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Photography Question 
Christy Jackme
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/3/2005

Lighting Kits, Group Photography

A gym wants to hire me to do group and individual pics of over 200 gymnasts. I have done group portraits in the past when I worked for another studio. My question concerns equipment. I will be using a Digital Rebel. Is this going to be good enough? No one will be ordering anything over an 8x10. And I am looking into the lighting I will need to purchase. I have seen a set from Alien Bees that will be perfect, but is $700. Don't have that much until after I do the job. But I found a Smith-Victor kit with 2 12" floodlights- 500W, 1 5" floodlight-250W, umbrellas and a wheeled case for $232. Is this a good deal, and would it do what I need. The largest grouping would only be 20 girls. And a lot of the groups are less than 10 people. Please help! I appreciate any advice or suggestions. I don't want to turn this job down because I can't afford the equipment.

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9/7/2005 9:26:39 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  As far as individual portraits, a single umbrella or softbox should be fine ... maybe a fill reflector as well.
Now, the group of 20 people is a whole new ball game. I hope you have experience in posing that many people.
One umbrella is NOT enough, unless you get them all (VERY) tightly grouped. If there is a large window, you may want to use it as a primary light source.
To artificially light 20 people will require a lot of flash power that must light everyone equally. You don't want any shadows on the people from others in the group, so position them with care. The digital instant feedback will be invaluable here. Then again, you don't want to look like a newbie and have to continually re-pose the 20 people.
Are you shooting in the gym? If so, watch out for color casts, as gyms often use either fluorescent or merc-vapor. Unless your lighting is strong, this can lead to a mixed lighting prob.
Tip: Go to the gym and shoot some practice shots before you actually do the shoot. You won't need 20 people to test ... 3 or 4 friends will do as you can position them at all the extremes - i.e., 2 at the ends and 2 in the middle.
Concerning equipment: Buy as much output power as you can afford.

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9/7/2005 8:50:19 PM


BetterPhoto Member
The SV light kit will not work very well for you because it is too low in power. SV does make strobes also, but some of those are less power than your on-camera flash. If you use an umbrella, there will be hardly any power to light the people. I urge you to go rent from a pro shop if you can. See if you can rent some power packs like Norman, Speedptron, Dyna Light, or any top brand. Try for two 2000 watt second power packs with three light heads and three of the biggest/softest white umbrellas they might rent. Place two of the light heads with umbrellas at one side of the camera at about 45 degrees either side. Split the power between the two lights heads plugged into that pack so they each have 1000ws each. Then the third light head/umbrella and power pack next to the camera, opposite side from the other lights and set at -1 from the other pack/lights or 1000ws itslef. Pete is correct - if you use the available light it will be a different color than the strobes or window light and that will look bad. You may want to rent one more light to put some separately on the background, so it does not fade to black, which looks amateur. For the individual shots you can also use the same setup, but scale back on total power. It might be worth your while to rent this stuff and practice well before you do the job, so you have it perfected.
Have fun!

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9/7/2005 10:10:20 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  Also please look in on the thread "Studio Photography-the cooked husband". This will help you a lot with lighting and I have put a link to the vender that I and several others have used.
Also, I had added a graph on posing a group of 30 - for Michelle's girls basketball shoot.
I believe you will fine a LOT of help here. Here's the link:

I do hope this helps.

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9/8/2005 6:49:30 AM

Gregg    The Alien Bees should do the trick. Two of them with umbrellas. The 160's make a great system for individual portraits lights. Use 200 or 400 ISO and drag your shutter to aleast 1/30. Make sure on the 20 group your f stop is aleast 6.7 or 8. Do a custom WB as the gym will have a color cast from there overhead lights. If the Rebel has presets for flourescants, that may work.

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9/14/2005 7:59:43 AM

Maria Melnyk   Hi, Christy, can you do the group shot outdoors? Then you only have to worry about lighting indoors for the individual portraits, unless you can do those outdoors too. If you do, please make sure your background is pleasing and uncluttered, and suitable to your subjects.

And yes, your digital Rebel is good enough.

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9/14/2005 12:54:52 PM

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