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Thread: Big family shoot....hints and tips please!

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    Big family shoot....hints and tips please!

    This Sunday will be my first family portrait shoot. My friend asked me if I could do this for her Mother and Father-In-Laws Wedding Anniversary. Ive known the family for a long time, so awkwardness isn't an issue - thank goodness - but there will be 5 families = 16 people.

    I am laughing to myself, as this being my first and will be my biggest!!!

    I have gone through the net searching for posing tips, clothing tips etc; and I will be visiting the farm where the shoot will take place the day before to get an idea on where and whats to be done. I have a country-style quilt, a bunting banner with the word FAMILY on the triangles and hopefully a stumpy log for props. I was considering an empty photo frame but decided against this as it isn't the look I am going for. The photos will all be outside (please don't rain!!) amongst vines, rusty sheds and farm things.

    Actually, I photographed the Daughters (of the said couple) Wedding photos at this very farm back in the mid 90's when I didn't know much at all. She will be at the shoot on Sunday, so we will have a little laugh at that....she is now seperated from her 2nd husband (or is it 3rd?). LOL Lets hope I know a bit more about photography now, then when I did back then.....for example.....I shot her adjusting the makeup in a bedroom mirror but didn't take any notice of the surrounds things and there was a bunch of dead roses in a vase right below her!!! hahaha

    I will be using my 600EX-RT Flash for fill-in (my on-camera-flash is broken). I am not too familiar with this flash as yet, so I presume putting the camera into Av mode will help will set the flash for fill in?? I have used it before but not like this. I can't use my remote cable release as I got it submerged in the sea water last weekend, but if the camera is on my sturdy tripod, there shouldn't be much movement.

    For the main photo, with everyone in it, my friend wants to print this one big. I have to make sure it is super duper sharp and I can't crop it later (lose pixels). What is the best lens for this shot? I presume anything under 20mm or so will have too much distortion, yes? I also read somewhere to take 3 quick successive shots so if anyone blinks it is easy to clone in the eyes that are open? I thought that to be a good idea, esp for the large group!

    Is there any advice or tips that can be thrown my way to help prepare for the shoot? Anything will be good. Shooting tips for a very large group? Posing tips? Camera setting tips?

    Thanks for helping!!
    Monika
    Equipment: Canon 60D, Nikon FE, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens, Fancier FT-662A tripod, 18-55mm kit lens, 55-250mm kit lens, 30mm 1.4 Sigma lens, LR4, PS Elements
    Check out my Flickr photos ... http://www.flickr.com/photos/missmonny/
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    1. Get an assistant with that many people. Someone that could be good at directing.
    2. Don't show any signs of stress. Be happy and jovial even if you are getting flustered.
    3. Look at the background behind the subjects through the viewfinder before focusing on the subject. Nothing worse than a stick coming out ones ear, or being on a farm, a cow coming out their bum. Or dead roses in the mirror.
    4. Look on the screen after every photo, make sure it's right.
    5. Double check your settings before starting.
    6. Have fun
    Geoff
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    Thanks Geoff.....I like no. 6!
    Unfort an assistant I don't have. My friend, who is the Daughter-in-Law of the Anniversary couple, will be able to help with organising .... getting the families together when their turn is up etc. With the main photo, I am seating the Anniversary Couple in the front then I will add the adults and then the kids. I am lucky because all the children, bar one, is in their mid-late teens, so they will be able to stand around without being too bored!!

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    I suppose the obvious one to say is for the pic with lots of people in it make sure you choose an f stop that will allow all to be in focus. Using 5.6 for a group of people 4 deep is likely to be pretty soft. Again for the main photo, I would probably not use the flash, across a large area it might look obvious that one side is brighter lit and it is likely to introduce shadows where people are bloking others from the light.

    Where you need good DOF, bump up the ISO and f/stop. I would likely use partial or evaluative metering.

    I have seen the work you have put up here, you will be fine.

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    Don't go too wide angle. Particularly if you have them standing behind each other. I did a shoot of around 100 people recently and wished i'd shot a lot longer than i did (which was around 70mm if i remember correctly)
    I welcome comments and critique. Say it like it is.. I'll appreciate your input. Suggestions on how to improve are always very welcome.

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    If not using flash, - Aperture Priority mode and ISO 400 to 800
    1. Using AP mode with the 55 - 250mm set on 90mm and f5.6, walk around with a big smile and cheerful approach, before the formal shots, and take plenty of candid close crop portraits. This will break the ice and get your subjects used to having you around them with the camera. You may be surprised at some of the nice shots you get.
    2. For the more formal portraits try to use diffused light (maybe through a nearby window) and if possible use a reflector for fill light. A large white cardboard held by an assistant would help.
    I would use the 18-55 set at 55mm and the smallest aperture possible ie: f 3.5.
    3. When taking the formal large group shots use the 35mm lens set on f8 and set at the hyperfocal distance of 8 meters. (or focus on someone in the center of the group). Use a tripod and the 2 second shutter delay to avoid camera shake. You must tell the group that you are going to take about 5 shots and that they need to be as still as possible during these shots. The reason for this is that in PS Elements 9 or later you can go into the "Guided Processing menu" and choose "Group Shots" and this will allow you to choose a principal shot and them move heads from the other group shots to remove closed eyes, frowns and other blemishes.

    If using the flash I would use ISO 400 and f8 at 1/200sec in manual mode and the flash set on TTL mode.

    Try some test shots with your family, you will get comfortable with the setup and end up with some nice happy snaps in the process.

    Good luck for the shoot.
    Cheers
    Darey

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    Quote Originally Posted by fess67 View Post
    Again for the main photo, I would probably not use the flash, across a large area it might look obvious that one side is brighter lit and it is likely to introduce shadows where people are bloking others from the light.

    Where you need good DOF, bump up the ISO and f/stop. I would likely use partial or evaluative metering.

    I have seen the work you have put up here, you will be fine.
    Thanks fess! Yes, I didn't think about the flash not reaching to people. Good suggestion!!

    (thanks for the vote of confidence too! )

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by teaco View Post
    Don't go too wide angle. Particularly if you have them standing behind each other. I did a shoot of around 100 people recently and wished i'd shot a lot longer than i did (which was around 70mm if i remember correctly)
    Hmm, you say 70mm and Darey says 35mm. Might see how far back I can go to get a zoom in and then I might determine which lens to use. I will look around today at the farm to see where the big photo will be and see what the surrounds are like. Thanks for the advice.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Darey View Post
    If not using flash, - Aperture Priority mode and ISO 400 to 800
    1. Using AP mode with the 55 - 250mm set on 90mm and f5.6, walk around with a big smile and cheerful approach, before the formal shots, and take plenty of candid close crop portraits. This will break the ice and get your subjects used to having you around them with the camera. You may be surprised at some of the nice shots you get.
    2. For the more formal portraits try to use diffused light (maybe through a nearby window) and if possible use a reflector for fill light. A large white cardboard held by an assistant would help.
    I would use the 18-55 set at 55mm and the smallest aperture possible ie: f 3.5.
    3. When taking the formal large group shots use the 35mm lens set on f8 and set at the hyperfocal distance of 8 meters. (or focus on someone in the center of the group). Use a tripod and the 2 second shutter delay to avoid camera shake. You must tell the group that you are going to take about 5 shots and that they need to be as still as possible during these shots. The reason for this is that in PS Elements 9 or later you can go into the "Guided Processing menu" and choose "Group Shots" and this will allow you to choose a principal shot and them move heads from the other group shots to remove closed eyes, frowns and other blemishes.

    If using the flash I would use ISO 400 and f8 at 1/200sec in manual mode and the flash set on TTL mode.

    Try some test shots with your family, you will get comfortable with the setup and end up with some nice happy snaps in the process.

    Good luck for the shoot.
    Thanks for the settings advice, Darey. I didn't think of the reflector, so I will get some white foam and my friend can help me in the family shots with it. I am going to try and find a cable release from somewhere. I don't want to use a 2 sec delay as the peeps will think Ive taken the pic after seeing ive pressed it and will move.....even if I tell them as it is a natural reaction and they will do it unconsciously.

    I will do some test shots with those settings, today.

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    it's about perspective. Going really wide will stretch the ones on the outside, and make those standing at the back seem far away. I personally would not go wide angle. I'd look looking to use a 100mm at least if i had the room for it.....

    - - - Updated - - -

    you say 16 people outside? I'd be considering using natural light only myself unless you have some serious lighting kit. Using speedlights won't light them all. A reflector won't be that useful either for so many.

    - - - Updated - - -

    sorry - just seen you are doing individual shots too, my comments just on a large group shot

    - - - Updated - - -

    Group shots with wide angle: http://www.google.com.au/imgres?um=1...6&tx=150&ty=85

    - - - Updated - - -

    Group shot long lens, note no distortion to folks on the outside and people behind dont get lost: http://www.google.com.au/imgres?um=1...36&tx=96&ty=94

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    I moved your thread. The CC forums are only for posting photos for CC.
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    Whoops! Thanks Rick! Ok....Ive now got myself a light stand, a reflector umbrella and my flash which can now be used off camera! Teaco, thanks for your advice. Yes, I will hopefully be able to move back far enough to use a 100mm or close to it. I totally understand that the 35mm or similar will make the outer people bigger, wider and distorted. The big group will be two people deep, with 8 in the front. I was told that I could sit them under a tree or similar and use the reflector umbrella with my flash to illuminate the people. No??

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    Here is an example of a 60th Wedding Anniversary group shot taken with the settings I suggested.

    Draw your own conclusions.

    Nikon D7000 with Tamron 17-50 f2.8 lens set at 32mm f8 at 1/125sec ISO 400 manual mode and center weighted metering.
    The exif data should be attached.

    NinaGroup_v1.jpg

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    Thanks Darey for that example. Yes, 32mm certainly didn't give distortion. Did you have any and had to fix in Lr (or equivelant)? I am glad to say I def won't have that many people!!

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    I used PE 9 as stated earlier, using the "Guided Processing menu" and chose "Group Shots" which allowed me to choose a principal shot and them move heads from the other group shots to remove closed eyes, frowns and other blemishes. This shot was pre that process. I didn't apply distortion correction to any of the shots.
    Although the 35mm setting allowed me to get this shot with restricted room I do agree with Teaco that a longer focal length will give you better perspective if you have room to play with.

    I am a little concerned that a strobe will be powerful enough to use in direct sunlight. A bit like holding a candle against the sun. Maybe it will work ok in good shade. Try a few test shots prior to the shoot if you can.

    Good luck with your shoot.

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    Thanks Darey.

    I am going to try and find a nice shady area for the group shot and Im going to set it up and do some tests, with me in them, to see if it 'works' or not.

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