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11-13-2014, 08:26 AM   #1
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Xmas Pictures

O.k. guys and gals I need some help. As mentioned in another thread I'm ordering a K-3 and a Pentax 18-135 lens either tonight or tomorrow. My wife says my first job with it will be to take some pictures of my young fella to use on our xmas cards so she doesn't have to book a sitting with a pro. I figure I got a couple weeks to practice and figure out the settings I'll need to get a decent shot. Question is will the 18-135 get it done inside in dim light being its only a 3.5-5.6. From the picture sample she says she likes and wants something similar she has high expectations....so do I really. Look at the link below...she's looking for something like pic #1 with the kid tangled up in lights. Now my thought is yeah that's nice but wouldn't it look nicer if he was sitting in front of the tree with upper lights on, no lights on the bottom all in bokah and him tangled in lights in focus. Weather my skill can get the shot is one thing but can the lens even pull it off or should I get something else that's around the same price range or maybe an older manual lens. Thanks for the help

Five Creative Photography Ideas for Family Christmas Cards ? Toddlers - Paperblog

11-13-2014, 09:07 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by gastch Quote
O.k. guys and gals I need some help. As mentioned in another thread I'm ordering a K-3 and a Pentax 18-135 lens either tonight or tomorrow. My wife says my first job with it will be to take some pictures of my young fella to use on our xmas cards so she doesn't have to book a sitting with a pro. I figure I got a couple weeks to practice and figure out the settings I'll need to get a decent shot. Question is will the 18-135 get it done inside in dim light being its only a 3.5-5.6. From the picture sample she says she likes and wants something similar she has high expectations....so do I really. Look at the link below...she's looking for something like pic #1 with the kid tangled up in lights. Now my thought is yeah that's nice but wouldn't it look nicer if he was sitting in front of the tree with upper lights on, no lights on the bottom all in bokah and him tangled in lights in focus. Weather my skill can get the shot is one thing but can the lens even pull it off or should I get something else that's around the same price range or maybe an older manual lens. Thanks for the help

Five Creative Photography Ideas for Family Christmas Cards ? Toddlers - Paperblog
For a shot like the first one, without flash, you'd want something quite faster...
A lowly 50mm f/1.8 (a.k.a. "plastic fantastic") is a good choice (use it at, I don't know, f/2 or f/2.8).
You don't want your shutter speeds to drop too much: it can be difficult to make a child stay still...

A shot like the second one is easier, as you can underexpose the silhouettes by metering on the tree. Again, no flash...

Looks like you'll have to pump up ISO quite a bit with the 18-135, which is essentially a good all-around, but not so suited for low-light situations...
11-13-2014, 09:30 AM   #3
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The 35 dal 2.4 is another nice option that will give you a bit more room to play with indoors.
11-13-2014, 09:34 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by LensBeginner Quote
You don't want your shutter speeds to drop too much: it can be difficult to make a child stay still...
That was my first thought. Probably a shutter speed of 1/60 is optimistic. The setup might work for a sleepy kid, though.

The example shot has a light colored wall and floor which reflect some of the Christmas lights around. That makes the photo look like the lights are the only light source, though they could have added lighting off camera if they were tricky*. Your idea of including the tree sounds OK but the lights won't have the same surfaces to reflect off of. So you may have lots of trouble creating the same soft lighting look.

Test your setup without the model to get an idea of settings, focus and lighting balance. Christmas lights are small points that the metering system sometimes ignores, so you get overexposed lights.

A secondary lighting issue is getting all the lights to be similar color temperatures. Incandescent Christmas lights and incandescent room lights are on the way out, and the alternatives can be many different color temperatures.

*I think an ordinary lamp off-camera and a gold reflector might work here.

11-13-2014, 09:47 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
*snip*
The example shot has a light colored wall and floor which reflect some of the Christmas lights around. That makes the photo look like the lights are the only light source, though they could have added lighting off camera if they were tricky*. Your idea of including the tree sounds OK but the lights won't have the same surfaces to reflect off of. So you may have lots of trouble creating the same soft lighting look.
*snip*

*I think an ordinary lamp off-camera and a gold reflector might work here.
Lamps are good if the alternative is total darkness...
However - and you no doubt know that, just making sure the OP is informed - the catch is that their output is so low you need exposure time (or ISO) to make up for that.
There was a thread on this forum regarding shooting kids indoor with big-ish, very bright led panels, and it turned out that they too were vastly underpowered with respect to a flash pop (basic models are around the same power as a lamp - 1000-1300 lumens).
See:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/125-flashes-lighting-studio/276012-how-ma...ght-panel.html

The thing is, it might only last a fraction of a second, but it's more than enough to give all the light that a normal (1000lumen) lamp can provide in, say, ten seconds?
So, don't rely on lamps to provide additional lightning, you'll be lucky if they give you a stop more...

Only exception is if they are real, real close... remember the square of the distance thingy...
Inverse-square law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
You can shoot a boy's face illuminated only by a 10" tablet in total darkness at ISO1600, f/2, 1/50 or thereabouts, if its face is within, say, 4 or 5in of the screen.
11-13-2014, 12:31 PM   #6
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Flash is better for just more light, but then you have to modify it to create the atmosphere in the example shots. It would have to come from the right place and be the right color, otherwise it wrecks the mood. I think flash is difficult because I have trouble with it. Plus the OP didn't mention buying an external flash, and using the camera's flash for that effect would be a challenge.

I looked at some of my Christmas photos and tried to estimate the amount of light provided by a string of lights. I came up with Ev4 or Ev5. It turns out the Wikipedia page on exposure value says the same thing, I could have saved some time there. Start with that, a guess of 1/60 for shutter speed, and aperture at f4 (wide open at the wide end of the 18-135). That suggests an ISO of 3200-6400. The 3200-6400 ISO range is OK on a K-3 by itself. You just don't have a lot of flexibility to adjust further, if I'm wrong. Going down to 1/30 shutter speed might be possible, dropping ISO to 1600-3200.

The suggestions for a different lens are good. A lens that opens to f2 allows a better range, 800-1600. A 50mm lens has about a foot of depth of field (amount in focus) at 10 feet away so as long as focus is good, that should work. The lens would be useful for lots of natural light portrait situations.
11-13-2014, 12:40 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Flash is better for just more light, but then you have to modify it to create the atmosphere in the example shots. It would have to come from the right place and be the right color, otherwise it wrecks the mood. I think flash is difficult because I have trouble with it. Plus the OP didn't mention buying an external flash, and using the camera's flash for that effect would be a challenge.

I looked at some of my Christmas photos and tried to estimate the amount of light provided by a string of lights. I came up with Ev4 or Ev5. It turns out the Wikipedia page on exposure value says the same thing, I could have saved some time there. Start with that, a guess of 1/60 for shutter speed, and aperture at f4 (wide open at the wide end of the 18-135). That suggests an ISO of 3200-6400. The 3200-6400 ISO range is OK on a K-3 by itself. You just don't have a lot of flexibility to adjust further, if I'm wrong. Going down to 1/30 shutter speed might be possible, dropping ISO to 1600-3200.

The suggestions for a different lens are good. A lens that opens to f2 allows a better range, 800-1600. A 50mm lens has about a foot of depth of field (amount in focus) at 10 feet away so as long as focus is good, that should work. The lens would be useful for lots of natural light portrait situations.
I wasn't suggesting him to buy an external flash for those shots, merely saying that some lights which appear quite bright to our eyes actually don't help that much.

I can agree with your findings about Christmas lights, they seem plausible enough that I don't need to verify them.
Also ISO & your exposure assessment seem both to be in the right ballpark.

I'd buy a prime and be done with it, unless the OP is ok with that kind of ISO values and the ensuing noise, mushiness issues (it all depends on end use and planned enlargment, of course).
11-13-2014, 12:48 PM   #8
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One nice feature with the K-3 is that you can dial down the pop up flash a bit if you wanted to use it. Experiment with the settings on a stuffed animal or something before you put you kid in front of the lens. His/her patience may wear out befor you get it just right. If this is your first dslr you are going to love it, worst case scenario you can let the camera handle the settings for you.

11-13-2014, 01:12 PM   #9
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To me the photo off the photographer Joop Joop link is a truer representation of the exposure then on this link, something is askew in the repost. Looking closely at his photo I would agree the photographer appears to have used a very wide aperture and narrow depth of field judging by the softness of the feet and face with the sharp focus being the upper torso and shirt collar area. I too doubt you would get that look using an 18-135mm f3.5 -5.6.

Last edited by Oldbayrunner; 11-13-2014 at 01:29 PM.
11-13-2014, 03:33 PM   #10
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Thanks for the info, I ordered the camera today and I think I'll order the DA50 F1.8 tonight.
11-14-2014, 12:59 AM   #11
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surely the DA50 1.8 is the best option here but you could always get a cheap manual external flash and a ttl cord and that will work too. even one of those old transparent film cases will work on your pop-up flash as a diffuser to avoid the harshness. if you do that, make sure you leave the hood off since it will cast a shadow since the on board flash is too low.
even an aluminium foil can be used as a reflector to bounce some light from the xmas lights into your kids face. tons of options here...its all about trial and error
12-23-2014, 05:24 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I was looking for a post and came across this post of mine so I thought I'd share what I ended up with. We used the first 2 for the cards and the other 2 where just for fun. I practiced alot with one of his large teady bears to figure out what settings and lighting worked best and to figure out where I needed him to set in relation to the tree and camera. It's a small room so I didn't have many choices. The 35mm probably would have worked alittle better here. Not to bad considering everybody in the house was sick for 3 weeks leading up to this picture.







12-23-2014, 06:37 AM   #13
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Wow nice pictures!
Happy to see that you put our tips to fruition, well done!
12-23-2014, 04:28 PM   #14
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This attached photo shows you what I did with our K-3 and a Promaster lens. This was the best of 28 photos. The text was added with none other than Microsoft Paint. We had them printed out at Walgreens and after the coupon the total was $9.17 for 20 cards and envelopes. Not a bad deal!


The feedback we've received is 100% positive. My wife's aunt thought it was a professional photo that someone came into our house to do. Others thought it was a photo I downloaded from a stock image site. Nope. That's Junebug. She is our American Domestic Short-haired Brown Mackerel Tabby sitting under the tree in a basket holding a stocking and being distracted by a squirrel outdoors. I did need to tweak the Metz flash a bit but I think the end product is perfect.


In previous years we would have paid 3-4x this amount to send out 20 cards. The K-3 has officially started to pay for itself!


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