to keep ourselves as close as we can. And Bryce we want to lean on. Bryce kind of lets us down. His feet come down. He’s lower, it gives us an excuse to look down there. But we want to keep your head fairly close. Right in there Bryce. Right about there. All right, this looks really nice.
So this is a very traditional kind of setup here. What I love about this type of setup, and it’s kind of people love to do these really modern creative fun things which are great, but this gets my heads all together and makes their heads as large as possible in the print. And allows me to also shoot the entire family because I can do feet all the way to their heads. But I can also punch into this and it makes a beautiful horizontal. Tighter on their faces. We’ll shoot both those versions so you can see which one they like. But it’s just meant to give us those options to really see the people and that’s our goal.
All right, let’s talk about our lighting setup here. We’ve got two FJ400s. I love the FJ400 because it’s got enough power really to work with the sun. I’ve got one on a soft box. It’s working with that new Sony trigger that they just came out with. This is the FJ-X3 which is a really wonderful trigger on the FJ400. It allows me to change the settings much easier. I love the new triggers from Westcott. So we’ve got the FJ400 and a soft box on the camera left side. So I have a rim light on the camera right side imitating the rim light that’s already there. I put a full CTO on that rim light so it gives us a nice, warm, sun setting kind of look. So as the sun actually falls behind the hill we’ll turn that rim light on. So we’ve got our key light up front and rim light on the camera right side. That’s really our lighting in a nutshell. We’re going to open up the shadows by lengthening our shutter. That’s going to give us a nice strobe lit and ambient light shot.
So I’d like to thank the Dinnendahls and the Eichs for coming out and doing this portrait with us here today. Take a look at some of these other videos like that. We have other videos on lens choice and camera settings for different types of photography. I love this journey. I love to shoot. Every time I shoot I learn something. So if you like that, check out some of our other videos. And I promise you, no one was harmed in the making of this film.