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Old Oct 5, 2008, 8:26 PM   #1
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I am new into photography and have been asked by family member to take a group picture of about 21 people. I am not sure which setting onmy Nikon D50 or D80 to use to get the clearest picture of all the people. I have both cameras as well as the speedlite S600. Can anyone advise me. I know there is alot of other things to consider, like the weather and sun, etc... but at least this will get me started. Do I need to use a flash? I would like to know how far from the people I need to be to make a nice 8x10 picture without cutting someone out. Thanks. Connie
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Old Oct 6, 2008, 6:41 AM   #2
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I think it depends on the lens. You need a lens with good edge-to-edge sharpness, and little chromatic aberration. Distortion isn't much ofa problem unless the background contains a lot of straight lines. At the angle of view of a good lens, the depth of field will keep everyone in focus.

You'll probably need a moderatelywide anglelens, probably within the range of the kit lens, but Nikon's kit lenses are pretty soft at the edges and have significant vignetting and distortion until you stop down at least 2 f-stops, and that will also help your depth of field.

I think the simplest way to think of this is a scenery or architecture shot, with people standing in the way. If the background looks good, then the people are going to look good too.
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Old Oct 6, 2008, 11:09 AM   #3
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There is a problem with printing an 8X10 that won't be apparent when you take the photo. Both of your cameras take a photo that is considerably wider than it is tall. For every two inches of height you print you would print 3 inches of width if you printed the entire photo. The photo you take will be in a 3:2 ratio of width to height. A 4X6 print uses all of the image from your cameras without cropping.

An 8X10 is in a 5:4 ratio of width to height. That means you will have to crop some off the edges of the photo you take to end up with an 8X10. Take one of your images and crop it to 8X10 to get an idea of how much you will trim off the edges. When you take the photo you must leave at least this much on the edges without anything in the photo you want on the print.

I almost always use flash for outdoor portraits. If your unit is a Nikon SB 600 it meters through your camera lens and is very easy to use. Look under "fill flash" in the flash manual. I don't find a diffuser necessary for outdoor fill flash. If you elect to take the photo indoors you might look into a diffuser if there isn't a low white ceiling you can bounce the flash from.

You don't want to mess with the math of how far to stand. Just move back and/or zoom until you have the picture you want.

Settings depend on what you want to end up with. If the group is in front of something that is as important as the individuals, you want a large depth of field so the background details are sharp. You get this with a higher f-stop and/or lower focal length. The lower focal length means you are using the wider setting on a zoom lens if that is what you are using. That doesn't always give the best photo from a distortion and cosmetic point of view. IMO you would probably do better using a medium focal length and stopping the lens down. To stop the lens down you would probably do best with aperture priority and set a larger number for the f value. Aperture priority is an automatic mode and it will still meter the shot properly for you.

As a general rule you don't want the background sharp for a portrait. If it is a little blurred you can still see what it is but the people in the photo stand out. To accomplish this you do the opposite of trying for a sharp background. Aperture priority and a low f number combined with standing as far back as practical. Since you are trimming off the edges to get an 8X10 and there isn't usually anything significant in the corners, the picture will probably be fine regardless of settings as far as the lens is concerned.

Take several photos. Someone is sure to have their eyes closed. If you aren't good at cloning, an old photographer's trick might work for you. Have everyone close their eyes, and when you say "open your eyes" take the photo immediately.

Use a tripod.

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Old Oct 27, 2008, 9:48 AM   #4
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Generally, you can take a group picture of any size depending no how far back you want to stand to take the photo.

If you use a zoom with 17mm on the wide end, you should be able to get everyone into the shot by standing back no more than 30-50 feet.

Generally recommendation is to make sure the scene is NOT backlighted (ie sun shining towards you, but "setting" over the backs of people.

Either overcast or light shade is even better, as direct sun can be harsh.

If there is direct sun, try to take the shot early or late in the day, so the sun is filtered. Have the sun at your back, shining directly into the people's faces.

It's okay to use flash as a "fill". Usually I will take about 10 pictures of a group to make sure I get one with all their eyes open.

You can try a few shots with and without flash.
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Old Oct 28, 2008, 9:30 AM   #5
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Do some experimenting. I assume you already have easy access to the site(s) you are considering for the shot. Figure out if you want two rows of people or three rows of seven. Set up some chairs to show the width of each row. If you can, find one or two people who are willing to stand/sit for some trial shots. That will give you a chance to try with/without flash. Try at about the same time of day. Try a couple of different spots: one might be better for bright sun while another is better for overcast. An indoor choice in case of rain would be nice to have.

An advantage of not using flash is that you can use the burst feature of your camera to get shots with eyes open/closed in quick enough sequence to allow easy cloning.

If you have folks standing, get them to avoid the "fig leaf pose" - hands in front of their genitals. That is one of the standard marks of an amateur.
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Old Apr 12, 2013, 7:23 AM   #6
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Default Please help

I'm being a photographer at a friends wedding to save her small budget in July 2013 and I don't have a DSLR. I have a FujiFilm HS20EXR, any tips for the best photos. I'm only a student and haven't studied photography for long.
Can Anyone Please Help Me!?

any help will be gratefully received
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Old Apr 12, 2013, 8:51 AM   #7
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Get the flash, and learn how to use it.
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
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Old Apr 12, 2013, 9:02 AM   #8
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You are off to a good start by reading the forums here. There have been a lot of threads about weddings, and how to prepare for them. For me, the key is preparation - know in advance where you will be shooting, and what your friend expects in the way of posed photos and impromptu shots. Have someone designated to herd the guests and wedding party in place for the photos - you can't do it all and also take the pictures.
Use the search box at the top of the page here to find out more about weddings - you will find lots of advice.

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Old Apr 12, 2013, 9:46 AM   #9
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hi i second the get a flash and learn how to use it. also look at the wedding section on the dgrin web site to get ideas. come back if you need more help
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