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Old 12-15-2012, 12:49 PM   #1
jimim
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children with character pics

hi everyone. maybe this is a very easy question that i should know the answer to, but i wanted to try and get some advice.

i always struggle with focus points when at the parks and taking pics of my daughter with a character. or for that matter with more than 2 people in the pic. i usually try to one of the most center points first making sure i pick one that is focusing on a plane that is for most of the pic. if work out from there with picking a point if there is a gap between my kid and the character.

the other problem i think i'm going to have this trip and from now on too is that she is no longer that little 13 month old that the characters bent down to for the pic. i'm thinking we are at that age now that most characters will just stand so focusing is going to be even harder.

if inside i usually shoot at 800iso so i can keep my aperture as high as possible for sharpness and also allow for a faster shutter speed. so here is another question. if i can't get a fast enough shutter speed can i shoot at 2.8 if pretty wide, say 24-35 mm, and still be sharp enough if there is just kate and a character in the pic? that is something else i struggle with also. when using a wider ap like 2.8 vs 5.6 or even 7 makes a diff when pretty wide.


thanks alot everyone!

jim
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:27 PM   #2
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It really sounds like you already know the one thing to do to get sufficient depth of field. The smaller aperture (higher F/ number) is the thing most people look at first. A shorter focal length can also help increase depth of field, though the 24-35mm you're talking about sounds really good. Distance to subject also helps with depth of field, but that one is really tough at WDW to work in there.

Keep in mind that if you're pixel peeping you may never see sufficient depth of field. Even stopped way down when viewed at 100% you will really notice the fall off from the plane of focus. View at print or web size if you're not doing that already.

Another thing that comes into play here is chromatic aberration. It can make a really sharp image look softer. Look at the high contrast areas of your image and see if you have green, red, purple or other fringe going on.
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Old 12-15-2012, 02:42 PM   #3
jimim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photo_chick View Post
It really sounds like you already know the one thing to do to get sufficient depth of field. The smaller aperture (higher F/ number) is the thing most people look at first. A shorter focal length can also help increase depth of field, though the 24-35mm you're talking about sounds really good. Distance to subject also helps with depth of field, but that one is really tough at WDW to work in there.

Keep in mind that if you're pixel peeping you may never see sufficient depth of field. Even stopped way down when viewed at 100% you will really notice the fall off from the plane of focus. View at print or web size if you're not doing that already.

Another thing that comes into play here is chromatic aberration. It can make a really sharp image look softer. Look at the high contrast areas of your image and see if you have green, red, purple or other fringe going on.

thanks for that! so are you saying that even if I shoot at 2.8 it shouldn't make that much difference for sharpness in these situations? so better to shoot wide open to get faster shutter speeds at that point due to kids moving compared to an adult that you tell to get up there and "don't move!" i just want ot be able to shoot and not worry as much as I have with the past 3 trips. I'm always messing with settings from character to character and want to stop doing that as much as I can.

also, focus points cause i know I went off at the end of my last original post. center? vs other ones? look for one that covers the biggest portion of the people and character in the same plane?

thanks again,
jim
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Old 12-15-2012, 06:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jimim View Post
thanks for that! so are you saying that even if I shoot at 2.8 it shouldn't make that much difference for sharpness in these situations? so better to shoot wide open to get faster shutter speeds at that point due to kids moving compared to an adult that you tell to get up there and "don't move!" i just want ot be able to shoot and not worry as much as I have with the past 3 trips. I'm always messing with settings from character to character and want to stop doing that as much as I can.

also, focus points cause i know I went off at the end of my last original post. center? vs other ones? look for one that covers the biggest portion of the people and character in the same plane?

thanks again,
jim
Being open that wide will make a difference, but I don't think it's enough to stop you from getting a decent shot. I'd personally choose a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion over stopping down the aperture and risking motion blur. Sometimes you have to choose settings that may be less than ideal to get the shot you want.

I shot this image last night using a 50mm f/1.8 and I had it wide open. And it's got more than enough depth of field, especially at this viewing size, to make me happy. I would have preferred to not have had to stop down as much, but I already had my shutter speed as slow as I was comfortable going to avoid motion blur and the ISO cranked up somewhat.



Focus points... it depends on the lens and camera. Some are better on the outer points than others, some really need to be on the center. It varies. The lens I was using last night hunts like crazy in low light so I stuck to center. But in good light I'll use whichever I need. I also end up manually focusing a lot because the auto focus on my camera doesn't always nail the focus where I want it.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photo_chick

Being open that wide will make a difference, but I don't think it's enough to stop you from getting a decent shot. I'd personally choose a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion over stopping down the aperture and risking motion blur. Sometimes you have to choose settings that may be less than ideal to get the shot you want.

I shot this image last night using a 50mm f/1.8 and I had it wide open. And it's got more than enough depth of field, especially at this viewing size, to make me happy. I would have preferred to not have had to stop down as much, but I already had my shutter speed as slow as I was comfortable going to avoid motion blur and the ISO cranked up somewhat.

Focus points... it depends on the lens and camera. Some are better on the outer points than others, some really need to be on the center. It varies. The lens I was using last night hunts like crazy in low light so I stuck to center. But in good light I'll use whichever I need. I also end up manually focusing a lot because the auto focus on my camera doesn't always nail the focus where I want it.
Thanks for the visual. I think my biggest problem is I like to pixel peep, cropping it 100% when at times I really don't need to. It's almost a bad habit that I've created over the past year. I know at time you really need to but at other times it just isn't necessary as you explain.

I totally got what you're saying about the focus point locking on to focus but I'm more concerned about who to put the focus point on if there's two people. I tend to go with who I want to be more focused but it times I think I should just leave it in the center and call it a day. I Shoot with the 7D by the way.

Thanks again

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Old 12-17-2012, 12:14 PM   #6
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Out of curiousity, is there any reason you don't use a flash for character pictures? I am someone who loves to shoot available light as a rule, but I have started taking along my flash specfically for character pics (e.g. meals or for indoor meeting areas). This way I can shoot around F4 of F5.6 to get a bit more depth of field and less softness.

Just another approach to consider.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpbjgc
Out of curiousity, is there any reason you don't use a flash for character pictures? I am someone who loves to shoot available light as a rule, but I have started taking along my flash specfically for character pics (e.g. meals or for indoor meeting areas). This way I can shoot around F4 of F5.6 to get a bit more depth of field and less softness.

Just another approach to consider.
I always shoot for fill flash with characters. 95 percent of the time my flash use is for fill. Even with a flash sometimes u are still shooting pretty open inside of some of disney's places. ISO I feel changes shutter speeds the most along with some exp comp.

I think next trip I'm going to start using my exp comp more with fill flash to still keep the character and my kid lit enough but with the exp comp I should be able to get shutter speeds high enough to stop blur. She's young still so she moves quick at times! Lol

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Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House June 13th for the week.

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Old 12-17-2012, 01:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpbjgc View Post
Out of curiousity, is there any reason you don't use a flash for character pictures? I am someone who loves to shoot available light as a rule, but I have started taking along my flash specfically for character pics (e.g. meals or for indoor meeting areas). This way I can shoot around F4 of F5.6 to get a bit more depth of field and less softness.

Just another approach to consider.
I've been itching to ask this since this thread was posted, but assumed because nobody else had, that I must be missing something
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 2Tiggies

I've been itching to ask this since this thread was posted, but assumed because nobody else had, that I must be missing something
Sorry may e I should have said it but I was assuming people realized I was using fill flash cause its just so common to be! My bad.

My original question was about focus points but then I asked the second question and it flew off into just that! Lol

Everything flows and ties into each other so much that I think this is why the original focus point question got forgot about.

I still don't know if I'm right with how I put the focus point on my kid vs the character if I can't get it in the center cause there is nothing to focus on except the background cause their might be a gap between them. You really don't have time when up there to say move here move there. I always feel rushed and everyone is looking at me.

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Old 12-17-2012, 06:37 PM   #10
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You really don't have time when up there to say move here move there. I always feel rushed and everyone is looking at me.

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Our last three trips have been at quieter times of the year (that is going to be a thing of the past for a while from next year!) so I've usually ridden on the advantage of there not being too many folk in line and, within reason, I will take a little time if I need to to get the photos I want. I usually make sure I have the exposure etc. set up while we are waiting in line. Rather than asking DD to move, I am quite comfortable with moving around instead. When DD was younger I found it helpful to get down on my knees rather than stand up and shoot, otherwise the photos tend to be almost 'aerial view' style of the little ones. It's less of an issue now that she is taller. Many of the characters will also get down closer to the kids' level when they are younger, which also helps, but you can't rely on that.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:55 PM   #11
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Our last three trips have been at quieter times of the year (that is going to be a thing of the past for a while from next year!) so I've usually ridden on the advantage of there not being too many folk in line and, within reason, I will take a little time if I need to to get the photos I want. I usually make sure I have the exposure etc. set up while we are waiting in line. Rather than asking DD to move, I am quite comfortable with moving around instead. When DD was younger I found it helpful to get down on my knees rather than stand up and shoot, otherwise the photos tend to be almost 'aerial view' style of the little ones. It's less of an issue now that she is taller. Many of the characters will also get down closer to the kids' level when they are younger, which also helps, but you can't rely on that.
that last statement is exactly what I'm talking about. When she was younger they would kneel down, if able. now that she is older I am thinking it won't happen as much so i'm confused on what to focus on? kid? character? center point if no gap between them? other?

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Old 12-17-2012, 07:48 PM   #12
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Thanks for the visual. I think my biggest problem is I like to pixel peep, cropping it 100% when at times I really don't need to. It's almost a bad habit that I've created over the past year. I know at time you really need to but at other times it just isn't necessary as you explain.

I totally got what you're saying about the focus point locking on to focus but I'm more concerned about who to put the focus point on if there's two people. I tend to go with who I want to be more focused but it times I think I should just leave it in the center and call it a day. I Shoot with the 7D by the way.

Thanks again

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You will drive yourself insane pixel peeping. The only time I view an image at 100% is when I need to do some cloning or other detail work.

When I have two people I tend to choose the closest one to me or the one that's more prominent and focus on their eyes. If the eyes are in focus we tend to visually ignore other things being soft. Of course that leaves out the other person, but if you can get them close to the same plane of focus you should come out looking pretty well focused in the end.
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:54 AM   #13
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You will drive yourself insane pixel peeping. The only time I view an image at 100% is when I need to do some cloning or other detail work.

When I have two people I tend to choose the closest one to me or the one that's more prominent and focus on their eyes. If the eyes are in focus we tend to visually ignore other things being soft. Of course that leaves out the other person, but if you can get them close to the same plane of focus you should come out looking pretty well focused in the end.

Thanks for that! So I was right pretty much but I always doubt myself. I guess I have to just trust what I'm doing more often.

I appreciate all the help you and the others have provided! I really appreciate it!

I got a new small toy last night. On of the Gary Fong Lightsphere's. I have used Joe Demb's saucer flip-it for about 2 years now and love it, but I wanted to compare so last night I played a bit and tonight I'm going to do some side by side of the 2. The flip-it has saved me countless times all over. It's great in disney to get softer light when taking pics with the family in the hotels or in areas where u can't bounce. What I saw last night from just a few minutes is the GF can't control the white balance as easy as JD flip-it does. Joe's has the white card that acts as the reflector for the flash where GF's is more of a diffuser and open on the top so the flash still takes on the color of the ceiling or where it's being bounced. It has a dome on top to control WB a bit more but then the flash is even more diffused. I think I'm going to start another thread on them cause Joe's has been a great help to me.

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