How To Shoot Group of Twelve - Lighting?

lifeinfocuslifeinfocus Phils ImagingPosts: 1,461Registered Users Major grins
edited June 3, 2012 in Technique
This Sunday I am taking a photo of twelve high school and college graduates at our church at 10:30AM. The shot will in front of the altar which is elevated with one step.

See post further down with diagram and questions.

Thanks, Phil
http://www.PhilsImaging.com
"You don't take a photograph, you make it." ~Ansel Adams
Phil

Comments

  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 1, 2012
    Anybody help with the question above.

    Thanks, Phil


    Yeah Phil,

    Try this link: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2007/05/on-assignment-two-speedlight-group-shot.html
    tom wise
  • lifeinfocuslifeinfocus Phils Imaging Posts: 1,461Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 2, 2012
    Image of layout
    Perhaps a layout will simplify the question and invoke more discussion. (Thanks to angevin1 - I did see that post on Strobist but did not answer question.)

    There are twelve subjects on two levels - see (Steps). Natural light comes from back side left.

    1. Where to position the light stands in relation to the subjects? Right at the edge? Further away from the edge?

    2. How high should the flash be on the light stands - 8 ft, 9 ft, 10 ft? If the goal is get exposure on all subjects faces - little to no shadow under or side.

    3. And the biggie - what angle should the lights be to the subjects? As shown with the light beams making an X at center of the subjects? Or both off the to the side with little to no crossover? Or both with more crossover, and if so where to target?

    4. And where is the focal point? Dead center? On the center person on the first step? On the center person on the second step? This concerns depth of field.

    Thanks, Phil

    Lighting-Altar-Layout-3-M.jpg
    http://www.PhilsImaging.com
    "You don't take a photograph, you make it." ~Ansel Adams
    Phil
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 21,119Super Moderators moderator
    edited June 2, 2012
    For a group of 12 in a "layered" configuration, I tend to use a "wall of light" approach.

    With only 2 lights, I would position the lights high and just in front of the camera, with the umbrellas touching and shooting between (and under) them.

    One of the lights would be the primary key light, and the second light would be a secondary key light. The primary key should be at full 10ft. height (and often full power), angled slightly down to match (as closely as possible) the plane of faces. The secondary key is slightly lower and somewhat less power, to give a slight gradient to both the direction and the power of the light.

    The wide-angle panels should be on the flashes, or use a diffusion panel on the flash, and the flash should be in towards the umbrella so that the light is able to spread from the umbrella (as opposed to a focused beam).

    This configuration for the flashes gives you the least problems with shadows, although it does result in less dimensionality for the faces. (In group images that's generally not as important.) I still prefer to stagger the subjects a bit to get as much clear face as possible.

    Here is a link to a lighting diagram for the "wall of light" (not mine): http://submit.shutterstock.com/forum/files/wall_of_light_forum_438.jpg


    If you want to place the lights on the flanks, as shown in your diagram, I suggest at least 3 lights. In that situation the lights are still set very high (or bounced, if possible) to keep the shadows well behind the subjects (especially those subjects in the front row). The third light provides both fill and catch light and it is higher than the camera but shorter than the key lights. The third light is located very close to center and can be either in front of or behind the camera.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • lifeinfocuslifeinfocus Phils Imaging Posts: 1,461Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 2, 2012
    ziggy, thank you, Phil

    Regarding question number 4 above. For the best depth of field - where do you focus? Focus on the person in the center on the first level or on the second level, or in between? From what I understand is that you focus on the foreground subject for the best depth of field. Is this correct?

    Thanks Again, Phil
    http://www.PhilsImaging.com
    "You don't take a photograph, you make it." ~Ansel Adams
    Phil
  • PhotogbikerPhotogbiker Exploring the desert Posts: 351Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 2, 2012
    light angle
    Great advice from Ziggy. I often shoot a larger group and use a layout more like your sketch. One key difference though is the aiming of the lights. In your diagram the orange face in the middle is getting double the exposure, and the kids on each end will be in shadow. Aim each light to hit a face the opposite side of the center, so the light paths in your diagram would cross well in front of the group. i.e. aim Light Stand 1 to hit the blue face second in from the left and vice versa for #2.

    Ziggy's arrangement (with proper use of umbrella/diffusion as he cautions) would make a nice broad light to assure nobody is in shadow. My crossed paths way gives the benefit of a bit more modeling of the light, but more opportunity for a face to be in the shadow of the person next to them.

    Again, I am usually hitting a group of 50 from farther back with all the light I can muster. If you only have 2 rows of 6 I would lean towards Ziggy's method and work hard to get something besides straight rows. Turning in, slight radius, something. maybe a bit of a diamond in 3 rows? or just a casual group standing, the intentional haphazard look.

    As to depth of field you should be at f5.6 or f8 I hope so should have plenty for only 2 rows. Be careful though if you use a wide angle, your DOF may be good but if you fill the frame the folks on the edge may get warped or blurry. You'll see when you are there, but I think you'll be more than 10' away with a 50mm or even 85mm.

    Good luck.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 21,119Super Moderators moderator
    edited June 2, 2012
    ziggy, thank you, Phil

    Regarding question number 4 above. For the best depth of field - where do you focus? Focus on the person in the center on the first level or on the second level, or in between? From what I understand is that you focus on the foreground subject for the best depth of field. Is this correct?

    Thanks Again, Phil

    For group photography there are 2 - "rules-of-thumb" which I want you to know, and then I want you to disregard:
    1) "For DOF, sharpness extends 1/3 in front and 2/3rds behind the prime focus." While there are some situations where this applies, there are many situations where it does not apply. If you must have something accurate, use the calculations through this site:

    http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    http://www.dofmaster.com/charts.html

    They also have software for most portable devices.

    2) "Use f4 for 1 - row in a group portrait, and then add 1 - stop per row of people." Again, this works pretty well some of the time, but the exceptions will get you. I generally take a few setup shots and review/chimp the images at 100 percent on the back of the camera to be sure. To be very sure, add 2/3rd stop to the rule-of-thumb and then be accurate with your focus. Use the calculations from DOFMaster.com to gauge where you need to set prime focus.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • lifeinfocuslifeinfocus Phils Imaging Posts: 1,461Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 3, 2012
    Photogbiker - thank you.

    More options is a good thing.

    Phil
    http://www.PhilsImaging.com
    "You don't take a photograph, you make it." ~Ansel Adams
    Phil
  • lifeinfocuslifeinfocus Phils Imaging Posts: 1,461Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 3, 2012
    ziggy53, thanks much.

    This will be a fun day!

    Phil
    http://www.PhilsImaging.com
    "You don't take a photograph, you make it." ~Ansel Adams
    Phil
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