Shooting Domestic Wildlife

Kids are great, aren’t they? Even when you turn around and the 11-month-old (who can already walk) has climbed up on the table (because you left without pushing in your chair) and is threatening the cookies Mommy just baked, kids are great. Kids take great snapshots, too, but can be the ultimate in frustration when you want a more posed or formal picture. Take the following of my son Joseph, for instance:

Since he learned to walk, Joey has been an unstoppable dynamo, a blur of incredible motion, faster than a speeding parent, able to leap tall tables in a single bound, etc. He doesn’t like to sit still, especially when he’s tired, which made my choice to take this picture late at night dubious to begin with. At first he wouldn’t sit in the chair, preferring to sit in a corner and play with his brother’s Thomas trains. My wife was on hand to cajole him, and after a while he agreed to sit in the chair and even look happy, if sleepy. Three frames later and he was on his way to bed. Moral: when photographing children, the three most important bits of gear are patience, patience, and patience. 🙂

When shooting portraits of my kids with added light, my best results have been made with simple light that sets up a “kill zone” into which the child may be maneuvered. In this picture I used one of my standard combinations: an umbrella high on one side, close in to aid fall-off on the background, and a hard light behind on the opposite side. The second light adds separation and definition to the edges; in this case it was placed at a shallower angle than I would normally use because of the geometry of the chair. I would have liked a softbox rather than an umbrella, which would have further limited the amount of fill added on the wall behind Joey’s head, but I don’t own one yet.

The trickiest bit was placing focus; I had turned off all lights except the Christmas tree, it was too dark to focus manually with Live View, and Joey didn’t like it when I used a flashlight on his face to assist AF. While he was being cajoled, I noticed a fold of the chair covering that I guessed was at the proper distance to place focus on his eyes. Using my flashlight, I focused on that, and God be praised, my guess was adequate.

All in all, not a bad session; I’ve had many worse.


One thought on “Shooting Domestic Wildlife

  1. Pingback: Getting It Wrong, Getting It Right | Nicholas Haggin Photography

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