Group photo lighting question

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by MikeBcos, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. MikeBcos

    MikeBcos TPF Noob!

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    In two weeks I have to take a photograph of a group of 20 people. I've spent the last several days researching lighting but could really use some advice.

    The photo will be taken in a conference room, the backdrop will be a wood paneled wall. On my left - the groups right - is a north facing glass wall.

    What I am thinking is having a flash near the camera bouncing off the (white) ceiling to eliminate shadows behind the group, a main light with an umbrella to my right and just using the ambient light from the window as fill light.

    How does that sound?

    Also, I need to buy the light and umbrella, I don't want to spend a lot of money as this is something I won't use often but I'm happy with $200 or so, is there anything on the market in this price range that would do the job?

    Yes, an Alien Bees would be very nice but I just can't justify spending that much, all it will be used for after this is in-home fun photography.

    Oh, and I only have 15 minutes to get everything set up, take the shot and get out of the room again - nothing like a little pressure, right? :mrgreen: Portability and ease of set-up is definitely a consideration.
     
  2. DRoberts

    DRoberts TPF Noob!

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    You should consider renting a lighting set up if this all you will use it for.
    I would also add at least one more light so you can have two "main lights" equally set at your sides. I would have your group in at least two rows as tight as possible to assure even lighting across the group.
     
  3. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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  4. MikeBcos

    MikeBcos TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies. I went to the local pro photo shop this evening, I considered renting but ended up buying a single light very similar to the calumet.

    Now I have five days to practice before the shoot.
     
  5. roadkill

    roadkill TPF Noob!

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    Find a time to go before hand, maybe with a couple of friends, and set up your gear to where you will get your best shot so that when the day comes... you have it down. You're in and out
     
  6. MikeBcos

    MikeBcos TPF Noob!

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    I wish I could but I don't have access to the location until I actually get to take the shot.
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would be weary of mixing natural light with flash in a main/fill relationship like that. The problem is that the color temp of the natural light can all over the map...and if it's not close to that of your other light, you will end up with weird colors.
    You can't just shoot in RAW and adjust for it either...because the setting that works for the ambient may not work for the flashed parts, and vice versa.

    One option might be to put the main light by the window, adding to the light. There is a term for that, superlighting or something like that. You would have to position people in a way that they don't need fill light on the opposite side.

    Another thing to be careful of is the wood paneling. Too often, it's very reflective and the lights reflect off of them creating bright shiny highlights....bleh.

    How about putting the group in front of the window, facing in? You could set your exposure to expose for the outside scene (maybe even slightly underexpose it)...then light the group with your one light. If the background looks good, it could be an impressive shot.
     
  8. MikeBcos

    MikeBcos TPF Noob!

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    Thank you, that advice is appreciated! Shooting against the window is something I might think about, however the location is on the 17th floor of a building, the view would be nothing but sky.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That probably depends on your angle. Get up on a stool and now you have a commanding view of the surrounding area.
     
  10. MikeBcos

    MikeBcos TPF Noob!

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    Thank you! That is definitely something to think about.
     
  11. MikeBcos

    MikeBcos TPF Noob!

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    OK, done it!

    17 people - standing against a wall with a conference table in front of them! I had the camera on the tripod on the table. My monolight was to my right, high, shooting through the brolly. I had a speedlight off to my left bouncing off the ceiling. The centre part of the ceiling, above the table, was black glass tiles, bouncing off that reflected a pattern down onto the subject!

    The background was actually a cloth, not wood as I had thought, because the group was standing so close to it I had a heck of a job trying eliminate shadows, unfortunately I couldn't but I did manage to make it look as though the shadows were from light coming in a window.

    Fortunately the customer loves the photo!

    Kudos to you pros who figure out lighting all the time - it's not nearly as easy as it looks!

    Here's my first test shot of the location, you can see the reflection on the wall caused by the ceiling tiles. The table was bolted down, I just lined everybody up against the wall in two rows and cropped to an upper torso panorama, no table, chair or clock and Photoshop will take care of the lines between the panels.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Prophotoworkshop

    Prophotoworkshop TPF Noob!

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    I would keep it simple, one large soft box at your back keep it just above your head not to high. Over power the ambient coming through the window just barely to negate it's affect.
    Shoot straight and simple.
    The more lights you use from different angles the more trouble you'll
    get yourself into and rest assured it won't look better than straight and simple.
    If there's no space put the soft Box place it a little to the side of you.
    or maybe 2 umbrellas pretty symetrically placed one on either side of you.
    Keep it Simple.Make sure the highlights are pumped but not to blown out. Shooting 20 people in a conference room is not about creativity
    It's about making them happy which means simple and clear.
    Good Luck.
    Photoworkshop
     

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