Strobe and infants
Hopefully this is the right forum for a question like this. I am supposed to go take photos of my newly born nephew on Saturday and I'm trying to decide what to bring. Recently someone told me NOT to use strobes with an infant, that it is not good for them (I assume they meant not good for their eyes?) Anyway, is this true? I admit that being a shooter of 99.9% inanimate objects has me a bit worried about my abilities to do well with this project, but I was hoping I could at least control the lighting to my satisfaction. I tend to shoot people in a not-so-flattering way, which I am often happy with, but is not what most people want. Any thoughts?
"Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it." -Paul Strand
I've heard the same thing about newly born babies and their eyes. Why risk the child's health? Better to error that it is true even if it isn't.
The key to the infant pictures is people don't really care about the quality of light, all they care about is the baby. Concentrate on the baby's faces and the expression made, and you'll be fine.
Use soft window light.
If the baby is sleeping, and they often are when they are brand new, then a strobe should be fine. Soft window light is a great suggestion, And actually, I think a continuous light source is a good idea. Will keep the baby warm, too!!
A newborn is basically an inanimate object, so you should be within your comfort zone.
I suspect that a small amount of bounced flash wouldn't be a problem, but you should check with someone who knows, such as a pediatrician.
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Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt
I'd be surprised if anyone actually knew. Aftr all, how would you devise a test to find out? I've heard this asserted elsewhere, too, and it strikes me as belonging to the same brand of 'science' which says that flash damages paintings. Babies are small and delicate and therefore flash will hurt them: it's self-evident until you stop and ask how, and what sort of light levels might be required. Then you start wondering if there's any truth in it at all, and how anyone would know if there were.
Given that flash at normal portrait levels isn't much brighter than sunlight, it doesn't sound like a great risk. After all, let's assume a flash duration of 1/1000 second (anything much shorter woukd lead to reciprocity problems) and an exposure of f/8 on ISO 100 and we have a couple of stops more peak brightness than a normal outdoor sunny day.
This is not the same as advocating frying babies with megajoule flashes, nor is it the same as suggesting that some children may not be upset by it. Nor is it saying that I wouldn't like a serious, well-researched answer: I'd love one. I just doubt that there is one.
While I think Roger is probably right, and no one really knows for sure, my inclination would be to err on the side of caution and NOT use strobe with a small child.
Scientifically, it is known that brightly flashing lights can induce seizures in some people with brain abnormalities. Until it is known whether a particular child is susceptible to this problem, I would think that caution would be appropriate.
But on top of that, direct strobe makes for the absolutely worst photographs (in my opinion), whereas the soft light from a nearby window is much more flattering and almost certain to not be harmful to the child.
I never used flash with Melchi as a newborn, but I generally like natural light anyway. When relatives took snapshots with flash from their P&S cameras, he didn't seem to like it, so that seems like reason enough not to use it.
He's almost seven months now and seems okay with such things, so maybe we'll try that studio portrait with strobes, but the light should be fairly diffuse. I won't be using the big fresnel as the main light.
I generally agree. Nonetheless, there could be some information regarding this. For example, there might have been cases where strobes directly lead to a problem, or there could be visual stimuli experiements done on other animals, or there could simply be an understanding of the appropriate mechanisms such that one could make a reasonable prediction about possible problems/non-problems. Explanantions in science don't have to necessarily be inductive. They can be abductive as well.
I don't like getting too close to a flash. I'm a lot older then a newborn