Cale the Curious

March 1st, 2011 by Nate
A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. ~Rachel Carson

I went into this photoshoot with a plan, and it got shot to pieces.

I’ve been playing around with off-camera lighting here and there. Since lighting is such a huge component of a good photo, it’s nice when you’re able to control it to achieve a certain look. When I had to chance to shoot Cale, I was all prepared to try using a couple flashes set up indoors with a simple backdrop – a very simple home studio setup consisting of a speedlite and 2 optically triggered flash bulbs (which don’t refresh very fast).

After setting up and snapping some photos, I became painfully aware that this setup wasn’t working. It wasn’t because the lights weren’t working together correctly, or that the setup was incorrect… But simply the fact that I was trying to take pictures of a 1-year old having fun in a relatively small area. He just wanted to crawl and explore and play! He’d dart across the floor and the lighting balance would be thrown off. I’d snap a pic and be waiting for the flash to recycle, and then I would miss the next shot. I suppose if I had a little’n of my own I would have thought of this beforehand. Live and learn I guess.

After 15 minutes or so, I decided this setup wasn’t working and to go the much simpler and more mobile route of fast lens + available light. I love using natural lighting anyway and try to incorporate it whenever I can. It makes it a lot easier to shoot wide open as well and get the nice shallow depth of field I love. Cale’s parents just so happened to have a nice huge tall window with some gorgeous sunlight streaming through. Since the sunlight was so bright, I placed a large white sheet opposite the sun as a reflector to even out the exposure on his face. This is one of my favorite lighting setups – it’s so simple and effective to shoot with the sun behind your subject and use a reflector as fill light. A flash can also be used effectively, but a large reflector will give you nice soft shadows, much like a huge softbox would.

In short, I love how the photos of Cale turned out, particularly with the window lighting. I predict he’ll be quite the bookworm when he gets older. Once he got his hands on a book he sat intently, his little fingers poking and prodding the thick pages as he slowly flipped them.

Moral of this story? Be prepared. Prepare yourself mentally beforehand by envisioning how your shoot will go and whether you’re using the right approach to capture your subject effectively. Bring the right gear and don’t let preconceived ideas get in the way of getting a great photo in that moment. Be prepared to adapt if something unexpected happens, and adapt as soon as you recognize you’re not going to get what you need in the current situation. Shooting in the moment can require some quick thinking, but it’s fun and you’ll get better and more authentic shots.


3 Responses

  1. sara Says:

    nate – these are beautiful. someday….someday…when i have kids, uncle nate and aunt kimmie will have to come for a visit and a photo shoot. or you could just move to denver….i’m just sayin’….

  2. Grillo Says:

    Wow! This is nice. Can’t believe soeonme actually made my favourite fight stick. Good job! Nice. A little more, and you’re there. Peace.

  3. online college Says:

    Déjà Mathilde encore une fois FELICITATIONS !Merci pour cet article qui m’a à la fois fait éclater de rire (tous les papas sont identiques !!), rempli d’émotion et aussi rendu nostalgique.Tu seras une mariée magnifique dans la sobriété, la simplicité avec cette touche de classe !Hâte de te voir avec cette robe qui est certainement superbe !Bisous.