Abigail’s Studio Portraits

I was lucky enough to get Abigail as a subject again this past weekend.. this time in the “studio” (which also doubles as Jasper’s playroom, and was once long ago a dining room!)

I made the big mistake of leaving some of Jasper’s toys lying around the setup and Abigail wasn’t too happy about the idea of posing for me on the setup vs. playing with the toys. Thank GOD I had picked up an adorable hand painted rocking chair from our local kid’s consignment shop a week earlier – she agreed to “pose” on the horse. I say “pose” because what she really wanted to do (of course) was ROCK on the horse.. I didn’t really have enough light to set my shutterspeed high enough to capture rocking. It’s just amazing all of the little things that can go wrong (or at least unexpectedly!) during a shoot.  I think we eventually convinced her to stop rocking for a second otherwise I wouldn’t have caught these shots:

I can’t remember what we did to get her to sit on the chair for a minute or so.. I think it had something to do with the promise of ice cream:

Mom really wanted a picture of she and Abigail together:

don’t they look gorgeous?

Shot with my Canon Digital Rebel XSi with my Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Lens

And now the techy geeky photography portion of the post (feel free to stop reading here!)

This was the first time that I’d used my 430 EX as OCF (off camera flash) meaning not on my camera. Unlike Nikons, canon’s don’t have radio trigger capabilities built in, which means you need to get something that will fire your flash unless you want to use a wire, but that’s just dangerous with kids running around your studio! I bought these cactus triggers from Hong Kong.  They worked surprisingly well considering they are oodles cheaper than pocket wizards or radio poppers which are what most people use. They arrived from HK really fast too, in less than a week!  I had wanted to get a large shoot through umbrella too use with this new set up, but didn’t order it in time so I had to get something that my local camera store had in stock. I ended up with a 40″  softbox/umbrella and I’m not sure I liked it. I fact halfway through the shoot I ditched the flash set up and used natural light. I liked the results much better even though I had only enough light for shutterspeed 1/80th of a second – really much too slow!  If I had a better camera like the Nikon D700 (which is my new obsession) or the Canon 5D mark II I could crank the ISO up to 800 and have tons of leeway with the shutterspeed.  (If you have the xsi or even the 40D you’ll notice that above 400 ISO your images start to get really noisy, which is to say pixelated or grainy.)

I would love to upgrade camera’s before the end of the year but I’m rather reluctant because the camera I REALLY want that I feel is best suited to my needs is the Nikon. Which means selling ALL my canon gear! I wouldn’t even be so reluctant about that except that nikon lenses seem to be about 50% more expensive than their canon equivalents.  So I’ll probably end up doing nothing for the time being.  Oh well, at least the longer I wait the more likely prices will drop :)

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Kristen says:

Oh man, you have my head spinning, I swear, I will in the exact boat as you when I’m ready to upgrade. I bought my Nikon before really knowing what I know now, and although I love it, Canon seems to be the norm with every flickr/blog/photog I love! You guys get those creamy skintones! I was going to ask that about these pics too, do you use a plug-in on your photos?

Gosh, I dream of being able to use even 800 ISO!

Jeffrey C says:

Again I am a Canon guy… but I think you would greatly miss the selection of lenses if you went Nikon. I love my 85 1.2 and other primes. The Nikon does have a great zoom (the new 70-200 VR II) but to get a good prime for the Nikon you would need to go with a Zeiss manual – which defeats the improved AF.


Jeffrey C says:

I would recommend renting a D700 for a couple days to see how you like it. I have always used Canon equipment… 20d, 40d, 5dII.. and feel the color is far superior to Nikon.

Nikon does have a better AF system (maybe until the 1dIV is publicly available) but unless you are shooting sports i think you would be happy with the Canon.

What dont you like about the AF – are you finding your images not as sharp or blurry? I think you will get the results you are after with a body that can handle the high iso so you can increase your shutter speed and still have a large aperture.

Kimberly says:

Well…. I don’t know if I would go that far. We definitely have WINTER here! It’s been in the 20 degree range every morning this week. But usually nice and sunny, so we can shoot bundled-up outdoors! :) Plus I get some great light inside my house.

Good to know how fast Canon is… though, you’re much closer to their Manhattan store than I am, if that’s where they go! ;)

ariana says:

Don’t worry Kimberly, Canon is LIGHTNING fast with the repairs.. you’ll have it back in no time! At least you live in a climate where you can still take pictures outdoors with that 85mm right?

Kimberly says:

I wouldn’t rec. a 40D for you at this point, either… unfortunately, I got my 40D about 5 minutes before they released the 50D :( But I love it all the same. My next body will be a full-frame, as well… I have no idea how the noise compares in a 5D vs. the 40/50D.

In other news, I think I’m sending my 50mm 1.4 in to Canon… I’m just not convinced I’ve got a sharp copy, and the owner of my local camera store told me last night he doesn’t think it feels as smooth on the focusing as it should. So I guess after Christmas, it goes to the Canon hospital, which will FORCE me to use and hopefully fall more in love with my 85mm!

ariana says:

Kari, I know I sound like such a snob.. the xsi is a GREAT camera! Just a little limited in certain areas.

Sherean, I have the same card!

Sherean says:

My husband’s obsessed with his Nikon and would love to upgrade to the 700. Some day . . . We use our Chase Rewards card for everything – even groceries – and pay it off every month just so we can convert the points to Amazon gift cards. We’re about 1/5 of the way towards that camera! haha

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the rocking horse. Such cute shots!

kari says:

these are awesome – LOVE the rocking horse, such a cute prop! she is gorgeous, and you captured that.

i am going feel so left behind if you go and leave me and my (what i used to thing was an awesome) camera for a big pro model!!!
just kidding girl, you deserve it!

ariana says:

Kimberly, yeah – to put it mildly :) It definitely would be leaving a major comfort zone!

I’m surprised that you get such good noise handling from the 40D! But that’s great that you do. I wonder how it compares to the 5D classic? I’d be more likely to get that than a 40D because I have my heart set on full frame!

Kimberly says:

These are beautiful… what a gorgeous child! I LOVE the last one of just Abigail where she’s looking back over her shoulder… just perfect.

Big decision… a major switch to Nikon? Plus the new learning curve of a new system.

FWIW, I don’t get noisy images at 800, even 1000 ISO with my 40D. I usually don’t push my ISO much higher than that, with a rare exception of shooting nearly in the dark (I’ve done it twice, once at a wedding reception, and once shooting photos of food at the restaurant we went to for our anniversary… even then, the noise wasn’t awful).

Abbey says:

Ariana, I’ve been a lurker on your blog forever! (I first met you on the Knot – I also got married at The Palms) These pictures of Abegail are gorgeous! Nice and crisp! I do have a question though. I know that you like to use natural light. Is there a reason why you used flash on these? I have a newborn practice session this weekend and my plan is to shoot in front of our family room which has south and west facing windows. Do you think I’ll be okay with that? Thanks!!!!

ariana says:

Hi Abbey!! Actually, of the ones I posted only the last one used OCF, the others were natural light. The reason to use flash is because there isn’t really enough natural light in my dining room even WITH a huge sliding glass door on one side and a wall of windows on another to shoot with my 28-75 at 3.2 (I don’t like to go wide open because it’s softer) at a SS above 1/80. I mean I COULD get her closer to the window, but then I don’t have enough room to back up! It’s hard to know without seeing your set up and knowing what lens if you will have enough light.. for a newborn you could probably pull them close enough to the window to be fine.. with the whole backdrop set up it’s a little harder with a 3 year old! Good luck, let me know they turn out!

Jenna says:

Out of curiosity, why the D700 rather than the Mark II? I’m sure you have a specific list of pros/cons!

ariana says:

Oh boy Jenna, how much time do you have LOL? The D700 has a vastly superior focusing system than the 5D. It’s faster and has many more and better focus points (cross hair types). Canon didn’t upgrade the focusing system on the 5Dii from the 5D classic and it wasn’t that hot on the classic (notoriously slow). I think canon treats the 5D like a landscape/portrait camera and so it doesn’t shoot many FPS or quickly, it put all that into the 1D series for sports photogs. The thing is, shooting pictures of children is much more like sports photography than portraiture sometimes!

I have heard pretty bad things about the canon outer focus points (the few that it has) being inaccurate and so it’s better to use center point recompose than toggle points, but when you shoot wide open that leaves huge room for error. I just HATE the idea of spending all that money on the Mark ii and not being happy with the focusing system. Incidentally, the new 7D has a much better focus system, but not nearly the high ISO performance that the mark ii has.. so the reality is that the D700 is the only camera that has all the things I want… .except that it doesn’t work with my canon lenses ;)

Lindsay says:

Gorgeous pics!

That rocking horse is so cool. What a great find! I’m just starting to get into photography (like a lot of new Moms do!) and I need to start viewing things with the “photographers” eye! I’m sure I would have passed right by the rocking horse without seeing it’s potential!

So much of what I’ve learned so far about photography has come from reading your blog! Thank you!

Bummer about the Nikkon. I’m sure if you hold out for a little bit, the Canon will come out with a similar camera and the prices will come down. It’s so hard waiting, though!

Ava says:

Never underestimate the power of Craigslist :)
You could very well find your dream camera there for a very reasonable amount, and the lenses as well.

Great photos (but then again, I can’t expect anything less from ya’)

Alicia says:

There’s a REALLY nice soft warmth to the 3rd pic as opposed to the 4th pic. Great capture.

I think you should definitely get yourself your dream camera! You will more than compensate for it by the income you’ll be making with your photography biz! And you won’t have any problems selling your Canon stuffs either (craigslist or amazon).