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Photography Question 
Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007
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Group Photo Shoot


I'm photographing an anniversary party. There will be a group of about 25 people inside a church on the pulpit steps. I have 2 580EX flashes with bounce diffusers. I also have a ST-E2. Should I use both flashes on a light stand, at 45 degree angles, with the difusers, or should I just use one of the 580EX's with a flash bracket and hotshoe?


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12/11/2009 5:19:00 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hi Pam,
I would use them both on stands and spread them out to get enough light on 25 people. Use enough DOF to get all the faces in focus.
One light source stands a real chance of creating shadows on some of the faces but with 2 you can hit your subjects from an another angle.
I love the STE2 - works great :)
Good luck Pam and have a fun shoot.


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12/11/2009 5:35:36 PM

 
Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007
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  Well, I did it, and some of the shots were good, but some of them had shadows created from the heads of the person in front of them. What's the best way to avoid this problem? It seems like I had better luck with someone holding the flash up beside me close to the camera, and the other flash to the left of the group at a 45 degree angle.


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12/13/2009 5:47:35 PM

 
Bruce A. Dart   Hi Pam,
Multiple light set ups are the essence of portraiture and groups present all sorts of challenges. With groups on steps or bleachers and some depth to the image it is often an advantage to aim the lights high toward the back row. The falloff of light will make the light more even. If you aim at the first row, they are the brightest and the light falloff makes the back row somewhat darker. A flash meter is usually helpful. You need to be very careful not to light directionally from opposite sides as this causes the shadow from one person to put the person next to them in shadow from two directions. I've had the best luck with lights close to the camera but aimed out slightly so the two lights create a bank of light to evenly light the group. It is not as much of a problem with a group of 25 as it is with groups several times that size. If the room light is fairly even, sometimes it is much easier to essentially take an available light image with fill flash to soften eye shadows and balance color. The bigger the group and the bigger the room, the more flash you need to light them up with just the flash. With the camera on a tripod, slow the shutter down and use the available light to help expose the image. This means a meter reading and manual settings. At F/8 or F5.6 for example if you can get that, your shutter might be 1/4 sec or even 1/2. Each scenario depends on the equipment you have and the amount of time. Often, these sessions are just prior to a performance and there is not a lot of time to set up and take down before the audience starts arriving.
Bruce


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12/16/2009 4:26:09 AM

 
Donna L. Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/22/2002
  I have a similar shoot coming up on Saturday. 24 people in a beach house for a family reunion. there are large windows on one side of the couch where they will gather. I'm thinking of taking my studio lights and umbrellas and setting one by me and the other off to the side opposite the window. Does that sound ok? And, is F8 enough to keep all three rows of people in sharp focus or do I need to figure out how to use F16 or higher? What is the highest ISO allowable for a good 16x20 print with a Canon D30...any help will be appreciated! Thanks!


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12/16/2009 6:56:31 AM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  If the beach house or wedding reception has white walls or a white ceiling, I would bounce the flash to the walls or ceiling. This creates a larger and softer source of light than umbrellas alone, and certainly is better than direct flash.

The flash does not have to be aimed directly at the people. If there is a white ceiling or wall, the flash can be directed to the wall/ceiling and bounced back to the people. You can even bounce the light to a large wall behind you and light the subjects without harsh shadows.

I've always been taught to know your equipment, know the location as to what can be done and how before taking the picture.


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12/16/2009 7:15:20 AM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  BTW, I took an excellent course from Paul Gero to teach me to use my Canon 580EX flash, as previously I had used Nikon equipment. And, while Paul did not teach setting up slave units, per se, he did help me with slave settings, so I can use the ST-E2 transmitter in the hotshoe and the slave units on light stands or attached to curtain rods with something like a Joby Gorillapod.

I've used these techniques when capturing birds in the garden, family gatherings, and even a large party.

The secret is know your equipment with different settings in advance to your shoot.


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12/16/2009 8:13:25 AM

 
Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007
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  Thanks all for your advice. I have a wedding next, & I will try these tips out. I also read or heard another good tip - to ask everyone in the group to make sure they can see the lights if they are set up on both sides and also the camera. If not, they will be in shadow or their face will be hidden.


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12/17/2009 5:05:33 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hi Pam,
I carry a 4 ft ladder in my car for those images that need a higher POV. A staircase will work as well and if you can get your lights up higher and shining down on top of the group and then have them all look up toward you and the lights, you can help to keep the shadows in check from heads onto others faces. Its still better to use more lights but just a thought for you to log in the back of your brain for the next time :)
Practice & learn...
Cheers,
Carlton


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12/17/2009 8:07:52 PM

 
Bruce A. Dart   Hey all,
Working with light is the whole essence of photography -- literally writing with light as coined by Sir John Herschel, working with Fox Talbot shortly after photography was invented in 1839 (simultaneously, almost, Joseph Niepce and Louis DaGuerre in France and William Henry Fox Talbot in Lodon -- both in January of that year.) At any rate, light is good but it needs to be controlled. Carlton's tip is a good one but it presupposes that no one is wearing glasses!! Remember that unless the lights act as one the glasses glare will be horrific!! Also the physics involved: the falloff of light varies in an inverse square proportion with the distance. It is half as much or twice as much (power being the same) in a short distance. In a large room the falloff seems even more noticeable.
Best wishes,
Bruce


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12/18/2009 5:20:43 AM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  I don't have problems with eye glasses and glare when I bounce the light off the ceiling or walls. But, you have to know how much to open up unless your equipment will do it for you.

Bounce light is softer than direct flash if it can be done (that is, if the ceiling and walls are not a dark color) and IF you are shooting in RAW so that color casts can be corrected in ACR.


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12/18/2009 7:41:12 AM

 
Bruce A. Dart   Bouncing light off the ceiling gives a wonderful soft light that is usually pretty even. However, the light from that angle often creates deep shadows in the eye sockets that is not especially flattering for people, unless some additional fill flash is used to provide some light in the eyes.


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12/18/2009 9:38:48 AM

 
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