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How to take a nice photo without flash?!

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#1 iheartu

Posted 06 February 2013 - 11:36 AM

Hi ladies original.gif

I've got a canon 550D and the last few days I've been really practicing and playing with it. I love taking portraits of my darlings and have taken approx 1200 shots in the last few day ohmy.gif Tounge1.gif (only 30 or so that I LOVE the rest well some are good, most aren't lol something about working with children and animals comes to mind lol)

I've taken some shots I'm very happy and proud of but some of them are slightly out of focus and I find if I use the flash they are a lot clearer/crisper but I don't like using the flash for most pictures as I don't like the artificial bright that seems to give my 'models' a bluish tinge and if I use it a lot it ends up becoming 'busy' and takes ages to reload between shots.

Any handy hints?! I enjoy playing with and prefer the manual mode so hit me!

#2 Bluenomi

Posted 06 February 2013 - 11:43 AM

Lighting. Professionals don't use the inbuilt flash they use lights and seperate flashes.

Otherwise move outside where you don't need lighting  biggrin.gif

#3 Bec .

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:28 PM

What lens are you using?

#4 Peanut

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:33 PM

I find it tricky too sometimes (I'm not good with people shots, I'm better at inanimate objects, lol), so I usually take photos of my kids outside.

#5 iheartu

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:38 PM

I'm using the 18-55mm that came with it, I also have a 55-250mm that I haven't even used really.

I'm such an amateur I just love taking nice photos original.gif

#6 raven74

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:39 PM

Good light and fast glass.  You may find your camera "hunts" - tries to find a focal point - when the light is low.  Fast glass is a lens with a wide aperture - 2.8. 1.8, 1.4, 1.2.  If you're using kit lenses they may only go down to f5-5.6 which isn't enough in lower light.
Don't shoot in the shade, if it's dark open the blinds, turn on lights (ISO can only do so much before you get noisy photos) set your white balance accordingly.  I see a lot of pics where people shoot their kids under a beautiful tree and they look terrible.  Be aware of things like this - something like a tree gives uneven dappled light.
Look for the light before you shoot.  See how the light hits their faces, make sure they have catchlights in their eyes.

#7 ~kacee~

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:42 PM

You'll do better with a lens that can have a wide aperture (known also as f-stop). The lower the f-stop number, the more light it'll let in (and no flash needed). Also, make your ISO higher (prob at least 800, more likely 1600).

#8 iheartu

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:48 PM

Thanks Raven they're great tips original.gif

What lens size do you recommend for portraits...

F stop is already on 5 and my iso is usually 1200 - 1600 original.gif

#9 FEdeRAL

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:50 PM

Yeah if you do mainly portraits it's worth investing in a fixed lens. A 50mm with F-stop under 1.8 will do a better job than the standard lens that comes with the camera. The lens prices from 1.8 to 1.4 jumps more than double, and a 1.2 will usually be close to a grand.

#10 iheartu

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:52 PM

Ooo ouch expensive hobby isn't it original.gif

#11 pruehp

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:56 PM

As stated above, you need a 50mm 1.8 lens. I'm Nikon girl, but i imagine a canon one should cost about $100. Then you can snap away to your heart's content indoors. Try to use window light - it's directional and makes for striking portraits.

#12 raven74

Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:59 PM

You can get a "nifty fifty" 1.8 for a few hundred bucks and get great results.
On a  55http://www.harveynorman.com.au/canon-ef-mm-f-ii-lenses.html?gclid=CKaTnZDYoLUCFQZapQodwDwAJA0 I'd be a bit leary of having your ISO up there, might get a tad grainy.

Edited by raven74, 06 February 2013 - 01:00 PM.

#13 Sentient Puddle

Posted 06 February 2013 - 01:06 PM

If you must take photos in poor light then invest in a speedlight and bounce the light off something light in colour (ceiling or wall).  Otherwise you need to find the light and put your subjects in that light and create the photo using light as your guiding principle.  

A great photo just wont happen - you need to make it happen.

Fast glass is also good - but just remember - opening up wide on a nifty fifty will only give you a very small focal plane (area where subject is in focus) so you need to practice a goodly while to ensure your subject is in focus.  And unless it is a birthday party in the semi dark - never use on camera flash - and if you absolutely must use on camera flash you can diffuse the harshness of the light by using something as simple as a tissue!

#14 iheartu

Posted 06 February 2013 - 01:23 PM

Perhaps the high iso is contributing to the lack of sharpness in some of my pics. For normal indoor pics what iso should I be using?

Might have a play around diffusing the light.... Thanks for the tissue tip.

Pity my birthday is in a couple of days and I can't add a new lens to my wish list but I'm pretty sure DH has organised a landscape portraits class for me so bit stoked about that (well that's if my guess is correct!)

#15 Sentient Puddle

Posted 06 February 2013 - 01:35 PM

The higher end your camera - the more you can bump up the iso and have usable photos.  Noise in a photo is preferable to having a blurry photo though - so I doubt it is the high iso contributing to the lack of sharpness.  I also think the more you take photos the more you realise that sometimes you just wont get a good photo because of the lighting conditions.  If you are serious about wanting to learn some lighting - a Youngnou speed light will set you back about $140 and a set of wireless triggers less than $50.  This will let you take photos in virtually any lighting condition.  A simple reflector will also help to bounce some light and is cheap.

ETA I can easily shoot at 1600 ISO on my D800 and get usable shots.  It isnt my preference though.  I would prefer to use the available light and set up the shot - or use off camera flash and bring down the iso.  The lower the iso you are using - the more information the camera sensor is gathering - but the slower your shutter speed will have to be (so the chance of your photos being blurry increase).

Edited by ILBB, 06 February 2013 - 01:39 PM.

#16 iheartu

Posted 06 February 2013 - 02:01 PM

Ohhhhh righto! Thanks for explaining that original.gif I'm just muddling along learning from the net/ remembering my limited knowledge from high school photography classes!

#17 Sentient Puddle

Posted 06 February 2013 - 02:05 PM

One last thing from me, "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson, really good, clear book on the exposure triangle and a great place to start.

#18 whale-woman

Posted 06 February 2013 - 02:07 PM

QUOTE (Leeloomina @ 06/02/2013, 01:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yeah if you do mainly portraits it's worth investing in a fixed lens. A 50mm with F-stop under 1.8 will do a better job than the standard lens that comes with the camera. The lens prices from 1.8 to 1.4 jumps more than double, and a 1.2 will usually be close to a grand.

QUOTE (raven74 @ 06/02/2013, 01:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can get a "nifty fifty" 1.8 for a few hundred bucks and get great results.
On a  55http://www.harveynorman.com.au/canon-ef-mm-f-ii-lenses.html?gclid=CKaTnZDYoLUCFQZapQodwDwAJA0 I'd be a bit leary of having your ISO up there, might get a tad grainy.

I got my nifty fifty and love it. Seriously It's definately worth it for taking kiddy snaps. I got mine OS for around 100$. But a warning it will start you hankering after decent lenses...... mmmmm new lenses!

#19 iheartu

Posted 06 February 2013 - 02:09 PM

Oh dear sounds like a 'nifty fifty' is on my wish list!

Ill have to pop down to the library ILBB thanks soooo much!

#20 Jjbeanz

Posted 06 February 2013 - 05:13 PM

I find the bathroom gives me really good light for portraits but I do have a big window

#21 Bec .

Posted 06 February 2013 - 06:35 PM

As has been stated, a 50mm f/1.8 will not cost very much and will allow a lot of light. However, you need to be spot on with your focus to be able to shoot at f/1.8. Also, I think that 50mm is not the best length for capturing shots of children indoors. Often they are moving around and to me it is more helpful to have something wider. I use a Tamron inside and at parties, the focal length is 28-75 and I find it perfect to get the shots I want. Another however though is that I use a speedlite, I have the Canon 430exii. It was not expensive, around $250 from memory and it is the best piece of equipment I have bought. Basically if you bounce it correctly, your shots will be clear and well lit without the harshness of the onboard flash. It will allow you to make better use of your kit lenses also. I use my kit lenses a lot. I think they are a great place to start learning. You will start to see what focal length you prefer and this can help guide you as to what lenses you might want to pick up later. Before buying the 50mm, put your kit lens on 50mm and start shooting. You will soon see if that length will work for you.

Edited by rbat, 06 February 2013 - 06:36 PM.

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