group shots, indoors

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by MACollum, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. MACollum

    MACollum TPF Noob!

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    I'm a first time poster with a couple of questions. I thought that Christmas would be a good time to practice taking some pictures of actual people (my subjects of choice are usually more predictable). Since my husband's family is big, I'm going to be taking some group shots. Since it will do doubt be cold here, all the shots will be indoors. I'd prefer to shoot with my 50mm prime since the Canon kit lens tends to take fuzzier pictures. That being said, my first question is what would be a good place to start when setting aperture. Since I'm not yet very good at taking shots with slow shutter speed, flash is an option (I'll be using a 430EX Speedlite) but I don't want to blind anyone with all the pictures. Should the flash output be set lower than 1/1? I will probably try to bounce the flash but right now I can't remember too much of the house where we'll all be (I'm only there once a year).

    Mindy
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum Mindy.

    As you have found, the 50mm lens is certainly a great lens. If it's wide enough for your group, indoors...then I'd certainly use it.

    You will want to use an aperture that will give you enough depth of field to keep everyone in focus. That will depend on where your subjects are etc. I'd start with F8 and go from there. F8 is usually an optimal aperture for the best image quality as well.

    If you are shooting at F8, indoors...the flash will most likely be needed. If you can bounce it off the ceiling...or something, that will give much better results than direct flash...and it won't blind anyone.

    Setting your flash exposure...there are lots of factors. How much ambient light is there? How much ambient light do you want to show up in the images?

    One technique is to use a slower shutter speed and use a negative FEC. That way the image looks more natural....rather than the people looking like they are a deer in the headlights. You don't want to go too slow on the shutter speed though...because that may cause their movement to blur or ghost in the image.

    Are you shooting digital? If so, you should be able to get an idea of how it looks...and check the exposure with the histogram.

    Hope this helps :D
     
  3. MACollum

    MACollum TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice, I'll certainly give it a try. I'm shooting digital so I figured I'd start off with a couple of practice shots to get the feel of the light in the house (and to tweak the aperture, shutter speed, ISO) because I'm not sure how many lights there will be on. I think in years past when I've been there it was a little dark in the living room where I will probably put the groups. Going outside isn't an option since it will be cold and dreary here. The groups won't be too large, only 6 people or less so I should be able to get them all in the group with the 50mm.

    The pictures I took today at my kids' school program turned out horribly. I had to use a very slow shutter speed to avoid using flash and they were all blurry. Next time I'll have to get a better seat, one near the windows. :mrgreen:

    Mindy
     
  4. dermit

    dermit TPF Noob!

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    Mindy,

    You should learn by experience what shutter speed you can get away with for any given situation. If you are shooting people who are posing and are trying to sit still you can probably shoot at 1/60 or even down as low as 1/30. Too much slower than that and you might get subject movement blur. If you are shooting moving subjects you need to adjust accordingly depending on how fast they are moving. That being said you need to know your options for speeding up the shutter when it is not fast enough. One way is to open up the aperture if you can afford a shallower depth of focus. Another option is to increase the ISO speed. And yet another option is to use flash. Then as you learn the cause and effect of these you can start combining them to get as close as ideal as you can.
     
  5. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    Hi Mindy and welcome!
    Ap will depend. Are you gonna stack them?
    I always shoot formals on an even plane, and start out at F1.4 and go from there. I don't wanna see ANY background. LOL
     
  6. MACollum

    MACollum TPF Noob!

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    Elsaspet, I see we're practically neighbors :sexywink: . I probably will arrange them tiered. My mil's brothers are very big guys, all are over 6 ft, while she and her sisters are average in height. I too try to blur the background with portraits as getting a background that doesn't distract can be tricky, especially in a home. Control over the depth of field is one of the main things that attracted me to DSLR.

    Mindy
     
  7. DeepSpring

    DeepSpring TPF Noob!

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    Just something to think about if your rooms are nto very big 50mm might be kind of hard to get everyone in frame
     
  8. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    you're very brave to take group family pictures.
    or else you have a very co-operative family.
    I usually cant get more than 3 together at one time.
    when they see my camera come out they run for the hills.

    good luck and hope it works for you. you'll have to post your results
     
  9. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was thinking the same thing I hope the 50 is not the only lens you are going to have because if your groups are more than a few people and the house is smaller than a modest sized church you are going to need something wider than a 50mm.
     
  10. MACollum

    MACollum TPF Noob!

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    There will be a few others taking snapshots so I don't think anyone will run from the camera as long as I don't go overboard with the flash.

    I chose the 50mm because I thought the quality I'd get would be better than with the kit lens. I suppose it's a little narrow though (but I wouldn't dream of taking only the one lens :lol: ). The living room is long so I can back up but I don't want to have tiny faces in my picture. I'll try the kit lens for the groups if necessary. It's all so hard to plan because I don't really remember dh's aunt's house very well and I'll only get a couple cracks at it before everyone gets annoyed. Thanks!
     

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