Squirmy 5 Month Baby Photos Using Speedlites and Modifiers

Updated: May 19

Five month old babies can be squirmy! They are no longer sleepy, posable newborns and they don't take direction well! However, they make up for it with all the smiles and giggles. This makes the photos very fun and candid.



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It's difficult to pose a wiggly 5 month old baby, but they love to giggle and smile when they are being held! For these photos we had mom or dad hold baby Sully while interacting with him.


GEAR: For the first photo I wanted a white background but I didn't want to drag out my wrinkly white background and use two strobes to light it. I had seen photographers use soft boxes simultaneously as backgrounds and backlights. Not having a large enough softbox, I used a large umbrella instead.


My full frame Canon 6D is my go to camera and handles anything like a pro. I used a Canon 85mm 1.8 to get a tight shot of Sully while allowing some space between us. I used a Yongnuo YN-E3-RT in the hot shoe to control 2 Canon 600EX-RT strobes. I like the YN-E3-RT as opposed to the Canon ST-E3-RT because it is a third of the cost and, unlike the ST-E3-RT, it has focus assist beams that help with my low light photography. One speedlite was shooting towards me through the white umbrella and the other was in the softbox above and slightly to my right.


SETTINGS: I am not looking for any artistic blur here, so I didn't need a wide aperture. I wanted to make sure my photos were sharp despite Sully squirming and being hoisted into the air. When possible, I prefer 1/180-1/250 sec. In this case 180/sec worked well. I wanted a deep depth of field to ensure sharpness, so I used a 7.1 aperture. My rule of thumb for studio style shots like this is 1/250 sec and between 7-9 aperture.


Since I am controlling all the light in this photo, I got to be picky with my camera settings above. Next I adjust my Speedlite power. I adjusted the power on the backlight speedlite until it started to blowout over the bones of the umbrella and around Sully. For the softbox, I adjusted power until Sully's face was well lit but not overtaking the glow from the backlight.


TIPS: Shoot as much as you can while you can! Baby moods change quickly. Expect to take a couple breaks to feed, change, or recover sore arms from lifting baby.


Sully's mom sat on a chair facing the white umbrella and held him up facing away from the umbrella. She would bounce him a few times to make him smile and then hold him up in front of the umbrella to snap photos. The white umbrella behind him provided a soft white background and glowing backlight. The Neewer softbox to my right illuminated his face adding some interesting light.

GEAR:Canon 6D, Canon 85mm 1.8, Canon 600EX-RT, Yongnuo YN-E3-RT, Fotodiox 43" White Umbrella, Neewer 24" Softbox, Manfrotto 1004BAC Light Stand, Manfrotto 5001B Light Stand

SETTINGS: 1/180 sec at f/7.1, ISO 100






EDITING: I use Adobe Lightroom to touch up and edit my photos. First I use the healing brush to fix a few spots of dry skin and little baby scabs. Then I use the custom adjustment brush, turning down the exposure, to dodge away any visible bones of the umbrella. To achieve the warmer skin tone, I adjusted the Temperature (Temp) slider to the right as needed. Last I make adjustments to almost everything under the "Basic"settings displayed here.











Here's a quick and dirty guide on how I touched up Sully's dry skin and scabs. The Spot Healing tool is very easy to use, so I recommend getting familiar with it. I almost always use the Heal brush unless I need to clone something exactly. The Heal brush is programmed to blend and will match skin more easily. I almost always leave Feather around 60 and Opacity at 100. "Feather" determines how much the edges blend and Opacity adjusts how transparent your brush stroke is. As I fix blemishes, I move my finger up and down on my computer mouse (Mac mouse) to change the size of the brush to match the size of the blemish I'm fixing.











I love dark, dramatic photos. After I was done with the white background, I moved over to a dark red wall in my living room to capture the photos below. I moved the large umbrella higher and put the softbox under it to create a clamshell style light a little to the left of Sully. You could easily use a reflector in place of the second speedlite.


For the first photo, mom sat on a chair and held Sully above her head with two hands. In the second, dad held Sully out in front of him.

GEAR:Canon 6D, Canon 50mm 1.4, Canon 600EX-RT, Yongnuo YN-E3-RT, Fotodiox 43" White Umbrella, Neewer 24" Softbox, Manfrotto 1004BAC Light Stand, Manfrotto 5001B Light Stand

SETTINGS: 1/180 sec at f/7.1, ISO 100







EDITING: Here's what my Lightroom settings looked like for the photo above. I used a preset from TheLuxeLens.com called B&W Dark. I'm a big fan of presets because they make editing a lot easier and faster. I still recommend understanding how to edit photos and what settings created the preset so that you understand the characteristics that contributed to your end product. But presets just make editing so easy! Sometimes I capture an image that I like but I don't have a specific vision for the end result. Scrolling and hovering over presets gives me an idea of how different styles of editing will look with each photo.


The characteristics I like in this preset are the contrast, softness (lower clarity), the slight matte finish, and the mild grain. To learn more about applying a matte style, check out this post.


I also touched up skin as Sully had some dry skin and scabs. The Heal brush made quick work of them.






GEAR:Canon 6D, Canon 50mm 1.4, Canon 600EX-RT, Yongnuo YN-E3-RT, Fotodiox 43" White Umbrella, Neewer 24" Softbox, Manfrotto 1004BAC Light Stand, Manfrotto 5001B Light Stand

SETTINGS: 1/180 sec at f/7.1, ISO 100


I hope these images inspire you to create your own! What questions can I answer about these techniques? If you liked this article, please share it! When it's time to buy new photography gear, I appreciate you using the links from Speedliter's Blog. At no cost to you, Speedliter's Blog may receive a small commission. This applies to anything you purchase within 24 hours of clicking the link. So if you find something different or more affordable that woks for you, get it! The most important thing is that you get out there and keep shooting!



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