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T6i: Best Settings for Glamour/Model Photography

bonhomme
Contributor

My wife is a model with beautiful milk chocolate skin, and we enjoy taking glamour/lingerie/boudoir shots of her in our free time.

 

Because I'm shooting fairly rapidly (several hundred shots in an hour or two), I've left my T6i in Auto mode, and this has resulted in a number of under/over exposed shots, and poor focus at times, along with inconsistent flash operation. I'm not a professional, nor even an advanced amateur,  so I'd really appreciate some tips/tricks to improve my shots.

 

We normally are shooting in the BR, with 2 small (48") umbrella reflectors and about 11,000 lumens (2x80w) of CFL lighting. I shoot from as far as 6-8 feet away, or as close as 2-3 feet for head & shoulder closeups.

 

The lens I'm currently using is an 18-135mm IS  zoom, which was recommended as a really good all around lens, however it seems to have depth of field issues.

 

Any and all help appreciated and TIA.

15 REPLIES 15

kvbarkley
VIP
VIP

@bonhomme wrote:

 

The lens I'm currently using is an 18-135mm IS  zoom, which was recommended as a really good all around lens, however it seems to have depth of field issues.

 

 


Too little or too much DOF?

Thanks for your reply.

 

When I'm  shooting her from 6-8 feet and she's posing on the bed "inline" with me, I have to be sure to focus on her face, else if I focus on her body, the face will be out of focus. If she's posing "perpendicular" to me it's less of an issue. I understand that going to a higher F stop may help with this, or perhaps a different lens?

 

The DOF isn't a huge problem ATM, as I'm more concerned about the under/over exposure issues. 

It is all F-stop. It is one of the compromises. Having a APS-C camera helps here, since it has a larger depth of field.

I noticed that I was getting the occasional series of under/over espoused shots, and couldn't figure out why.  And, I still haven't figured it out, but I have a real good hunch, because the problem seems to have gone away.

 

Pay attention to your thumb as you take shots, because the AE Lock button is really easy to unknowingly press.  I switched to using Back Button Focus.  It took me a couple of weeks, but I noticed that the problem seemed to have gone away..  My best guess is that giving my thumb something to do, probably stopped me from hitting AE Lock. 

 

On your T6i, the AE Lock button is probably the one that is repurposed as BBF.  I'm not suggesting that you try BBF, not at all. Just pay attention to where your thumb is on the camera body.  You could be unknowingly pressing the button.  I think I was.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."


@Waddizzle wrote:

I noticed that I was getting the occasional series of under/over espoused shots, and couldn't figure out why.  And, I still haven't figured it out, but I have a real good hunch, because the problem seems to have gone away.

 

Pay attention to your thumb as you take shots, because the AE Lock button is really easy to unknowingly press.  I switched to using Back Button Focus.  It took me a couple of weeks, but I noticed that the problem seemed to have gone away..  My best guess is that giving my thumb something to do, probably stopped me from hitting AE Lock. 

 

On your T6i, the AE Lock button is probably the one that is repurposed as BBF.  I'm not suggesting that you try BBF, not at all. Just pay attention to where your thumb is on the camera body.  You could be unknowingly pressing the button.  I think I was.


Thank you! This indeed could be my problem, because several shots from basically the same pose will look entirely different in exposure and I've been wracking my brain to understand why.

 

I know there are probably indicators like the exposure meter in the display, which are sending me clues, and I just haven't learned to use them yet, but it still doesn't explain why some of the shots from the same basic pose differ from the others. So I'll be more careful in the future not to be pressing that AE lock button.

Tried Av mode last night and it was a disaster. Probably 25-40% of the shots were blurred and unusable due to motion on either my part or the wife's. The shutter speed was very slow due to the fixed F8.0 I was trying to shoot with, in order to reduce the DOF issue. I was also using Auto ISO, but had limited it to 1600 because of the potential for graininess.

 

I was very conscious about keeping my thumb away from that AEL button, and it actually felt unnatural for it to be anywhere near it, so I don't think that's been my problem after all......

 

Basically, I need a point & shoot mode that will return decent pics with good exposure, and I can work around the DOF issue. Again, this is for fairly fast shooting - sometimes up to 10 shots per minute, so I don't have time (or the knowledge/expertise) to check & adjust all settings. (Models tend to get impatient quickly, and my wife is no exception :))


@bonhomme wrote:

Tried Av mode last night and it was a disaster. Probably 25-40% of the shots were blurred and unusable due to motion on either my part or the wife's. The shutter speed was very slow due to the fixed F8.0 I was trying to shoot with, in order to reduce the DOF issue. I was also using Auto ISO, but had limited it to 1600 because of the potential for graininess.

 

I was very conscious about keeping my thumb away from that AEL button, and it actually felt unnatural for it to be anywhere near it, so I don't think that's been my problem after all......

 

Basically, I need a point & shoot mode that will return decent pics with good exposure, and I can work around the DOF issue. Again, this is for fairly fast shooting - sometimes up to 10 shots per minute, so I don't have time (or the knowledge/expertise) to check & adjust all settings. (Models tend to get impatient quickly, and my wife is no exception :))


You said the problem was under/over exposed shots.  The AEL button should have nothing to do with focus, unless you have reprogrammed it.

 

If you are using the built-in flash, you may need an external one.  The built-in flash is not very bright, and can barely reach about 10 feet.  It also tends to cast shadows.  You may also benefit from having brighter ambient lighting, too, such as what a videographer might use.

 

Did you get a chance to look at the DOF calculator at the link I posted?

 

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

I think I shot myself in the foot with the Av mode, the F8.0 setting, and a max ISO of 1600, which resulted in very slow shutter speeds. It was further complicated by the hand held shooting, and an impatient (moving) wife/model.

 

Plus we were shooting against a jet black, shiny background, and my wife's long jet black hair, and she was wearing black stockings and black gloves. Although she was in a bright yellow outfit, all the black really soaked up the light, so even with 2 umbrella reflectors, and 11,000 lumens, I needed as much light as I could get, and I think both the T6i's brain and my own were getting confused from reflections off the shiny background, and some blingy reflective pillows we were using.

 

I probably should have deferred to the T6i's brain and left it in full "A" mode instead of fooling with Av.

 

I did look at that DOF calculator, and if I understand it correctly, my 18-135mm lens is well within its capabilities, but the camera and lens together may be beyond mine 🙂

 

Live & learn......

 


@bonhomme wrote:

I think I shot myself in the foot with the Av mode, the F8.0 setting, and a max ISO of 1600, which resulted in very slow shutter speeds. It was further complicated by the hand held shooting, and an impatient (moving) wife/model.

 

Plus we were shooting against a jet black, shiny background, and my wife's long jet black hair, and she was wearing black stockings and black gloves. Although she was in a bright yellow outfit, all the black really soaked up the light, so even with 2 umbrella reflectors, and 11,000 lumens, I needed as much light as I could get, and I think both the T6i's brain and my own were getting confused from reflections off the shiny background, and some blingy reflective pillows we were using.

 

I probably should have deferred to the T6i's brain and left it in full "A" mode instead of fooling with Av.

 

I did look at that DOF calculator, and if I understand it correctly, my 18-135mm lens is well within its capabilities, but the camera and lens together may be beyond mine 🙂

 

Live & learn......

 


I'm not a big fan of Tv and Av modes for most scenarios.  I'll use Av on a tripod for a long exposure.  I can safely say that I almost never use Tv mode, mainly because I don't want the camera running rampant with the aperture setting.

Most of the time, I shoot in M mode with ISO set at 100.  Sometimes, under widely varying light conditions, like shooting birds while walking around in the woods, I may put the ISO into AUTO, which allows me to set a fixed shutter speed, and a fixed aperrture.  It is like using Tv mode, except the ISO is being adjusted, instead of the aperture.

What post processing software are you using?  I think what is the maximum ISO that you can use on a T6i is a matter of personal choice, and frequently what it is that you're shooting.  For distant objects, you can usually tolerate more ISO than what you can on a close subject.

Maybe you need to apply some rules on how much your subject can move around, too.  Shooting moving subjects can be quite challenging, because of the issue of locking focus as the distance between you and the subject changes.  Use the DOF chart as a rough guide to plan out your shots.  

 

It almost souinds like using AI Servo mode could be useful. I've found that it could be my best friend just as easily as my worst enemy if the focus point slips off the subject.  Try taking some shots of still objects at different points and at the edges of your set.  

 

Remember, your movements with the camera affect the focus, too.  You may try using a faster lens, too.  A faster lens means a lens with a lower f/stop rating.  The f/stop rating describes a ratio, so the smaller the number, then the larger the aperture, which means more light is entering the camera, which means you can use FASTER shutter speeds to freeze motion. 

I think a good investment for most new photographers is the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens.  Note the STM on the end of the model number, because there are a couple of older versions that are not as good.  Yeah, you can buy books, or enroll in a class.  But, there is no substitute for plain old, hands on experience.

 

Your blurry shots could be caused by your subject's motion, your camera's motion, or both.  The easy way to tell is to look at the entire photo.  If it seems equally out of focus every in the frame, than that is most likely camera motion.  If your subject is out of focus, but the rest of the shot is sharper, then that is most likely subject motion.  Although, a mis-aimed Auto Focus point can cause the same symptoms.

 

Speaking of AF points, don't let the camera pick out the initial AF point for you.  Configure the camera to always use the center AF point, and just forget about the rest of them for now.  The center is always one of the most accurate AF point, anyway.  If you are uncertain about focus locking, then use One Shot shooting mode, which can cause the camera to beep when it locks focus.

The "Sports" shooting mode could be useful, too.  But, it uses AI Servo mode, which takes a little practice to get used to.  For now, I would advise using the widest aperture setting on your 18-135mm lens.  Use M mode on the dial.  Set your ISO to auto. 

 

You should be able to read out ISO in the viewfinder, as it adjusts itself  Raise that ISO limit to 3200, or disable it.  If anything is blinking in the viewfinder, then that means the current combination of settings will not result in a properly exposed shot, usually under exposed.  Learn to read the viewfinder information.  The main things you need to find are Shutter Speed, Aperture Value, and ISO Setting.

Practice, practice, and practice some more.  And, try out that EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens.  I think you will find that is sharper than your EF-S18-135mm, too.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."
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