Thursday, March 14, 2019

Photographing a baby - A new member in our extended family!

It's funny that the last blog post was about a newborn wildebeest in Africa and today's blog post is about a newborn member of our extended family. I didn't plan it that way, but sometimes things just have a way of interconnecting.

We were actually in Tanzania when we got word that our niece had her baby, about 6 weeks premature. And ever since then, Caitlin and Adam have been asking us when we can get up to Sacramento to photograph their new baby boy, Patrick.

Two days ago, my wife and I drove up north to make that happen, and it was such a fun time. Patrick is now a month old and has grown from 4 to 6 pounds. He has more strength and has filled out a bit. This actually helped for taking photos of him.

As you will see in the following images, I used a combination of window light and added light from a flash in the new MagMod MagBox (which I love).

For this first shot, we put Patrick on the bed by a window and I used the natural light from the window to light his little feet. Knowing that he is so small, I chose to shoot many of the close-up shots with the Canon 100mm macro lens.

I got down low on the bed and shot some really tight shots of his cute little face. This is also using only the window light.

Since Patrick has dry skin on his little face, I retouched every photo to remove the dry flakes of skin. I used the Adaptive Healing Brush feature in Adobe Photoshop and painted out the flakes using the pen of my Wacom Intuos tablet.

We wanted to get a photo of Patrick's hand on top of his parents's hands. My wife took this BTS shot of me taking that shot. For this photo, I removed the Canon 100mm macro lens from my Canon 5D Mark IV and switched to the Canon 24-70mm II lens. (You will see that I have the Canon ST-E3-RT wireless transmitter on the camera, but I was not using any external flash at this point.)

This is the final shot from that moment.

I used the NIK SilverEfex Pro software to convert many of the images to B&W.

While shooting the previous photos, I noticed their rings, which I don't remember seeing in the past. Adam told us that he made these rings. My wife asked them to take off the rings and put them in Patrick's hand. I switched back to the Canon 100mm macro lens and took this photo. This is one of my favorites, since it shows how small his little fingers are.

We wanted to get some photos of Caitlin and Adam with their new son, but neither of them had planned on having their photos taken. Instead of having them change and having Caitlin put on makeup (since they are a little busy right now) I suggested that I take photos with them behind Patrick, and use selective focus to blur them. We moved Patrick close to me and had them on the far side of the bed to create some distance.

Ahhhhhhhhhh. I shot these photos at f/2.8 so that Patrick would be sharp and his parents would be soft in the background. And it works well since Patrick is my main subject here.

Next, we moved Patrick to a beanbag that was draped with a black blanket. I decided to add some light at this point. As you can see from this photo, I had two Canon 600 EX-RT flash heads mounted in the new MagBox soft box. (For those of you photographers who want a soft box that sets up in seconds and is all connected using magnetics, you need this product!)

I liked the results I was getting with the MagBox, but felt that it needed to be closer to Patrick and at a different angle. I asked Adam if he was OK being my VAL (voice activated light stand) and he agreed to help out. So I handed him the MagBox and gave him direction on where to hold it.

Having the directional light very close to Patrick, and shooting in manual mode (ISO 100, f/4, 1/200 sec) on the Canon 5D Mark IV, I was able to create some really nice images like these.

I was walking along the side of the bed, heading to change lenses, when I saw Patrick's feet sticking up. I had to shoot this!

I kept the camera in manual mode (this time at ISO 1000, f/4, 1/80 sec) and used only the window light to light his toes. This is another favorite from the day. I like this because it was unplanned, different from what I usually see from newborn photos, and I love the pattern of all 10 toes.

I converted this one to B&W as well.

My niece really wanted a photo of Patrick in this metal bucket. I started with the MagBox on my Manfrotto light stand, and shooting on the rug. Looking at the images on the back of the camera, I decided to have Adam help me with the light once again and to pull the rug back to shoot against the hardwood pattern of the floor. Why? I thought that the rug was a bit distracting, and I did not want the baby evenly lit.

See how evenly he is lit?

I asked Adam to hold the MagBox low and to the side of Patrick.

I changed the camera settings to kill more of the ambient light in the room, and relied almost exclusively on the light from the Canon 600 EX-RT flashes. See how much more dramatic this photo is compared to the other?

Caitlin put Patrick in his crib with the monogrammed sheet, and I thought it would be fun to try and shoot the light through the slats on the side of the crib. I stood over the crib while Adam pointed the MagBox through the side of the crib. Something different once again!

Then we moved the light to a more traditional spot (over head) and took some photos with Patrick and this stuffed bear.

This is one of the last photos we took. Adam loves skateboarding and has a plethora of them in their house. He pulled out this really old board which fit Patrick just perfectly. Caitlin placed the little guy down on the board carefully and he took a nap. I took numerous photos as his hands and feet moved around, with this being my favorite.

Overall, we spent about 4 hours taking photos, with many breaks in between. It was such a pleasure to take these photos and just as much fun getting home and retouching them. I then sent them off to Caitlin and Adam and got the best message back. Caitlin said "These photos seriously make me want to cry." That is the best!

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Glenn Hermes said...

Jeff, these are great. Love the skateboard!

Stan Shen said...

Really enjoyed the article Jeff. I love how you use the softbox to create more dramatic effects!

Rainbow said...

Great post!