Lighting a group shot


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Oct 5, 2005
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#1
I'm planning to take a group photo of ard 20-40 people in an indoor environment, very similar to those class photos we all take in school in the school hall. There will probably be 3 rows.

I want my photo to look nice. Now how do i light the shot? Are there any books or websites on taking similar shots? What power strobes do I need, or are hotshoe flash sufficient? Thanks!
 

Rashkae

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Nov 28, 2005
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#2
There are about 100 similar threads... a search on here or on google would help you loads.
 

rendition

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#3
A powerful flash like the Canon 580EXII would work if you can make it work in conjunction with your camera configuration. It also depends on the lighting condition in the indoor area.

With so much information, I can only recommend that you get yourself at least a 400 w/s monolight with a shoot through umbrella and that should get you a decently clean shot.
 

SeAnCoLd

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Nov 10, 2008
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#4
A few hotshoe flashes might work. how about 3 diffused Canon 580EXII fired wirelessly? :cool:
 

rendition

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#5
Of course it'll work... if 1 does, 3 will but a single monolight with about 400 w/s of power is much more convenient, stronger and consistent.
 

Dream Merchant

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#6
I'm planning to take a group photo of ard 20-40 people in an indoor environment, very similar to those class photos we all take in school in the school hall. There will probably be 3 rows.

I want my photo to look nice. Now how do i light the shot? Are there any books or websites on taking similar shots? What power strobes do I need, or are hotshoe flash sufficient? Thanks!

Large group photos with everyones face crystal clear and evenly lit is no joke.

http://www.vad1.com/photo/ultimate-photo-shoot/

I seriously doubt if a few hotshoe flash can cut it. Will be very harsh and light fall-off is too quick. If use large lightboxes, will loose power like crazy. Small clip-on diffusers are useless in such situations.

Try Googling 'How to take large group photos' and 'how to light large groups photos' and similar tags.

If no need for everyone's face to be sharp and want more of a 'mood' shot, then the task is easier.
 

Dream Merchant

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#8
Can go for something fun like this : http://www.zarias.com/?p=340
:thumbsup: approach.

That link came to mind but I hesitated to say anything because TS has not provided much details of what kind of shot is required, what it's going to be used for and how it's going to be used, and very little info about the hall itself or the group, so how to advise?
 

Oct 5, 2005
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#9
Thanks guys. I've googled for this before but everyone's giving different responses so I thought asking here will be better.

The ceiling will be high, no chance of bouncing off it. There will be ambient light coming in from left and right sides, and the usual hall lightings will be on. (I'm shooting in a hall most prob). This is pretty similar to those class photos shot in hall. So I'm guessing the lighting is pretty bad, which I have to cut off by shooting near the sync speed. Or should I not?

There will be around 10 people in a row, and 3 rows of people. I will have AC power, so monoblocs can be brought in. I prefer using multiple hotshoe flashes though. The shot is a formal shot, so I cant do anything fancy and blend in multiple exposures haha. Printing the photo up to 10R is sufficient.

Should I be using shoot thru umbrellas or silver umbrellas? With hotshoe flash, the shoot thru will probably eat a stop or 2 of light. What I currently have in mind is a hotshoe flash on each side bouncing off a silver umbrella, but I'm worried about cross shadows and uneven lighting. The hotshoe flashes I will be using are 580EXs... Any tips?
 

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rendition

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#10
The ceiling will be high, no chance of bouncing off it.
No need bounce. If you only have flashgun as your only artificial light source, you can set up on a stand and point direct to the group of people with shoot through umbrella to diffuse. If you only have ONE flashgun, a simple setup would simply to have the lightstand right next to you and this is assuming you're shooting like a typical school yearly class photo. When I use multiple or even single flashgun setup, I will always have battery packs to avoid the "wait ah... my flash recycling" moments.

I have to cut off by shooting near the sync speed. Or should I not?
Depends. I use monolights for most on-location shoots and generally, I don't quite like to mix my strobe lights with the ambient unless it's outdoors simply because of different colour temperatures. In order to 'cut' the ambient light, yes, I have to set my sync speed to the nearest max sync speed of my camera. Aperture and ISO will come after that. However, on the flip side, ambient light will help you to light up the scene if you do not have any powerful lights, just make sure you know how to balance the lighting else it may look quite...... mixed. For that, I can tell you photoshopping can be either impossible or f-ing tedious.

I will have AC power, so monoblocs can be brought in. I prefer using multiple hotshoe flashes though. The shot is a formal shot, so I cant do anything fancy and blend in multiple exposures haha.
Seriously, just settle for your monolights. As mentioned, you'll have a more consistent output, more power, faster recycles and simply easier to control. and if you do not want fancy lighting, just use a simple setup as mentioned above.

Should I be using shoot thru umbrellas or silver umbrellas?
Shoot throughs are harsher (or lesser diffusion) if compared to reflective umbrellas given the same size and distance. So reflective diffuses better but cuts output more than shoot through.... again use monolights. Some setup I like to use a huge reflective umbrella to give a very nice smooth even lighting on subject but shoot throughs allow me to control the spillage of lights better.
 

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chalib

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Oct 4, 2007
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#11
Some setup I like to use a huge reflective umbrella to give a very nice smooth even lighting on subject but shoot throughs allow me to control the spillage of lights better.
How do you control spillage from shoot through umbrella? :dunno:
 

catchlights

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#12
get a tripod, set your camera height at the eye level of the second row people.

use 50mm lens if you are using full frame body, 35mm if you are using 1.5x crop body

get a studio mono light 500ws, with a reflective umbrella,

mount it on a very big and tall light stand, you need to let the light taller than the last row people.

set the light just right above your camera, don't bother light spill, you should be more concern to get the exposure is very evenly from left to right, front row to back row.

forget about mixed with ambient light, just use another flash to light the background, unless you can get ambient light at 1/60 with f8, or else if someboby keep moving, you will not able to get any sharp photos.

btw, one light one shadow, two lights two shadows, multiple lights many shadows, and also if one hotshoe flash deliver f4, you need 4 flash to deliver f8, 8 flash to deliver f11.
so it is easier and faster to set up just one mono block.

or you can just simply shoot the group photo in very high ISO with one hotshoe flash
 

m3lv1nh0

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Sep 24, 2007
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#13
Would gelling the strob helps in balancing the color temperature with the ambient lighting?
 

rendition

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#14
How do you control spillage from shoot through umbrella?
As opposed to reflective, the diffusion for shoot throughs are not as large. Again given same umbrella sizes and distance from light and subject.

Would gelling the strob helps in balancing the color temperature with the ambient lighting?
Yup!
 

J-Chan

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Sep 21, 2005
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#15
As opposed to reflective, the diffusion for shoot throughs are not as large. Again given same umbrella sizes and distance from light and subject.
strange.. I always thought reflectives are more for controlling spillage than shoot-thrus, since for shoot-thrus light gets bounced off as well as going thru the brolly and light practically spills everywhere..
 

chalib

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Oct 4, 2007
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#16
strange.. I always thought reflectives are more for controlling spillage than shoot-thrus, since for shoot-thrus light gets bounced off as well as going thru the brolly and light practically spills everywhere..
Same opinion here...

The best to control spillage is to use softbox
 

Oct 5, 2005
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#18
thanks for the replies, esp catchlights'!

can I ask what's the reason for bringing the light up high? i assume the monolight is raised up high then tilted downwards at the middle of the 2nd row. Is it so that the tallest people don't have their face lighted from below?

Looking at this photo, is the ground and group lit by a light some distance above the camera like what catchlights mentioned, with 2 slaved speedlights behind the group lighting the curtain, and shutterspeed increased aperture reduced to kill ambient (which i guessed from the dark curtains)?
 

Dream Merchant

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#20
YEAAA! Unker Super Catchlights strikes again! :lovegrin:

TS, what Catchlights said. Not that what the others like Rendition shared isn't valuable.

Threads like these are good for sharing. I never knew that 'the best way to control (light) spillage was to use a softbox'. :thumbsup:
 

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