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02-26-2008, 08:36 PM   #1
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Need help & advice... Shooting group pictures!!!

Hey guys im in trouble!!! I have to take a group photo for a local religious education center, I thought it was going to be portrait/group(3-5 people). Not knowing I said sure I'll volunteer. Now I find out that they want photos with 30 person group!!!. I have a k10d, and sunpak 422d(and homemade lightsphere) . Is there anyway I can shoot indoor with the existing lighting? what would I need minimum to pull off this shoot indoor? Also, could I do a panoramic? Any advice or tips from fellow members will be greatly appreciated. TIA

02-26-2008, 09:03 PM   #2
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Lots of unknown variables here, Akhowja. Will the indoor shot be in a room with ample, good window light (at about 30-40 to the side of the group is best; avoid full-frontal or 90 to the side lighting) during daytime? If so, use that for your key (main) light, with your strobe/lightsphere set to fill light the other side of the group (again, at a 30-40 angle is good; avoid 90 side lighting with your fill light).

Can you arrange for an out-of-frame light from the rear, either low or high, to give what is called a hair light or rim light? Be sure all lights are well-spread and diffuse with no hot spots or big fall-off in light intensity from one part of the group to another. If you can experiment with your lighting ratios (intensity of main vs. fill light), try for about 2 stops more light on your main light side (a 2 to 1 lighting ratio is pretty common in portrait lighting). You often can't do much adjusting with the window lighting, other than drawing curtains/shades, so either adjust the output of your fill light strobe or move the fill light further or closer to adjust its contribution to the lighting of your scene.

Finally, use a fast lens with enough field of view for your working distance, with the camera on a tripod, and try slow synch flash to help the natural light predominate. Oh, yeah, and shoot in RAW capture so you can play with white balances after the session, just in case there's a problem with color casts in your overall lighting. With daylight coming through windows and a strobe set up for fill, you can probably shoot with daylight white balance.
02-26-2008, 09:26 PM   #3
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Not sure what the expectations are for the 30 people group shot - shoulder to shoulder or 2-3 rows acceptable ? You can sit one row, another row standing or if there is a stage or step somewher, you can fit a 3rd row.

I've shot large groups indoors with the kit lens 18-55 mm before. At wide angle 18 mm, you can take a fairly large group all at one go, but 30 people in one line is still too wide, unless you have a large room.

Decent Image Quality with the kit lens. At wide-open f/3.5 the kit lens is reasonably fast for good indoor lighting or if there's light from an open window.
02-26-2008, 10:02 PM   #4
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I doubt a panoramic would work. I had to resort to stitching two pictures together when I was faced with a large group with only a P&S, and the results weren't all that great. There's a lot of post processing work involved as well.

02-26-2008, 11:04 PM   #5
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30 people is no joke even for a pro photographer!

You could try shooting from an elevated position - you standing on a ladder, the people below you packed in a 6x5, squatting and looking up to the camera.
02-26-2008, 11:17 PM   #6
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You could also shoot in a nearby park/field on daylight, or a large auditorium, if possible. 2 rows should suffice. No troubles with light, and you can use a longer focal lenght with less distortion.
02-27-2008, 05:40 PM   #7
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Sorry for the delay in responding... First thanks a lot, didn't think I would get that many responses that quick. Okay I have decided to shoot outdoor, due to lack of available light. There are no windows, and the room they want to shoot the picture has dim lighting. Just in case if the sun is really bright, any fill techniques, i.e aprt setting, iso, shutter settings I can use as default and then adjust from there? First time using fill, and I have had my flash for only 2 weeks know, and I don't have too much time to practice. I will be using K10d with FA50mm 1.4, sunpak 422d, mounted on a tripod. Really wanted to do it indoor but just don't have the equipment for such a large shoot. Anyways thanks again for the help & advice!!!
02-27-2008, 06:30 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by akhowja Quote
Hey guys im in trouble!!! I have to take a group photo for a local religious education center, I thought it was going to be portrait/group(3-5 people). Not knowing I said sure I'll volunteer. Now I find out that they want photos with 30 person group!!!. I have a k10d, and sunpak 422d(and homemade lightsphere) . Is there anyway I can shoot indoor with the existing lighting? what would I need minimum to pull off this shoot indoor? Also, could I do a panoramic? Any advice or tips from fellow members will be greatly appreciated. TIA
Can you say W I D E

I think you will need wide angle.

also, we did a family group shot, I would suggest getting everyone to wear similar colors, I/m not talking uniforms or anything, but all similar colors does help out with a group shot.

02-27-2008, 06:53 PM   #9
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Hey, yea I thought I would need a wide angle... But now that im shooting outdoor, I have plenty of room to back up. I have tamron 28 200 just in case I can't fit everything in the 50mm. Just don't want to use it because the 50mm is sharper and better picture quailty IMO. what do you think? The students were instructed to wear black or white shirt with jeans, I guess thats better then random colors...
thanks
02-27-2008, 07:10 PM   #10
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The problem with going with the 50 is that you'll have to get back REALLY far. I can only fit 2 people in frame with my 50 from about 8 feet away (and that's just upper torsos). I would definately go wider.
02-27-2008, 07:13 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by akhowja Quote
Hey, yea I thought I would need a wide angle... But now that im shooting outdoor, I have plenty of room to back up. I have tamron 28 200 just in case I can't fit everything in the 50mm. Just don't want to use it because the 50mm is sharper and better picture quailty IMO. what do you think? The students were instructed to wear black or white shirt with jeans, I guess thats better then random colors...
thanks
Remember a good flash also, maybe 2, plus umbrellas.

black or white shirt plus jeans is probably OK, as long as there is a reasonable mix.

the family shot we did was black shirts and blue jeans. worked out really well even for grand parents.

Good green foliage for a backdrop works well, try to under expose backdrop by about 1 stop. or if you really want an interesting shot, use the lens well stopped down, and under expose the back drop by about 3 stops by using a lot of flash, If you have green foliage, it will get nice and dark, and be solid green.

Be careful with the mix of white and black shirts on the metering however. in this instance multi segment would be better than spot, because it will be on the wrong spot.

The other thing is facal expressions and getting all the eyes open at the same time. it's hard to watch all 30 at once
02-27-2008, 07:42 PM   #12
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50mm is not a good idea for a large group shot - e.g. the FA50 only has a 31 degrees viewing angle, you'll have to back up really far, and at that distance, the fill-in flash won't work.
If you only had the two lenses to choose, from the 28 200 would be the choice for practical reasons.
02-27-2008, 08:51 PM   #13
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See if you can borrow a couple of people to assist. Get some reflectors and have the "helpers" bounce light onto the people.

Do not try to get full height images (head at top feet at bottom) - that is just boring.

Find a place to have people sit - bring chairs out - have some sit on the ground, others stand.

Since you are using a FA 50mm (try to get a wider lens) your fill flash from either the in camera flash or an external flash will not have enough power to be used to any effect. If you had a flash with enough power to do that --- someone would catch on fire.

Try to fill the frame with the people, use the entire frame - think that cropping is not allowed.
It might work out to where you break the group up into smaller groups - that way you can at least identify the users. I had a image taken during a photo workshop where we had 21 people. Some sat on the ground, I was in the row that sat on a 2 foot tall wall, the next row was kneeling on the area behind the wall and the last row was standing - four rows - came out OK - but just how can you take a cr*ppy image in NM?

I like the idea of shooting from a ladder - down onto the group. I did that a few years ago for some shots at the company where I work. I got 70+ people in the image - along with our product - and they came out nice (Kit lens at 18mm, no flash, lots of light, *ist Ds, ISO 400, wide open). Rent a step ladder with a rail in front, get everyone up close all crowded in. It will look just great.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
02-27-2008, 08:56 PM   #14
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Hey guys thanks again, I will use the 28 200. maybe pick up a 16-45 if I can find a good price locally.
Thanks
02-27-2008, 09:56 PM   #15
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according to my flawed calculations you'd need to back up about 20-30 meters with the 50mm...
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