For individual pictures, I would go with the 70-300 and shoot around 135-200mm and as wide open as you can get away with. That gives such nice separation from the BG and should give pleasing bokeh. (That really depends on the lens construction, but it should be ok.).
Both of these were taken with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens at about 200mm and f4, if memory serves. (Too lazy to go look it up.).
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My friend asked me if I would take some outdoor pictures of herchildren to give to her father as a 70th birthday present. I'm alittle nervous as up to this point most of my experience has beenwith nature pictures and kids soccer games. She has 4 kids who rangein age from 2-6..
I have a 40D with a 24-105, 70-300 4-5.6 IS, and 50 1.8. She wasthinking she'd like something outdoors perhaps near an old barn, openfield, etc. She knows I don't have a lot of experience and lack someconfidence, so if we can't get a good shot she's cool with that..
I would appreciate any advice on which of my lenses you think wouldbe best and any other thoughts that might be helpful to get mestarted. I told her I'd do a little bit of "prep" work to see ifthis was something I felt I could do and we'd go from there. Wouldlike to try to "stretch" myself as I know this is the only way I'mgoing to get better..
Thanks in advance for your advice!.
Sounds like your friend is going to be pretty accomodating..
Like a previous poster, I really like the 70-200 but more in the 100-135mm range (at 2.8). Unfortunately, that isn't an option available to you. That said, I say take your 24-105 and 70-300. Try a few shots with the 24-105 near the maximum focal length at f4 first. Try and get them to look relaxed and somewhat natural, sometimes I take shots of my family gathering for a picture. Don't let them get too close to your background.
If there are more that 3 or possible 4 of them, you may decrease your aperature some just to make sure they are all in the focal plane. After you have done this with the 24-105, do the same thing with your 70-300..
I think this will be a great learning experience...take lots of pics, try different settings, have fun! Don't worry too much, if you take lots of pics, some are bound to look great!..
Use the shorter of the two lenses, so that you are close enough to the children that you can interact with them, talk with them, and heve them facing the camera, and therefore facing the people looking at the pictures..
The biggest problem with kids outdoors is deep shadows, so you are better off on slightly overcast days, or in the shade, or using a reflector to bounce light back into the shadows..
Kids are often a dream to work with when you get them involved in the production... bigger kids carrying smaller kids, kids sharing a haot or taking turns with a toy, and so on..
Take loads of memory cards and batteries!.
I find that after kids get bored or self-conscious you can get some great shots if you're at some distance and can zoom. Some of my clients choose pics that are almost rear views. These tend to be views that they are used to observing and less confrontational than eye contact which wrests control away from the viewer. It's all good though, and I agree with most of the above..
One more thing, and this sounds wierd but it's a fact; kids respond to a uniform or authority differently to how they do to a friend. The more businesslike you can be you just might elicit the sort of static expression that is the hardest thing to get with kids, and often the most enthralling. I usually start all bossy, with a treat in a paper bag if they'll co-operate (carrot and stick), then it gets less formal. The best shots are either in the first 5 or after 150 odd...Best of luckCameras don't shoot people.....
I haven't read all the responses, but your planning will be more important than your equipment, you seem to have decent items. I've copied my response to the following - a photographer here at dpreview who took a picture of his daughter and it wasn't a "strong" image; he wanted help..
"The lamp post needs to be cropped out, I find the tilt to it takes my eyes of the little girl. Lets be frank here, this photo is not a "strong" photo of your daughter. There are many mnemonics to help in taking an effective photo; try this one: FACET.
F = focus - what needs to be and out of focusA = aesthetics - does the subject have visual appeal in some mannerC = Composition - does the composition highlight your subjectE = Exposure - does your exposure accomplish your goalT = Theme - does you composition have a thematic under tone.
So in this photo you had "correct" exposure, but as others have pointed out a fill light would have helped out. But lets tackle the theme, as everything else falls into place after it. So lets say your theme is "the joy of seeing a young girl playing in a park." This would be a weak photo for that theme, but you could take her over to a swing, or a teeter-tatter, or by a lagoon with birds, or.... you get the idea, something to add to the picture and to animate your daughters face in response to her surroundings..
So lets play with your image to get the gist. Lets say a dog came up to your daughter in the very spot she is standing. You see an opportunity as she bends down to pat the dog. So instead of taking a photograph of a young girl from an adult perspective (usually the adult is taller and the perspective of the image is to look "down" at the child - most children photos are like this), you get down on one knee to be at the level of the child and dog. You want to get a good photo of the dog's and your daughter's eyes. You adjust your position to get rid of the light pole.
A photograph strong in theme and composition and aesthetics can be forgiving of exposure and focus. A photograph weak in composition and theme is brutal on focus and exposure..
So why not give yourself an assignment, here it is. You have just been hired by National Geographic to do a piece on "Children at Play." You need a model so you decide to use your daughter, but you wisely decide not to pose her; instead you decide to take her to a play area to capture some shots of her at play. But you plan ahead, you know the play area you are taking her to has gravel as the base and you know this can be unsightly in a photo. So, you decide before hand, you need to isolate out the gravel. You decide the most important aspect of the "shoot" is to capture the joy of a child experiences at play, so you know the face is the most important part of the shoot. You know that the expression is everything so you need to take lots of photos hoping to get a couple of keepers with her having fun.
I teach backgammon to interested folk and the first thing I teach them is this: "enjoy your victories, but learn from your defeats. Your looses will teach you more than your victories." The same can be said for photography. We have all taken pictures like your daughter above, everyone at dpreview in learning photography has taken like photos along their path of learning. Your doing the right thing by asking here for help..
What I would do if your girl were my daughter. I'd turf that photo and take her out again to a park in an area where she can play and be animated, and attempt to catch that animation in a photo or two - which may take a hundred photos..
Rationally I have no hope, irrationally I believe in miracles.Joni Mitchell..