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Thread: Birthday Party Photography

  1. #1
    Alis's Avatar
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    Birthday Party Photography

    Hi Everyone,

    This Saturday is my son's birthday and I am going to take the pictures. It is going to be in a ~6 by 6 m penthouse room and during daytime but the lighting is not that great.

    I am going to use a Canon 2.8L 24-70mm lens on a Rebel Xti with an external 430EX flash. I have never done this before and I am a physician so you get the idea.

    What are the things that I should be prepared for and am I choosing the right gear, especially the Lens? Any advice?

    Thanks,

    Sedali

  2. #2

    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    mrsedali.....there is no such thing as right gear its the man behind the camera who makes the pics! even the best gear wont help,if u dont know wat u want to shoot! yes u do have the right gear and lense tooo very good flash too if its day scene,then fill in flash will give u some great natural looking shots! even fr nights it workswith a dedicated flash,we need to concentrate only on getting great expressions, smiles, kids doing their antics,warm tender moments,actions scenes,funny scenes, dont be prepared for anything! just stay alert,fit,and active

  3. #3

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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    I think you'll be happy with that lens. Personally I prefer a slightly wider zoom for parties, say 18-50mm, but it's just personal preference.

    I suggest using a light modifier if you have one. If not, just use a rubber band and an index card and point your flash straight up at the ceiling.

    Most important, take some test photos in the same lighting conditions that you expect during the party. If you don't like the result and you need help troubleshooting, you can always post them here.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike R; 2nd October 2008 at 01:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Antonio Correia's Avatar
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    ... Most important, take some test photos in the same lighting conditions that you expect during the party... Mike
    Even better: Go and get some test shots before the party.
    If you can't do it as Mike says.
    Good shots.
    Remember: Manual, bounced flash, 1/50s 1/3.5 or 1/3.0, change ISO but don't go over the 400.

  5. #5
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Great points. Thanks everyone.

    I will try to get the key to the room and try shooting some test pictures around the same time of the day.

    Hopefully, I am not trivializing the discussion by asking this, but to your point, Antonio, why do you recommend Manual vs. say Aperture or Shutter priority?

    Thanks,

    Ali

  6. #6
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    I am trying the setting Antonio suggested and everything looks great except that people's movement is blurring the pictures. Objects look fine however, so I am guessing it is not my hand. Is 1/50s fast enough?

  7. #7
    Antonio Correia's Avatar
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    I am trying the setting Antonio suggested and everything looks great except that people's movement is blurring the pictures. Objects look fine however, so I am guessing it is not my hand. Is 1/50s fast enough?

    Sedali. Good morning.
    I read your post yesterday but had no time to write. I intended to do so today and you have already tried the pictures with some sucess.

    I would use manual because this way I could have a look at the picture in the camera, most of the times and fine tune the aperture and ... the ISO.
    The aperture can't be wider - shouldn't be - while the ISO we can set it to a highter value.
    In these occasions I am not very concerned about the histogram. I am more concerned about getting some bright pictures. May be I am wronge but this is my experience.
    I would use bounce flash and I think you have done it with sucess, I hope,
    You can also try to increase the power on the flash but will give you a faster use of batteries and a shorter recicle time.
    If you could move the flash out of the camera it would be great, using for example the ST-E2 which I think would work because you are in a closed space.

    As it is daytime I would like try to shoot with Aperture priority.
    What is important is that the balance between the aperture and the speed to be a good and working value.
    So, I would use for example f/3.5 for a reasonable DoF and check out the returning speed. Look if it is convenient and shoot away. If it is not convenient go for a highter ISO.
    Don't overdo it however. Not over 400.
    With aperture priority you will have much of the ambient light and the flash will fill in the shadows.

    Show us at least one picture please.
    Hold the camera with care and properly.
    Move your finger not your hand when you shoot. Hold your breat for a little while and stay still. Well, you do know that stuff.

    I told you some little things I know. I hope you will be doing nice pictures.

    Happy Birthday to the young man. How old is he ?
    Good shots.

    Have you seen this post of mines ?
    Last edited by Antonio Correia; 3rd October 2008 at 07:57 AM.

  8. #8

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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Sedali,

    Although I think Antonio's advice is good, I recall in another thread that you are having difficulty getting photos that aren't blurry. In that case you should go for higher shutter speed and smaller aperture, even though you will need to use a higher ISO. Don't worry about potential noise. Wedding photographers routinely use high ISOs and the results are good enough for them to make their living.

    Take some test photos at the same time of day as the party in program mode at ISO 1600 and flash set to -1.3 EV flash compensation. You need ISO 1600 to determine whether you can get sharp photos at reasonably fast shutter speed and reasonable DOF. Check your results... are they sharp? If not, post them here with EXIF info so we can figure out what went wrong.

    If the ISO 1600 test shots are sharp, repeat the test with ISO 800. If ISO 800 also gives you sharp results, then use ISO 800 at the party. I wouldn't bother trying lower ISO than 800, unless the room is a lot brighter than you let on.

    I would also recommend using Program mode at the party as well, so you don't have to worry about varying light levels across the room depending how close you are to the windows.

    This is my two cents, anyway. Good luck with whichever way you decide to shoot the party. Let us know how it turns out.

    Regards,
    Mike
    Last edited by Mike R; 3rd October 2008 at 12:57 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    [COLOR=silver]Hi Sedali,
    [COLOR=silver]Wish your son a happy birthday. Depending on how bright the room is, you might get away with slow shutter speed then the 1/focal length rule. If the room is dark (or if you use low ISO with small f/stop), and the primary light source is the flash then you don't have to worry about the shutter speed too much. The flash will freeze the action.

    [COLOR=silver]If the room is bright enough, try to take pictures without the flash and use the 1/focal length rule for shutter speed. Don't worry about high ISO and noise. I personally think noise or grain looks great in some cases. See attached sample. It was taken during a slideshow presenation with available light. Then I added more grain in PP.

    [COLOR=silver]If you use moderate ISO and wide open, bounce the light and follow the 1/focal length rule - you'll do fine.

    [COLOR=silver]And remember, its your son's birthday so you might want to enjoy the moment rather than get frustrated with camera settings. If all else fails, put the camera in green box mode and blame the camera later
    Last edited by Raycer; 2nd February 2009 at 11:26 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Here are the sample pictures:

    F 3.2, 1/50s ISO 400 70mm

    Birthday Party Photography
    Birthday Party Photography

    F 3.2 1/50s ISO 100 70mm

    Birthday Party Photography

    F 3.2 1/50s ISO 100 66mm

    Birthday Party Photography

    They look pretty blurred, specially when I made him wave his hands or move.

    Thanks,

    Sedali

  11. #11
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    Happy Birthday to the young man. How old is he ?
    Good shots.

    Have you seen this post of mines ?
    Thanks, Antonio. He is two years old.

    I have seen the post you mentioned. Those pictures are exactly what I am trying to reproduce, so dark but so sharp!

    Also thanks for the tips. I will try them and let you know how it went.

    Sedali
    Last edited by Alis; 4th October 2008 at 05:38 AM.

  12. #12

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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    Here are the sample pictures:

    F 3.2, 1/50s ISO 400 70mm

    F 3.2 1/50s ISO 100 70mm

    F 3.2 1/50s ISO 100 66mm


    They look pretty blurred, specially when I made him wave his hands or move.

    Thanks,

    Sedali
    The rule of thumb that Raycer mentioned is for 35mm film camera (or full frame digital). For crop sensors, you must use the "35mm equivalent focal length", which is calculated by multiplying the actual focal length by the crop factor. I believe your camera has a crop factor of 1.6, so your 70mm focal length is equivalent to 112mm on a 35mm camera. Therefore you should be using at least 1/112 sec exposure to avoid blur from camera shake.

    The faster shutter speed will help with blur caused by subject movement too.

    I suggest that you use a shorter focal length and/or bumping up the ISO.

    Mike

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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Raycer View Post
    [COLOR=silver]See attached sample. It was taken during a slideshow presenation with available light. Then I added more grain in PP.
    That's a great photo!

    If you don't mind me asking, did you add the grain using the standard Photoshop filters, a plugin, or some other software?

    Mike

  14. #14
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Thanks Mike,
    I use Nikon Capture NX to add the grain. Instead of fighting the noise, I thought I go with it.

  15. #15
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Thanks everyone for the wonderful tips. I have been busy but I logged in a few times to check the posts. Hopefully I will take some good pictures today! He is 2 now, I am hoping by the time we get ready for his 10th Birthday I will be able take some descent pictures!

    It is a beautiful sunny day at least right now... New England is famous for having crazy weather.

    Regards,

    Sedali

  16. #16
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Hi Everyone,

    Here is one of the better ones...

    Birthday Party Photography
    Birthday Party Photography

    Sedali

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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    Here is one of the better ones...

    Sedali
    Sedali,

    I think that's a really nice shot. It's sharp and nicely exposed, the lighting is nice (fill flash is just right), the composition is good, and the kids are adorable. Are you happy with it?

    Regards,
    Mike

  18. #18
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Sedali, I agree with Mike; a good picture that captures the mood of the event nicely.

    Sure, I can see 3 'distracting' things I might clone away to improve it photographically.
    I could also suggest a few things that would tell more of the story in the one shot, BUT worrying about those on the day would have distracted you from enjoying the your son's birthday.

    This is obviously going to be part of a series of family album shots of the event, so any 'story telling' comments are irrelevant, additionally, what I might see as 'distracting' may well have a significance for you and the intended audience; yourself, your family and friends, not a picture editor or us lot!

    So, in conclusion; I think you have achieved a good balance here and I hope you are pleased with the result, I know I would be in your place.

    Well done, Dave

  19. #19
    Antonio Correia's Avatar
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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    Well done. Well done.
    This is my version. You don't mind do you ?
    What have I done ?
    I adjusted the temperature a tab, making it cooler, - hardly noticeable - introduced 3 graduated filters to darken the ambiance and used the adjustment brush to lighten up the faces and the more light areas.
    Birthday Party Photography

  20. #20

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    Re: Birthday Party Photography

    In my opinion, I find the brighter one a better picture.....
    I have noted that you, Antonio, tend to post darker pictures that those I prefer....
    Both pictures Have a nice white balance so it seems to be one of preference.......

    Maybe it's me......I just am not a fan of dark....

    Sedali......good picture, I like it....

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