First Try at Studio Photography

Yesterday I took my first attempt at doing studio photography. I've done a variety of different shooting, but I hadn't yet attempted to set up lighting and do studio style portrait work. I've accumulated the bare essentials to do this over the last few months. I've got a Manfrotto Background Support system, one continuous light and the wireless system for my two Canon flashes. I learned quickly that is barely enough lighting to shoot with.

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I got everything set up and did photos of Mazie and her cousin Nora, followed by shots of our neighbors three kids. Free photos of your kids is a pretty easy way to practice studio portrait shooting. :-)

Lessons Learned

  1. The lighting setup I had was barely adequate. I had to take every picture up 2 stops in Lightroom after importing. The room I was shooting in had plenty of ambient light, and I still was barely up to par.
  2. Focus is beyond critical. I was really frustrated that many of the pictures I had didn't have crystal clear focus. I was focusing manually of course, but right away I noticed that if the subjects eyes aren't absolutely locked on focus the picture really suffers. They looked fine, and completely in focus, in the viewfinder. With older kids that will sit still I learned the power of the live preview mode on my camera to get perfect focus. This made a huge difference.
  3. You need a big room. I was shooting with about 7-10 feet from the subject. That wasn't really enough room to get the framing I wanted.
  4. Lack of strong light forced me to keep my f-stop really low, and as a result my depth of field really small. This amplified the focus problem. Additionally, I had to keep my shutter speed pretty slow which made it hard to shoot the really little kids.
  5. I'm not sure why, but I shot the entire time with my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L. It is by far the best glass I have, but at 70mm on the short end it's still long. I should have tried a couple of other lenses, and will next time.

I did a little bit of searching and found a few studios that you can rent for a half-day. I think I might try that to see how it goes with a real lighting setup.