Looking for some portrait setup advice

Started Apr 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
viking79 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,147
Re: Looking for some portrait setup advice

Tom114 wrote:

So I've gotten recruited to take some pictures (portraits) in my son's kindergarten class for a teacher gift (I knew my wife agreed too quickly when I asked to spend the money on a camera).  However, I am going to have some restrictions and significant gear limitations, so if anyone has suggestions I'd appreciate them. I was unsure of the forum to post in, but since I'm using my Pentax k-5 ii I thought I'd try here.

My task is to get individual portraits of the kids with some props.

Here are the limitations:

1. Small kids- got to move fast

If your focus can't keep up, get further back so it doesn't have to.  Put a good amount of distance between you and your subject and you should have no issue with focus.  I prefer outside for kids that are moving around so you can let them run free.  Inside try to distract them with their favorite toys then get their attention for a second to get them looking at you.

2. It is unclear where I am going to get to set up- inside or outside. Also, the only flash I am going to have is the on camera flash. (If only I had more free cash....)  I don't have any really decent portable lighting, and it is unlikely I would have the space/time to mess with too much.

Large window acts as one giant soft box if you throw a white shear curtain over it, or if it is north facing.

3. My gear: Pentax k-5 ii, 18-55 WR kit lens, Pentax DA 55-300, Pentax MF-A 50 mm/f2

I would use 55-300 primarily.

4. I will be borrowing what should be a decent tripod, and I have an IR remote that should show up today to help me get out from behind the VF to try to help keep the kids relaxed.

Tripod is nice for studio work, otherwise I would just carry the camera around and move with the kids.  Depends on whether you are going more for traditional still portraits, or following the kid around type of photos (what I prefer to do).

My plan is:
1. Shoot RAW, and hopefully tethered to a PC to get a quick look to make sure my pictures are really in focus.

Up to you, I think this works well in a studio or something.

2. Probably use the 55-300. I have not gotten good enough results with the MF 50 to feel comfortable that I can get good shots done before the kids get restless.  And I have gotten much nicer looking shots with the 55-300 over the 18-55.

Yeah, I would just use the 55-300 too, I think it is strong at 55mm, where the 18-55 is weak, so it should be a nice step up.  I am not a huge fan of the MF 50mm f/2 lens.

3. Since I am probably not going to have enough space to get a really blurred background with the 55-300, I was thinking of stepping down to maybe around f8 to try to get sharper images. Due to time and money restrictions, I am NOT going to be able to look into picking up a different lens to use (and everyone around here I know with SLRS are using canon or nikon).

I usually shoot most studio shots at f/5.6 to f/8 with APS-C, kit lenses are usually just fine for this type of shooting.  Many pro studio shops (the volume oriented ones) just use a cheap kit lens on a base body as they don't really need anything better.


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