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Author Topic: urgent: outdoor large group portrait  (Read 5560 times)

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eyeCatchLight

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
« on: October 09, 2010, 09:31 »
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Hi,

sorry, this is not a microstock topic...but...

I am in an urgent situation. At a conference I am supposed to shoot a portrait of around 100 people. It was supposed to happen indoors but now they insist on having it outdoors, and in a way it is unfortunately somehow against the sun. It is cloudy and probably gonna stay cloudy, so...ok.

I would like to know how to fill in the shadows.

I have three portable flashes (2 nikon SB-900, one SB-800) with three 60in umbrellas. I hope the wind won't kill them, i wasn't planning for outdoors.

What settings do I use? camera and flashes?

I am posing the people in 4 rows and shooting from slightly above.

thanks.
simone


« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2010, 10:06 »
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They should hire a photographer that is up to the task...

« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2010, 10:25 »
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Why do you need a flash? Even if the light is coming from behind the group just compensate by overexpose more.

jbarber873

« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2010, 10:46 »
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 If your camera can do it, try shooting a burst of images ( it has to be fast ) with a bracket range from normal to overexposure ( maybe 1 0r 1 1/2 stops). Then put it together in photoshop, using the brighter file to open up the shadows. Make sure you instruct them to not talk or move around. Shoot a lot. Most groups always have someone talking, blinking or turning their head. Take charge of the group- make them pay attention, shut up and let you do your job. It will work out fine.
ps- don't use the flash- it's one less thing to worry about and won't be effective at that range.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2010, 10:48 by jbarber873 »

« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2010, 10:51 »
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Sometimes you may get lucky and there is a building wall near by that will work well as a reflector. Just shoot normally and let he flashes fill what they can. Remember sync speeds,

« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2010, 11:10 »
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Maybe you can nail the exposure before they get there.  Go early, take properly exposed shots of the background and if necessary you can drop them into the final photo in post.

Sounds like you don't have a light meter?  Without knowing anything about the location... You may have to blow out the background to properly expose them which isn't so attractive and they may have that "dead" look with no light reflected in their eyes.  Also, if the sun is high and you don't use fill, they will have horrible racoon eyes.  

If you are using TTL exposure with those flashes in bright sun, be prepared for misfires.  

You can set up fairly high lights - the one on your right pointing to the left of the group, the one on the left pointing to the right side of the group and the section in the middle getting the "spill" from these two lights.  

Yes, umbrellas will improve the quality of the light, but I usually find that they take away too many stops to expose large groups and you will need to be very mindful of your depth of field. 

Watch for
- bald heads really reflect the light and overexpose quickly
- fair hair blows out very quickly, try not to place the blonds too close to your key lights or in the sunniest spots
- same for very fair skinned people
- when posing them think of cropping ratios - will this group pleasingly fit into an 8x10 or 5x7
- you have to consider your depth of field.  If you are posing 4 rows deep focus try to focus on eyes in the 2nd row. This would be a perfect time to use a tripod so you can use a slower shutterspeed, higher fstop.

« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2010, 11:15 »
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Maybe you can nail the exposure before they get there.  Go early, take properly exposed shots of the background and if necessary you can drop them into the final photo in post.


The outdoors seems to always change when you are shooting. I think it is good to get a sense of sun direction etc. 

« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2010, 13:52 »
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Yeah, white balance can be on a minute by minute basis too, don'tch love those fast-moving-cloud sessions!.

jamiet757

« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2010, 14:10 »
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They should hire a photographer that is up to the task...
They should ban people from the internet who don't have anything helpful to contribute.

I think the bracketing idea sounds like it just might be crazy enough to work, although I know on my camera it won't because the time in between shots is too long, someone would move.

« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2010, 04:37 »
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They should ban people from the internet who don't have anything helpful to contribute.
Who's standing on his soapbox now?  ;)

« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2010, 06:42 »
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They should hire a photographer that is up to the task...
They should ban people from the internet who don't have anything helpful to contribute.

I think my advice was helpful. The original post was about a 100 people group outdoors and 3 speedlights... I thought this was so far off that it would be a gig for an experienced photographer instead of bothering 100 people and taking their time.

Here is my advice if the original photographer really wants to shoot this: Put the group on a slope or stairs or something so everyone is visible. Alternatively you could climb on a ladder or such to get a higher viewpoint. It's also important to instruct everyone to look at the camera. There will still be a few persons in the group that will be looking somewhere else. If you use a tripod and shoot a lot you might be able to change some heads from different pictures in Photoshop. 4 rows feels too little, the group will be very wide. 6 rows would be much better.

Shoot at a medium aperture like f/11 to get everyone sharp, focus somewhere in the middle area, like if you have 6 rows of people, focus on the third one. To achieve that f/11 and low iso you need to have three strobes at for example 600Ws and some big light modifiers. Three speedflashes with about 100Ws on their full effect isn't going to cut it. And your flashes will fall even in the smallest wind, especially when they need to be set up higher than the back row, lower position will cast some nasty shadows. The best thing would to have some really heavy extra weights and/or assistants holding the stands so they don't tip over.

Oh, and don't shoot too close with a too wide lens; that would make the people in the front row look gigantic compared to the back row.

I still think the same as in my first post.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2010, 06:56 by Perry »

« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2010, 06:46 »
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I am posing the people in 4 rows and shooting from slightly above.

That arrangement gives you 25 people per row and a very "panoramic" picture with lot of empty back- and foreground. Maybe this is the desired effect, if not I'd think about other ways of arranging the crowd.


 

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