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Photography Question 
Rachel Hyde
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
 

Large Group Photography


I have been asked to shoot the cast and crew photo for my daughter's 6th grade play of the "Wizard of Oz". It is a large group - about 120 kids. I shoot with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, and my lens is the 18-55. I'm looking for advice on lighting: What do I do with house lights? Spots? Stage lights? Do I need to bring in extra lighting?And do I need a wide-angle lens for this or a bracket flash? This is a whole new world for me but I welcome the opportunity to learn!


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5/24/2006 5:22:14 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Rachel,
It will be difficult to arrange that many kids to get them all framed in one shot. You might be able to arrange them in rows (1st sitting on stage, 2nd kneeling, 3rd sitting on chairs, 4th standing, 5th standing on chairs).
If you're in a theater with house lights, stage lights, etc. - that's great - turn them all on. You'll do a much better job lighting a group that large with the theater lights than with any camera-based flash.
Arrange the kids, and tell them to sit still and to be patient. I know that's asking a lot! ;-)
Back up far enough so that you can frame the group when your lens is zoomed to somewhere between 30mm and 55mm, rather than at the wide 18mm end. This will help avoid distortion where the kids on the ends of the rows look smaller than the kids in the middle.
Increase your ISO to 400. Put your camera in Av mode and move in close so that your frame is filled with just a couple of faces and no dark background. Adjust your aperture to the highest f-number that will give you a shutter speed of about 1/60th. Then switch to manual mode and set to that shutter speed and aperture. Back up to frame the shot and shoot.
Shoot a few shots at the selected settings, then shoot a couple at the shutter speeds one over and under the selected, and then at the apertures one over and under the selected.
This should give you something you can work with. Shooting several shots not only will help with getting the exposure correct, it will also increase your chances of getting a shot where most of the kids are looking ahead, not making dumb faces, etc.
Good luck,
Chris A. Vedros
www.cavphotos.com


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5/25/2006 9:42:36 AM

 
Rachel Hyde
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Thanks Chris! The advice is much appreciated. I'm shooting the photo on June 3, I'll post and let you know how it goes. Thanks again!

Rachel


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5/26/2006 3:46:19 AM

 
Slim Brady 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/1/2006
  you sunk my battleship!!


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5/26/2006 5:07:52 PM

 
Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006
  Hi Racheal:

A couple other suggestions too. If you are posing the kids up on the stage and shooting from the center isle, you may want to bring a step ladder from which to position yourself on when shooting. Shooting large groups from a higher vantage point reduces the chance of any kids in the back rows being hidden by the ones in front of them.
Also, take a couple of test shots and check your white balance. Most stage lighting is going to be tungsten/halogen. If your camera model is capable, you may try using the custom white balance setting if the tungsten setting is still too warm.
One more thought. If you plan on selling pictures from this shoot, keep in mind that the digital format is not proportional to some of the more common photo sizes, like 8x10. Leave yourself room to crop, don't crop the shot too tight, or when you go to make a full 8x10, you may find you can't fit the whole group in that frame. So, leave yourself some room on the sides. Best of luck.

Bob


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5/26/2006 6:46:53 PM

 
Rachel Hyde
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Thanks Bob! Great things to keep in mind!

Rachel


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5/29/2006 6:52:58 AM

 
Sara L. Tanner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/2/2003
  Rachel,
You might want to see what the school has. My high school had risers for our chorus. These would allow you to position the kids in several rows. Also the school may have bleachers outside which would allow you to use natural light.
Good luck,
Sara


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5/30/2006 5:35:19 AM

 
Jody E. Ellis   Hi Rachel,
Along with the 'big' picture, you might want to think about taking small group pictures of the kid - i.e. the witches / the monkeys / the wizard behind his curtain etc. If you get to shoot at the dress rehearsal these photos look great as the mini-posters in the lobby and the parents love to see their kids close up. If some of the kids are serving as the crew for the show make sure they get photos too!
This assignment sounds like a lot of fun!
jody


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5/30/2006 6:33:50 AM

 
Bob Kerr   Hi Rachael:
Have had great success with stiching a panorama shot with digital software backup from that supplied from Canon -Zoombrowser. Use a tripod and clickety-click you go accross your group. Take many shots each time you stop and if you use PhSh its a breeze. Good luck.
Bedford Bob


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5/30/2006 9:22:37 AM

 
Robert  Weeks   Good answers for group shots. You probably will shoot at a rehersal thoughmaybe not. If you are lucky you will.

If planning on taking shots during performance, try to get there during rehersal to check light level in spot light vs non spot. Plan accordingly for manual. Most small schools have little lighting, you may need a tripod
for everything. Good luck, be sure you have enough memory.


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5/30/2006 4:46:14 PM

 
Rachel Hyde
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
 
 
 
Thank you all for your helpful comments! Here is one of the group cropped down, but the three of the stage across are better, now I just have to learn how to stitch them together! I learned a lot doing this and already have an idea of what I would do differently next time. Any input on these photos would be appreciated, ways to improve them in PS, or the best way to go about stitching the three together. Thanks again!

Rachel


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6/3/2006 1:27:47 PM

 
Rachel Hyde
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
 
 
  Wizard of Oz Cast and Crew 2006
Wizard of Oz Cast and Crew 2006
© Rachel Hyde
Canon EOS Digital ...
 
 
Here is the Cast and Crew photo.


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6/3/2006 1:29:34 PM

 
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