Outdoor lighting for group picture and other stuff I need to buy

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by BLD_007, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. BLD_007

    BLD_007 TPF Noob!

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    Ok, I need to know this ASAP so I can order and get it in.

    My Fraternity's BidDay is Saturday of this week. We will be getting our new members and every year we have a group shot taken "30+- guys". The guy who did it last year can't do it and I have been given the task of taking this group shot.

    In years past is was in early September and days were bright and warm, now its in the winter and most likely overcast.

    My current equipment is:
    Cannon 50d
    Cannon 70-200mm
    Cannon 17mm-85mm

    I'm worried about light and my lens. This will be my first real group shot and I don't want to let my brothers down. I want it to look as professional as possible.

    Here are some options I'm thinking about getting.

    This light kit:
    Smith-Victor | FL-130 3 Light Studio Flash Kit (120VAC) | 401515
    or
    Impact | EX100A Two Monolight Kit (120VAC) | EX100A-2KII | B&H


    or this lens
    Canon | Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto EF 24-70mm f/2.8L | 8014A002

    or am I just getting worried for no reason and my current gear is just fine?

    for the light kit, will I need 3-4 pocket wizards?

    advice needed please =)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Overcast would be a best case scenario for a large group shot like this.
    Cloudy overcast skies are basically a huge softbox. So much so that sometimes it hard to even find a real shadow in that type of light. That is great for group shots, where nice even lighting is usually more important than artistic portrait type lighting.
    So if you can get the group outside during the day, that would be best.

    For a group shot, it's important that everyone's face is visible and lit. Then you want to think about composition. Think of the shot as an arrangement of faces and move the people so that the composition looks good. For example, you don't want one area to be more closely grouped than another. You don't want faces touching each other (unless they all are). In more practical terms, you will likely have them standing/sitting in rows, so you need to stagger them. Try to avoid 'stacking' on person's face over another person's face.

    It will probably make things easier if you can use risers/stairs for the rows, so that the people behind are easier to see. Alternatively, you could get your self a lot higher than the group, so that you have a clear view of their faces from above.

    As for gear, your 17-85mm lens will probably be just fine...as long as there is enough light. You will probably want to be shooting with an aperture around F8 (maybe F11) so that you have enough DOF to get everyone in focus. This will mean that you need a good amount of light and/or use a higher ISO.

    Now, depending on the light and the location you are shooting in, you may still want some artificial light, if only to brighten the faces a bit and to give their eyes a catch light. An good on-camera flash would probably be enough for this. The 580EX would be idea.

    If you have to shoot indoors, especially in a dark indoor location, then you might have to look at more lighting.

    Lastly, I don't know if you have any input over the attire for the group, but clothing can make or break a photo. Remember that bit about a 'composition of faces'? Well, that works best when the clothing somewhat matches the background. If the clothing contrasts too much with the background, then it becomes a composition of clothing, which isn't what you want. So if you don't have control over the clothing, then you might have to choose your background more carefully and find something that does match the clothing more. If the group is randomly dressed, then you may have to do some shuffling to hide the most eye-catching clothing, thus keeping the attention of the photo on the faces.
     
  3. BLD_007

    BLD_007 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the reply,

    It will be in front of our fraternity house which has stairs. Also, everyone will be wearing the same t-shirt "our bid-day shirt".

    Will 10sec be enough time for me to run to get into the shot or should I buy two pocket-wizards or some remote shutter?

    The only flash option I have right now is a Cannon 430e
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    If you have a 430EX (or access to one) that might be good enough.

    I don't know. How far away will the camera be? How fast & agile are you? What obsicles will be in the way etc? ;)

    Pocket Wizards are great, but considering that they are $180 each and I think you would need an extra cable to make it trigger a camera....that's an expensive proposition for a remote trigger for this one shot. If you can borrow a set, that would be idea...just remember that you probably still need a camera specific cable to trigger the camera remotely.

    There are cheaper alternatives. THIS one is only $30...but I don't know about getting it shipped to you in time.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    What are you studying in college?

    10 seconds will be plenty of time.
     
  6. BLD_007

    BLD_007 TPF Noob!

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    Business

    I am wanting to switch to Computer Science but I'm too far into my major to switch =(
     

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