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Lighting for Newborns
  
 
BSPhotog
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Lighting for Newborns


I've shot a few newborns (including my first born), but not terribly often. I've got another daughter due this summer and another newborn session in a month or two and I'm just wondering what others here like for lighting newborns. In the past I've used window light and speedlights. For my portrait work and wedding stuff (which is the bulk of what I do), I use speedlights and strobes pretty heavily. Anyone find blasting (or even gently blasting) a newborn with flash to cause problems?

Constant lights would probably be a smart choice in some ways, but I really just don't have any other than a couple of big strobes with modeling lights. I've thought about finding an LED light with Bowens mount to use in some of my soft boxes (SMDV S60, S70). I can't use the modeling light on my strobes with my SMDV softboxes because they have a plastic mount that isn't rated for that kind of heat. I'm not sure how warm some of the Bowens style LED lights get and if that would be an issue. I do have one 30x24 softbox that can be used with hot lights though. I've also considered going light weight with a Yongnuo YN360 LED stick thing. Thoughts? Advice?



Apr 12, 2017 at 04:41 AM
d831
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Lighting for Newborns


Generally speaking (and just expressing my opinion, of course), the absolute best most flattering light for newborns is soft window light. For beanbag setups, sliding doors (or doors with top to bottom windows) are ideal, as you'll be working low to the ground.

Anything else you consider doing with artificial light should, IMHO, emulate window light. I know I know...that's what most studio lighting is trying to accomplish, but that last word is key! If you do go down that road, I'd recommend paying particular attention to your ratios, light direction, and modifier size. Classic principles are still king, but it's discombobulating for some because their subjects aren't vertical!

As far as strobes causing problems, yes, it can definitely be distracting (both the light and the pop...shutters too) depending on the little one, but it is doable. As to whether or not it's safe at this age, I'm not going to address that here; but suffice to say, I believe constant lighting is the way to go.

Also consider: setting up/tearing down a lighting kit is another 45-60+ minutes on top of an already long session, on top of a million other things you have to get right that are unique to this work.

FWIW though, planned right, you should be able to walk into just about any client's home and find the light you need.

HTH a little.




Apr 12, 2017 at 09:50 AM
d831
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Lighting for Newborns


Thought to add: if you do decide to setup lighting, please please make sure your stands are all marked brightly and sandbagged properly! This, for on-location sessions in general, but especially for the little one's sake.


Apr 12, 2017 at 10:03 AM
bbourizk
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Lighting for Newborns


I use Natural light as much as possible but sometimes there just isn't any, any that decent anyway.

A few times I have whipped out the strobes and used them without any issues. I use a couple of large Octas to mimmik natural light as much as possible.

A couple of advantages to using strobes is shooting at low iso 64-100 om a Nikon d810 so you will get super clean images.

Here's a couple of photos that are similar taken with a strobe and one natural light.
1
Octabox above and slightly angled down.






2
Natural light. Big double door defused with a white bed sheet.






I personally prefer the top one and I wanted to shoot the second the same way but baby was not co-operating. So in between taking a few photos with its mother (it settled in her mothers arms) I quickly placed her down and literally took 8 shots before she woke.





Apr 12, 2017 at 11:39 AM
elkhornsun
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Lighting for Newborns


With infants soft light works the best as it complements their round shapes. The advantage of a north facing window is in part that it is a large light source. Add in a large reflective panel (even tinfoil over foam board) and you have a versatile setup. I take two panels and tape them together so they fold up into a smaller size for carrying around and for storage when not in use.


Apr 17, 2017 at 09:29 PM
 

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ucphotog
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Lighting for Newborns


If I remember correctly, my Nikon speedlights came with a warning about not using on children under some age. It was very young and would certainly include newborns. I don't know if there is a specific reason for that, or if the lawyers are just paranoid.

With that in mind, when I did a newborn shoot, which I only do infrequently, I kept the strobe power down. Given that newborns aren't usually moving very fast, you can get away with somewhat slower shutter speeds to make up for the slight reduction in flash. I normally shoot my flashes between f/8 and f/13. For the newborn, I tried to keep it a full stop slower. I'm pretty sure I shot in the f/5.6 range.

As a physicist, my guess that if there was a problem, it would be due to brightness at a point, as opposed to total energy hitting the eye. Hence, metering toward f/5.6 or even darker (f/4?) seems like it would keep the energy / square meter down. It has the side effect of greater image separation, if that is of any value.

Also, it would depend on whether the infant had his/her eyes open. With closed eyes, you might annoy the baby, but I can't see how you could get enough light through their eyelids to cause any issues. Without setting the props on fire, anyhow.

All of that said, despite my degree in physics, I am not a doctor nor have I seen any specific data about what sort of limits should be observed with newborns. If someone knows or can link to studies, or references on the subject, I would be interested as well.

Maybe I'm answering a question he didn't ask, but it seems at the very least related to the question he asked.

Dave



Apr 18, 2017 at 04:46 AM
kaplah
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Lighting for Newborns


ucphotog wrote:
If I remember correctly, my Nikon speedlights came with a warning about not using on children under some age.

The problem with memory is that it is somewhat plastic.

So I went to the source, my SB-900 manual.

The only admonitions regarding children, based on a word search for "children", were along these lines:
"Keep small accessories out of the reach of children to avoid the possibility
of the accessory being swallowed. If an accessory is accidentally swallowed,
immediately consult with a doctor."

There is one statement including "infants":
"Do not fire the flash unit directly into the eyes of someone that is at
close range, as it could damage the retinas of their eyes. Never fire the flash
unit closer than 1 meter from infants."

Given the abundance of caution that OEMs use with product warnings, I am confident that flash (at least a meter away from an infant) is completely harmless. For that matter, I'd hate to have a bare, direct speedlight 1 meter away from anyone.

Whether or not it annoys them and causes problems during a shoot I'll leave to others.








Apr 18, 2017 at 01:01 PM
ucphotog
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Lighting for Newborns


Yes. Your quote about "[No] closer than 1 meter from infants" rings a bell. I was too lazy to dig out my manual. Thanks for doing that.

Dave



Apr 19, 2017 at 03:10 AM
LPfromNJ
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Lighting for Newborns


Thank you for posting this thread. i'm working on getting my first newborn session booked and this was information that was needed. I appreciate all of the comments here.


Jul 23, 2017 at 10:52 AM







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