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Upcoming prom photos

edited May 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I'm definitely a newbie and doing my best to take better photos (ie getting away from using auto and learning how to use different settings).

My daughter's prom is this upcoming weekend I have the D3200 and both kit lenses that came with it. \We going to be taking pictures around 5PM at the Mackinac Bridge park.

Any ideas on what the best settings would be? I'm thinking if I get the bridge in the background, I would want it faded so as to showcase the couple and their friends. I'm open to any ideas! HELP!

A Distraught Father


  • edited May 2015
    For the bridge to be blurred, you will want a fairly wide (low number) aperture. How possible this is will depend a bit on how widely dispersed the people are, because the people themselves must be in focus, and on how far behind them the bridge is. The further behind the subject the bridge itself is, the more it will be relatively out of focus. The closer the subject is to the camera, the shallower the depth of field around the subject. If both subject and bridge are far away, they will both tend to be in focus. Try at least a few head shots without including the whole person. A long focal length will also increase out of focus blur. Try zooming in on some people from a distance with the long lens.

    Auto mode will make this difficult because it not only chooses your aperture but defaults to multi point focus. Choose a single point focus on people's faces. For subjects not moving around a lot, single point focus and S mode will allow you to focus on a face and then to recompose if you want the subject off center. Keep an eye on where your focus point is in the viewfinder. It's unfortunately very easy to move by accident and not notice. Use the "OK" button to recenter the point if it goes astray.

    Aperture priority will allow you to choose your aperture. If you're lacking confidence, you might try Portrait mode, which favors wide apertures, and allows the camera to decide on when flash is required.

    If you're outside in the late afternoon, be careful that you do not end up with your faces too dark. Depending on what direction the light is coming from, you may need exposure compensation or spot metering to get the faces bright. If you shoot in P, S, A or M modes, the flash will not pop up unbidden, but if you do activate the flash, it will perform as a fill flash, which can open up shaded faces, but be careful of harsh shadows.
  • edited May 2015
    Adding a bit to the question of out of focus blur and how it relates to distance, I enclose a quick-and-dirty comparison. This is taken with the kit 18-55mm lens set at 55mm and its widest aperture, which is 5.6 at that setting. The two halves of the shot vary only in where I was standing. This is not a terribly good lens for out of focus blur, as you can see, but you can still get an idea. The rock pile in question is about the size of a person. When I shoot at 55mm from a distance that shows the whole "person" and surroundings, you can see that just about everything is in focus. If I were trying to shoot a group of people in diverse positions, and if I focused on one of the closer ones, I'd get them all even at f/5.6. At a smaller aperture, I could pretty much bang away and get decent focus on anything out there. For evocative portraits, not so great, but for maximum information, not so bad. Now, I walk closer and shoot the top rock only. As you can see, when I'm focused on the head of the figurative person, the background becomes not only blurrier, but larger in proportion, losing much distracting detail. Focus is more critical, and if I wanted useful information from the background I'd be out of luck, but the head of the figurative person stands out against the blurry background. Two very different ways to use the same lens and same setting to do two different things.
  • Thanks for your help. I'll let you know how it goes.
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