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Photography Question 
Larry Ginter
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004

High School Band Portraits

I am going to be shooting our high school band in uniforms - probably in the band room where they practice. I am thinking of going with a 3/4 shot at attention with instrument, or a full-length photo in uniform with a nice smile (for the parents). I have a Nikon N80, SB-80dx flash, af-s Nikkor 17-35 2:8D, Sigma 24-70D 2.8EX asp, and a 70-200 Nikon af-s vr2.8G ED. I need help as to take the best flash pic I can. On-camera? Off-camera flash with sinc cord? Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks

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12/3/2004 8:50:46 AM

Alex Cabrall   I'll assume here you're talking about a marching band of some form or another. While I know relatively little about the Nikon line, I AM in a marching band. I'd go for at least one head-and-shoulders shot of the member with NO helmet on - outdoors if you can (I can't think of a marching band director who LIKES to practice indoors: too noisy!), and the other two compositions would work wonderfully, but again, shoot outside if you can.
Your biggest problem here will be the silver instruments. Be very careful about the reflections from these, as they will fool the meter.
Now, if I'm way off base here and you HAVE to shoot indoors, you should consider using that sync cord and having the flash off-camera. It'll give much more pleasing light than on-camera flash.
As for your lenses: That 70-200 sounds like a pro portrait lens to me: I'd use that over the other two.
Some other advice: Talk to the band director about this. Ask him what he thinks about what the parents like. See if you can take pictures BEFORE an event, or even on a day where they're in uniform but not competing, so the folks who play the heavier instruments won't be bushed.
Hope any of this helps, and best of luck!

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12/5/2004 8:02:56 AM

Gregg Vieregge   I recently shot a marching band group shot of 230 members. It was shot on the bleachers in the school gym. The whole thing was done in 15 minutes. To my surprise the band directors set up the entire pose. The colorguard with flags and streamer where on the outer perimeter with the band members in the interior. There were about 12 rows. With this in mind I knew I had to use a higher f-stop for sharp depth of field. Using a Fuji S2 digital I was shooting f6.7, f8, and f11. With a film camera I would have used f22. Here lies the problem. You need some serious light output to carry the light to the edges and top row. I dragged the shutter way down to a 1/15 of a second to let the ambient light help. Using a tripod and cable release helped vibration with this low speed. I new that a sigle on camera light would not be enough. The sides would have a shadow cast to the outer side of the camera and the top row would probably be underexposed. I rented two 800 watt per second strobes with umbrella and set them up the the sides. (cost was $80 per day) On the camera I used a metz 60CT flash. Being digital I was able to check each shot with the histogram for proper expose. When done I was very pleased although the final image had to be curved up a bit. I charged the band a discounted price and they sold them to the kids and parents had a higher price for a fund raiser. In all 500 prints were sold.

My biggest suggestion would to be to have enough light. My other concern is that a 35mm negative would have sharpness should the band order up an 11x14 or 16x20.

Hope this helps.

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12/7/2004 7:19:50 AM

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