I’d like to welcome my newest grandson Landon not only into this world, but to his first exposure with Bangkok Images.  10-15 years from now he can look through our archives and find this welcome and his announcement. Born on the afternoon of March 27th, 2012. Welcome to the world Landon!

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/125th ISO 400

I’d like to welcome my newest grandson Landon not only into this world, but to his first exposure with Bangkok Images.  10-15 years from now he can look through our archives and find this welcome and his announcement. Born on the afternoon of March 27th, 2012. Welcome to the world Landon!

What makes a good baby picture? I’ve done many for clients, but these are the first for my own family.  Lining the walls of the hospital were large 24x30 inch framed prints of newborns and their families and they were quite good.  My son looked at a series done in modern antique toning and said he really liked them.  Not being one to argue at such moments I studied the images he admired, noted ways to improve on them, and returned the day after the birth when it was less busy to make the photographs.  This is how I did it.

 

I didn’t force the shots. Children can’t be forced much less newborns.  When I entered the room he was sleeping, but just stirring.  I knew he would be awake soon.  By the time he was changed he was just starting to rouse himself.  With a newborn you must be ready for the few times (very) their eyes will fully open and because their eyes are still cloudy and unfocused there will be little contrast for your AF to work, which means you’ll have more success with critical focus if you use manual focusing techniques.  Try to suggest the baby and the blanket you’ll put him on are more pastels than bright colors, and not so soft they sink deep in the folds.  The blanket should go by, but not directly next to a window.  You want just enough natural light filtering in to achieve a 1/100th shutter speed at ISO 400, easily done even on a cloudy day if using a fast lens.

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F2.2 1/40th ISO 400

I didn’t force the shots.  Children can’t be forced much less newborns.  When I entered the room he was sleeping, but just stirring.  I knew he would be awake soon.  By the time he was changed he was just starting to rouse himself.  With a newborn you must be ready for the few times (very) their eyes will fully open and because their eyes are still cloudy and unfocused there will be little contrast for your AF to work, which means you’ll have more success with critical focus if you use manual focusing techniques.  Try to suggest the baby and the blanket you’ll put him on are more pastels than bright colors, and not so soft they sink deep in the folds.  The blanket should go by, but not directly next to a window.  You want just enough natural light filtering in to achieve a 1/100th shutter speed at ISO 400, easily done even on a cloudy day if using a fast lens.

 

Canon’s marvelous 85mm F1.2 is legendary for it’s sharpness from corner to corner even wide open, it’s soft bokeh transitions, and amazing contrast.  It was ‘almost’ the perfect lens to use.  If there was a more perfect lens I would have used it, but there’s not.  What makes it less than perfect is that even on a full frame DSLR, you won’t get as much working distance as you’d prefer when working in a small room and the baby is at hip level.  You’ll need to stand on a stool to achieve minimum focusing distance (MFD), or in this case get far enough back so the angle of incidence provides an adequate MFD.

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/100th ISO 400

Canon’s marvelous 85mm F1.2 is legendary for it’s sharpness from corner to corner even wide open, it’s soft bokeh transitions, and amazing contrast.  It was ‘almost’ the perfect lens to use.  If there was a more perfect lens I would have used it, but there’s not.  What makes it less than perfect is that even on a full frame DSLR, you won’t get as much working distance as you’d prefer when working in a small room and the baby is at hip level.  You’ll need to stand on a stool to achieve minimum focusing distance (MFD), or in this case get far enough back so the angle of incidence provides an adequate MFD.

Newborns aren’t animated.  They didn’t want the more common “baby with mom” “baby with dad” “baby with siblings” “feeding baby” shots.  What my son had noticed on the wall outside, was most directly shots showing different facial expressions.  Be prepared to exercise some patience to get different expressions from a newborn. Pray for gas.. ;o)

 

Landon4

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/100th ISO 400

 

And any expressions you do get will be fleeting, so you must be ready to go.  Measure your light ahead of time and make your exposure settings, decide on your aperture so the face is well focused and everything else gently fades to full bokeh, and notice the direction of light.  You might not easily see the light direction, especially if it’s cloudy and dark outside, but it WILL be coming in through the window so you only need to draw a mental straight line and then expose to show direction.

Scale can be important.  A classic shot of the babies small hand wrapped around the fathers adult hand is desirable and even newborns will grab on for dear life if you tell the father to put his finger down near and nudging his hand.  Using the hand with the wedding ring is a bonus.  Newborns range in size, but the smaller the newborn the more huge the hand will look and the more profound the contrast.  Then you have baby with both eyes open, baby with one eye open, baby yawning, and baby crying.  Classic expressions and all a newborn makes with the exception of one. And do you really want ‘that’ expression?

 

With such shoots it’s imperative you please the parents . No one else matters.  This is their special moment so leave your biases behind, pay attention to what they like, and give it to them.  It’s that simple.  This is not the time to exercise your artistic license.  Instead, exercise it with attractive lighting, DOF choices, and proper processing.  I was happy to give my son and his wife what they wanted, and pleased his friends and workmates raved over the images on the web gallery I set up for them.  A baby might be small, but the images are very important to the parents.  And a certain grandfather.  Ouch, “grandfather” sounds sooo old.  I’m glad it’s a misnomer.. ;o)

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/100th ISO 400

 

With such shoots it’s imperative you please the parents . No one else matters.  This is their special moment so leave your biases behind, pay attention to what they like, and give it to them.  It’s that simple.  This is not the time to exercise your artistic license.  Instead, exercise it with attractive lighting, DOF choices, and proper processing.  I was happy to give my son and his wife what they wanted, and pleased his friends and workmates raved over the images on the web gallery I set up for them.  A baby might be small, but the images are very important to the parents.  And a certain grandfather.  Ouch, “grandfather” sounds sooo old.  I’m glad it’s a misnomer.. ;o)