This comment was converted into its own thread. I thought it would be helpful for others to see, read and enjoy...@trixter
: I'm just starting out and want to take some portraits of family for practice. The camera came with a 18-55 lens and I bought a 55-200 lens with flash gun and tripod. Is this enough to get started or do you have any other recommendations.@Moose
: The ideal focal length for portrait photography is between 50mm and 150mm. Any wider and features (like noses) won't look right. Any longer and faces start to lose dimension, becoming flat.
So to get started with portrait photography, I would use your 55-200mm lens and shoot mostly towards the wide end of the lens (55mm).
For portraits, you generally want a low aperture f-numbers between f/1.4 and f/2.8, however, neither of your lenses are capable of getting that low. So you'll want to shoot with the lens that will give you the lowest available aperture at a focal length that's inside the ideal portrait range.
For example, your 18-55mm lens can go down to f/5.6 when shooting at 55mm. However, your 55-200mm lens can go down to f/4 when shooting at 55mm. Knowing this, it would be best to shoot with the 55-200mm lens.
As for settings, enable Aperture priority mode (A on the mode dial) and select an f-number appropriate for the subject or scene. Leave the ISO set to Auto and enable Single-point AF so you can control the focus point.
Since you can only go down to f/4, use it for all individual portraits and small group shots (2 to 4 people). If you're capturing groups of 4 to 8, bump it up to f/5.6.
In regards to the flash, when shooting indoors it's a good idea to bounce the light off the ceiling rather than directly at your subject. This will give you more even coverage throughout the room and more natural looking shots indoors.
When shooting outdoors, try to position your subjects so the sun is hitting their back at an angle. You want their face shaded from the sun. The flash will act as fill light, naturally illuminating their face and removing all shadows.
Hope that helps and happy shooting! :)