Looking for tips on taking photos at my son's 5th birthday. Still getting familiar with my camera and looking forward to taking great shots. It's January here in NY so we will be indoors at a local Dojo where my son is taking Jiu Jitsu.
#1. "RE: My son's 5th birthday party..." In response to Reply # 0
Probably the best thing you can do is get there ahead of time and check out the situation. The biggest concern will be the lighting.
One big issue will be the location of windows. You don't want to be shooting into a window with sun streaming in. Look at the window location and position the birthday cake, gifts, etc, so there are not brightly lit windows behind them.
You will probably need flash. The on-camera flash has a tendency to wash out skin tones if you are too close. You don't want to be too close to the people you are photographing. Have someone stand in and take a series of shots at different distances & focal lengths. You want to fill the frame with your subjects without being on top of them.
If you have something like a white card or Expo disk to set a manual white balance, that is ideal. Otherwise use the "auto" white balance on your camera.
Expect to throw out more pics than you keep. There will be lots with someone walking in front of you, a hand in the way, etc.
Set your camera to the maximum quality and file size. Also use the multi-shot function on your shutter release as well.
Take an extra battery and memory card.
And most of all, have fun!
working on it in Middle TN Nikon D3100 18-55 mm Nikkor VR 55-200 mm Nikkor VR 55-300 mm Nikkor VR 150-500 mm Sigma OS
#2. "RE: My son's 5th birthday party..." In response to Reply # 0
Lighting is always a problem indoors and with kids who like to move. The small on-board strobe can be put to good use if you use your highest acceptable ISO setting, but it will be harsh lighting.
I think your 35mm f/1.8G lens will be a good option, but I'm assuming you will be in the midst of the action, not some far distance away.
If not for now, I'd recommend the following. Get a good strobe like the SB-700 or new SB-910. It's a big flash and will feel funny on your smallish camera, but with kids indoors, you need light. Learn to use the strobe effectively. I like the information in this book: Neil van Niekerk, "On-Camera Flash, Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography". Don't let the wedding/portrait fool you. Taking kids events pictures are an environmental kind of portrait, but what this book really does is give you everything you need to know about taking a flash picture indoors and minimizing the fact that the resultant images looks like it was taken with a flash. Your entire indoor photography will benefit.
#3. "RE: My son's 5th birthday party..." In response to Reply # 0
Welcome to Nikonians Nathaniel.
The biggest tips I can give you have nothing to do with your specific camera, exposure, focus, lighting, flash, or any piece of equipment of setting.
I've never seen your photos, but I've sure seen zillions of photos taken by mom's and dad's that when they see them they're disappointed. The general reason is "point of view."
So, my tip is skip the photos of the kids while you're standing up. Instead get down to their level. Shoot across from their eyes. Even get below the kid's heads looking up for some shots. Don't get caught primarily shooting tops of children's heads like so many do.
On the other hand, mix up your shooting angles and focal lengths. It can put some oomph into your shots. Even though I said not to, try "some" shots from standing up high, perhaps on a chair, plus maybe lie down on the floor too. In fact, if the kids are playing games while on the floor, make sure you get down there with them. Try a range of focal lengths from wide angle shots that take in the whole party scene to zoomed shots of individual kids and maybe even some non-kid parts of the party.
Watch out for your white balance, especially when you're inside, and using available light.
Using a flash? Diffuse it and/or bounce it so it's not so harsh against the kids.
While the majority of your shots will be candids, don't forget to think ahead about what shots you "must have," and make sure you're ready for those shots as they happen. One would probably be looking across the cake, through the candles to take photos of your son blowing the candles out. I would suggest that a shot like that is more fun than a shot from above to get a clear shot of you son's face at that particular time. You can always get a clear shot of him at other times during the party. You might find a better shot than that if you prepare for the party by thinking about the shots you want in advance.
Don't forget the adults at the party, and don't miss taking them interacting with the kids there.
Okay, I lied, I'm going to talk about a camera setting. Consider using continuous shooting mode, so you can take bursts of shots at times. Shoot a series of shots in quick succession. This is often highly useful to shoot children. They rarely sit still. It's great to use when you want to make sure you get useful shots at the party's key moments such as that candle blowing out moment. You only get a few moments to get that shot right, with good and interesting looks on your son's face.
#6. "RE: My son's 5th birthday party..." In response to Reply # 0
Thank you for your in-depth feedback and suggestions. This community has exceeded my expectations already. I hope to do the same for someone as my skill level and experiences advance.
Your advice on lighting and being at certain vantage points - getting down to their level, which I never thought of, will help me successfully capture these moments. Those same moments that everyone told me would go by fast.
Well, I am off to get a flash. Will post pictures next week.