Baby soft

Cre­ate a del­i­cate, win­dow-lit por­trait with plenty of gen­tle bokeh

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

Win­dows work like soft­boxes in many ways: the closer your sub­ject is to the light source, the stronger the light is. Un­less you’ve got sun­light fall­ing through the win­dow di­rectly onto the baby (which will prob­a­bly cause a lot of griz­zling and eye-scrunch­ing), it should be fairly soft. To in­crease or de­crease the light, you’ll need to move the baby closer to the win­dow or fur­ther away.

01 Soft op­tions

Bring along light and dark blan­kets to the shoot. They give you dif­fer­ent back­ground op­tions, and ba­bies like soft tex­tures or fur against their skin. Use quilts, clothes and toys that are per­sonal to the baby as props. They’ll help to add colour to your por­traits, and for a shal­low-depth-of-field shot, any pat­terns will blur beau­ti­fully.

02 Po­si­tion the baby

In a pho­to­graph, you can tell where the win­dow is from the catch­lights in the eyes. Make sure the light is com­ing from above the face rather than be­low – pick­ing out the top of the head, cheeks and tip of the nose, not un­der the chin and nose. This is a more nat­u­ral an­gle for light, as our eyes are used to see­ing light com­ing from above.

03 Se­lect aper­ture-pri­or­ity

Set your Nikon to aper­ture-pri­or­ity (A) mode. This way, you can choose the aper­ture while the cam­era works out the cor­rect shut­ter speed for a good ex­po­sure. This means that you have full con­trol over the depth of field in the shot, and can nar­row the aper­ture slightly if you de­cide you’re get­ting a lit­tle too much blur.

04 Choose a wide aper­ture

Set your len’s max­i­mum aper­ture – this al­lows for low light and en­ables you to cre­ate a very shal­low depth of field. This is where prime lenses with wide max­i­mum aper­tures like f/1.4 or f/1.8 come into their own, as the wider the aper­ture you’re able to use, the shal­lower the depth of field in your pic­tures will be.

05 Set a high ISO

As the baby can’t pose on re­quest, you’ll be shoot­ing hand­held for flex­i­bil­ity, so set an ISO high enough to al­low for a fast shut­ter speed of at least 1/100 sec­ond. With win­dow light and a wide aper­ture, ISO400 should be enough, but you might need to go up to ISO800 or 1600 (or al­ter­na­tively set Auto ISO).

06 Fo­cus pre­cisely

As is usu­ally the case in por­traits, the eyes are the most im­por­tant point, though for some of the shots you could get cre­ative and fo­cus on the tips of tiny fin­gers in­stead, per­haps with the par­ent’s fin­gers to give a sense of scale, al­low­ing the rest of the baby to fade into a gen­tle blur. Work quickly, though, as ba­bies don’t stay still for long!

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