Shoot: Child and Pet Portraits
- [Julia] This is going to be again a simple shot. Now we're working with kids and pets, and I have it really easy because Evie is a doll and Judy loves kids. Now there have been situations, let me tell you when that was not the case, and I actually have a pretty strong and steady rule that I will not shoot newborns with a dog. There's a lot of people out there who will do it and awesome power to them. There's people who will composite it. Do you guys know what that means? "Composite" means to take two separate shots and then put them together so that the baby is never close to the dog. And the reason for that, and even with a six-month-old, I have a real hard time with it because you have to understand animal mentality. A dog is a pack animal so when you bring in a new baby, a lower-on-the-hierarchy new member of the pack, the dog is going to feel threatened. Now, not all dogs of course. There's some amazing animals out there who have no problem with it. But just keep that at the back...
of your mind. A new baby coming into a home shakes up the dog's world, especially if it's a first baby. Okay? It shakes up the dog's world, so to bring a dog into my studio with a baby not only are they with the baby who has taken over their lives but they're also in a new environment that's not theirs. A lot can go wrong, and I've had stuff go wrong. And so I'm just of the mindset that if someone is really that passionate about it I'm happy to try and composite it. Clearly, I charge more because I want to get paid for that type of work, but we shot the Murphy family with their dogs but the kids were two and three years old. The family has had time to adjust, okay? It's when you bring in to a new environment that you have to be very careful about that risk, okay? If you shoot pets you will get scratched, you will get bit, you'll get pooped on, you'll get peed on, and you will have frustrated animals who don't know what to think especially when they're in a new environment, okay? So those are the kind of things you need to think about when shooting pets, and they don't communicate well with you whereas a kid I can kind of talk them into doing stuff. An animal, it's a completely different story, so you're going to have to really love that in order to want to go into this genre, okay? All right. Cutie patootie, Miss Evie girl, you going to come help me out, girl? You're my rockstar? She has this little fun smile. You are so cute. Give me five. You are my rockstar. Okay, let's pop you on the couch. Sound good? And then we need a cute little pug. Where'd she go? Is she wandering around? Oh, she's taking her break. She's got her diva pillow over there. Her diva pillow. Come here, Judy, come on. Oh, you get to hang out with Judy. Now, the thing with children and dogs is she is going to be so distracted by this dog, which I think is awesome. So you kind of have to go with it. I mean, you can clearly see. Okay, you know what? Let's get Lulu out too. Can I undo Lulu's ribbons? Or maybe I should just take her out like this and then we'll put Lulu on this side of you. How does that sound? Yeah? I know. Isn't that awesome? Okay. So, now Miss Evie. Okay, so now because Evie's in the... she's so happy right now. Because Evie's in the shot I'm going to go ahead and...I have the best job ever. Because Evie's in the shot I'm switching to a portrait lens because I don't want to make Evie look funky. Okay? Stay. Okay, can you make sure Lulu's looking at me too? There we go. Now, very good. Now I'm going to shoot this because I think it's really cute, but keep in mind that her legs are coming right at me. What's that going to do? Foreshorten, right? Awesome. Oh my gosh. So cute. I love it. Did I? No, I'm completely over-exposed. Hang on one second. I'm still in my old settings. Yeah, whoa. Okay. Since I have two subjects here I'm going to pop up to F4. Sorry, her expression just made me shoot. Is she funny? Okay, Miss Evie can you get on your knees for me? Can you get on your knees? Perfect and we'll get Judy to come over. Judy, go on. Perfect. There. You might have to shove her around. Perfect. Can you put your arms around? Can you just put your arm around her so she stays right there next to you? Stay. So, we're dealing with two unknowns: children and pets. But I happen to love the interaction. Judy, okay. Okay. We're going to tell a secret, okay? Nice and quiet. Can you do that? Good. Sit. Sit Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, sit. There we go. Stay. Good girl, stay. She'll get so excited. I think she's...shhh. You know she's going to talk a lot, isn't she? We've got to keep her quiet, huh? Shh, you be quiet so she's going to play Simon Says. Simon says, "Be quiet." I don't know if she'll listen. Stay. I don't know if she'll listen to Simon Says. You think so? I don't know. You think so? Do you know that there's a froggy in my camera, Miss Evie? Did you see him wink at you? I'm shooting F. I'm getting low on shutter speed. We're going to try this. I'm shooting at one one-hundredth of a second which is a little bit (inaudible) but because those two are not on the same plane...stay there. Or I need to up my ISO. That's okay. That's okay. So what you'll notice is that Evie and Judy were not on the same plane, focal plane. Do you see that? So I upped my aperture to five-sixths to try to account for that. It still didn't get it quite perfect but that also means I had to lower my shutter speed quickly because I don't have an ISO dial. I got to actually go, "Oh, ISO." And crank it up. I don't have a dial where I could just slam my ISO up really quickly. Okay? She's having so much fun. Okay. Okay. So now what I would like to do...okay, Miss Evie, you know what I want you to do? Why is that so funny? Is it so funny? Can you ease on your belly right here? Just like that. Just like that. Perfect. Okay, can you put your feet up for me? Feet up. Oh yeah. It's too funny. So now again we're going to play... it's just so hard, isn't it? She's funny. You got to be quiet so she'll be quiet. You think you can do that? I know it's so funny, isn't it? Okay. So now I want you to come closer. Can you come over here? Come over here. There we go. Okay, we're going to try to put Evie up here. You think she'll stay there? Maybe. Okay, so shhh. Don't move. Still as a ghost. Can you freeze? Do you know how to freeze? Freeze. Good job. Don't move. Freeze. How long can you hold it? I don't know how long you can hold it. Okay, let's put her up here like that. Good girl, you stay. Stay, Evie. I tell Evie to stay and I tell Judy to stay, huh? Stay. Beep beep beep beep! My bad. I'm focusing on Evie because they're both on the same plane. Do you see that? Judy. Evie. Awesome. Can you look up at Judy? What's she doing? Is she funny? Is she making funny noises? What's she doing? Tell me. So cute. Okay. Good job. Can you sit up, Evie? Sit right next to her. Can you sit in the chair on your knees? Good job. Nice and close. Stay. Good job. Stay nice and close. Get nice and close. Okay. Good job. Now I need you to come a little bit more forward, right at the edge. Why am I doing that? Same plane and because Judy was blocking the light on her. Did you see that? Okay? Okay, yeah. Can you put your arm around Judy? Will she kiss you? You think she'll give you kisses? Okay, Evie, can you put your arm around her? Stay. Oh, I wondered if that would happen. It's okay. She's funny, huh? She's doing really good. So fun. Tons of personality. She's got her pug in her hand but yet there's a real pug on the couch. There's lots of story there going on. She's like, "I want to get my toy." I think the diva might need a break. She's such a cute little diva. Isn't she funny? She's super cute. So, you added a layer of complication bringing a child into a pet portrait but it can be done. A lot of it is just letting things happen and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. And we'll be willing to grab a moment when it does, okay? But if you noticed when... I'll just pretend to be Judy right here. Can you put your bottom right back there? Look what happened to the light on her face and then they're not in the same focal plane. So, if I focused on Judy she would be out of focus but... Come scoot forward like that? So now all of a sudden the light's on her and we're both in the same focal plane, okay? It's something really important to remember to get them both sharp. Good job. Should we try one more time? She's like, "Yeah, let's do it." I think this time we're going to put Judy on the couch next to you. How does that sound? Yeah? Okay, so do you think that you can sit right in the middle of the cushion, right there? Yeah, Lulu's going to be right there instead? Cool. Right here. No, that's too much. Right here. Perfect. Good job. Right there. Nice and tall. Nice and tall. Good job. Perfect. I'm going to make a symmetrical shot here. Oh, and he's got to be perfect. There we go. Okay. Is that good? Do you think he'll be happy there? Judy. Is she okay? Does she need some water? Come on. Okay. You got to stay right where you are. Simon says, "Freeze." Don't move, okay? Do you think you can do it? Can you stay absolutely still? You think so? Okay. Come here, Miss Judy. Come here. Judy, come here. Judy. Sit. Sit. Those teeth crack me up. I know. I'm going to scoot her over just a touch. Come here. She's treat obsessed. I love it. Okay, I think I'm going to go ahead and leave her there just for in the interest of...lie down. Stay. Okay, don't move. Do you think you can do it? Okay, you know what I want you to do? Stay. Yeah, careful not to touch her because she's going to move. I want you to like down with your head over here and your feet over the couch. Can you do that? On your back? Can you turn over on your back? Yeah, perfect. Oh, she's going to lick you. Here, I'll help you. Just like that. Perfect. Feet up the couch. Put your head all the way down so you can see me. Come more this way. Perfect. I love it. Awesome. Sit. You're doing a good job, Peanut. Sit. Lie down. Lie down. Lie down. You know what? Stay. Okay. Stay. Yeah, don't touch her, okay? She's super excited about these treats. Stay. Stay. Okay. Can you put your head back so I can see you more? More like that? Perfect. Good girl. Don't move. Looking awesome. Don't move. You're looking good. Stay. Can you put your hands just on your chest? Just like that. Perfect. Where's Miss Julia's froggie? Is he in there? Do you see him winking at you? Oh, my goodness. Good job, Sweetheart. Now if this was her dog and I knew the dog better, that he wouldn't freak out, I would totally put the dog on her chest. But I kind of want to just see...Judy, you're such a good girl. We're asking a lot of Judy right now. So if I could I would put...but I'm trying to create some interest with the compositional line like the little baby pug on the stool and then clearly I tilted my camera too much. You did so good. Thank you, Sweetheart. Give me five. You're awesome, and a big round of applause for this peanut right here. She did awesome. And for Judy. And for Judy. Here, she's awesome. Judy's amazing. Good dog. I think the thing that you're seeing here is classic animal. You have about 10 or 15 minutes, really. They want to please so much that they... like Judy in her case she's getting a little wound up because she doesn't know what to do, and it's a new environment. And I think I had that on my slides earlier, mentioned earlier. It is a new environment and it's lights and asking them to do certain things, and stay still for certain ways. It's a lot for an animal to take in. So it's something to consider and know that you only have 10 to 15 minutes of really good time because you'll notice when we first started working with her she was really good, really awesome. Not that she wasn't but she just started to get a little bit more wound up, and the treats, she wanted more treats. She's hot. Like you see, she's drinking water heavily now. So just be aware of their needs and I don't ever like to force an animal into something they don't want to do because I've been bit that way. And it's hard on them too. They don't understand what's going on. So, questions on animal, pets, with kids, that kind of thing? Yes. - [Female] All right. We'll start with the folks at home. SushiBall had asked, "What kind of focus points are you using when shooting animals and kids to make sure both are in focus?" So you talked about getting them on the same plane... - ...on the same plane. - ...but are you still using single one point of focus, multiple points of focus? What are you doing? - Exactly. I'm using still a single point and I usually focus on the child if I have a child and a dog in the frame. With that being said, the dog better be on the same focal point that the child is on, okay? Because otherwise, the dog's going to be out of focus. If you notice, I had the baby pug here, the little girl's head here, and Judy's head here. They're all in this line and you'll see that I even do that with groups, is everybody's in a line for the most part when I'm shooting natural light. Now when I'm shooting strobe it's a totally different animal. And this is why there's advantages to strobe because strobes are so powerful I can shoot at F16 no problem. And we'll talk about this more when I do groups. That helps me have the ability to put a group in a semi-circle so that they're all evenly lit. Remember that fall off rule? The inverse square law? That way the light is equidistant from each person in the group. When I'm working with natural light I need to keep them on the same plane for the most part because I can't shoot, especially in these low-light conditions, I can't shoot at F16 with this things. My ISO would be cranked up to freaking God-knows-what, which would just make the image... I mean, now granted today's cameras can handle it for the most part, but if I'm going to blow that image up to a 40 or 60-inch prints for my clients like I like to sell that's almost impossible at an ISO of 5,000 or 6,000. It just wouldn't work. It wouldn't look good, okay? So when you're shooting in natural light like this and you have to keep your apertures open in order to let enough light in without cranking up your ISO, you have to keep everybody on the same plane. When you're shooting strobes and you've got more powerful light that's going to not only give you more power so you can stop down and get a deeper plane of focus, but it also freezes the action with that flash that comes through, okay? Just note that there's those differences between natural light and studio strobe. Each have their pluses and minuses, okay? The nice thing about working with natural light in this situation is a strobe is not going to freak out a pet. Strobes can freak out dogs. They get very scared and nervous. As a matter of fact, I don't even like to use strobes with animals because the flash, they don't know what it is and that's scary for them. So, there's pluses and minuses to both methods, okay? Are we good? No more questions? - We have some more questions. - We do? Awesome. Fire away. - Excellent. All right. So imagine you are a new photographer, you've got your DSLR and you know you're going to go photograph a fully white dog or a totally black dog. How do you approach that scenario? - Good question. Remember the meter's going to want to make the dog 18% gray. So on a black dog my little meter thing in the middle is going to shift slightly left and that will be a well-exposed image. The camera will try to tell you it's under-exposed but knowing that that dog is black and that the light being reflected off the dog is what the camera is trying to read, and what the camera's trying to read is so influenced by the color and tone of what the object is, a well-exposed image with a black dog. If that's truly what you're metering on, the black dog, is going to be shifted on your meter measure-er, that's a technical term, will be slightly to the left, okay? Excuse me. Yes, slightly to the left, okay? If it's a white dog, it's going to be slightly to the right. If it's a gray dog it's going to be right in the middle. Make sense? Following? Yeah? Okay. - So it's the same rules... - Yes. - Same rules. Same rules of apply. - ...as if somebody dressed all in white. - And if you really are insecure about it the best way to do it is to spend a couple hundred bucks and get yourself an incident light meter. A handheld meter and just measure the light falling on the dog and that will tell you the exact exposure. Then when you go set your camera at those settings you'll look inside and your meter inside the camera will be all whacked. It'll be to the left because it's a dark scene. You'll be like, "This can't be right." You'll take the shot and it'll be perfect. Incident light meters are super accurate. They measure light falling on a subject rather than light reflected, so it's going to be a more accurate reading, okay? And then you can trust this machine, not your camera. I think that's why metering and camera is so confusing because yes you're measuring light but you're measuring reflected light which is influenced by that which is being reflected. Incident is light falling which is truly the light falling on the subject, okay? Make sense? Well granted, having an in-camera meter is awesome though, because how many times can you not pull out your incident and go like this. Do you have time to do that? Okay? Yeah. - So just to further this say you have a white dog and a black dog, and again they could be dogs, they could be products that we're looking at tomorrow, they can be kids in two different shirts, how do you go about exposing when you have both ends? - Okay. Remember, it's not about what color things are it's about how much light is falling on them. The amount of light falling on them is the same if they are black or if they are white, right? That's not any different. If I have a black dog and a white dog sitting right here, one on top of the other, does the exposure differ for each dog? No. It's absolutely the same because it has to do with the amount of light in the scene, not what color the dogs are. I know that's confusing at times. That's why I always encourage newcomers to use an incident meter because then you're taking the fact of whether the dog is white, brown, blue, purple, orange or pink and taking that out of the equation. And now all of a sudden it's just about the light which makes your mind understand it better. And that's why in-camera meters are so confusing to people because then they start thinking about color and if it's black or if it's white. It doesn't matter. What matters is how much light is in the scene. A white dog is going to reflect more light than a black one. A black one will soak up the light. It's still the same amount of light. Follow? Okay. Judith, you had a question? - [Judith] Yes, does looking at the histogram help you at all in this process? - Yes, very greatly. How many of you know what a histogram is? Oh yay. Good. Some of you don't. A histogram right there on the upper right...thank you. This is actually a little under-exposed. A histogram over here on the right, with all those colors, in the simplest terms, is the scale of every tone in the image from black to white. You can see the little jiggly lines. That's a technical term, too. A jiggly line. The graph, okay? That graph is different for every image, okay? The left side of the graph represents black. The right side of the image of the graph represents white. The middle is 18% gray. Now I'm not used to using Lightroom. I can play around with this, can I? Okay. I use Bridge, so I may quick develop this through that and see what happens. Develop settings. There we go. Nope. I feel like such a goober. Will you increase my exposure for me because I don't use Lightroom? Thank you. Just pop the exposure slider up just a little bit. I'm like, "I don't use it either." In Bridge I'd be fine, or maybe I can just grab my histogram and slide it. Can I do that? Sometimes they'll let you do that. - [Male] There you go. - Ah, here we go. Okay, so now it looks like Bridge. So if I slide this to the right see how the histogram is moving to the right? Now believe it or not that is actually a better exposure than what I had before even though on this monitor it's looking like there's hot spots in here. This monitor is not accurate, but my screen is. So I slightly under-exposed the image, so now when I pop it up to the right you'll see the entire graph move to the right. So, white over here there's just a little bit of white in the image. What is the white? In the image, where do you see white? Her shirt. The wall is gray. It's not quite white, but there's just a tiny bit of white so there's just a little bit of data over here. We do have a lot of middle grays. Mid-tones we call them. If I shifted this image to black and white you would see it, okay? See that? The sofa's dark and there's a lot of mid-tone, okay? So these are the darkest tones of the image and there's tons of mid-tones ranging from light gray to darker gray, okay? That's what this area here represents. The darks in the image are the sofa and the floor. So that is this data here on the histogram. Do you see that? Now, what Judith is asking is "Can you see if you have a well-exposed image by the histogram?" Yes. But you also have to take into account whether or not there's a lot of whites or a lot of blacks in the image. Is it a low-key darker-toned kind of image? Or is it a high-key type of tone image? Or is it middle of the road? Or is it a combination of both? This is a combination of both. Do you see that? So when I saw the histogram I went, "Oh, that's slightly under-exposed." The reason I said that is because I know I have white tones in that image, her shirt. Yet the histogram was slid to the left. The histogram looked like that, right? So when I see that I'm like, "Oh, the histogram's telling me I have no whites in my image. Well, I know for a fact that I have whites in my image. Oh my goodness, I'm under-exposed." So I pop them up to the right a little bit, making sure I don't totally clip everything. What does "clip" mean? Do you guys know? "Clip" is when the whites hit this left or right side of the histogram, you know you have no data or you've blown them out. "Blown the highlights" is what they call it. Now you can see here I'm really close to the blacks over here and that would be these dark, really dark black areas of the image. Those are regions where I could be clipping my blacks. Again, this is artistic choice. You can clip your blacks or your whites if you want to. A lot of artists do it. Just be careful that it doesn't ruin the integrity of the image. I don't mind a little bit of clipped blacks. I kind of like my blacks really black. Do you know what I'm saying? So if I lose a little data in here where I can't see any details in these really dark blacks it doesn't bother me quite as much as if I'd blown out her shirt, okay? So that histogram will tell you, "Did I blow things out on either end? Did I clip darks or blacks?" And it'll also tell you if the image is exposed properly, okay? Now, will it give you an exact representation that you know for a doubt that it's perfect? No. Only your meter will really do that for you. But then it also becomes just a point of what do you like the look of? I used to be so worried when I got into Photoshop. When I was younger and not really doing things the way I wanted to but more against what I thought I was supposed to do, I would get really worried and I would be like, "What's right? What's the right way to do it?" And finally one day somebody said to me, "There's no right way to do it. It's what you think looks good." "Oh. You mean I can make this image under-exposed if I want?" "Yes, it's perfectly okay." The key factor there is to begin training your eye to see what looks good to others as well as to yourself. That's a combination of exposure, how you're placing the light, where you're putting the shadows, what color tones you're using, what composition you're using, how you're editing the image in post, how the eye gets led to the subject, what story you're telling, what emotion is in the image, all those things begin to impact the viewer of your images. - [Male 2] I have a question about the clipping. If you clip the blacks will it affect the print if you've clipped a little much? If you want it darker, does that... - Yes and no. - What does it do? - What does it do to the print? - What it does to the print? - That's a really good question. It's one of those things where the answer is both yes and no. And again it's a personal preference. I hate to be so vague and wishy washy, but a true black and white print connoisseur will tell you, "Don't clip the blacks or the whites. You must have all the tonal ranges." That's the [inaudible] true printing guru and granted that's an incredible scale to try to attain to or peak to attain to. I clip my blacks all the time in my images and it doesn't affect the print. I mean, there will be dark areas of the print where there's no detail but if those details are not pertinent to the meaning and the objective I'm trying to obtain with the image then I don't care. I really don't care if there's no detail inside the crease of the sofa. If there is no detail in her face or in her hair I've got a problem with it. Again it's personal preference. These blacks won't print terribly because they're clipped. Make sense? Does that answer your question? Now with whites...I'm sorry? - I just wasn't sure if it'll put ink on there... - Yeah, it will. Yeah, it will put a lot of ink. Black. Yeah, I know that sounds crazy and I don't mean to oversimplify the question. It's a really good question, but yeah, it'll put enough ink down. Where I feel like you really need to be careful especially with digital is in the highlights because blown highlights print very badly. It just doesn't really work. And as a matter of fact, try it. I mean, blow out your highlights and print the images and see what it looks like. You'll see the difference. And I've seen a lot people and trust me I've done it where you're in an outdoor situation, you're trying to do backlighting and you've got this open sky trying to do backlighting and the sky blows out, plus you get this haze over your images that just looks terrible. Have you guys ever tried that? Well, and a lot of that... Who's laughing over there? He's like, "Yeah, been there. Done that. I've got that T-shirt. I'm wearing it." Right? I totally know where you're at. The trick to that is purely composition and location. Only shoot backlight with a dark background. When you're looking for backlight in an outdoor situation don't shoot to open sky. Shoot to dark trees in the background or a mountain or something back there that will help control that blowout. When I figured that one out I was like, "Backlight. I can do it any day." It's just a matter of finding the right location. The geographic elements that will help control my exposure because what does that mountain or that tree range doing? It's simply modifying the light and a good old fat, dark mountain range or a dark set of trees in your background with the backlight coming into your subject and lighting up their hair, that's what's going to make a successful image because now all of a sudden you don't have to worry about the sky blowing out.