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Photography Question 
Pieter J. Roelofse
 

Group Photo Shot


Hello

My wife is graduating soon and she and her friends want me to take a group photo. There will be 30 people in all and they want to have this picture taken indoors while they are all standing on a winding staircase. I have been taking pictures and studied photography for a while now, but I see some troubles here. I have a Canon EOS 10D and 3 lenses and some flash units including a 550EX, but I am not sure if I will be able to pull this off. Any help will be appreciated. I was told that there will be some window light, but this is indoors and with my flash units, I am not sure if I can reach everyone with one unit. Next step will be to stop down to get the DOF, but that will reduce shutter speed tremendously and I don't want to up the ISO. They want a 16x12 print to sign and it needs to be sharp. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks


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4/30/2007 11:44:05 AM

 
W.   
Mge Pieter,

you've already correctly identified the probs with that proposed location/shot: light fall-off. One flashgun won't hack it. And DoF is gonna be terrible.

In the absence of sufficient ambient light, you need to either light the people at every landing with 'their' own flashgun, or you will need a different location/shot.

How about you standing on a roof or balcony, and shooting down on the class standing there and looking up to you? In the daytime, of course.
Then they'll be "bunched up" nicely to fill your frame.

Good luck!


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4/30/2007 11:53:10 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I've done a couple of shots like that for corporate image work and one key to success in them is careful preparation.

So, first go to visit the winding staircase you mentioned, take your camera, your lenses and probably a tripod. Start by estimating how much of the staircase you're going to need and mapping out, so to speak, where you need to be positioned to get the best depth of field. You should also give some serious thought beforehand as to how you want everyone posed. No fig leaf poses, connect them up somehow, doing something or just looking like a herd of moose caught in the headlights.

Personally, I don't like shooting up or down on a group of subjects because someone in the group is bound to distort and it looks subservian, I guess, almost like penned up cattle from extremely high or low angles. So I prefer to find a midpoint, wear a coaches whistle to get people's attention for instruction and get them to look at the camera lens.

Second, estimate where your ambient light is going to be coming from and what the best time of day to shoot this is going to be. That may require your spending at least several hours there and judging the light and getting some readings. You may find that very early in the morning vs. late afternoon is the best time for the light but you won't know until you go look at it.

Take a light meter and decide or at least estimate how much fill flash you're going to need, from what sources and how you're going to trigger them. Everytime I've done this I use multiple monolights with softboxes usually, clamped or rigged to different parts of the stairway out of camera view and triggered with radio slaves. On the average it takes about two- 2 1/2 hours to set up with an assistant. You can rent lighting and slaves from a number of sources and get your wife's classmates to chip in to cover the cost.

If you don't have sufficient window light at the right time of day, you might as well toss in the towel because taking that kind of shot without sufficient lighting is like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

You might also consider renting a camera with a larger format, (a film camera with a polaroid back might be nice) and having yours as a back-up. If you do that, practice with it beforehand, of course.

Piece of cake right? Good luck. ;>)
Mark


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5/1/2007 8:22:04 AM

 
Pieter J. Roelofse   Hello again
I have convinced my wife that getting 30 people together at the same time is going to be hard to start off with and getting the shot she wants, is going to be really really hard. So, we will be going outside around 6:00pm and I can choose wherever I want the shot. That makes me feel more comfortable working with 30 people I do not know and helps me control the available light. Thanks for all the responses. I will come back and let everyone know how it went. June 13th is the big day ! Thanks again


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5/1/2007 10:00:49 AM

 
Pieter J. Roelofse   Hello again
I have convinced my wife that getting 30 people together at the same time is going to be hard to start off with and getting the shot she wants, is going to be really really hard. So, we will be going outside around 6:00pm and I can choose wherever I want the shot. That makes me feel more comfortable working with 30 people I do not know and helps me control the available light. Thanks for all the responses. I will come back and let everyone know how it went. June 13th is the big day ! Thanks again


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5/1/2007 10:01:10 AM

 
Pieter J. Roelofse   Hello again
I have convinced my wife that getting 30 people together at the same time is going to be hard to start off with and getting the shot she wants, is going to be really really hard. So, we will be going outside around 6:00pm and I can choose wherever I want the shot. That makes me feel more comfortable working with 30 people I do not know and helps me control the available light. Thanks for all the responses. I will come back and let everyone know how it went. June 13th is the big day ! Thanks again


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5/1/2007 10:01:10 AM

 
W.   
Good luck on June the 13th!
Find the location a.s.a.p. and do test shots in advance. SEE what works and what doesn't in advance so that you don't get nasty surpises on D-day. Keep the sun in their backs to limit squinting. Bring your flash and at least 2 good-sized reflectors (D-I-Y is easy).


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5/1/2007 11:00:02 AM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  well,if you put the sun at their backs,it will wash out the background and even with reflectors and fill flash,not sure.
gee,your setting might be all shade?
and all those shadows from backlighting..
people with glasses need to tilt their heads.
tripod,remote release,patience.
new member?
right outta the book,sam


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5/1/2007 5:56:43 PM

 
W.   
"well,if you put the sun at their backs,it will wash out the background and even with reflectors and fill flash,not sure."

Varying the aperture will take care of that. Bracketing comes to mind. Test shots take the guesswork out of the equation.

"gee,your setting might be all shade?"

Same difference.

"and all those shadows from backlighting.."

No "shadows from backlighting" with reflectors and fill-flash.

"people with glasses need to tilt their heads.
tripod,remote release,patience."

Now that is useful.


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5/1/2007 7:18:22 PM

 
W.   
Correction:
"Varying the aperture" must of course read "varying the shutter speed".


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5/1/2007 7:23:05 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  ok, so go ahead and tell him where to place the camera,f/stop,shutter speed,where to place the reflectors,and of course you've pre arranged the group of 30.clue us in.i mean precisely.i want to see the diagram.
well mr wizard,talk the talk,now walk the talk.
even with my stupid enept ways,with no reflectors or fill flash,sure.stupid film cameras,one hour photo.chuckle,chuckle.
ah,but the light..


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5/1/2007 8:16:54 PM

 
W.   
"ok, so go ahead and tell him where to place the camera,f/stop,shutter speed,where to place the reflectors,and of course you've pre arranged the group of 30.clue us in.i mean precisely.i want to see the diagram."

You do? You want me to draw you a picture, Sammie?
Sure mate, I'll get you a diagram. IF you get me an adequate location briefing, complete with 360 location shots, and sun angles at around 18.00PM, on June 10th.


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5/2/2007 5:02:38 AM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  ya apolagized for confusing aperture and shutter speed.boy that built my confidence up.
light,humidity,and many variables will elicit the final shoot.
jo junior and goin to learn sqwat with you trying to oversimplyfiying things with your pompous it's so easy.you may know this and got all that crap,equipment,strapped to your back,and pull it off.soooo.
everybody doesn't know this shtuff.
boy,you want a map of where I want you to be on june 10th?1800hrs?
well,sammie,sambo,samuel,samantha,moron.
ga day


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5/2/2007 6:49:35 PM

 
W.   
Lay off the booze, Sam


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5/3/2007 1:27:24 PM

 
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