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ntenny
07-18-2011, 05:21 PM
What Vaughn said +1. I'm actually really surprised that you can take any photos in the NICU. My wife is expecting and our NICU has strict prohibitions on photography for privacy purposes.

I was able to photograph my son in the NICU, but it wasn't crowded or hectic and I was shooting nondisruptive cameras (35mm RF, TLR, DSLR without flash). It seems like the kind of thing that would depend greatly on the environment at the time and one's relations with the staff.

Of the options listed, I'd give a good look at the TLR with a closeup attachment. The Rolleinar sets work well, and 6x6 really is large enough for contact printing.

-NT

TheFlyingCamera
07-19-2011, 09:30 AM
While tripods would probably be an absolute no-no, you could try a monopod under your RZ or Rollei for added stability. Another great option would be a 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 Speed Graphic. The images would be decently large, and still fit in an envelope for mailing. The camera would be very inexpensive, as most people think of it as a "dead" size, when in fact it's quite easy to work with, as it involves at worst cutting down 4x5 film, but only making a single size trim from both dimensions (3/4" off length and width).

Diapositivo
07-19-2011, 01:00 PM
Most autofocus would easily focus on the "glass" of the incubator. I would use my Voigtländer Vito CLR which has an extremely silent shutter. Advancing the film makes more noise. No need to frame if you scale-focus.

My procedure would be: take pictures in a "stealth" fashion. Then talk to someone and ask if you can take pictures inside the room. If they say yes, take pictures in a more normal and accurate manner. YMMV.

Regarding flash, Glass, be Sirius, what is exactly that babies don't "handle" in a flash? :) The fact that a newborn cries is certainly a sign of some form of discomfort (maybe due to the new experience, the surprise, or simply an unknown person in front of him) but how, precisely, would a flash cause "pain" to a child? Children must be the most flashed subjects on the planet. They cry for the most mysterious reasons at the most unexpected times. Adults take pictures of them and then make strange utterances, make funny faces, and behave in the most worrying way. That would make me scream. Leave the flash alone :)

Anyway, one cannot use flash for a child inside an incubator because the light would bounce over the incubator.

I have a picture of myself (and my twin) when we are, I presume, less than one year old. It's taken with a flash and I suppose it's the most common picture of all kind of pictures. And it was taken by a professional photographer most likely (my father didn't have a flash, nor my grandfather, and none in the family ever was a photographer). Ah, and the flash was a bit on the left, the typical family flash would have been right on the lens axis.

EDIT. I "asked the doctor" and that's what he told me:

http://carefirst.staywellsolutionsonline.com/Library/AsktheExpert/Children/72,ATD011008

Vaughn
07-19-2011, 08:23 PM
An NICU, as the name suggests, is an intense place. If I was a nurse in one and someone fired off a flash, that person would need to go to a proctologist to remove the camera.

The room(s) are filled with babies, many hanging onto life by a thread. Alarms are constantly going off warning of babies who have stopped breathing (the monitors measure blood oxygen levels) and the babes need to be gently shaken to get them to start breathing again...not to mention a host of other complications that can come along with being a premie.

The room is also filled worried, stressed parents -- who might be the ones who shove the camera up where the sun never shines instead of a nurse. Id rather take a flash photo of a newborn griz and deal with a momma bear than a human mother who thinks her child has be endangered by some fool with a flash. Even after 14 years, I still get emotional remembering the experience of have three boys weighing about 2.5 pounds in there (and boys have a worse survival rate than girls, everything else being equal).

So Diopositivo, if you do get in this situation, lube up before using a flash -- it will make camera removal easier...;)

Vaughn

Worker 11811
07-19-2011, 09:27 PM
Flash is not my best subject. I can use flash if I have to but my best work is done in available/natural light. Consequently, I would avoid using flash, if I could, strictly on those grounds. Further, if you're looking for that sensitive baby portrait, a crying baby would not be in furtherance of that goal. Well... Okay... "Cry pictures" are sometimes cute but they don't always work. They have to be just right. I don't think that's what you're going for, anyway.

The fact that flash pictures can actually hurt a baby's eyes just takes that option right off the table for me.

Just a crazy thought. Is there any way you could make a setup in advance and have the baby brought in at the last minute?
Either in another room or in a quiet corner, get everything ready: Lights, background or tripod if you can get permission.
Then, bright the baby in for three minutes, do the deed and whisk her right back.

Slap me down if this next thing pisses you off when I say it but you could play the "distraught parent card."
Just tell the staff that you might not get another chance to take this photo again.
(Runs away and hides under a chair.)

ntenny
07-20-2011, 12:40 AM
The room is also filled worried, stressed parents -- who might be the ones who shove the camera up where the sun never shines instead of a nurse. Id rather take a flash photo of a newborn griz and deal with a momma bear than a human mother who thinks her child has be endangered by some fool with a flash.

Amen to that. My own experience with the NICU was very low-intensity---he was a little early and had a little trouble breathing, so they kept him in a nearly empty NICU for about a day, until it was clear he was stable---and even that was about as stressful an experience as I ever hope to face.

Of course the same emotional drive gets involved in the photos, though, right? I vividly remember taking this photo (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ntenny/2455272510/) of my son on his first day, and nothing, but *nothing*, was going to get between me and him and the image of that moment. And I think as photographers it behooves us to respect the importance of that...


So Diopositivo, if you do get in this situation, lube up before using a flash -- it will make camera removal easier...;)

...while still maintaining just this sort of contingency plan. :-)

In all seriousness, I think flash is a non-starter. Whether or not it can be medically proven to be a real problem, everyone in that situation owes it to one another not to make things any more stressful than they are already.

-NT

mhcfires
07-20-2011, 01:01 AM
Just use a fast film, (B&W preferred) a big lens (50mm/1.4 at least) and have at it. One or two quick snaps and be done with it. You don't have to be a PITA for the nurses, as an RN I know what it is like to have to deal with recalcitrant family, but I have always been easy to get along with. Be cool, the nurses will be cool.

JamesDean
07-20-2011, 03:06 AM
Thanks for everyone's advice. Some good ideas!

Flash is definitely out. The room has very subdued lighting and hushed voices to try and replicate the environment of the womb and allow the babies to try and catch up with their missed time. It is very difficult to get food into a premature baby (my daughter started on 1ml of milk an hour) and the thinking goes that every time a baby is disturbed, they burn energy waving their arms and legs around instead of growing. Available light it is...

I think moving Charlotte is also out of the question. She is covered in leads which go to half a dozen different alarms and monitors. That said, we are encouraged to take her out of the incubator and hold her skin-to-skin, albeit with leads still attached.

Finally, bringing in large or tatty equipment would be a no-no. Infection control is very strict, and no coats or bags are allowed in the nursery. Getting into her room involves two hand washes and two applications of alcohol hand rub.

Current plan is; Shoot on either the Rollei with the #3 close up adapter (on order) or with a Mamiya 645 with a macro tube. Do it whilst Mummy is holding Charlotte to avoid the plexiglas. Use delta 3200 pushed as far as possible in Microphen (extra contrast in the neg is a massive help for platinum printing). Either shoot 3 shots back to back (face, hand, foot?) and contact print a triptych directly, or enlarge twice onto ortho plus and print from 5x4. Simple!

I'll let you know how I get on, but in the meantime, keep the ideas rolling in!

Thanks,

J

Diapositivo
07-20-2011, 04:24 AM
An NICU, as the name suggests, is an intense place. If I was a nurse in one and someone fired off a flash, that person would need to go to a proctologist to remove the camera.

The room(s) are filled with babies, many hanging onto life by a thread. Alarms are constantly going off warning of babies who have stopped breathing (the monitors measure blood oxygen levels) and the babes need to be gently shaken to get them to start breathing again...not to mention a host of other complications that can come along with being a premie.

The room is also filled worried, stressed parents -- who might be the ones who shove the camera up where the sun never shines instead of a nurse. Id rather take a flash photo of a newborn griz and deal with a momma bear than a human mother who thinks her child has be endangered by some fool with a flash. Even after 14 years, I still get emotional remembering the experience of have three boys weighing about 2.5 pounds in there (and boys have a worse survival rate than girls, everything else being equal).

So Diopositivo, if you do get in this situation, lube up before using a flash -- it will make camera removal easier...;)

Vaughn

My name is Fabrizio, my nickname is Diapositivo, Von.

In case we really met in such a circumstance, I would just hope for you that intensive care is nearby ;)

In general, your feelings are certainly not more important that the feeling of a parent wanting to take a picture of his child, a child he might even not see any more. A child is a child for everybody not just for you.

Worker 11811
07-20-2011, 08:21 AM
... That said, we are encouraged to take her out of the incubator and hold her skin-to-skin, albeit with leads still attached. ...

... Do it whilst Mummy is holding Charlotte to avoid the plexiglas. ...

I imagine some really great "Mother & Child" shots coming out of this! :cool:

First, as you say, it avoids background clutter, close angles and glare from the Plexiglass. Second, it might help you with lighting a little bit because you have more freedom of movement, allowing you to get the most out of the little light you have.

BTW: Can Mom handle a camera? Even if you preset the controls and hand off?
Don't forget the "Father & Daughter" shot! It's easy to get shutter blind and you might not think of possibilities like this when you are in the moment, concentrating on the viewfinder.

Vaughn
07-20-2011, 03:02 PM
...In general, your feelings are certainly not more important that the feeling of a parent wanting to take a picture of his child, a child he might even not see any more. A child is a child for everybody not just for you.

Well, Fab, we'll just have to leave it at that, as it seems that you do not have the personal experience with parenthood and NICU's to understand my point, and I seem to be failing to sufficiently get my point across...sorry (effective communication requires both parties to be effective, and I have failed.)

Vaughn

PS -- I actually pronounce my name "Von" -- when introducing myself to Kiwis and Aussies, I occasionally get told that I am mispronouncing my own name! LOL!

A photo of my three boys in their mom's arms. Their first Mother's Day, May 11, 1997. They are 6 weeks old (and for those with preemies and know about "adjusted age", their adjusted age was minus 5 weeks). They are about 4 pounds each (the middle guy was 4.5 lbs). Birth weights were around 2.75 lbs, dropping to 2.5 pounds soon after (weight loss is a common occurance). They left the NICU when their weight was about 5 pounds (about 3 weeks after the photo was taken).

I did not take the photo -- I was working 800 miles away -- but it was on film (does not look like a flash was used). Either my sister or one of the nurses took the photo

Diapositivo
07-20-2011, 05:40 PM
Well, Fab, we'll just have to leave it at that, as it seems that you do not have the personal experience with parenthood and NICU's to understand my point, and I seem to be failing to sufficiently get my point across...sorry (effective communication requires both parties to be effective, and I have failed.)


Nothing personal Vaughn, I just don't like my ass to be involved in a conversation where it didn't want to be involved ;)



PS -- I actually pronounce my name "Von" -- when introducing myself to Kiwis and Aussies, I occasionally get told that I am mispronouncing my own name! LOL!


I supposed so, that's the way Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sarah Vaughan are pronounced. If Vaughn is a surname, it is probably an alternative writing of the above.



A photo of my three boys in their mom's arms. Their first Mother's Day, May 11, 1997. They are 6 weeks old (and for those with preemies and know about "adjusted age", their adjusted age was minus 5 weeks). They are about 4 pounds each (the middle guy was 4.5 lbs). Birth weights were around 2.75 lbs, dropping to 2.5 pounds soon after (weight loss is a common occurance). They left the NICU when their weight was about 5 pounds (about 3 weeks after the photo was taken).

I did not take the photo -- I was working 800 miles away -- but it was on film (does not look like a flash was used). Either my sister or one of the nurses took the photo


And no Grizzly in sight, I suppose :D:D

Vaughn
07-20-2011, 05:45 PM
I supposed so, that's the way Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sarah Vaughan are pronounced. If Vaughn is a surname, it is probably an alternative writing of the above.

Vaughn -- Third generation first (given) name. Where it came from before then is not known by me. (that side of the family arrived in the Americas in the later 1600's from England)

Worker 11811
07-20-2011, 11:19 PM
Vaughn Meader -- The comedian from the 1960's who briefly became famous for his impersonations of President John F. Kennedy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaughn_Meader

tomalophicon
07-21-2011, 12:05 AM
Von, that photo definitely stirs up some feelings. I have a 6 week old daughter who weighs around 10lb, maybe more. She looks alot different to your 3. I hope the continue to be happy and healthy fellows.

Vaughn
07-21-2011, 03:55 PM
Do you have a maiden name too? :p

Oh get sirius...:D

vpwphoto
07-21-2011, 04:12 PM
I just checked in again...
Shoot some pushed tri-x or that Delta 3200.
.... else all else fails this is definitely a job for the D700 and the 105 1.8 set wide open. (sorry... )

halldaniel21
07-22-2011, 08:45 AM
A two pound baby sounds so soft, sensitive, cute and gentle. I suggest that you try less amount of lighting and if possible avoid flashes.

Vaughn
07-22-2011, 05:36 PM
A two pound baby sounds so soft, sensitive, cute and gentle...

May sound that way, but that is far from the reality of the situation. Think more mis-shapened, off-color, fragile, and helpless.

JamesDean
08-22-2011, 05:48 PM
Time for an update!

Charlotte is doing well, but she's still in the hospital until she can put some weight on. Fingers crossed home soon.

I'm starting to approach an acceptable result. The winning strategy so far is the Rollei with a close focus diopter, enlarged onto ilford ortho plus, contact printed back onto ortho and finally Pd printed.

The biggest hiccup was when Charlotte needed a chest and abdomen x-ray. The incubators have a cleverly designed film holder built into the base which allows the hospital staff to roll in a portable x-ray machine and shoot straight through her cot. They roll in metal screens to protect the other babies and ask the parents to leave the room whilst a lead-clad operator does the business. When I left, I forgot my Rollei which was under my chair next to the incubator. When I processed it I found the numbers and circles from the paper backing were burnt into the film...

I'll post a picture of my favourite print shortly.

J.