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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 16 Nov 2010 (Tuesday) 13:33
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Need help lighting a large family portrait

 
sdipirro
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Nov 16, 2010 13:33 |  #1

I do a lot of portraits of small groups or just one person, and I've done team pictures outside with a flash on camera, but I've never tried to shoot a large family portrait indoors before. I have plenty of gear to pull this off, and maybe that's part of the problem. I'm sure I'm over-thinking this.

My former boss just asked me about doing this for his extended family in one of the rare times they've all been together (or will be together). He doesn't want anything fancy. I just want to make sure everyone is properly lit. He has a large room in his house and a corner sofa in one corner. Walls are white. He wants to have people (all adults) sitting on the sofa and others standing behind it. I like this because it means everyone will be turned slightly and not straight on to the camera.

For modifiers, you can see some in my sig. I have one each of most of my modifiers. So if I wanted to do something really simple and have a strobe on either side of me at 45 degrees, I'm not sure which modifiers to use. The only modifiers where I have two of each are (ebay) 24"x24" softboxes and 1'x6' stripboxes. I usually use these for background or hair/accent lighting, not for key or fill. My Photoflex medium octa stays in my studio.

One thing I could do is put 7" reflectors on two strobes and bounce them to bathe the room in light. Another thing I wondered about is lighting a large group like this with the 74" Eli octa, maybe directly behind me. Would this work for a group this size? Another idea is to use the ABR800 ring flash, either with diffuser/reflector or possibly the moon unit attached.

As you can see, I'm all over the place with this! Advice from those who shoot large group portraits would be appreciated. Thanks.


Cameras: 1DX, 1D4, 20D, 10D, S90, G2
Lenses: Canon 10-22mm, 16-35mm f2.8L II, 24-70mm f2.8L, 70-200mm f2.8L IS, 300mm f2.8L IS, 200mm f2L IS, 50mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2L, 85mm f1.2L, 1.4x TC, 2x TC, 500D macro, Zeiss 21mm
Lighting: 580EX, Elinchrom 600 RX's, D-Lite 4's, ABR800, 74" Eli Octa, 100cm/70cm DOs, Photoflex Medium Octa and reflectors, PW's, Lastolite Hilite, Newton Di400CR bracket

  
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Tiger_993
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Nov 16, 2010 16:51 |  #2

I had something similar yesterday; shot a group of 15 in an office type setting. I simply bounced two shoe mount flash units off the ceiling, which was about 10' in height. Worked fine for a group shot with nice, soft light.


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munzzzzzzz
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Nov 16, 2010 17:02 |  #3

I think you have a lot more experience than I do, but the one thing that jumped out at me as a concern is the fact that, if they are sitting on a corner sofa, the people right in the corner could be a fair amount further from your light source(s) than the people on the ends and you could end up with a lot of fall-off. For that reason alone I think I would also lean towards at least having your main light bouncing off of the ceiling (or a back wall - pull the modifier back far enough and fall-off is less of an issue).

If you choose to bounce off the ceiling, I would probably use a shoot-through umbrella for a little fill. You might even be able to get away with bouncing into the ceiling in the opposite corner - that way you would get some light from above and some from the front all from one strobe.


6D | 40mm f/2.8 | 50mm f/1.4 | 70-200mm f/4L IS | 580EXII | 2x PCB Einstein | Various Modifiers

  
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Rhinestone
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Nov 16, 2010 19:35 as a reply to  @ munzzzzzzz's post |  #4

I shot a large group of about 25..flew a 48" umbrella up 12' back 20' with my AB800 was able to get f8 side to side turned out OK all even light. I know you do not have this room as you talked about but close don't you?

Rhine.




  
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tim
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Nov 16, 2010 20:20 |  #5

Meter a stop below ambient, on camera flash bounced over your left shoulder at FEC+1.

Alternately, assuming there aren't rows of people standing, a studio strobe slightly to camera left in a soft box, with fill a stop under from the right with a similar setup. I'd probably trigger with a speedlite on manual bounced off the ceiling, which would be fill too.

Be careful of shadows on people in the rear rows. Don't go fancy with lighting, you just want to see everyone. Make sure they're relaxed, that adjacent peoples eyes aren't aligned horizontally or vertically, and that everyone looks relaxed and happy.


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charlesml3
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Nov 17, 2010 11:41 |  #6

that adjacent peoples eyes aren't aligned horizontally or vertically, and that everyone looks relaxed and happy.

Wow, what a great tip! I've never heard that one before but I can easily visualize what you mean.

-Charles




  
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sdipirro
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Nov 17, 2010 12:10 |  #7

Thanks for the tips. I actually just heard back from my old boss. I had asked him about the ceiling height in the room he has in mind, and he said seven feet! So I definitely won't be flying an umbrella up 12'! However, it should provide some decent bounced lighting for fill. I'm still wondering if I'd be better off using umbrellas than softboxes for broader coverage. In fact, I was even debating using a 60" Softlighter II (or two)...although not sure if I'd use the front diffusers in this situation.

I have heard that rule of thumb for portrait photography. Whatever your subjects have two of (eyes, ears, shoulders, etc) should not be on the same plane. Rule extends to multiple subjects as well.


Cameras: 1DX, 1D4, 20D, 10D, S90, G2
Lenses: Canon 10-22mm, 16-35mm f2.8L II, 24-70mm f2.8L, 70-200mm f2.8L IS, 300mm f2.8L IS, 200mm f2L IS, 50mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2L, 85mm f1.2L, 1.4x TC, 2x TC, 500D macro, Zeiss 21mm
Lighting: 580EX, Elinchrom 600 RX's, D-Lite 4's, ABR800, 74" Eli Octa, 100cm/70cm DOs, Photoflex Medium Octa and reflectors, PW's, Lastolite Hilite, Newton Di400CR bracket

  
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sdipirro
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Dec 05, 2010 19:56 |  #8

So I did my group shot this afternoon. When I arrived, there was a large party going on, and I was shown two possible rooms to do the shoot for a subset of the group (about 10 people). The rooms were both tiny with low ceilings (with knick-knacks everywhere, as far as background distractions)! It's an older house, and I just didn't have much room to work with, and lots of people were milling around. I decided to keep it simple. I used two 60" Softlighter II's as reflective umbrellas without the diffusers. I set them up to either side of me, as high as I could put them. I walked all around the sofa where people would be sitting and standing and took meter readings until I was getting pretty even lighting where all the people would be. The hardest part was getting people to pose the way I wanted. I got them to at least try a couple of different positions, but that was about it. A lot of the folks were straight on to the camera in the shots where everyone was actually looking at me with their eyes open! So while the pictures won't be winning any trophies, the lighting was pretty good. Just wanted to thank folks for the suggestions.


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Cameras: 1DX, 1D4, 20D, 10D, S90, G2
Lenses: Canon 10-22mm, 16-35mm f2.8L II, 24-70mm f2.8L, 70-200mm f2.8L IS, 300mm f2.8L IS, 200mm f2L IS, 50mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2L, 85mm f1.2L, 1.4x TC, 2x TC, 500D macro, Zeiss 21mm
Lighting: 580EX, Elinchrom 600 RX's, D-Lite 4's, ABR800, 74" Eli Octa, 100cm/70cm DOs, Photoflex Medium Octa and reflectors, PW's, Lastolite Hilite, Newton Di400CR bracket

  
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Need help lighting a large family portrait
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