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Photography Question 
Jennifer B. Anderson

Which camera and lens to use

I have been requested by a family member to photograph a Golden Wedding Anniversary which will include a portrait of 5 generations. I have a Minolta SRT100 with a 1:14 F58 mm lens and a wide angle lens (great manual camera); along with a Canon Rebel G SlR (and Canon D-60) with a 35-80 mm; 28 mm and 80-200 zoom lens. They want the photo to be taken outdoors around 2:30 p.m. so my question is, what film speed, which camera and what lens would be recommended. Thanks, Jen

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6/2/2004 6:03:51 AM

doug Nelson   Outdoors an ASA 100 or 200 film would be fine. A good one is Kodak Portra NC, with an ASA of 160. Shoot a roll of any print film with the Minolta and be REAL sure it works. For your outdoor shot, keep them out of bright sun, especially on their faces. Pose them in open shade so that they are not squinting into the sun. Keep the bright sun out of the background if you can. That Minolta lens is an oldie classic. Shoot at f 5.6 or f8 and use the corresponding shutter speed. If it falls below about 1/125 sec, use a tripod. All this is overkill, perhaps, but this shot is important to them. A man and woman who can put up with each other for 50 years deserve the best.
For inside, put a Canon dedicated flash on either of the Canons and follow the directions in the flash's instructions.

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6/3/2004 12:04:43 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
You already have all the tools you need for the task with either camera . . . although I'd recommend using the Minolta with its lens if the lens is in excellent condition (reason: it's lens is better optically than the Canon zoom).

Everything Doug mentions, including the film recommendation, plus some additional tips:
Assuming you are in North America, look specifically at the north and east sides of a fair size building for a suitable place to pose the large mob that has a decent, uncluttered or distracting background. This keeps direct sun off their backs and avoids a directly sunlit background that would backlight them too. At 2:30PM, the shade will be on the north and east side of things . . . although the sun will still be relatively high in the sky (two hours later would probably be better). Go there before the big event if at all possible to scope the place out for suitable locations big enough for the 5 generation crowd. If there's not a structure big enough, look for a thick stand of trees or a very tall thick hedge (about 8 feet tall) with a north side and use it as you would a building.

Try to go no more than three deep although if the crowd is that big you'll likely have to work with four. If there isn't anything to elevate people in back, place the tallest there, stagger the row in front so that heads are between those behind them. A third row can usually still be standing. If I work with a fourth row in front and none of the rows is elevated using steps or something similar, I put younger adults and teens in front in a "catcher's" crouch or something similar . . . such as down on one knee . . . which tends to keep their backs straighter. If someone is holding an infant in their arms, put them in the front row that's standing. Have the couple of honor in the middle of the front row standing . . . even if the rest of the front is down . . . and watch those directly behind them if the couple is tall.

Also . . . if there's nothing on which to elevate those in back, take a short step ladder that can elevate you about three feet or so. Don't get too high or it could make perspective of any structure behind the group unnatural looking. However, even a few feet allowing you to look down slightly will help you see all the faces better.

With a very large group, one of the last things I do is scan all the faces starting with the back row and working to the front one to ensure I can see everyone. Even if you've placed them well initially, people will move on you. Take four to six shots with large groups. Someone will blink, pick their nose, rub their eyes or something else unphotogenic. With large groups it's very difficult to see that happen. I have a tough time spotting it with only a half-dozen people in a grouping.

Good Luck!

-- John Lind

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6/3/2004 11:29:59 PM

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