Thursday, September 11, 2008

Any Photographers Out There??

I need help. The truth is: I shoot in auto mode most of the time. And that doesn't work too well when you're doing transracial photography. See those cute kids? The truth is, you can only see three of them, right? And even Elena is blurry. I need help! I desperately want a picture of all my kids, but I've learned that outdoor photos are best for that and even then the lighting has to be just right.
When the sun is behind the kids, you can't see my Africans at all. When the sun is in front of the kids, my Whities look like ghosts! What's a mom to do?
It's easy to take individual pictures of the kids. But getting them all in one shot is quite a challenge! We haven't had a family photo taken since the adoption! Gasp!!

Look at this goof! She doesn't care about my photography struggles. She laughs in the face of my greenness. How insensitive! How callous! How rude!
(And it's not fair that she can be so cute and so rude at the same time!)

C'mon, my photo-loving friends! I know you're out there. Help me!


MamaMahnken said...

I can't help you at all w/ your camera, LOL, but I say take them to Wal-Mart and for $6 or so they'll take 20 some odd of them is bound to come out ok, right? As long as they can all smile on cue, which my kids still haven't mastred...but I'm sure yours are more obedient :) - Veronica

heartchild said...

I have found that a bright overcast works best for my brood.

Setting the white balance on your camera can help too. My camera has a white balance option in the menu and you can set it for the setting you are in. On cloudy mode it will let more light in.

I am still learning lots. One other thing I was told about photographing black children in sunny weather is that light coming from the side is best. Such as taking pictures closer to sunset.

It is hard to get the right lighting with all of the skin tones. Trial and error, trial and error until you get a good one! Then that one barely dries before it's in a frame.

dr. g said...

Try fill flash even outdoors to catch the shadows of the darker skin.
Take your pictures very early in the am or at dusk.
***Read your camera manual, it will tell you how to use manual mode. For portraits, use larger aperature or smaller f-stop for a shallow depth of field then use a quick shutter speed. This will blur the background and keep the foreground (cute kids) in focus. Once you pick the f-stop ( the smallest number your camera will go to, ie the larger aperature--hate that concept)in manual mode, adjust the shutter speed until the bar is in the middle. You will see the bar in the view finder or screen. Are you still using a Cannon? with a digital, you get instant feedback, if it doesn't look good, change the shutter speed down a notch or up a notch until you get the results you like.
Another option, use the setting on your camera where the fstop stays the same and the camera automatically changes the shutter speed for the light/conditions.

dr. g said...

more thoughts. here is an article about just that
didn't read the whole thing, hope it helps.
just got a new Nikon D300. My first 'real' digital camera. Hope to spend time with it this weekend, reading the manual.

heartchild said...

Thanks Dr. G! That was very helpful!

Carletta said...

Can't help you with the photos, but your kids are adorable!

I nominated you for a blog award. You can get it here:

We had family troubles toward the end of the summer (FIL passed away), but things are settling down a bit. E-mail me when you guys have downtime.


Sonya Day said...

Most decent cameras now have options for manual settings for focal points, too. Make sure that, if you shoot manual, you select the option that puts all the kiddos in the focal area. If they are staggered in distance, pick an area in the middle (just don't vary distance too greatly).
Overcast weather, early am or dusk is great, as stated. Also, though, you might try to think about what the kids are wearing. For instance, white or light shirts reflect light more, so it will lighten up darker tones (fill light without as much effort!).
The main thing is take lots and lots of shots. When I had a photography prof, he would say one great shot on a whole roll of film was an accomplishment. If you are shooting digital, all the easier. Take tons, download them all, and then delete the bad ones when viewing them on a monitor. Sometimes, what you think is terrible on the little camera screen turns out to be awesome, so wait to delete!

Jody said...

Hey girl! Here are my tips:

1.Put the darker skins closer to the light source, the lighter skins further from the light.

2.Remember all good photos have a "light side of the face and a dark side of the face". The goal is not necessarily consistent lighting, it's interesting lighting.

3.Shoot for faces, not whole bodies. Have everyone lay in the grass with their heads together on a cloudy day. Aim for the edge of the pix to be about 2 inches outside of chins. The closer the better.

4.Plain, gray or light green shirts for everybody. Go buy some in bulk.

5.You have to be intentional about lighting. Don't expect to just "happen upon" great lighting. It won't happen with that many subjects.

6.Studio lights would def help. If you really want a great portrait not just a "shot of life" go to a Pro

Teri said...

Love the shot of your kids.

As for the lighting, you have some great comments already. I will add that sometimes, especially when the sun is behind your subjects, it's necessary to add a little pop of flash. A lot of point 'n shoots have the option of fill flash. Not too overpowering, but it adds just a little zing to get everyone properly exposed.

Found you on Who Says Eight Is Enough?

Melodie said...

Hey Ginger! The simplest suggestion I can give you is to buy a portable reflector. A reflector looks something like aluminum foil stuck to cardboard. You place the reflector at your feet so it is reflecting the surrounding light unto the faces of those in front of you. This method works in all types of lighting, clothing, and is flattering on both light and dark complexions. You can get them online or at a photography store.

Tanica said...

Hi Ginger. You've got lots of hints. My DH has a different option. He says:
The reason for the problem you are having is that in auto mode your camera uses reflective light metering through the lens. Your camera makes the assumption that to properly expose an image the average exposure of that image will be 18% gray. Without getting into too much detail, your camera turns every scene it takes into an 18% gray image internally. To get around this, go to your local photography store and purchase an 18% gray card. Then to take a picture with all of your family members, set your camera on manual exposure. Aim your camera at the 18% gray card so that only the gray card shows up in your viewfinder. Now use your camera's prescribed method for setting exposure in manual mode. Once this is done, under the exact same lighting conditions take the picture. This will be your camera's best exposure setting for that picture under those lighting conditions. All of this assumes ambient lighting and no flash. If you want to use flash, it gets a little more complicated. But try this and see how it goes.

I hope this helps!

Laura said...

Wow some great ideas!

I shoot in auto with the flash. Also early day dusk or shade.

I just started using a Nikon D60 and I am also learning. I have multi- race children too.

Heather said...

Ginger I am glad you asked this question! This is so helpful! My camera has been doing super sonic flash to pick up the beautiful skin of my dark-skinned baby girl, and always next to her is whitest baby who have ever seen! The result is she looks stunning, and he is completely washed out of the picture! Thanks so much for the help!