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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 27 Mar 2018 (Tuesday) 14:35
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Small group portrait...quick help needed

 
Methodical
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Mar 27, 2018 14:35 |  #1

My daughter asked me to photograph the Grandparents Day photos and I just want to get some quick advice on the best lighting options. The setup is in a little garden area within the school building with dapple light that doesn’t have much photo appeal at all (distractions all over the place), so I will have to do the best with what I have (improvise, adapt and overcome). There is nothing fancy about the photos, especially given the fact that they want them in this crappy area; they just want photos of the grandparents and students, however, I will give the best photo possible. I was told that at most there will be 4 people in a photo (although I think it could get to maybe 6). With that said, what lighting modifier would you experts suggest for this size group? I searched the forum, but still wanted ask the question.

Below are the lighting equipment I have that I can recall off the top of my head (at work).

Einstein 640
Canon 560 (1x)
40 or 43” shoot through umbrella (I might have one reflective umbrella, too)
Paul Bluff 64” PLM (White and Soft Silver and white diffuse cloth)
Kacey 22” Beauty Dish
Some reflectors

Anyone every shoot in a crappy location can provide some tricks and tips on trying to hide the distractions via exposure or anything else? I know it will be difficult without seeing the location (didn't take any photos, but believe me it's bad). I'm just trying to help my daughter.

Thanks…Al


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gonzogolf
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Mar 27, 2018 16:50 |  #2

Can you set up a canopy of some sort to keep the dapples off the subjects?




  
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Methodical
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Post edited 3 months ago by Methodical. (4 edits in all)
     
Mar 27, 2018 17:56 |  #3

Update: Attached are a couple shots my daughter took of the area. I can get the equipment in some places, but there's so much distraction, plus they are concerned with the elderly getting hurt so as you see the benches must stay on the concrete area. Just behind the benches in the center is a wishing well type thingy and you can see they have a shrub dead center of the bench in the 2nd photo.

I thought of using the area at the far end, but you have big glass and folks will be walking back there. It seems the best alternative set the benches just past the red bricks in the 1st photo to the left and I set up in the grassy area to the right to give myself some room. I'll be using the 24-70 and 5D3 and 1DX as backup. Thoughts.


Anyone have any ideas with this area?

Thanks...


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Methodical
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Mar 27, 2018 18:17 |  #4

gonzogolf wrote in post #18595196 (external link)
Can you set up a canopy of some sort to keep the dapples off the subjects?

No, that's not an option.

diveguy wrote in post #18595215 (external link)
I think you have everything needed to do this and come away with a great photo.

Taking photos under challenging lighting conditions can be frustrating, but that's what it's like quite often when working with clients. Sometimes you are placed in a position to use a small space, ugly backdrop, poor lighting, etc. I would suggest keeping your as simple as possible, set up with plenty of time before the shoot to setup and take some test shots, then modify as needed.

I recently did a shoot next to a very busy boulevard, under tall trees and some dappled light - in short, less than ideal. I used a single ProFoto D2 (1000ws) and I believe it was at about 1/2 power. I shot through a single umbrella just to the side of the camera and adjusted exposure on the camera so that the light from the strobe closely matched the hot areas then let everything else go darker. It's far from perfect, but without the strobe it wouldn't have worked at all with the dappled light. The image is below (this is the un-retouched version- the final looked nicer).

Your Einstein and larger umbrella will be fine. Remember to sandbag your umbrella or have someone to stand next to it if there is any breeze at all. If you can move out of the dappled light or any really strong hotspots, do it. Get there early, shoot a test subject, then have fun. I think you're going to nail it!

Yes, this will be a bit of a challenge, but I'm up for it (always fall back on improvise, adapt, overcome - military). My daughter is my helper. We will get there early and get setup and I will definitely use her for test shots to dial in the settings. I use 10lb ankle weights to keep the umbrella in place.

So, you think I should use the 64" umbrella? Would you place the light straight on with them or off to one side?[QUOTE]

Thanks...


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Mar 27, 2018 19:22 |  #5

Biggest source possible, close to camera axis. You aren't making fine art portraits with a lot of shadowing. You want evenly illuminated faces across the scene




  
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Mar 27, 2018 20:37 |  #6

Erect a white party tent around the bench for $100: background eliminated, distracting ambient light eliminated, your choice of key/fill ratio, weatherproof. You can even drape a suitable backdrop to liven the results.


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Post edited 3 months ago by TeamSpeed.
     
Mar 27, 2018 20:44 |  #7

I would use the solid brick wall as the backdrop if possible, nothing else looks great in that area. See if you can move that bench over to the other wall? That is a terrible seating area too, that spruce/spirea in 2 years will take over that entire brick area. Schools aren't always known for good landscaping. :)

If you want around the property, is there a better place to do the shoot?


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Post edited 3 months ago by Methodical. (3 edits in all)
     
Mar 28, 2018 02:18 |  #8

gonzogolf wrote in post #18595287 (external link)
Biggest source possible, close to camera axis. You aren't making fine art portraits with a lot of shadowing. You want evenly illuminated faces across the scene

Exactly. That's my goal. If I move the bench opposite of the brick wall (1st photo) and setup near the brick wall I should be ok. I won't worry about full body shots.

RicoTudor wrote in post #18595344 (external link)
Erect a white party tent around the bench for $100: background eliminated, distracting ambient light eliminated, your choice of key/fill ratio, weatherproof. You can even drape a suitable backdrop to liven the results.

That's not an option. I don't have any drapes, tents or any of that kind of stuff. This is quicky thing to help my daughter (on yearbook team) and the school, so not putting any money into the shoot. I need to keep it simple. Thanks for the suggestion

TeamSpeed wrote in post #18595348 (external link)
I would use the solid brick wall as the backdrop if possible, nothing else looks great in that area. See if you can move that bench over to the other wall? That is a terrible seating area too, that spruce/spirea in 2 years will take over that entire brick area. Schools aren't always known for good landscaping. :)

If you want around the property, is there a better place to do the shoot?

I thought about the brick wall, but the bench has to be on the concrete walkway because of the elderly folks (don't want any injuries) and I will be way too close as I would literally be on the walkway just opposite the bench. I would not be able to setup camera and lights as folks have to walk through that area.

I asked about another area, but was told that they did not want the elderly folks walking too from from the church area, which is just behind that brick wall, where the Grand Parents day function takes place - someone may have gotten injured in the past or something - didn't ask.

Now you'll see my challenges. I have a couple options, but the best one I think is to place the bench opposite of the brick wall (on walkway) and I setup near the brick wall.

Oh forgot to mention, I was told that there would be 2 other photographers in this area, too, so I have to probably beat them there to get that little bit of real estate. Those are my challenges.

They just want some shots of the grandparents and kids and aren't too worried about the stuff we worry about. My goal is the get them nicely lit, sharp with minimum distraction as possible.

Question. Would you use a shoot through or bounce umbrella?

Thanks for the input.


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Mar 28, 2018 08:24 |  #9

Can the bench set on the edge of the concrete/walkway? where it is in the ivy or the grass but their feet would be on the walkway?

Also I could see leaving them standing, utilizing the brick wall as the bg on the right, and put yourself and one light on the left in the grass along with yourself and camera.. put the light right above you. hope for a cloudy day. You may need to use bare flash and try to use it for fill on a bright day. I'd use a white umbrella as a shoot thru, and bounce only if it is designed to be a bounce with no light leaving the back of the umbrella.. but only on a cloudy day.

Bring duct tape and mark where you want them to sit/stand to speed things up. Worry more about your exposure, and less about the distractions, with less than idea conditions, it doesn't matter, having the photo and the memory will be more important.


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Mar 28, 2018 19:32 |  #10

Why not use a telefoto? You seem to have enough room to place them in the middle of the walkway and place yourself at the end. Then use a large aperture to blur the background. This has the bonus that you won't need tons of flash power.


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Mar 28, 2018 20:58 |  #11

In response to an earlier question,go with a shoot through if possible. But whichever is the largest modifier you have is best.




  
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Post edited 3 months ago by Methodical.
     
Mar 29, 2018 22:56 |  #12

After all the fuss, this is the gear I ended up using for the shoot.

It rained and as a result it was cold and foggy this morning so the garden area was out. I walk around to the worship hall and noticed they had 2 sets of seats with decorative plants and I suggested we use them and I found a couple more flowers and suggested they setup a 3rd station (there were 2 students taking photos, too). This required less walking for the seniors and I could bounce my flash and had minimum setup. Since I knew the shoot would be indoors I made the bounce card this morning and it performed well.

There was absolutely no way I would've set up any of my equipment in this area, besides it being a very tight area, with the little kids and grandparents with canes and walkers it was a disaster waiting to happen. Hell, I was even getting bumped around a bit during the shoot. All in all it worked out.

Thanks everyone for chiming in and offering your suggestions. I will definitely put them in the Vault for future use.


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Mar 30, 2018 09:01 as a reply to  @ Methodical's post |  #13

I'm looking into getting a sundisc for occasions like that, bigger modifier but still compact and easy to use. I'm sure they will love the images.


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Apr 02, 2018 04:05 |  #14

ksbal wrote in post #18596976 (external link)
I'm looking into getting a sundisc for occasions like that, bigger modifier but still compact and easy to use. I'm sure they will love the images.

There are so many light modifiers out there today that you'd want to read the reviews and check you tube to see what folks have to say about them.


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Apr 03, 2018 15:39 |  #15

Results? It didn't happen if there are no pictures.


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Small group portrait...quick help needed
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