Competition photo of daughter in leotard

Hi there, my daughter is entering a competition, the main focus must be the leotard she will wear - I will take shots at a variety of spots including against some walls and also with beach/ocean in the background. Any tips on settings please as I am a complete novice?

Thank you


  • It sounds here as if you are going to be shooting in your own space on your own terms, rather than on a stage. If so, I'd choose a background with as little distraction as possible. As a whole shot, a beach or ocean background might look nice, but be careful not to distract, and watch out for light that can make exposure more difficult. A big light colored wall might work best.

    One possibility might be a dark background, not too close behind the subject, and a flashed picture. Done right, you can get the subject well lit and isolated, and the dark background will not show shadows. This probably would not work so well with a light colored wall because the flash will cast a shadow behind the subject.

    If possible, I'd shoot in Raw mode and use View NX-2 or Capture NX-D afterwards to fine tune the white balance. Auto WB works pretty well, but can be tricked by difficult lighting, and can be a bit cool in broad daylight. You can adjust WB in Raw images, and reverse the process. You can't do this in JPG. You can also change the Picture control and reverse it.

    I'd avoid Vivid mode and stick with Standard, and turn off Auto D-lighting. You can adjust these in post processing as well, but it's harder to undo D-lighting than it is to do it. That feature increases dynamic range a little bit, but in the process it can make high contrast areas look a little muddy. Non-Nikon post processing programs may not understand it either.

    Other settings may be a matter of choice. I'd try aperture priority, and open the lens as much as possible to soften background detail. Use single servo auto focus rather than auto area, and aim for the eyes. If you can, use a tripod and as low an ISO as possible, and turn off the camera's auto ISO.

    When you use A mode, the flash will act as a fill flash, so you can set the exposure without the flash, and try it both with and without, to see which one gets your subject best.
  • Thank you for your tips @Bruto.
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