Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Get Great Back To School Photos!

Like me you are probably mourning the end of summer, tinged with a bit of joy the kids are going back to school. If you were looking to take some great going back to school photos, here are some tips!


You are going to be rushing around, but you still want to document this special day!
Use these settings to get photos of the kids getting ready indoors. Since light will be low, use your flash.

-Use Shutter priority(TV/S) or Manual mode(M)
-ISO 400
-For Shutter Priority(TV/S)set the shutter speed to 1/200th of a second, the camera picks the aperture for you automatically. If it's blinking or red, don't worry.
-For MANUAL mode(M) set the shutter speed to 1/200th of a second, aperture to F5.6(don't worry about the meter)
-AF set to continuous (AF-C or AI Servo)
-Drive mode set to continuous
-turn on or pop up your flash. Set it to TTL or Manual. Take some test photos and adjust the flash power as necessary. If you have a external flash, you should try bouncing it off the ceiling to make the light more even. The first photo below was taken with bounce flash, the next two with direct.

It would be better to find a more plain background, like a nice wall...but the reality is you are going to be rushing here, so just get the best shot you can.

You could also get interesting images photographing detail shots/close-ups of the kid's bookbags, school supplies, shoes, etc. These would be better to do the night before...you don't want to make your kids miss the bus on the first day of school! I'm not sure if any teachers given the "I was late because my mom wasn't finished taking a macro photo of my pencil case..." excuse...

There are great opportunity to get wonderful photos of your kids skipping along with big smiles ono their faces as they are making their way to the bus stop.

Ok. maybe they won't be that happy...

Your settings for these shots are going to be determined by the weather and the light. If the skies are clear, and the sun is shining on your kids, awesome.

-Use Shutter priority(TV/S) or Manual mode(M)
-ISO 400
-set the shutter speed to 1/500th of a second when they are walking, 1/250th if they are standing still
-if you are using Manual mode(M) adjust the aperture to get a proper meter reading.
-AF set to continuous (AF-C or AI Servo)
-Drive mode set to continuous

1/500th was no problem here with the sun shining on these kids
If the light is lower and your images are turning out too dark, bump up the ISO to 800. Or if you have a lens with a really wide aperture (F1.4 or F2.8 for example) you could try opening the lens wide.
The next two pictures were done at ISO 800.

If you still can't get a good exposure with ISO 800...you could keep bumping up the ISO, but it will probably be better to just use the flash.


I hope you find these tips useful!
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-Use the same settings as above, but your shutter speed will lock once it's hits the highest sync speed with the flash (usually 1/200th). Manual shooting mode (M) would be better, I would suggest setting the aperture to F5.6 to let in as much light as possible (again, the meter won't be in the middle, no worries)
-Set your flash to TTL or Manual mode.  Take test shots and adjust the power output as necessary.

This may result in darker backgrounds. But if you try to balance with the ambient, your shutter speed will be too low and you may get some blur. You can try a few at 1/125th or 1/60th when they are standing still, but once they start moving, you'll want to bump it back up to ensure you freeze them. 

Shot with flash, there is a bit of motion blur along with the sharp image

There is motion blur here from using 1/60th of a second. Even with that slower speed, the background is still pretty dark. So you might as well just shoot with flash at the higher sync speed (1/200th) and get a sharp picture.

If you are dropping your kids off at the school you'll get lots of other photo opportunities.

Use the same settings above for outdoors shots, like outside the school or on the playground.

Depending on your school, they may even let you into the classroom to take photos. Use the settings above for the indoor getting ready photos, and bounce the flash if possible.

 When the kids get off the bus, hopefully you'll have more light and be able to get the better settings.

Happy shooting, hope you get some great shots as your children embark on another year of learning and fun! And don't forget to make sure you get in a few photos too!

Noel Chenier

Photographer and teacher
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