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Newborn Photography

Brooke Renee , Jun 16, 2011; 07:49 p.m.

Hi,
Im just starting to get into Newborn Photography i currently own a Nikon D7000 with a 50 1.4G and am wondering if anyone can tell me the best lens to use for newborn photography. I have all props equipment (bean bag stand blankets hats diaper covers etc). What are the settings you normally use for newborns? It will be inside with the available light coming from only a window, I don't think I should use flash as I would want the baby asleep most of the time.
Any help would be great
Thanks!

Responses

John Deerfield , Jun 16, 2011; 09:25 p.m.

I might suggest learning about photography including lighting. We certainly can't teach you everything in a forum thread. Simply owning a camera and lens doesn't a photographer make anymore than owning Excel makes one an accountant: it is you knowledge that matters. The best lens to use is the one that will deliver the results you want. I saw a photographer using a 70-200mm lens with an extension tube so they could get in close and get a really shallow DoF. So it depends on the look you want. There isn't a "newborn" setting on the camera. Your lighting gives you a certain EV from which you have to make decisions, again based on how you want the image to look. A very important part of portrait photography is controlling the contrast. This means learning lighting. You camera doesn't control the contrast. It merely records it! Think of a voice recorder: it tapes your voice. Maybe you have a radio voice, maybe you don't. It isn't the tape recorders job to make your voice something different. It isn't the cameras job to control the lighting/contrast, only to record it.

Lex Jenkins , Jun 16, 2011; 09:39 p.m.

"...i currently own a Nikon D7000 with a 50 1.4G..."

You have all you need. Maybe add a reflector. White poster board is good for that. A roll of blue masking tape to hold it in place against chairs or other handy supports (the 3M brand blue masking tape is less likely to peel the varnish off a chair, or wallpaper off a wall - great stuff).

The rest is down to imagination. Some of the best newborn photography I've seen was done with a simple point and shoot camera. In particular, last year a new mom made a big splash with her imaginative approach to taking a photo every day while her baby napped.

Here's a thread with links to many online illustrated tutorials. In particular I'd recommend the Studio Lighting website and NY Web Photo School tutorials for do-it-yourself portrait photography.

Stan Krol , Jun 17, 2011; 12:10 a.m.

I agree. You already have a good equipment set. Yes, there was the side benefit of not disturbing the baby and mom (she has been through a lot and it can be a sensitive time).

When 3 of my children were born existing light was the way to go. With it I was able to capture the intimacy of the moments. There was not always window light. The directionalness of the overhead operating light in the delivery room worked very well and provided great contrast. White blankets/sheets work as reflectors and are non-intrusive.

I had used a softening for my first son but I was shooting film. You can do that in post processing now.

My 4th child was adopted from China a year ago. Again, existing light provided an intimate environment for that first meeting of our daughter. The feeling was very similar to when my sons were born.

This is not to say that speed lights can't be used to capture and even create that intimacy. It is just that I am not that good with them.

Stan

Richard Cochran , Jun 17, 2011; 12:12 a.m.

The 50mm f/1.4 should be capable of a lot of good work, but sometimes a slightly longer lens that can focus closer may be useful to capture details. This one was taken with a 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor (AIS manual focus version), but the precise lens isn't so vitally important. Any lens that can easily focus close could do as well.

I used a single monolight in a 3x4 foot softbox to light this. Off-camera flash makes this sort of thing much easier than available light, because it makes it easy to combine an exposure time that will freeze motion (both the motion of a handheld camera and the motion of a twitchy baby), with an aperture that gives good depth of field, at a reasonable ISO.

I'll also point out that B&W can be flattering for very young newborns. Sometimes they can have some red splotchyness for the first few days, and a little desaturation hides this.

And I'll give my standard advice: practice your lighting and exposure technique on a bowl of fruit or a baby doll first. Either one is a lot more patient and easy to deal with than a live baby. Once you're happy with your lighting, exposure, and composition on a still life, you'll be ready to add the complexity of dealing with a live subject.

Jose Angel , Jun 17, 2011; 03:55 a.m.

My favourite lens for baby photos is the 105VR, which is almost the only lens I have used for that task.

Illumination? Mostly window+net curtain available light, sometimes with a white sheet or even paper, or cardboard to fill the shadows. I use to carefully place the craddle near/under the window, looking for the best lightning direction. Only a very few times I took the flash.

I use to like maximum sharpness and details.

Neutral settings, apertures from wide open to f11, many times handheld with VR on, sometimes tripod, etc.

Kevin Delson , Jun 17, 2011; 07:30 a.m.

Lighting as already said is far more important than lenses or camera.

Infant photography is quite different than adults for a reason many either forget or fail to see.
It goes to the fact that an infant has far different skin anatomy compared to adults.

Ever notice how the infant's veins and arteries look different? Especially when photographed which accentuates this less than desirable look.

This physiology is driven by ambient temperature, the infants current state (crying, happy, stressed etc...) While the infant sleeps, their veins and arteries are physically closer to the surface for cooling; when they are awake, the same move deeper beneath the skin.

The angle which a infant is illuminated plays a part too due in part again to the anatomy of their skin which is far from uniform.

Practice and keep notes such as time of day, baby's emotional state, position of light, sleeping vs. awake, room temp.

Brooke Renee , Jun 24, 2011; 01:40 a.m.

Thanks for the feedback everyone, Im going to try out my D7000 with the 50mm this weekend on my cousins baby but am definitely going to look into the 105 macro, Richard that photo is amazing. Thanks again

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