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Photo Craft Technique Suggestions for first time portrait shooting

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Old Apr-30-2012, 06:31 AM
#1
DJFriar is offline DJFriar OP
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Suggestions for first time portrait shooting
I have a local low-income day care where I'm friends with some employees there. One of them commented on having school portrait type pictures done, one thing lead to another, and I volunteered to help them out at no cost from my end, with our goal being to get at least one picture to each family.

However, I'm not a professional photographer. I'm not a terrible one either, and I see this as a way to help out my community while also gaining some valuable experience. That said, I'm not 100% certain what all I should have to complete this. Could you fellow Dgrinner's suggest a "bare minimum" list of things I should acquire to do some basic school portrait type shots?

I currently have a Nikon D5100, SB400 flash, 35mm lens and a tripod. I am willing to spend a few hundred to get equipment, but don't have a huge budget as its purely pro bono, I just feel strongly that every family should have some pictures of their kids/themselves in their home and want to help out. Backdrops are going to be supplied by the day care (they are going to make an art project out of it).

Suggestions?
Old Apr-30-2012, 08:39 AM
#2
ZBlack is offline ZBlack
ZLB Photography
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I am far from an expert on this one, but I have just began picking up a couple cheap studio lights and wireless triggers in preparation for some portrait style shooting. What I have come up with is using some Flashpoint II monolights that run $99 each. They have a variety of those lights to choose from and these are the cheapest and weakest in terms of power, but they do what I am after. They are sold/made by Adorama, but the link here is for Amazon.

Then I picked up 2 of these light stands and then two of these Umbrella Softboxes. These are only 40", so they may be a bit small for some peoples taste, but so far for my testing and minimal plans, they have been great.

I already have an external speedlight which I will be using to light the background or subject from the back after some testing. Ordered a cheap backdrop stand and muslin as well, but you will have that provided to you it sounds like.

Lastly, you should see if there is a Help-Portrait event near by you, or maybe even get one started. The whole idea is exactly what you're doing.
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Old Apr-30-2012, 10:24 PM
#3
DJFriar is offline DJFriar OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZBlack View Post
I am far from an expert on this one, but I have just began picking up a couple cheap studio lights and wireless triggers in preparation for some portrait style shooting. What I have come up with is using some Flashpoint II monolights that run $99 each. They have a variety of those lights to choose from and these are the cheapest and weakest in terms of power, but they do what I am after. They are sold/made by Adorama, but the link here is for Amazon.

Then I picked up 2 of these light stands and then two of these Umbrella Softboxes. These are only 40", so they may be a bit small for some peoples taste, but so far for my testing and minimal plans, they have been great.

I already have an external speedlight which I will be using to light the background or subject from the back after some testing. Ordered a cheap backdrop stand and muslin as well, but you will have that provided to you it sounds like.

Lastly, you should see if there is a Help-Portrait event near by you, or maybe even get one started. The whole idea is exactly what you're doing.
Stupid question, but did you have to buy a transmitter to fire those strobes as well, or are they flash fired or ?
Old Apr-30-2012, 10:51 PM
#4
Mike J is offline Mike J
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If you haven't done so I would highly recommend you check out: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ Scroll down to the Lighting 101 Archive on the right-hand side and start reading. You can do really nice portraits with a single light and no modifiers (think bouncing it off the ceiling). Also, your 35mm lens is not ideal for portraits. That wide of a lens (really 50mm-ish with the crop factor of the D5100) will cause some distortion of the faces. You really want something more in the 80mm to 120mm range. Hope this helps. My bare minimum for you would be a new lens and something to allow you to use your SB400 off-camera (could be a sync cord or wireless triggers). Better yet would be a new flash that would rotate and pivot - something like an SB-600. MPEX also makes the Lumopro LP160 which has gotten good reviews.
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Old May-01-2012, 06:44 AM
#5
ZBlack is offline ZBlack
ZLB Photography
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJFriar View Post
Stupid question, but did you have to buy a transmitter to fire those strobes as well, or are they flash fired or ?
I am using some very cheap wireless triggers. These are what I currently have with a couple additional receivers.

The place that Mike said to check out is an excellent resource. Definitely spend some time there.
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Old May-01-2012, 11:37 AM
#6
DJFriar is offline DJFriar OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike J View Post
If you haven't done so I would highly recommend you check out: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ Scroll down to the Lighting 101 Archive on the right-hand side and start reading. You can do really nice portraits with a single light and no modifiers (think bouncing it off the ceiling). Also, your 35mm lens is not ideal for portraits. That wide of a lens (really 50mm-ish with the crop factor of the D5100) will cause some distortion of the faces. You really want something more in the 80mm to 120mm range. Hope this helps. My bare minimum for you would be a new lens and something to allow you to use your SB400 off-camera (could be a sync cord or wireless triggers). Better yet would be a new flash that would rotate and pivot - something like an SB-600. MPEX also makes the Lumopro LP160 which has gotten good reviews.
You have destroyed my productivity! I'd never heard of that site, but thank you. Its fantastic.

For the lens, I also have an 18-55mm and the 55-200mm. I had someone suggest the 55-200 set to 55 would be around 80mm after crop factor. Not sure if picking up the 50mm fixed would make a huge difference in this particular use case. Or are you suggesting an 80mm lens before accounting for crop factor?
Old May-01-2012, 12:01 PM
#7
Mike J is offline Mike J
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJFriar View Post
You have destroyed my productivity! I'd never heard of that site, but thank you. Its fantastic.

For the lens, I also have an 18-55mm and the 55-200mm. I had someone suggest the 55-200 set to 55 would be around 80mm after crop factor. Not sure if picking up the 50mm fixed would make a huge difference in this particular use case. Or are you suggesting an 80mm lens before accounting for crop factor?
I hear you - I've spent a lot of time on strobist as well... The 80-120 recommendation is for full frame with no crop factor so, yes, your 55mm would be about 80mm (1.5 x55). Your 55-200 would be the lens that I would recommend you work with for this. I don't think you need the 50mm unless you want a faster lens to work with. If you use the 55-200, you really don't need to invest a lot of money to make this happen if you plan to bounce the light. Now if you want to use an umbrella, keep reading strobist...
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