Advice on Group Pictures

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by finnschi, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. finnschi macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Ive Done numerous kinds of Photography,
    but not Group Pictures... Now I have to take pictures of every class in my school(about 13*20people)

    My Gear:
    Eos 20D
    24mm Sigma 1.8
    24-70mm Sigma 2.8
    50mm Canon 1.8
    18-55mm Kit (3.5-5.6?)
    2 Metz Flashes
    Remote flash system
    Remote shutter release
    3 Tripods

    I was thinking the following:

    Position the Group in front of a White wall(some standing on chairs so their heads are above the rest of the Group)

    I was planning to use the 24mm Sigma hence this is a very sharp lens, for the 50mm I would also have to go back too far...

    I will have my Camera on a Tripod.

    Now my biggest Problem : Positioning of the flash

    I think flash mounted to the camera is stupid because I will have shadows.

    So my ideas:
    One flash coming from the left side and one from the right(if the group is 12 and the camera 6 on a clock I would postion them somwhere around 8 and 4 )

    One flash comming from the ceiling (or bouncing of the ceiling) the other one from the left

    3. Buy a Umbrella....

    what would be the best way to shoot something like that with the given gear( or if some cheap new gear would help me allot.. you can also use this)

    Thx in Advance :apple:
  2. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    If you do the left/right positioning thing, you'll end up with funky shadows on the faces.

    The best way to light a group, in my experience, is a single flash positioned above the lens axis, fired into a reflective umbrella. In your case, I'd even take both Metz flashes and fire into the same umbrella, or two umbrellas positioned very close together (such that they act as a single light source).

    I don't like the white wall idea. I'd rather have them in front of an interesting background that can be underexposed relative to the flash.

    I think a good setup would be a single Metz flash fired into a large umbrella above your head, and the second flash either in front of and below of the camera (but still on axis) providing fill OR the second flash behind the group providing some background and rim lighting.

    I'd lose the white wall.

    Check out Chuck Gardiner's group photography lighting tutorial here. Chuck is a lighting guru.
  3. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Thx I will have the Art class build me a nice background :) :p

    Also "fired into a large umbrela" are you talking about Thru a white umbrella or reflected from a Umbrella? :confused: I am guessing thru a white Umbrella :rolleyes:
  4. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    You can use a shoot through or reflective umbrella. I prefer reflective, but either will work.
  5. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany

    i'll do refective :) the best part is that way i can make them DIY :p

    Umbrella+Aluminium Foil should do the job ... right? :eek:
  6. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    A silver umbrella will be more efficient than a white umbrella, yes.
  7. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    If you can get your hands on mylar (sometimes called a solar or emergency blanket), it is a more efficient reflector of light than tinfoil is. It should only be a few dollars. Someone online did a test of reflective material (white vs tinfoil vs mylar) and mylar reflected the most light (about 20% more than tinfoil). Alternatively if umbrellas are hard to come by, have some people hold a white sheet a few feet in front of the flash, instant economy softbox.

    Personally for group shots I like one light above the camera (~8-10' off the ground with a large modifier (softbox or umbrella) and one light on the ground just off to the side of the camera with an umbrella (this light should be at least one or two stops lower) as a fill light. All of the lights and camera are 15-20' from the group. With this setup the group can change size and is still decently lit.

    If you can get the space, try to get a bunch of distance between the subjects and background so the background will be at least somewhat out of focus and less distracting (this may be hard without other distracting elements creeping in though).

    Good luck

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