budget fashion/portrait shots with rebel

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by scott, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. scott

    scott Guest

    Hi all, just after a little bit of advice in an area I'm not familiar

    My sister is a fashion design student (hence no money!) and wants me to take
    some photos of a model wearing some of her designs. This will be indoors,
    she will probably be making a room in our house into some sort of make-shift

    All I have is a Digital Rebel with the kit lens and the 75-300 1:4-5.6 one.
    I mostly take photos outdoors so I'm thinking shooting indoors will be
    tricky without any special lights etc.

    WHat do you suggest? I can probably stretch to one hundred pounds or so if
    it's for equipment I could use again in the future. Do you think getting a
    fast lens like a 50mm F2 or something is a good idea? Or should I buy some

    I have a tripod, but should I buy/make something a bit more sturdy? I was
    thinking about making a remote shutter release too (should be easy with a
    couple of switches and a plug).

    What sort of shutter speed is used for portraits? I guess if hair is
    blowing about then you'd need something pretty quick, but for stills then
    anything quite slow would do.

    Please remember my sister is on a very tight budget, she doesn't really have
    any money to give me, and I'm not willing to spend that much just for a one
    scott, Sep 5, 2004
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  2. Hmmm....
    I suppose the lens you have could work- but unless you are confident with
    your available-light technique, i'd consider a big Metz gun held off-camera
    with a small Lastolite softbox and either the appropriate SCA (TTL module
    for a Metz) or a flashmeter. These could stretch to over $150, however. If
    you're okay with available light, I recommend a 50mm f1.8 and a big
    reflector. And someone to hold it. The reflector, I mean.
    Martin Francis, Sep 5, 2004
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  3. scott

    Ferdie Guest

    The rule of thumb for portraits is that focal lengths of 90 to 140 are
    best, so that would limit you to your slower lens (use a tripod!). Try
    shooting in a very sunny room with a white bedsheet over the window.
    Some sort of reflector would be important, too. If the light from the
    window is sufficiently diffused, a large mirror across from the window
    may work.
    Ferdie, Sep 5, 2004
  4. scott

    Colin D Guest

    For full length or waist shots, the kit lens has adequate focal range,
    and despite its inexpensive price it is a good lens for the job.

    You will probably need some lights, since ordinary room lighting is not
    adequate, either in quantity or direction. You can get by with three
    lights, one 'main', generally at 45 deg or so from the camera line, one
    on the other side at about half the intensity to fill in shadows etc,
    and one behind the model and high, for hairlight effects - maybe a
    fourth to light the background to eliminate shadows. This basic setup
    may well be modified to enhance the clothing etc that is being
    modelled. A source of cheap and reasonably powerful lamps is the
    quartz-halogen floodlights sold at hardware stores, usually ranging from
    150 watts or so up to 500 or 1000 watts (probably available for hire),
    and the D-Rebel can give excellent color balance with these lights.

    Use the custom white balance function with whatever lights you end up
    using for the best results. I use a reasonably fast ISO setting, say
    400 which allows some stopping down with a still reasonable shutter
    speed. Use Neat Image, a freebee noise-reducing program available on
    the 'net, to smooth out any noise in the shot - it's pure magic for
    fabric and skin texture.

    Peruse a few fashion and mail-order clothing magazines for ideas on
    poses etc. Get your sister to pick out a few shots she likes, and try
    to emulate those shots. Try to work out the lighting used, look for
    reflections in the model's eyes, shadow directions, background shading,
    etc. for the shots you like. Nothing is worse than starting out to take
    this sort of shot with no idea how you're going to proceed.

    let's know how you go.

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Sep 5, 2004
  5. scott

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Shoot outdoors in diffuse daylight. Bring a couple of reflectors and an
    assistant (your sister would suffice). Shoot at large apertures and
    moderately high speeds. That should be fine.
    You don't need a tripod if you have plenty of light, as you would
    You're going to be holding the camera, so you don't even need a local
    shutter release, much less a remote one.
    From 1/2 to 1/8000 second, roughly.
    Hair doesn't have to be in focus unless your sister is a hairstylist.
    Then do as above. If she wants more, she can pay for it. But I think
    she'll be very happy with the results if you are any good at all with a
    camera. It's not rocket science.
    Mxsmanic, Sep 5, 2004
  6. scott

    scott Guest

    Thanks for all the help guys. I'll get some practise before by shooting my
    sis indoor and outdoor and see what we can rig up. It's not for another few
    months yet so have got time to practise!
    scott, Sep 5, 2004
  7. scott

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Do it in the daytime, when you have light from a window. Supplement that
    with a reflector (either a real one, or something large, white, and
    reflective that is *really* white and not some off-white or other color).
    To add artificial light, look for compact fluorescent "spiral" 5100K
    full-spectrum lights; these go into an ordinary household lamp, and they
    are the right color to mix with daylight. Get them as bright as they
    come (40-something watts). They're about $10 each at the bright wattages
    and they last forever.

    Don't mix regular incandescent household lights with daylight, and don't
    use light reflected off things that are the wrong color, like a nearly-
    but-not-quite-white sheet or towel or wall. Since you're doing fashion,
    the clothes are important, and having them be the wrong color would not
    be a good thing.
    A fast 50mm (on a digital with a crop factor) is a wonderful thing for
    portraits. Your 75-300 is going to be too long for indoor use, and since
    you're not using "real" studio lights, f/4 isn't going to cut it. That
    focal length would be okay for outdoor work, though it might be a little
    long for your taste -- you'll be far away from the subject, and that
    length (with the crop factor) is a bit longer than is currently "in
    fashion" for that kind of shooting. You may not care about that part,
    but your sister the fashion designer just might. :)
    Jeremy Nixon, Sep 5, 2004
  8. You might want to peruse the lighting forum of dpreview.com. Granted most of
    the posts there are people with 2-4 studio lights, but you often times have
    people asking the same question you are.

    If you live near a large camera store, you might want to check out what the
    rental prices are for lights or lenses. In the Boston area for instance,
    Calumet in Cambridge does rentals (I don't know if Hunts, Newtonville,
    E. P. Levine, and Zeffs also do rentals, but I know Calumet does).
    Michael Meissner, Sep 5, 2004
  9. scott

    DHB Guest

    you have already received some very good advice & I just want
    to support part of what has already been said. Give strong
    consideration to buying a Canon 50mm f1.8 II lens which sells for
    about $70-$75 USD & on your Digital Rebel/300D with it's 1.6x crop
    factor, it will act much like an 80mm lens. It's f1.8 speed will
    prove usable in many well lit indoor setups. Weather permitting,
    outdoors in the shade of 1 of those white nylon potable carport of
    canopies makes for lot's of diffused lighting. The reflector may be
    home made from a silver or gold auto windshield sunshade which are
    inexpensive & available most everywhere.

    The Canon 50mm f1.8 II lens is sort of a must have anyway & at
    that price & optical quality, it's a no brainer because it's something
    you will are likely to find lot's of use for other than just this
    photo shoot for your sister. I primarily use a Canon 50mm f1.8 II &
    100mm f2.0 USM for indoor existing light (no flash) & have been very
    pleased. The sweat spot for the 50mm seems to be about f8 & f5.6 for
    the 100mm, however you may whish to keep the background out of focus
    by selecting apertures of anywhere for 1.8 to f4.

    Best of luck & if shooting indoors, definitely set & use the
    custom white balance because AWB indoors leaves much to be desired on
    the Digital Rebel/300D. As previously suggested, use your sister as
    the practice model to get all of your settings correct for your chosen
    setup in advance if possible.

    Respectfully, DHB
    DHB, Sep 6, 2004
  10. scott

    scott Guest

    It's already been ordered :)

    Thanks for all the other advice, I've told my sister that she needs to think
    about all this before the day and can't expect me to just turn up and take
    amazing photos. I think she will quite enjoy a few practise runs!


    scott, Sep 6, 2004
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