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11-19-2007, 09:58 AM   #1
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Portrait help...

I've searched the forums and gleaned some good advice, but looking for much more confidence.

Basically, I've gotten the K10D, and been playing around with it. Because it is so very nice and advanced compared to my wife's canon, this is becoming the "family camera " (except, its mine!! all mine!!

Now, with turkey day, my wife and MIL told me to bring the camera to my house upstate NY (duh). Will be taking some candids/hand held shots, to be sure, but there will be at least one, possibly two different family pictures taken. here's my list of gear, and a rough approximation of where I expect the pictures to be taken. Looking for some advice, so I don't screw this one up. Lucky for me, my wife and mother in law are hyper critical people. if i nail it, i might get a "good job" but if i screw it up, ill never hear the end of it.....

camera-k10d
lenses: 10-17 fisheye (didn't expect this to be a portrait one)
18-55 kit (thinking this is going to be the portrait lens)
50-200 pentax (maybe this one?)
50 prime, manual focus...not sure I'd use this one

Will be getting, at the very least, a wireless remote and tripod this week. Might be getting a flash, but not sure. right now, its just the one on camera.
the reason for the remote-and not considering the 50 manual-is because at least some of these will be of the entire family in front of the camera, with me snapping it via the remote. just not sure i trust the prime without being behind it yet.

so, for lighting/background...I have a wide open living room/dining room area, and the one side of it has a ton of windows and a big sliding glass door, so hoping for plenty of natural light. we'd probably be positioned in front of our fireplace/mantel, standing. for my family pic, itll be my wife and i holding our triplets, and there will likely be one with more than double the people in frame.

my hope is that lighting would agree with me enough that flash will either not be needed at all, or hardly necessary.
also about the room, it has very high ceilings (i think 18 feet at the highest) with several sets of recessed lighting (some is accent lighting, some is to light the room). figured i could play with the lighting to see how things looked. i may play with that before the sitting, just to see how things expose. probably a smart idea....

the only other thing I was considering at the moment was if I would want to connect the camera to my PC while taking the portraits--so that I could see the picture on the laptop screen, as opposed to stopping, checking, and either re-setting or being happy.

i can probably post some pics my wife took in the room with her camera, just to give an idea of the lighting and all, if anyone thinks it will help.


thanks!

11-19-2007, 12:39 PM   #2
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My 0.02. Use the 18-55 for the shoot. F5.6 at least. For the 5 person family shot, try a longer focal length, and for the larger group, try a focal length somewhere in the midrange (25-30) or wider if needed, but not too wide... it will stretch the people on the sides. Also, leave a little room on the edges for printing 8x10s, and don't crop people at their joints (ankles, knees, etc).

Get a pentax flash with bounce and swivel (yeah, the most expensive one :-( ) and learn how to bounce a flash off a ceiling or wall (search google for 'bounce flash'). If you don't you will either have to pick between window light and interior lights because if you don't you will never get a good white-balanced image.

Tripod and remote are essential. I wouldn't bother with hooking it up to a laptop, just review (and zoom in) on the LCD. Learn how to read the histogram to make sure you are overexposing the highlights.

As for the buying the flash - no one wants to, but once you see how nice bounced flash looks (and then off-camera flash) you will never go back to using the little pop-up one. Plus, you can use it while walking around and doing candids too - not just formals.

Good luck, and post the results.
11-19-2007, 02:18 PM   #3
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i got the 360, it fit better in my price range at the moment, in spite of lacking the swivel...actually got it not too long before you posted

hopefully, that won't matter too much at the moment. im not expecting "pro" shots. just, a nice upgrade from p and s stuff
11-19-2007, 03:12 PM   #4
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I bought a Sunpak 383 Super for $80. I set the K10D to manual mode, 180 shutter speed, aperture at f4 (or f5.6, or f8, as long as it matches what the flash setting is)... set the flash to Auto, match up the ISO on with that of the camera, and shoot away. Sure, it takes a little more learning than the $300 flash, but the results are great.

It tilts... it swivels... and it has five power adjustments... and it is only $80!!!

11-19-2007, 04:31 PM   #5
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Portrait lighting does not have to be expensive. I picked up a Vivitar 285HV earlier this year fro $40. It was used but in perfect condition. 283 models can be found for even less, although they have to be fired remotely due to high voltage output back into the camera, which will fry it. I do many portrait shoots with a 285 and a pair of 283s, all fired with a cheap radio remote. Umbrellas are cheap, bouncing off ceilings and walls is even cheaper.

Flash provides sharper portraits than available light because your subject is always moving, even when it looks like they aren't. You need fairly quick shutter speeds to get sharp portraits and in indoor light and shooting at f8 or so for enough depth of field that is impossible without flash.
11-20-2007, 05:59 AM   #6
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I'll piggyback on what Dave has shared by pointing out that if one is going to use the flash units off-camera then there are lots of bargains out there as one needn't bother paying for bounce/swivel capabilities in the flash. All that can be done by just pointing the flash unit as a whole where you want it. I picked up a Pentax AF200T for somewhere around $20. No bounce, no swivel, and it works great on a light stand, where the ball head covers the aiming issue.
11-20-2007, 06:58 AM   #7
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im ok with what i spent, since this will be more than just a portrait flash-though if my wife takes my suggestions and begins to take the kids holiday pictures at home instead of for hundreds of dollars in the mall....

now, one more question. I have a 30 dollar gift card to my local shop (credit for a price-match after the fact). I am wondering which I should use it on. Was thinking of a sto-fen omni bounce if they have the right size in stock, or another filter. right now, i only have a circular polarizer (for water shots etc), but wondering if an nd filter might be worthwhile (for portraits or otherwise). however i think the sto-fen might be the better choice....
11-20-2007, 08:37 AM   #8
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I've heard mixed reviews on the sto-fen, and have come away with the general impression it is a light-eating overpriced piece of tupperware. I have no personal experience with it so please don't lend too much weight to my impression of it.

Do you think you might someday do long(ish) exposures with the camera? If so, that $30 might be useful for getting the plug-in remote cable for the shutter. If everything you do is under 30 seconds you can get by with just using the built-in self-timer, though.

11-20-2007, 08:42 AM   #9
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i have the remote f on order, should be here tomorrow. is the wireless remote not as good as the remote cable?

granted, the sto-fen site is gonna make the product look great, but they showed my problem and a good solution
11-20-2007, 10:34 AM   #10
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I just got a Stofen for my Sunpak. After initial testing, I think I prefer a rear bounce flash to light up the room. In a large room where a rear-bounce might not be possible (or maybe a close-focus situation), the Stofen might be a good solution. I'll get to do more testing this week at Thanksgiving dinner.
11-24-2007, 07:00 PM   #11
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So, as I should have expected, the picture taking was an adventure--my kids can be hams as much as they can be handfuls, and my wife doesnt always have patience for things. so even though the tripod would have made things easier as opposed to harder, she was probably the worst of the buch.

all shots were hand held, and no PP yet. I don't consider any to be much better than my wife's advanced p and s, but im still learning.....and some werent taken by me, as i was in a few...


.Mac Web Gallery
daughter lately has become camera shy. not what she used to be at all. my big gripe is the angle, caused by MIL standing in next to me...wife picked the seating, and compared to how many MIL snapped...i got 3 or 4 to her 1, which meant she missed a lot as daughter moved..


.Mac Web Gallery

and yes, i realize my wife and i have been cropped by the photog on this one-at my wifes request.


.Mac Web Gallery
this was after we stopped trying to sit them. i kinda like the action. there was one more after, but my middle son had his head down, so i like this one better

comments and suggestions are always welcome, though i don't expect a ton-hardly consider these more than family photo album fodder

Last edited by jmdeegan; 11-24-2007 at 07:57 PM.
11-24-2007, 07:14 PM   #12
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And here is another question or two and perhaps a vent-just have to, because I am steamed....

So, my wife refused to actually let me use the tripod--ya know, god forbid the camera be steady and straight etc...-for a number of reasons. like too long to set up, figured it wouldnt go over well with the kids especially my daughter who lately doesnt like pictures. anyways....

her mom took some of our pictures. if i posted one, it would be obvious, her mom is a crappy photographer, though she quickly blamed the camera. every shot she took of us, i wondered why she was pointing the lens more at me than at the center of the 5 of us. and every shot, theres more on my side of the room and my wife is barely in all the shots. but my mother in law blames the camera, says she wasnt used to it and in the eyepiece, it was straight to her--which I know is her usual BS, because she was so crooked, the V-8 guy would have offered her a drink.....

and based on the shots, my wife and her mom think they are crap. some they blame on me, others on the camera (only blaming the camera when her mother was taking the pictures). my wife complained that i was trying to take the pictures from above the kids or below, instead of all eye-level (boring)....but i've read and heard that with portraits you are not supposed to always come straight on at eye-level, but vary angles to get better/different views. my wife and her mom thought i was an idiot for saying this (and my wife told me i should tell JCPenney, the Picture People and Sears photo staff that they were doing it wrong, since thats how they always did it). except, I know those staffs are usually not well-trained portrait folks, and 2-ive seen pictures my wife had taken, and they ARE using diferent angles. my wife is just too crazy to notice....

but am i nuts? are you not supposed to use all sorts of angles in portraits?

me personally, i know who the toughest critics in my life are, as usual. and they are two of my more uneducated and stubborn, too. I could take an ansel adams type work, and they'd dismiss it as garbage.
one reason i did not take the tripod out for moon shots the past few nights. just did not need the abuse.....
11-24-2007, 08:07 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jmdeegan Quote
And here is another question or two and perhaps a vent-just have to, because I am steamed....

So, my wife refused to actually let me use the tripod--ya know, god forbid the camera be steady and straight etc...-for a number of reasons. like too long to set up, figured it wouldnt go over well with the kids especially my daughter who lately doesnt like pictures. anyways....

her mom took some of our pictures. if i posted one, it would be obvious, her mom is a crappy photographer, though she quickly blamed the camera. every shot she took of us, i wondered why she was pointing the lens more at me than at the center of the 5 of us. and every shot, theres more on my side of the room and my wife is barely in all the shots. but my mother in law blames the camera, says she wasnt used to it and in the eyepiece, it was straight to her--which I know is her usual BS, because she was so crooked, the V-8 guy would have offered her a drink.....

and based on the shots, my wife and her mom think they are crap. some they blame on me, others on the camera (only blaming the camera when her mother was taking the pictures). my wife complained that i was trying to take the pictures from above the kids or below, instead of all eye-level (boring)....but i've read and heard that with portraits you are not supposed to always come straight on at eye-level, but vary angles to get better/different views. my wife and her mom thought i was an idiot for saying this (and my wife told me i should tell JCPenney, the Picture People and Sears photo staff that they were doing it wrong, since thats how they always did it). except, I know those staffs are usually not well-trained portrait folks, and 2-ive seen pictures my wife had taken, and they ARE using diferent angles. my wife is just too crazy to notice....

but am i nuts? are you not supposed to use all sorts of angles in portraits?

me personally, i know who the toughest critics in my life are, as usual. and they are two of my more uneducated and stubborn, too. I could take an ansel adams type work, and they'd dismiss it as garbage.
one reason i did not take the tripod out for moon shots the past few nights. just did not need the abuse.....
To take a snip from this I'd agree that taking pictures form different angles is great and can add some great things to the picture.

The reason the picture people, JC Penny, blah photographer take pictures straight on is because most people don't look good from strange angles. Looking up on people you can see into their nostrils or make their belly fat a little more prominent. Looking down on people shows cleavage more (not the most flattering thing), bald spots and some other stuff I can't think of.

If you're looking to add interest to the picture shooting at angles is a plus, heck I do it constantly because the pictures do look better. I don't want the same drab photo-ogra-pher pictures so I spice it up with shooting high and low and so do many photographers. Even more popular now is tilting the camera which is also a taboo thing to many people.

I'd say shoot it the way you want it and care less of how everyone else feels because it's your style. With family shots though I change my heart on this statement because it's family, and snapshots are better then a stylized photos. This is just my opinion and my style of shooting... when it's serious stuff I shoot to amaze, when I shoot family I shoot to capture the moment.
11-24-2007, 08:21 PM   #14
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i was trying to do a bit of both, and honestly after I did the miniumum PP-Cropping to compensate for her mother's bad angle-i think the photo looks fine. Bummer not all 3 kids smiled at the same time, but what do you expect with 19 month old triplets

and to me, fine is as good or better than her canon s2 pics. and it was funny, she and i just reviewed her camera's turkey day images, and what she "liked" were over-exposed or washed out. guess when you get used to bad images....
11-24-2007, 10:57 PM   #15
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Don't you love the holidays!!??

JMDeegan -

Being a new dslr user, or slr user for that matter, you had enough on your plate to simply run the camera without any bantering from the "hyper-critical" crowd. You put a lot of effort into this day, calling on the forum for advice and obvious thought and planning to want to get it right. Shame on the wife and MIL for aggravating your best laid plans.

Having said that, I would have kept it a tad more simple and stuck with the plan -

1. Tripod
2. K10D and flash

The tripod would have allowed you to shoot at different settings and DOF and a simple check on your lcd monitor and histogram would help to verify your results. Ideally, this could be done with a willing participant (Read test shots) prior to seating the whole family. Finally, the tripod along with the K10d's self timer, would have kept the camera and comments out of your MIL's hands. Set up the shot, start the timer, kids are laughing as dad comes running and jumps on the couch....tick tick tick, click!

Just an idea......

All the best -

Jonathan
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