Shooting groups of people

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by abaddon07, Aug 31, 2006.

  1. abaddon07

    abaddon07 TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm fairly new to photography but I am having one issue above all others - shooting groups of people. My issue is that I'm not quite sure what settings to use to achieve the most crisp image throughout.

    I am using a Canon 5D with the 24-105 IS L lens. It's a great camera and takes amazing photos but again - the photos are only as good as the photographer.

    Which leads me to the question (finally, right?)....how can I focus on 3, 4 or even more people simultaneously and get crisp images? I can increase aperture to F.8, but will that be enough? Sometimes you will notice under close scrutiny that only some people are in focus. I adjust and move around focus points and even when I switch to manual focus and try to adjust accordingly, it doesn't always work.

    Any help/suggestions with this issue would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    First: Welcome to the forum

    Second; much of the crispness not only comes from the lens, but from other factors all working together.

    Third: Watch the composure of the shot and go to the place ahead of time to practice the lighting, etc.
    Crispness comes from a good lens, and especially good lighting. The better the lighting, the better image will be.
    Use a med. Wide angle setting… approx. 28-35mm for groups. When you can afford one, get an 85mm-100mm portrait lens. Try to get a lens with a 65mm and higher front element. This will allow for a wider aperture to shoot with and allow more saturation. Shoot a slow an ISO low enough for the lighting, this will greatly eliminate noise.
    Shoot a group with a typ. F-8.5-f16. Unless they are in a line. If so, focus on the person in front, set the F-stop to 22 or higher, and take the shot.

    Lighting, lighting, lighting. Get as much lighting that you can get, and watch eyeglasses. Angle people and lights to prevent light flare. Sunglasses are not good because they make people look like Dead Eddy.

    If you have a tripod and remote…use it. Try to keep the camera at med. Eye level to the group, this so that the image comes out ‘centered’. Be careful of HIE lights, fluorescent, and Tungsten lighting. Watch the white balance for the lighting for the area.

    Careful of jokes to ease the folks, this can actually make them uncomfortable. But a little small talk ahead of time helps, and puts people at ease. People at ease actually stand still. This will greatly improve the overall image.
    Go looking like a professional. If not formal, wear a polo shirt, etc. Come across as a professional in their eyes, and you will ease them even more.

    If shooting indoors, practice the shots several times before the group gets there. If you have a few reflectors, use them as well. If not, some large 20x30” white poster board can do the trick with bounced light. Just watch the hot spots.

    Good luck.
     
  3. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Do not shoot at the wide end of your lens. Your image will suffer from distortion, and not be sharp from edge to edge, especially since you are using it full frame. Stand back as far as you can, and use nearer to the 105mm end of the zoom, of course on a tripod.

    I deal with digital school photography at work, and the class pictures are often not sharp because the photographer doesn't stand back. They use the lens at 28mm, and the resulting picture is terrible.
     
  4. abaddon07

    abaddon07 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone for your help! I will definitely be trying these suggestions out. It's just bizarre how photograpy works - you watch out for the big pitfalls that everyone talks about but then you run into seemingly innocent situations that can be confusing. I do think the tripod is the biggest thing I can use to help. I do have a couple of speed lites with a wireless transmitter than I can use to add lighting, but when I increase the aperture of course the lens speed slows.
    Anyway, thanks again for the help and I will give this a try.
     

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