Family Portraits For Christmas

Loving off-camera flash…

Over the holidays I invested in some new equipment, including a flash, stand, umbrella, and wireless triggers.  I’ve been putting the family through some quickie portrait sessions and thought I’d share some of the results (mostly because I’m a proud dad).

I played with all sorts of lighting variables in these pictures — flash power, distance of flash to subject, placement relative to subject (straight-on vs. side and also height), gels, reflectors, etc.  I’d love to give a tutorial based on what I learned but I’ll refer you to strobist.com (or pick your favorite “strobist” site) for that since I’m still very low on the learning curve.  All these portraits used a single strobe.

This first image was taken ad hoc when my five-year old son walked in the door after a trip to the barber.  He looked so cute that I couldn’t resist getting some shots.  Elijah was begging to get in the shower to rinse off the itchy hair so I quickly set up and started shooting — guessing at the flash power.  I believe I used a 1/2 or 1/4 CTO gel for the final shots.  If you’re observant you’ll notice chocolate on his nose and cut hair on his face.  No matter…good picture in spite of it (maybe a better picture because of it).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/4253196346/

He's Just Too Cute (Click to view larger)

The portrait below is my daughter Erin and son-in-law Josh — their first Christmas together.  The lighting was more of a challenge and I got the best results lighting from his side (I’ve always heard that it’s best to have your main light on the female side but we liked this one the best).  Depth of field came into play here also.  I wanted to shoot f/4.0 so I had to be careful about keeping them posed so their faces were both in focus.  In a few shots his head was just too far back to remain in focus.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/4253198214/

Josh and Erin - First Christmas (Click to view larger)

Another challenge was the dark skin of a few of my children.  Had to play around with all the variables to get something I was reasonably happy with (I think I’d tone the lighting down if I did this over).  Here’s one of the images:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/4253143796/

Lizzie (Click to view larger)

I’ve got a ton to learn about lighting but I’m happy with the results of my experimentation so far.

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