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10-01-2012, 03:25 PM   #1
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What would you do? In a Pickle!

Here's the deal. I finally just got my new K-30 this weekend and guess what, my dear friend talked me into taking pics of her daughter for her senior pics. I just got it and she knows this and I tried to buy time BUT I suckered and said I would TRY--tomorrow I am very amature, just advancing from a bridge. Anyway, to give it a try, what settings would be a good bet? It's going to be late afternoon, pretty bright sun but not direct of course (shade, fall foilage) and I have the DA 50 1.8 lens. Obviously I am green and was planning to have more time to book up before an "event". Can I shoot in auto for a back up?

10-01-2012, 03:52 PM   #2
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Without taking a crash course on exposure & portrait photography, you could simply try the various mode settings on your K-30 (I assume it has them?) Set to "portrait" mode if you are close to the subject, with their heads/shoulders in the frame. Or set to normal green auto pict if you're a bit further back or taking group shots. Try taking a few test shots using the different modes to get a feel for it. Try to keep your subjects out of direct sunlight, or mixed sun & shade if possible. Of course, eventually you'll want to learn how to "really" use your camera to get the most from it. That will come in time & taking lots of photos! Good luck & enjoy your new camera
10-01-2012, 04:04 PM   #3
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Shoot in RAW+. P-mode. Highlight and shadow correction on. Take lots of shots. Good luck.
10-01-2012, 04:52 PM   #4
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Bring your other camera too, you're already accustomed to using it. Depending on what camera it is, some of the bridge cameras can do a pretty good job, especially with this type shots. My K-x is fried right now until I can get it fixed, so I'm using a Fuji Film bridge camera, but when I had it working I always carried a point and shoot Samsung too. And used it more than I thought I would. I just did some wedding pictures with the fuji, but fortunately I wasn't the primary photographer. I just did some for myself, and to add to the ones done by the primary photographer. I also used my 35mm Minolta. The best thing about digital is you can immediately see the results and adjust as necessary.

As far as using the DSLR goes, certainly try it out, I would say fix the ISO around 200 to 400, and try aperture priority. f8 should work pretty well, and watch the shutter speed. With a 50mm it shouldn't be a major problem in decent light, I get up to 250 shutter speed at f8 on cloudy days, at 200 ISO, and a 50mm shouldn't give you any motion problems as slow as 60 shutter speed even without stabilization. The weding pictures I took were using 200 ISO film under a gazebo, I think 1/125 was the slowest I got using a 45mm lens. I stayed at f8-f11 the whole time. Diffused light under foliage can be difficult, and a fill in flash might be useful. You might also try having someone hold a reflector to direct some light onto the subject if it gets too shadowy.

My preference is to keep the ISO as low as possible, even with the newer cameras' ability to perform at higher ISO settings, I like to keep my shots as clean as possible, and I've found that I rarely have to change from ISO 200, even under the conditions you describe. A lot of my bird shots were taken under foliage at ISO 200 on partially cloudy days, but on overcast days I might have to go to ISO 400. I still get usable shutter speeds, even though a lot of people like to go for high ISO if they can. I prefer to keep it to 400 or less, 200 or even 100 if I can get by with it.

There are plenty things you can do, but with limited knowledge of DSLR, the best idea I have is bring your bridge camera too. If it's anything over 7 megapixels it should give you acceptable shots. I've taken some surprisingly good shots with my 7.2 megapixel Samsung point and shoot. So bring a camera you're already familiar with.

A tripod might help also, you can set one on the tripod and shoot quickly with the other, and gets shots with both without a lot of hassle. I'd set the DSLR on a tripod and set the P&S on top of it to shoot, immediately after the DSLR shot, just tell the subject to be patient for a few seconds. Even bridge or point and shoot cameras will get print quality shots, if used carefully. Some may argue that, but I've done it plenty times. I have macro shots of flowers and insects that surprised a friend who is a professional, he didn't know a point and shoot took them until I told definitely take your bridge camera. If you're accustomed to it and can get good shots with it, that camera may save the day.

10-01-2012, 05:10 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for the help! I will dfinitely bring the old Fuji S6000fd for the back up (or main!!! ha ha) I get zero bokeh though So Im still terrified but a tad more confident- thanks so much!!!! Great tips!
10-01-2012, 05:24 PM   #6
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Another Option?

Hello Northmole,
Well, you've gotten some good advice so far, but I have a slightly different idea. Maybe try a couple of shots on aperture priority (Av on the mode dial) with the ISO set at 100, shoot in RAW. Set the aperture at f/2.8 with the thumb wheel (front or rear, however you have it set), focus on the eyes and use the on-camera flash for "fill" in the full shade.
Hopefully, this will give you good background bokeh, shallow depth of field and enough fill to add a "Sparkle" to the eyes. If they come out too light, stop down to f/4.0 and f/5.6. Just a classic head-and-shoulders shot should do the trick.
It's worth a couple of frames, might work out OK!
Watch your background! Keep distracting straight lines and high-contrast colors out.
10-01-2012, 06:10 PM   #7
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Ok, I am no expert, but this is what I would do. With the DA 50/1.8 I used the photographer's calculator for some numbers. I am an engineer, what can I say.
  • 50 mm lens at 10 feet away would give you a field of 4.75' x 3.1' good enough for a head and shoulders shot
  • Next, I figured out what aperture at 10 feet would provide a depth of field of about 2 feet, in order to get the entire body depth in focus (and just not the subject's nose). f5.6 would provide about 2.5'. f4 (dof of 1.8') or f2.8 (dof of 1.2') would provider shallower depth of field and would work also. The smaller f stops (ala f2.8) would provide a more blurred background that would help.
  • Adjust the ISO to what ever is necessary as others have indicated.
  • Auto focus and Shoot. Then adjust from there.
I am just figuring out a box to get the subject into that would have them in focus all the time, and then just shoot away...... Portrait photographer I am not. I like landscapes since they usually don't move (well not too much anyway).

10-01-2012, 06:35 PM   #8
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There is no bad advice here. I recently moved froma K20D to a K-30. I don't have your lens though. But one setting that I have found very useful on the K-30 is the TAv mode.You set aperture and shutter speed and the camera will choose the ISO. I've already got useable photos at ISO 6400, maybe not for senior portraits, just depends on the setting. If you are using a 50mm lens choose a shutter speed of at least 1/100. If you do use a tripod go on live view, focus peaking is so good you can see how much is in focus, especially good if you are using a wide aperture with a narrow depth of field for that creamy bokeh. Paul mentioned using portrait mode, it is there, set the top dial to SCN and select it on the rear screen.

It's really unfair to pressure you into this job with a new camera, you'll be lucky to figure these settings out let alone when to use them. I would offer to do some photos now and then again in about a month, by then you'll be at least comfortable with some aspects of the camera. If you have a tripod, get a remote to use with it, if not that's two things you need. The $2 remotes on ebay work great.

Good luck!

10-01-2012, 06:53 PM   #9

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I don't have a lot of experience with portraits, but I'd try aperture priority and perhaps f2.8 - 4, with focus on the eyes - the eyes absolutely need to be sharp. I'd want to photograph with the subject in the shade, and try to avoid a distracting background. Use a high enough ISO to get a shutter speed that will eliminate any ill effects from camera movement, about 1/250 or faster, but hopefully keep the ISO under 400. Try to position the subject to get pleasing catchlights/reflections in the eyes. An on-camera flash can work for that, but it can also be tricky to balance the flash such that it doesn't look artificial. I don't have that model camera, but if it has highlight/shadow compensation, that might help. Definitely use raw+jpeg, as long as you have a big enough memory card. Perhaps most important, take lots of pictures.

10-01-2012, 09:10 PM   #10
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I'd agree with all the advice so far. Personally I prefer using f/2.0 to f/2.8, but as previous poster said, you want the eyes (both of them) to be in focus, no matter what. Using f/2.0 helps to blur the background so it isn't too distracting, and you can still keep both eyes in focus. It's okay to experiment a little with the aperture values between f/2.0 and f/4.0 or higher, you will develop your own preferences pretty quickly.

You can get good portraits from 50mm, but some would say a little more telephoto would help. This depends on what type of portraits you are doing. Bring your bridge camera and make use of the telephoto range too. Telephoto will allow you to isolate your subject better, i.e., to have less of the background in the frame.
10-01-2012, 09:44 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Try all that camera setting advice other posters have said, that's what I'd do. I would try rbefly's fill-flash idea. I have botched this but when I get it right, it looks great. The trick is to get the balance correct, so the image looks like it was taken with natural light, and the flash just adds a touch of extra to it. If it's not that bright out, raise the ISO from 100 too, which should allow more natural light to contribute to the photo.

In addition, be careful of your locations and backgrounds. Shaded areas will have different, cooler light than in the sun, so white balance might look odd. Set a custom white balance, use one of the camera presets, or shoot RAW and fix it later.

Watch for lighting conditions that fool the meter. Your subject might be shaded but if there's bright sun in the background or reflections, the meter will try to preserve those highlight areas too. That might leave your subject in the dark. Jewelry or glasses might cause the same effect.
10-01-2012, 10:04 PM   #12
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You've gotten some good advice here. A few tips that occurred to me:

If you are totally lost, set "P" mode and let the camera do the work. If you have even a little confidence, use "A" mode, set the aperture to f2 to f4 for shallow depth of field. Check the LCD after the first few shots and zoom in to see what is in focus. If the eyes are in focus but the ears or hair not, close down a half-stop and try again. Needless to say, turn the camera up into portrait position for most of these shots.

Focus on the eyes but be careful not to fall into the amateur trap of centering the eyes. Focus, press half-shutter to lock it and recompose so the head is in the upper half of frame. Don't leave a lot of dead space above.

Try setting the flash to slow speed sync, lower the flash strength by a stop or so with the dial and use the flash to fill in shadows. If you don't like the effect, just snap it back down and forget it but it will help add definition and saturate colors if done correctly. Just don't over-do it or the whole shot ends up looking like a "flash shot." Not good.

If you are not comfortable shooting RAW and doing all the post processing, use JPG but go into the picture settings on the circular selector and select "Portrait" or "Vibrant." You could also punch up the in-camera sharpening a bit on the same screen. Don't overdo it.

That 50 mm is a little short for portraits. Don't move in too close or you might get distortion. Head and shoulders should work fine.

Most importantly, don't stress over this. Have fun with it and use it as a good first chance to use your great new camera.
10-01-2012, 11:18 PM - 1 Like   #13
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you guys rock! Raw???

You all are an amazing support system! I cannot wait to really dig in! Not quite tomorrow though Yeah I would have liked much more lead time but there's a wet cold nasty spell in the forcast and she wants the fall colors. Argghhh.

Anyway- I have zero experience shooting raw, I just knew while shopping, I should get into it at some point. What is the main benefit, and will I need special software when I upload onto my computer for editing? I am clueless!

Appreciate all the calculations!!!!
10-02-2012, 12:04 AM   #14
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Yes, you would need software - and time - to process your images from RAW. I believe Pentax still includes a disk with a basic program that you can use (could be wrong about that as I have used other software for years.) When you shoot RAW, you do not have any images, just the raw data. Your computer will not even recognize the files as images. You can get a lot more control over image adjustments, colors, exposures, white balance and so on but it takes an effort to process each image. There is a learning curve.

In your case, I'd counsel you to forget about RAW for now and use JPG, or shoot in RAW+JPEG mode so you will have jpegs to give your friend and also have the RAW versions of your images to learn with. Your camera will take and save both if you select that option in the main menu. I think you would be better off shooting the best JPGs you can until you know a bit more about RAW and the processing that goes with it.

On another note, if you want to include the trees and such in the background of your images as you indicate above, then forget about setting the aperture for shallow depth of field and shoot at f11 or so. Try both, f2 - f4 to blur the background and f11 or f16 to sharpen it.
10-02-2012, 02:59 AM   #15
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Lot of good advise. i would most definitely shoot RAW+JPEG, lot easier to tweak white balance and levels in PP. You can always delete them later.
Speaking of deleting, right after you get done shooting, lock your memory card and keep it locked till you have the images on a back-up disc.

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