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Thread: How Photograph a baptismal event

  1. #1
    Deucalion's Avatar
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    How Photograph a baptismal event

    Hi Everyone.. just as the title of this thread says, I'm hoping to get some pointers when shooting said event, my buds are doing a favor for one of their friends and I've been asked to join... and they insisted that I bring my camera again... I passed up on the last model shoot and just watched, I'm thinking I may be asked to do a lot more on this event, simply because I've been specifically asked to pack my shorter 17-55 F2.8 lens and leave my longer 70-200mm for my canon camera.

    the set up appears to be my other buds will be using an 85mm, an 80-200m and a 35mm lenses on their nikons and they plan to do the candid shots, or so I've been told, while I have been asked to do the formal ones (don't know what that means tho, probably the posed shots?)

    so, if anyone can provide me with a few tips and suggestions I'd very much appreciate it. thanks in advance

  2. #2

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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    Hi Deucalion,
    I'd guess its going to be similar to just about any wedding I've ever shot in a church.
    Generally speaking church = ****ty lighting.
    When I first arrive to any ceremony or traditions held in a spiritual setting I always approach the minister/priest/officiant first and introduce myself before the event begins. I ask them if there are any places I should not be, if there are any shots I should know will be an important part of the event, and OFTEN they will say "I will be standing here_________, so if you'd like, you'd probably get your best shot here_________ when this part of the event is happening."

    I often find that if you can't bounce your flash off of a ceiling (Sometimes they are too high) or a wall (Often makes no difference if the main focus is too far into the back of the church, and you DONT want to aim it at them directly (yucky photos!) I can sometimes get a lot of shots done by stabilizing the camera and lowering the shutter speed just a tad (Not enough to effect the motion of the people in the image, but high enough to limit my camera / hand shake).

    Don't be afraid of ISO in a setting like this, as sometimes its better to have a noisier photo than no photo at all if your flash isnt cutting it! Also, sometimes its best to bracket and see whats better (High ISO ETTR or lower ISO and bringing the photo back up to proper exposure in LR).

    Lastly, sometimes I just throw on my Gary Fong Chrome - all amature style and sexy and just shoot away.

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    It would totally depend on what the venue for the baptism is like. If possible visit the baptismal (hopefully at about the same time of day as when the ceremony is expected to occur) and shoot some shots to give you an idea of the lighting. Talking to the officiate regarding the ceremony and to the family of the baptised child regarding their expectations would be a definite plus. The baptismal areas in which I have shot are often easier to shoot in than the main church. They are often smaller, with lower ceilings and can often be brighter. However, sometimes the bapism is done in the church proper.

    I have found that bouncing flash using a Strobofram Camera Flip Bracket and a Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro to modify the light is a great setup. The DFD works great in virtually all venues - even when the ceiling is too low off which to bounce.

    A crowd of photographers; "my other buds will be using an 85mm, an 80-200m and a 35mm lenses" might make the actual ceremony seem lika a paparazzi contest. Posed images with the child, officiate, parents and godparents might be what the chld's parents are looking for; "I have been asked to do the formal ones".

    Another big plus to prior reconaissance is that you can spot appropriate backgrounds to use. However, the officiate has done a lot more of these than any of us and could probably provide some very good suggestons.

    As far as the technical details, this would probably be about the same as formal wedding portraits...

  4. #4
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    What Camera?
    Do you have a Flash? If so what Flash is it?

    I expect that they expect "the formal ones" means the posed family group shots - but you should ask the Mother and the Father of the child exaclty what they mean by the term.


    WW

  5. #5
    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    thank you for your thoughts everyone, it does sound like a "paparazzi contest" Richard now that I think about it, but apparently my job will be to stick closer to the actual "ceremony/ritual" itself or the more formal group shots that Bill mentioned, such as pics of the family, with the vicar/priest as well as other close family members..the guys in my group will be handling everything else outside of that I suppose with their cameras.

    btw, I've been looking for that demb diffuser that u mentioned Richard but it seems its an online product only and not available in stores in my part of the world. and since I don't do any kind of online shopping (by choice) I probably will not be able to acquire one, unless I ask relatives of mine in the US to get it for me and mail the thing. the only light modifier that I currently own is a sto-fen and a poor excuse for a flash softbox

    to answer Bill's questions, I'll be using a Canon 60D, with the 17-55mm F2.8 lens attached and a 430EXII flash, but I've also been asked to bring along my brother's D7000 (body only). I'm a little concerned about not being allowed the use of flash inside the church and recon of the area at a time when the shoot will happen is out of the question as I do have work the whole week, I'm worried as I read a few other tips and suggestions online that high ISO will be the norm if flash isn't involved, I have never taken my camera up higher than 800 and if I go by Samantha's comments the lighting may not be all that great (I also haven't done a photoshoot of a wedding, my buddies were offered to do one but there were scheduling conflicts.. so I'm really going into this kind of event first time ). I do however plan to come a lot earlier to the venue to see for myself.

    also, the guys have asked me to bring along my tripod, while I have not done an event like this before, is the tripod use inside a church actually allowed? A question I would probably need to ask the people who are in charge of the venue. I was planning on using off camera flash mounted on a bracket (if it will be allowed) but unfortunately I still haven't found an off camera cord to use it with, my buds however have suggested that I can always trigger the off camera flash by using the commander settings of my camera and slaving the flash unit.

    but, I find that a little weird because if I used my 60D in commander mode for the flash, the pop up flash will still be firing, wouldn't that flash appear as well when my off shoe flash fires? and would that not ruin the modifier (if any) I have on my off cam flash? the nikon camera they tell me can be used this way w/out the pop up flash actually firing or at the very least, to lower the pop up flash strenght/brightness(?), is that true? at any rate, this is another "first" for me, so I really appreciate all the helpful suggestions you can provide.

  6. #6
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    Reginald,

    Although the Demb Flash Diffuser Pro (DFD) is very versatile due to the tilting FlipIt portion of that rig, you can fabricate a very viable diffuser/reflector from cardboard or from foamboard.

    http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/

  7. #7

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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    At my daughter's recent wedding, the photographers shot without flash during the ceremony, and then did posed shots with flash and shoot-through umbrellas after the ceremony. I expect that you could probably get some formal posed shots after the service using whatever lightng you thought was appropriate. Just don't disrespect the sacrament itself, which presumably is more important than the memento you might capture of it.

  8. #8
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    using a Canon 60D, with the 17-55mm F2.8 lens attached and a 430EXII flash
    Thank you for answering.

    For Inside Shooting -

    IF you can use Flash and you are experienced and adept at using Flash as Key and Dragging the Shutter for Ambient Exposure, then you most likely will have already chosen to use the Camera in M Mode.

    If you are not experienced in these skills, then I suggest you use P Mode for the camera and Flash in ETTL II (Automatic).

    In either case, I suggest you use ON CAMERA flash and the bounce device, per as Richard mention for the interior shots.

    Shoot in Landscape Orientation.

    Use ISO800.

    ***

    For Outside Shooting (if you are not experienced and you wish to use Flash as Fill):

    (In sunlight or open shade) then you should ditch the Bounce device and use Direct On Camera Flash.

    Again shoot in Landscape Orientation and use the Camera in P Mode and the Flash in ETTL II (Automatic)

    Use ISO 400.


    ***

    Regarding the “formal shots”:

    If the Priest does NOT pose the Child and Himself (and perhaps the Parents and Godparents) toward you, just after the actual Baptism, (i.e. immediately after the Water on the Head and the Blessing or the Immersion and the Blessing), then you should attempt to grab the Priest AFTER the service and BEFORE he disrobes such that you can get a Formal, (re-enacted) Shot.

    In this case if you manage it quickly you can get combinations of Parents / Grandparents and Godparents too – but you will have to be in control and move quickly.

    The remaining Formal Shots should be more leisurely.


    ***

    This is another example of a DIY one Bounce Device which would be useful in this shooting scenario:

    How Photograph a baptismal event

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    I'm a little concerned about not being allowed the use of flash inside the church
    It is not about “in the Church” it is rather about “during the Service”

    You have two options:
    1. Assume it is OK, until you are told otherwise.
    2. Ask beforehand.

    I have shot about 1500 Weddings / Baptisms / Bar Mitzvahs / Bat Mitzvahs and one Funeral - I note that I have NEVER seen a “Guest” ask, beforehand.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    I'm worried as I read a few other tips and suggestions online that high ISO will be the norm if flash isn't involved, I have never taken my camera up higher than 800
    Your camera is capable of good shots at ISO3200 and acceptable shots at ISO6400.

    IF you need to shoot any of the Service sans Flash, then your concerns and absolute technical considerations should be –

    1. Employ an ISO that will allow a SHUTTER SPEED suitable to arrest SUBJECT MOTION - I suggest you aim for 1/125s

    2. DO NOT under ANY circumstances UNDERexpose the shot

    3. Have Image Stabilization “ON”

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    also, the guys have asked me to bring along my tripod . . . and etc
    You have been asked to bring a lot of gear and to carry out many tasks.

    If I were you: I would be asking these ‘guys’ – “WHY?”.

    From what you have disclosed, you are inexperienced with the logistics, planning, preparation and execution of this type of Photography, yet you are being told to “bring gear” and to “cover aspects of”, without little rationale or explanation as to why these instructions are being given to you.

    Therefore, my best advice for you and in answer to your question: "How [do I] Photograph [this] Baptismal Event?"

    Use the 60D, the EF-S 17 to 55 and the 430 Flash and a Flash bounce device - IN THE SIMPLEST TECHNICAL MANNER possible - (i.e. “KISS”) - such that you concentrate mostly on getting some suitable shots with the least disturbance and affording the maximum enjoyment, to the Congregation.

    WW

  9. #9
    drjuice's Avatar
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    Re: How Photograph a baptismal event

    If you need an actual diffuser, a Kleenex tissue or equivalent covering the business end of the flash (whether built-in or slaved or otherwise connected to the camera) with a rubber band or Scotch tape to hold it tight in a breeze works pretty well. If you want less light just use 2-3-4 or more tissues piled on top of one another before you put on the rubber band or the Scotch tape.

    If they're having the baptism on Sunday, make an appointment with the officiate to meet him/her the chuch on Saturday about the same time of day as the Sunday service.

    Hope this helps

    virginia

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