1/60th sec at F5, ISO 400
Most of my lenses are prime, which means they have a fixed focal length. Whilst they are far less convenient than zoom lenses, which offer a range of focal lengths, they do gather many times more light due to their large apertures. Also, prime lenses generally offer superior image quality compared to zoom lenses because their optical design is optimised for the one focal length that they provide. Having said that, some of the new L series zooms on the market are starting to catch up. Most of my lenses have come with lens hoods. It's quite annoying to constantly attach and detach them but they do enhance contrast and inhibit lens flares by stopping stray light from entering the lens. Therefore I always use them. I also use UV filters on all of my lenses too, purely as an insurance policy. Although costly, I've opted to use Hoya HD filters because of their superior optical qualities and enhanced strength against impact.
In terms of photographing newborns, I've generally used three lenses. First and foremost, the infamous Canon 85mm F1.2L Mk II lens, which is a one kilogram beast costing around $2,500 new. I've also used a Canon 35mm F1.4L lens and a Canon 100mm F2.8 macro lens. The last of these lenses is designed specifically for taking very close shots. It can produce some very dramatic shots but only costs around $500 second hand. The shot below was taken using my 100mm macro lens.
Canon 5D Mk III with Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro lens
1/3rd sec at F13, ISO 100
Once home from hospital I was able to start thinking about posed shots. I wanted to avoid the typical baby studio shots and instead opt for focusing on the connection between the twins. Whilst my twins aren't identical they have still shared a special time together in the womb and it's wonderful to be able to represent the essence of that in a photo. By the time I was ready for the first posed shot, the twins were already more than one week old. I have been told previously that many newborn photographers strongly prefer the babies to be seven days or less because they become a little more aware after this time and are more difficult to settle. Having now done many posed shots, and with the babies at the three week mark, I can understand this sentiment. Steadfast patience is an absolute must. Newborns are often posed without clothes and therefore keeping a room toasty warm is essential and adequate blankets must be provided when not taking photos, so the babies can maintain their core temperature. A really useful tip which I read about, and found to work well, was to have the mother feed in the same room and only have the newborn in nappies. This avoids a big change in temperature when it's time to take photos because only the nappy is removed - not all of their layers. Below is my first posed shot of the newborns. I have tried to capture the essence of connection that I spoke of earlier.
For lighting in the above shot I simply relied on my big bedroom window, which is located close to my bed. The real "trick" was to get the black background. Any matte black fabric could have been used but I found that my black dressing gown worked as good as anything else and it also provided good comfort for the babies. I laid my two sleeping babies on the bed on top of my dressing gown and slightly under exposed my shot. The background all but disappeared and only minimal effort was needed in Photoshop to clean up the occasional dull reflection of light.
Moving on from my first posed shoot, I decided to build a makeshift studio of sorts. I bought some cheap pine and metal support brackets from the local hardware store and assembled a frame to hold a 1.5m x 1.5m backdrop. To provide a black background I purchased a cut of black velvet from Spotlight. On sale it cost around $50. I've found the black velvet to work well provided the incident light is not coming front on. To provide a space to place the subject I purchased something called a "Newborn Baby Posing Pod". It's basically a large bean bag, designed to have a shape that is very useful for placing newborns on - that is to say it's large and can be molded flat. Below is a photo of my makeshift studio as it currently stands.
|My Makeshift Studio Setup|
So that's it. My first ever blog! Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions. I'll end this blog with a splash of colour.