Group Portraits + Lighting + Glasses Glare


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Mar 2, 2009
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New to the forums, first post!

Here's the deal:
Once a week I take between 5-7 group portraits with 10-20 people in each. I am using three lights w/umbrellas. Left and right are high, bounced off of the white ceiling, and one is centered, low, about 12 feet in front of the people.

My problem is with glasses glare. I have usually 2-5 people in each group wearing glasses, and while some glare is easily fixed by cloning, patching, healing, etc in Photoshop, some is too bad to fix without making it worse.

This wouldn't be a problem if I had ample time to work with each group, specifically the people wearing glasses, but I have to get the groups in and out in less than 10 minutes and come out with a decent photo. I don't have time to rearrange lights for each group, or ask people to remove lenses. I don't like people taking off their glasses either--they ususally squint and look unnatural.

I've resorted to taking one exposure with everyone's glasses off, then the rest with them on, and playing cut and paste with the eyes. This works, but can be tedious if there are a lot of glasses.

The glare usually comes from the low, front light, but changing angle doesn't work, and lights everyone unevenly. In general I am happy with the exposures, its just those dang glasses!

Thoughts about this?
In the original Superman series (B&W), the director had the same problem so he removed the lenses from Clark Kent's glasses.

Welcome to the forum.

A trick that I've used a few times, is just to have the person/people with glasses, angle their glasses downward slightly by raising the arms up higher on their head. This doesn't work for everyone and it can look unnatural...but in a group setting it might go unnoticed and solve the glare problem.
Thanks, Mike. I like the looks of this place, I think I might stick around...

have the person/people with glasses, angle their glasses downward slightly

I have tried this, and you're right, it does work sometimes, but I've had it actually make it worse before, which stinks.

Also some people don't get the concept and I have to struggle with them to not bring their glasses down the bridge of their nose, just pivot, then they get frustrated with me and just take them off :(

Would a pol. filter do anything to help?
It might help but it might not...I can't say for sure.

In a shot of 10-20 people, I might be temped to just leave the glasses as it or have them take them off and live with the squinting. I'm guessing it's more a record of a group of people as opposed to a formal portrait sitting.
can you add another fill light and position them camera right and left instead of just shooting one up the center?
Try lowering the two on the outside and raising the light in the middle. Light acts just like a ball on a billiards table- it bounces just like one anyway. (OK, a tiny little ball that can go any which way according to how ruff the bumper is but taken as a whole averages out) The specular highlights you're getting from the glasses are coming from the middle strobe so by using the ones on the sides as mains the reflected light is shunted to the walls and away from your camera.
Forget the middle light on either side, point them inward.
Bring a bunch of frames (glass frames)with you to the shoot ( with out lenses )
let them pick a pair that suits them your off and running no times wasted.
Shake it off, that's the nature of the beast But I think your best bet is figuring out the right lighting scenario.
I am still new to camera, but hope this help...
Lenses for glasses have different "base curves", some could be flat and some could be round on the front of the glasses. Different angels for the side flash might not solve the problem if there is different lens curves for the people you are shooting.
As post #7 (Mike E) had mention, lowering the flash on the side might help alittle.

To support my "base curves" theory, I have been work in the optical industry for 10+ years. Hope it helps.

My first thought was to reverse the lighting setup... bounce the center light off the ceiling and lower the two side lights. You'd have to adjust the power levels accordingly, but I don't think it'd be too tough.

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