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Thread started 11 Nov 2005 (Friday) 13:43
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Team Photos -- Techniques and Results

 
fslshooter
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Nov 11, 2005 13:43 |  #1

I don't like to shoot team photos but they're a requirement of my contract. So far the results of my efforts have been disappointing and I want to do better. Will those of you who've shot outdoor team photos please share your images here along with info about the shoot plus the equipment and settings you used? Here are some of mine:

#1 - It was 2 PM on an intensly bright, cloudless day. They insisted that I shoot with center field fence and the batter's eye as the background. The sun, almost directly overhead, was slightly from behind and right of the players resulting in dark shadows on all their faces caused by their cap bills. The only props available were two benches from the bull pens. I used both benches for two rows of guys to sit on plus a row sitting on the grass in front and a row standing in the back. The guys on the front row are the shortest, those sitting on the benches are mid height (6' to 6' 4') and those standing in the back row are 6' 5" and taller. 10D, 28-135mm @ 28mm, f/9.5, 1/200, ISO 100

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# 2 - It was after 3 PM on an intensly bright day with a few whispy, high clouds. I convinced them that we needed to shoot with my back to the sun as best we could. I used one bench from the bull pen and had the coaches sit in the middle of it with guys 6' to 6' 2" on each side of them. Guys in the front row are 6' to 6' 2" , guys just behind the bench are the shortest (under 6') and those in the back row are 6' 3" and taller. I had an assistant who did a count down (3, 2, 1 fire) in an attempt to minimizes quinting. 1DmkII, 28-135mm @ 41mm, f/9, 1/1000, ISO 200

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# 3 - It was just before 3 PM on an overcast day. I had no props so I used the stadium seats. The first row of guys are sitting on the backs of the seats and those behind them are standing in the two isles between the seats behind them. 1DmkII, 28-135mm @ 35mm, f/11, 1/100, ISO 100

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C&C always welcome. I know I need a more suitable lens -- any suggestions?

Jerry ~ Baseball is a game where only defensive players handle the ball and offensive players who hit successfully in only one third of their at bats are among the best in the sport.

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gmen
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Nov 11, 2005 15:40 |  #2

Here's the only recent one I could lay my hands on with a similar number of players - I've not prepped it for web use so apologies for the slightly c**p quality:

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This is into the sun with fill-in flash. I was reasonably pleased with the end result - except for two things: (a) the crossbar is at an 'awkward' height in the image (due to having to get the sponsor's board in) and (b) I shot about 10 similar frames and there was always one person with their eyes shut despite trying to maintain everyone's attention :lol:

I think your images are fine overall Jerry. Some observations and thoughts:

  • They are a little 'linear' - perhaps you could try building some more height into the team group so that the end result is better suited to a 3:2 or 4:3 ratio print.
  • The caps are a real pain and are crying out for some fill-in flash (tricky) OR to be taken off!
  • How about some bats and balls and stuff in there?

I'll be back with some more thoughts once I'm through preparing my gear for the weekend! I'll also be interested to see other examples and ideas.

---- Gavin

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fslshooter
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Nov 11, 2005 17:03 as a reply to  @ gmen's post |  #3

Gavin - Thanks for your pic and suggestions.

gmen wrote:
They are a little 'linear' - perhaps you could try building some more height into the team group so that the end result is better suited to a 3:2 or 4:3 ratio print.

Actually thay wanted them somewhat linear so that they could PhotoShop in the team name at the top and player names at the bottom for the prints. I do need to pose them better though.

gmen wrote:
The caps are a real pain and are crying out for some fill-in flash (tricky) OR to be taken off!

This is a major problem for me. I have nothing but two 550EX Speedlights and I can't imagine they could do the trick at the distance I had to shoot -- especially on those days with intense sunlight. As for them taking their hats off -- I'm afraid that will never happen. You should have heard the groans and complaints when I asked them to slip their hats a bit more toward the backs of their heads :confused: .

gmen wrote:
How about some bats and balls and stuff in there?

That's a super idea! Now if I can just sell the idea to the powers that be we can have something different next season.


Jerry ~ Baseball is a game where only defensive players handle the ball and offensive players who hit successfully in only one third of their at bats are among the best in the sport.

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Nov 12, 2005 17:17 |  #4

Huh.... I haven't had to do this, and hopefully will get out of it before I do get asked. I do think if you had your two 580s on the ground, all they need to do is fill - not illuminate, they would probably take out the shadows. Maybe just slighty more power then existing ambient light.... couldn't hurt to try.

I like the second pose the best. I am surprised they didn't have a better setting for ya. Thinking about the Durham Bulls stadium, I would have them lined up just behind home plate facing the outfield, with the lines painted in. I would also like to have just enough DOF to make the stadium recognizable but softened a bit so the repeating pattern of seats does not distract too much. Here, the stadium is part of the experience - it is a unique miniture of Baltimores field - and is a selling point. Another trick I have seen but not tried is to get up a little higher - on a ladder - shooting slightly downward, which neutralizes the depth of the rows.... hard to explain but it seemed to work. I don't know why team pick such bad setting to have the pictures taken... go figure.

Thats my two cents worth... for what it is worth.. which isn't much... cheers.




  
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DwightMcCann
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Nov 12, 2005 18:07 |  #5

When I shot the women's tennis team it was only 12 but it always clear and bright ... have to use heavy fill flash or even go manual to override it so that faces get light. And I could never get a dozen Princesses to pay attention and cooperate long enough to do a decent team shot ... take one, that's it, we've lost interest! The rule of thumb, which may not apply for quite so many guys is, five images plus one for each person over five ... using that rule I never felt like I shot too many. Hmmm, maybe it is not possible to shoot too many shots of a group.


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KennyG
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Nov 13, 2005 03:47 |  #6

I did a motorracing team shoot last year where they insisted on having their new multi-million pound building in the background. They also wanted to wear full team uniforms, including caps. The sun gave the same shadow problems you have and I couldn't move the subjects. As I always carry a couple of flash guns, I put them on mini-tripods with diffusers, close up but out of shot and that got rid of the shadows. Cheap and effective.


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Nov 13, 2005 07:39 |  #7

I have just had a play with the first image and although a bit long winded if you select the players faces you can get them looking ok by adjusting the brightness and contrast. Maybe not the ideal solution but if unable to take more shots a worth a go. And the players get to keep there caps on.


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DwightMcCann
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Nov 13, 2005 09:38 |  #8

I think Kenny hit it spot on ... if you're going to shoot Team pictures you are really going to have to a couple of flashes and stands in your kit that you can trigger from your camera because (1) it will be bright (2) they will want to wear caps (3) they cannot face the sun (4) it doesn't matter what sort of team as they all do it. Also, I would consider trying to have a ladder to shoot from ... I like the high perspective but it also tilts that heads up a touch toward the light of the sky.


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fslshooter
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Nov 13, 2005 10:27 as a reply to  @ DwightMcCann's post |  #9

Thanks Mark. I'll give the 550s a try next time out -- as you say it sure couldn't hurt. I definitely need to get more light on their faces and they're NOT going to remove their caps.

I've only shot a couple of weddings and told my wife to remind me how much I hate doing it if I'm ever asked to shoot another one. Team photos have some similatities. 1) Having their picture taken is not number one priority on their list of things to do; however, when the prints are made they better be good. 2) We get only one chance to get it right. 3) We don't have too many options as to settings and backgrounds.

As for DOF I need to find that sweet spot where I get everyone in focus and blur the background as much as possible. I'm almost certain I need a better lens to do this but I don't know which one I need nor am I sure I want to invest in glass that I'll probably not use much.

I tried the ladder bit in one session. I actually prefered the results I got from those shots but the front office chose one I shot when I was standing on the ground. Perhaps I shouldn't have given them those images. I tend to overshoot every assignment then give them too much to select from -- all too often I think they choose inferior stuff.

So much to learn and so little time to do it :confused: .


Jerry ~ Baseball is a game where only defensive players handle the ball and offensive players who hit successfully in only one third of their at bats are among the best in the sport.

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Nov 13, 2005 10:36 as a reply to  @ DwightMcCann's post |  #10

DwightMcCann wrote:
... take one, that's it, we've lost interest!

Ain't that the truth! And with the manager asking how much longer we're going to be doing this between every shot adds even more pressure -- as if there wasn't enough already.


Jerry ~ Baseball is a game where only defensive players handle the ball and offensive players who hit successfully in only one third of their at bats are among the best in the sport.

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Nov 13, 2005 10:40 as a reply to  @ KennyG's post |  #11

KennyG wrote:
As I always carry a couple of flash guns, I put them on mini-tripods with diffusers, close up but out of shot and that got rid of the shadows. Cheap and effective.

Thanks, Kenny. Mini-tripods and a remote triggering device (which I don't have yet) will be in my kit next time out.


Jerry ~ Baseball is a game where only defensive players handle the ball and offensive players who hit successfully in only one third of their at bats are among the best in the sport.

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Nov 13, 2005 10:43 as a reply to  @ Bodmin636's post |  #12

Bodmin636 wrote:
I have just had a play with the first image ...

Actually the front office did the same during their PhotoShop work. The final product looked better than what I posted but I'm sure it would have been better if they'd had a better image to work with.


Jerry ~ Baseball is a game where only defensive players handle the ball and offensive players who hit successfully in only one third of their at bats are among the best in the sport.

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Nov 13, 2005 10:59 as a reply to  @ DwightMcCann's post |  #13

DwightMcCann wrote:
I think Kenny hit it spot on ... if you're going to shoot Team pictures you are really going to have to a couple of flashes and stands in your kit that you can trigger from your camera because (1) it will be bright (2) they will want to wear caps (3) they cannot face the sun (4) it doesn't matter what sort of team as they all do it. Also, I would consider trying to have a ladder to shoot from ... I like the high perspective but it also tilts that heads up a touch toward the light of the sky.

I think you've all hit the nail on the head. I need some more kit so that I can use my 550s and I must use them. I also need to shoot from my small step ladder.


Jerry ~ Baseball is a game where only defensive players handle the ball and offensive players who hit successfully in only one third of their at bats are among the best in the sport.

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DwightMcCann
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Nov 13, 2005 12:06 |  #14

Your kit will never be big enough! :-) I've been buying equipment as fast as I can go and I always need something I don't have. I just bought practically everything in Gavin's kit, used a few things instantly, but there's always something I didn't think about. But each added item makes the shoots better, the results better, you feel better, you are better prepared, the clients see you as more experienced and professional, etc. Add stuff "slow but sure".


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transcend
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Nov 13, 2005 12:14 |  #15

This thread is great. I actually have a contract with a semi-pro football league for next year. 8 team photos and 440+ portraits to do. Oh joy! Any tips/hints would be great for 52+ player teams.

I currently have 2 flashes, but only one pair of PWs. I may just rent/borrow an additional unit - although i can see more and more uses for owning a couple of receivers.

I may try and shoot a few benches without people first, to play with focal lengths. 17-40 at mid range with 2 flashes for fill on umbrellas is what I am thinking.

The shots posted actually look pretty good, in spite of the less then optimal conditions, Nice work.


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Team Photos -- Techniques and Results
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