Sunday, July 13, 2008

Photographing Kids?

One question I regularly get from new photographers is this: What lens do you use for photographing the kids? Of course, it's not an easy answer every time - since the kids do a lot of different things, and the best lens depends upon the situation. Still, I do have one lens that I use more than any other when it comes to capturing my children in action. The Canon 135mm f/2 L USM lens. Why? Because it's fast, sharp, and not as expensive as other L series lenses from Canon.
If I want to capture my children in the pool or on the soccer field, this is the lens I choose. I can't jump into the pool and I have to stay off the field - but the 135 lets me get right into the action. If I'm shooting outdoors, I choose an overcast day if possible - that way I avoid blown highlights and shadows with little or no detail. Shooting at f/2 allows me to use a fast shutter speed, too - so I can capture the kids in motion. It also gives me a shallow depth of field - my kid is in focus, but everything else is soft. Perfect. :)

If you are shooting moving subjects, consider using the AI Servo focusing system (Canon EOS cameras). AI stands for Artificial Intelligence - the camera automatically adjusts the focal length in relation to the speed and direction of the subject. It's not perfect, but it sure helps when your kid won't stand still!
And then there are those school functions that take place in a dark auditorium. Your flash doesn't reach the stage, your sitting in the tenth row... and your kid is a grand total of two dark little pixels when you print your photo for grandma. But not with a wide lens like this one. I open it up to f/2 again, adjust the ISO as necessary, and shoot without the flash. I couldn't be happier with the shots I got of my son's graduation from preschool - and his friends parents were thrilled to have some closeups of their kids, too.
I use this lens for school plays, concerts, weddings, parties, soccer, and swimming - and when I don't want to be right in a kid's face. You can capture some fantastic "close-up" candid shots from across the room - without disturbing your subjects.

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