Are you ready for a covert operation?
Your last mission of the weekend, if you choose to accept it, is to take a photograph of your sleeping child. You'll need to be stealthy and have a steady hand, but the challenge is well worth it - or at least I think so. It's rare that these little people are still and silent, and they can look so sweet that it can melt any parent's heart after the most chaotic of days. I do not recommend trying this during the daytime naps as if you do wake them, you'll probably have no chance of getting them back to sleep. Photographing them in the first part of their night-time slumber, when they're in their deepest sleep of the night, will allow you to soothe them back if your stealthy nature or shutter is too loud. Aiden is still in his cot, which can make it tricky as you've got to negotiate the bars, so I cannot wait until he's in a big boy bed to try this technique again. I may even try it one day at nap time and put him to sleep in my double bed, when natural light can illuminate the room, as that would look beautiful while he's still so miniature.
For these types of shots, you're literally shooting in the dark. You won't want to use flash as it will kill any atmosphere and is almost guaranteed to alert your sleepy subject. A constant light, like a desk lamp, will work but what's even better is a tablet or smartphone and that's all I've used to photograph these.
Here's some tips if you want to try it for yourself...
1. Set a wide aperture as you'll need to let in all the light you can
2. Crank up the ISO and remember the Reciprocal Rule: don't let you shutter speed drop below your focal length ie 50mm lens 1/50sec. You can try using a tripod but you may find it easier to negotiate the room and compose handheld. It will be at the cost of image quality as you'll probably get a lot of noise, but I love grain in a black & white image.
3. Focus on the eyes, unless you're framing to isolate a detail like the hands, mouth or comforter.
4. Use manual focus: your autofocus will struggle in such low light.
5. Watch for ugly shadows under the eyes. If you do cast any, bring the light lower (45° to the face) so it fills in the facial shadows - you want an even, soft light over the baby's face for that angelic look.