Birth Photography..

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by eclipse, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. Hi,
    I will be photographing a birth soon. This is going to be my first experience and I am planning to use a Nikon D700 and Nikon 50mm f/1.4. What do you think about this combination ? Is that OK or should I use a zoom lens ? All other tips are welcome :)
    Thank you in advance..
  2. A lot of things happen in the delivery room and people and equipment are moving around quite a bit. People who have no concern as to whether they are in your shot and are instead delivering a baby, or helping a mother give birth. Because of that, I would recommend a zoom. If you use your prime only, you will have to "zoom with your feet" a lot, and in a medical situation where your position may be very limited, I don't think you'll have that luxury.
    I'd rent an f2.8 zoom lens for the job if you don't own one, assuming you are worried about low light. I don't know the light conditions in the birthing room. It's possible too many distracting flashes could get you kicked out, or really irritate the other parties, but you've likely thought of that.
    Good luck with this assignment. You're braver than I am!
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I concur with Jennifer's recommendation re a zoom lens.
    Specifically, with the possible EV range at the location, and the ISO capacity of the D700, you will have more leverage with a zoom - 24 to 70/2.8 zoom – than with a Prime, even though it is a bit faster in aperture.
    If you want to use a Prime lens a fast 28 would be my first choice - 50mm in tight situations will be too long.
    The only real advantage a Prime has over a Zoom on a camera with High ISO capacity is the usefulness of the lens hood and that a Prime Lens would intrinsically be expected less susceptible to flare generally and veiling flare, specifically .
    More rationale, debate and discussion are located here:
    Note a similar question was recently asked at the end of that thread.
    Expanding - A lot of things can happen in a delivery room and people and equipment might have to move quickly.
    So as far as advice goes - you might find everything relatively relaxed and you quite focussed on your task, but you cannot allow yourself the luxury of divorcing yourself from everything else happening around you.
    You have to be aware that you might need to shove over and move quite quickly out of the way.
    It is unclear if you have an emotional involvement in the Birth Process; if you do, I suggest you think seriously about this point.
  4. I took a lot of photos with my dslr last year when my daughter was born.
    Zoom lens would be a must, wider the better. At one point I was 10 feet away and then quickly alongside the head of the bed looking down, essentially trying to stay out of the way. A 50mm prime would have been way to long in that scenario, and up that close, shooting wide open with a shallow dof would have ruined the shots. Lighting was kicked on to fluorescent once she was ready to start pushing. I didn't use flash which I deemed a no-no, shot wide open and used ISO 1600 (using my 18-55 kit lens, most often at the wide end). They're not marvelous photos by any stretch, but I got the story!
    Good luck - Andrew
  5. Dear All,
    Thank you very much indeed for your kind contributions. I was thinking that a 50mm lens would be a great option on a full frame camera. Now, I am considering a zoom lens. I think wide angle lenses would not be a great choice as I really want to focus on the delivery process rather than the environment. Yes, I can do some cropping, but I prefer not to do. Wide angles would probably hinders the process of building the composition.
    Thank you for all the tips. Best..
  6. I really want to focus on the delivery process rather than the environment.​
    Have you researched many birth stories? The ones I've seen are very much about the environment, and shot largely with a wide-angle. Done well, the story is told in echoes and poetry, rather than direct forensic detail.
  7. You are right Neil. Maybe I mistold what I want to do. I just want to take the photos of the baby at a closer distance. Of course I am not talking about the forensic details.
    In short, what I understood is that 50mm would be longer than I need. I thought it would be a good option as it is a great portrait lens. Anyway, as I said before this will be my first experience and I am trying to make the best decision possible. Thank you all again..
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

  9. I'm going to go against the grain on this one =). I think your 50mm 1.4 prime is fine, if you could go wider, it would be better though. A 35mm 1.8 or 1.4 would be great. I think zooms are kind of slow for the inside of a birthing room. Even zooms with an aperture of 2.8 because you won't be using any flash. I think with a zoom you are going to run into muddy looking pics or soft images with less contrast, because your using a slower shutter speed and pushing your ISOs>1600. With a prime, you won't have to push the ISO so hard, you are in a controlled environment where your subject is not going to be moving around alot. You will probably have enough freedom to move backward and forward to zoom with your feet. If you used a zoom you'd probably have 50mm-55mm so its not going to get you any closer than your prime, only wider. Which is why I think a 35mm is a good compromise in this situation. I also favor the prime because I think having the ability to use a shallow DOF to separate your subject is indespensible.
  10. Thank you all for your kind contributions. Best..
  11. I would use a fast zoom lens, ask permission of parents, doctor and hospital well ahead of time and you may get much more cooperation from all involved. Do not just show up and say the parents wanted pictures. If you have everyones cooperation you will probably be able to use flash without any problems. Do get signed releases, the hospital and physician and probably the parents will want to know what you intend to do with the photos and files.
  12. Thank you Jim. I will consider your suggestions..
  13. You are welcome, I wish I could say that is all there is to it but its more complex. If I may add a bit of information. There is a big difference in getting permission from a small hospital and a large one. Keep your form small simple and to the point, get the parents first then the doctor, it helps if all the permits are on the same sheet of paper so they can see who signed and when they signed. After you have the parents and doctor`s ok get the hospital to agree, most hospitals have a risk management committee and/or lawyer so it may take time to process the request, you want the hospital to see that the patients want pictures and the doc has already OKed them. Small hospitals are easier and quicker to give an answer. It helps to have 5 or 6 copies because the doc will want one and the hospital will want one and you need one to show the delivery room supervisor so security is not called and you are escorted out by big unhappy and unpleasant guys. If you are willing to give the hospital some prints for their bulletin board pr with parents that may get you repeat business. Some big hospitals deliver thousands of baby's a year and parents all want pictures of them holding the baby and sometimes nursery photos. Planing and a checklist helps just like a model shoot. I hope this helps nothing is ever as simple as it looks. Remember it is much easier for the hospital to say no, having everything ready makes it easier for them to say yes and it can be a source of repeat business.
  14. Is this the birth of your own child? Otherwise, are you prepared to be on 24 hour call for a few weeks?

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