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Old Jan 31, 2007, 6:52 AM   #1
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[suP]So any advice to someone who longs to take high quality professional photos of kids? I have two of my own subjects at home and don't know how to use my camera to its full potential. I have been reading about aperture and shutter speed but am unsure how to manage it and when to use them.:?[/suP]
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Old Jan 31, 2007, 11:18 AM   #2
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hi and welcome

there is no simple way to pro looking pics except practice, turn camera on to auto, on my olympus its the "P" setting and let it works speed and aperture out

take lots and lots of shots of kids and then look at them on your pc...........not the camers lcd screen to see what results u got, start outside where lights better and results will be better

it costs nothing to shoot pictures with digital so it better to shoot more than less try different angles and zooms etc

remember pros shoot 100s to get one good shot !!

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Old Jan 31, 2007, 2:23 PM   #3
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Learning photography isn't a simple matter of just knowing what all the functions do. You could probably learn all the technical stuff in a couple days. It takes practice to gain the experience to know when to do what in what situation.

If you're not really interested in the technical side, I'd recommend you get this book: http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Photog.../dp/032147404X

The guy who wrote it knows his stuff, but he wrote the book to be as simple as possible for getting the kinds of shots you want.

Here's a few tricks to get you started in the meantime:

For nice looking portraits, use as much zoom as you can and make sure the subject has a lot of space behind them. This will give you the nice out of focus background look. Setting the camera to aperture priority ("Av" or "A" on the dial) and using the lowest setting will help here.

When shooting action, try using shutter priority mode ("Tv" or "S" on the dial). Set the shutter speed to 1/60 or faster to prevent blur. If your shots are coming out dark, try turning up the ISO to 200 (but probably no higher on that camera). Also, try using burst mode so you have a bunch of photos to choose from.

When shooting in darker situations, try not to zoom too much as you'll have more visible camera shake.

If you need to use the flash but don't want it to look like you used a flash, try using a darker flash setting (if the camera allows you to do that). This will get more even looking lighting.

Pay attention to lighting. If you're shooting in a room where light is coming in the windows, try to shoot with the light from the window on the subject, but your back to the window. Always try to keep your subject in direct light.

Finally, the camera probably has a number of scene modes. Try using those when they seem applicable.
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Old Jan 31, 2007, 2:56 PM   #4
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I'm going to offer a different perspective than Gary.

Great looking photos are rarely the result of blind luck. Great looking photos come from understanding photography and composition. Do some additional reading regarding exposure - how the 3 parts, shutter speed, aperture and ISO work together to achieve a proper exposure. Practice with your camera in aperture priority and shutter priority modes. Practice with fast shutter speeds and slow shutter speeds to see how they affect movement - some times a little movement is beneficial - sometimes you want the image completely frozen. Practice taking the same shot with different apertures to see how it affects depth of field. ISO is, IMO, the last thing to consider of the three. Typically your photographic goal requires either a certain aperture value to obtain desired depth of field or a certain shutter speed to control how much motion blur you see. IMO, you simply adjust ISO to ensure a proper exposure once you've set the other two.

The second important aspect is composition - do some research on the rule of thirds and perhaps get a book from the library on composition. Also, along those same lines - when taking photos of children it generally looks better when the picture is at their level which means kneeling or sitting or for infants, laying on the ground. Try to avoid shooting down on them if possible.

While I agree with Gary that pros take 100 shots to get the 'perfect shot' that is usually in a controlled environment when it is more important to have A perfect shot. When shooting your kids, it's more important to capture moments. To capture those moments you need to decide in an instant whether aperture or shutter speed is an important factor and adjust accordingly. But a good idea is to be prepared BEFORE the moment arrives. Let's say your children are playing and you want to capture some of the action - so shutter speed is important. A rough rule of thumb is 1/500 is required to freeze most motion. Some motions like the swing of a bat or tennis racket can take 1/1000 or 1/2000 to freeze.

Sometimes, you want to isolate your subject and blur the background - that's where aperture is a more dominant factor:

Sometimes you want a group shot - so aperture is again important - as is the proper use of an external flash:

sometimes the contrast in the situation lends itself to a black and white photo:

And sometimes it's just about having your camera ready to capture that smile:

Sometimes natural lighting is better than using a flash:

And get a good external flash if your camera has a hot shoe. Experiment with it and without it. Get a sense for when the flash is beneficial and when natural lighting is beneficial. If your camera only has a built in flash, you can still learn to use it effectively, but your options will be limited as the flash is not very powerful and it can't be bounced or well diffused (to create softer light) or moved away from the camera to prevent red-eye. So, continue to study exposure and it's elements (ISO, aperture, shutter speed). Read about composition. And yes take a lot of pictures but take them with a purpose. Take them by applying the principles from your studies.

And finally, get a good post processing software and learn to use it. Almost any photo taken can be greatly improved with the right post processing - whether it's fixing your crop, applying USM, adjusting the levels or removing color casts, facial blemishes whatever.

A good book to get from the library is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I would also recommend after you read a book like that, read the articles from the 'understanding' series on Luminous Landscape website.
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