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Quick portraits with the D200

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by AFS, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. Hi all.
    Thought i'd post a bit of my work so far with my D200.
    On Sunday I was in Ohio with my sister Nicole, who is expecting a baby boy next month. That day was her baby shower, held at her husband's cousin's house. Most of it happened in the living room, which has ceilings somewhere around 25-30 feet up, and a christmas tree to match :eek: 
    As the semi-official photographer, I recorded the day's events, and at the end my mother suggested I get some family portraits as a gift to our hostess, and for our own family as well.
    I tried out a few lighting situations using my niece as a guinea pig, and found that I either had to bounce or do direct flash- off camera remotes using the built-in to contribute as well would just not cut it in that light.
    So, determined to get my shot, I tried a bit of both.
    First, the hostess with the most-ess and her family, direct flash.

    Nikon D200, ISO 400 1/30 Sec f/4.5, Direct SB-600, with 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S @ 26mm, converted from NEF in Capture 4.4, WB adjusted.

    Then, unsatisfied with this, I went on to bounce flash. The SB-600 was pegging each time at full power or right near it due to the high ceilings. If I'd had more power I would probably have kept the shutter speed and aperture, despite the added sharpness I could obtain shooting this lens at f/5.6 or higher, I just couldn't do any better if I wanted to capture the ambient light.
    So here they are again, bounced this time. I like the expressions better in the direct flash version, but I'm a bit happier with the lighting (could still have been better, of course), and the out of the box WB results with this one.

    Nikon D200, ISO 400 1/30 sec f/4.5, Bounced SB-600, with 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S @ 22mm, converted from NEF in Capture 4.4.

    Next up was my own family. First I got a shot of my Mother, my Sister, and my Niece, with similar conditions. The height of the ceilings made it really tough to get good lighting on the whole face with the bounce, and I was running low on battery. I was at this point shooting tethered, and unable to back up any further to try and give the flash some more space to bounce.

    Nikon D200, ISO 400 1/30 sec f/4.5, Bounced SB-600 with 17-35mm f/2.8D @ 24mm, converted from NEF in Capture 4.4 with minor exposure tweaking

    Next, I did a similar shot but added my brother in law.

    Nikon D200, ISO 400 1/30 sec f/4.5, Bounced SB-600 with 17-35mm f/2.8D @ 17mm, converted from NEF in Capture 4.4 with minor exposure tweaking


    Then I went on to take care of 4 older sisters who wanted their group portrait taken. I shot this one at ISO 320, though I probably should have stuck with 400, however Capture was able to help out where I went wrong.

    Nikon D200, ISO 400 1/30 sec f/4.5, Bounced SB-600 with 17-35mm f/2.8D @ 24mm, converted from NEF in Capture 4.4 with minor exposure tweaking


    After editing all of these, I put them on a CD and my brother in law is going to get prints made for them.

    Not my best work, or my absolute best effort, but in not so great conditions with zero preparation time, I think the results were acceptable.
    Something bothers me about the lighting in the last photo, something is just weird about the lady on the far left's red coat.

    Coments and suggestions are welcome, but this mainly serves to show you a little of how i'm doing with the D200.
    Much more can be found on my main gallery including larger versions of these photos and many more, and I am constantly adding more and more. Please look at it and tell me what you think. I haven't had a chance for much more than the usual family/vacation shots...
    My D200 Gallery
  2. Harrison,

    25 years ago I read a tip in a book that I still consider to be one of the 5 most valuable things ever learned about photography... GET CLOSER.

  3. good advice, but I had some limitations:
    1) furniture in my way (ack!)
    2) ceiling height- any closer and I would have lost my space to bounce- you can see in the second shot, I was closer, and I like that one best framing-wise, but look at their faces and you can see the flash lost its effectiveness below a certain point on their faces.
    3) lenses available: my 50/1.4 was too tight and tough to MF for my positioning and being only AIS it means the flash metering won't be as precise, my 17-35 was as good as I could do under the circumstances. the 50 also being an MF lens cannot be controlled via the command dials so I couldn't set 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments.
    4) for the last 3, I shot tethered to the laptop, but it could only make it so far back (my laptop battery is 100% dead) before i'd rip the cable out of the camera, leaving me again with the 17-35...
    5) I wanted to get some of the tree in there, and I would have liked to try to shoot vertical but without a flash bracket or a vertical grip, it would not only cause me flash problems, but it would have caused me a lot of wrist pain (I have a recurring wrist problem unfortunately, which causes me extreme pain and loss of grip when the wrist is bent at an angle, like if the shutter release is rotated to the bottom, or holding something like if it were rotated to the top.
    Thankfully, 3872x2592 gives me plenty of room to crop. I was mainly doing a quick and dirty edit though.
    of course
    6) I don't have The Beast yet! I wish I did, because it could have helped a lot here.
  4. You don't always need to bounce FORWARD. You can point the flash behind you and bounce off a wall and ceiling (works really well).
  5. I've done that in the past, Joe, though mostly for static objects and macro stuff where i was shooting at a downward angle... I didn't have much of a time to test it but here was my problem...
    The living room is sunken down about 2 feet or so from the first floor. There were no walls around me on either the first or the second floor, just the balconies and railings. with a 25ft plus ceiling, and already being backed up most of the way to the steps, to my judgement there simply wasn't enough ceiling behind me to bounce, even on the shots where I was closer due to the tethered shooting.
    To give you an idea, using the 50mm would have required me to back up out of the living room too far to use the flash with any sort of bounce, so even stepping down to the 17-35, there wasn't too much space for me :frown:
    I wish I'd had more time to test various lighting and shooting setups, too...maybe I would have found a solution. But unfortunately I was short on time, short on space, short on battery life, and my subjects were short on patience (darn northerners :wink:) . After each shot all of them would try and get up no matter how many times I told them to stay sitting.
    I still have a fair bit to learn about controlling my portrait subjects :smile:
    It's so much easier at school, with umbrellas and alien bees and backgrounds and the like... can't wait to get back and try using the sync port on the camera.
    Thanks for the advice!
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