Need help quickly!!


TPF Noob!
Feb 15, 2009
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Alright, so basically, my girlfriend wants me to come and take pictures of her dance group, which is awesome, but i don't have any lighting equipment besides a sunpak auto 144 PC external flash, which i don't know how to use very well.

They weren't ever planning on getting anyone professional, so it doesn't have to be professional quality, but i want them to look as good as possible.

The room that it will be taken in is going to be lined with mirrors, and i think there are some over head lights. It's a pretty small room, maybe 25 x 40 (really rough estimate) with around a 10-12 ft white cieling. I think it should be lit decently for an indoor room, but i'm not 100% sure.

I have a tripod, Nikon D40, 18-55mm kit lens, and the external flash.

I was thinking about just bouncing the flash off of the cieling? Is it important to have the camera pretty high off the ground? or like eye level? I think there will be like 30 people, in lines of 2 or 3 if that changes anytihng.

Also, what mode should i be shooting in? Usually when i use the flash i will put the camera in manual mode so that i can get the apeture to match the flash guideline, but then play with the shutter speed until i can get a good exposure. Should i do this? or just put the camera into Apeture priority mode?

Sorry about all the questions, i only got my camera a little over a week ago so this is scary, and I want it to turn out the best it can!

i would go to flickr, and search "dance class" and see what people have done.. a room full of mirrors is hard with a flash.. all you can really do is bounce it off the ceiling..
I would go ceiling bounce, be sure to get good DOF so everyone is in focus. Other than that, just shoot it as a group portrait.
I would go ceiling bounce, be sure to get good DOF so everyone is in focus. Other than that, just shoot it as a group portrait.

Thanks for the DOF advice.

What is like the minimum shutter speed i should use for portraits in general? I want to see if i can compensate for low light by using a slower shutter speed. I was thinking like 1/100? or maybe 1/60?

And also, do you think that starting at f8 would be a good starting point? or maybe f11? I'll probably around 15-20 feet away.

When you are trying to use a slow shutter speed and handholding, it should correlate to the lens. In other words, the shutter speed should not be less than whatever is closest to the focal length being used - 200mm lens/shutter speed 200 or higher, 24mm lens/shutter speed 25 or higher, etc.

That's with handholding. If you are using a tripod you can use whatever shutter speed you want. At that point then it's a matter of choosing a shutter speed that's appropriate for your subject matter. If they are holding still, then a slow shutter speed is okay.

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