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Old Mar 26, 2010, 9:29 AM   #1
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Default Indoor Group Shots

Hi All

I have been asked to shoot some group basketball shots for my daughters local club.
I dont want to shoot the normal 3 rows of 4, with rear group standing, middle kneeling front sitting, and have some good informal ideas of composition.
I have shot some conventional group shots before and never been pleased with them so please help.
I am shooting with a Canon 30D, have a 550EX Flash with stofen diffuser(only shoe mount possible) a 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8, 17-85 IS & 70-200 f2.8 non IS.
The gym I will be shooting in is pretty bright and loves the 70-200mm and the 85mm for action shots at ISO1600 and a ss of 1/400 and I have had some very pleasing results, but as soon as I start the flash, exposure seems way out.
I have mainly used the 17-85 on apeture priority at about f5.6, put the flash on auto with the diffuser attached and the head of the flash to the ceiling or at 45 degrees. Focus was probably still set to centre point from the games.
Any help from you guys, with particular preference to a reply from JohnG or Mark, would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks Neil
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 9:37 AM   #2
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You don't want to use Aperture Priority. Otherwise, it's probably going to expose for Ambient light and the flash isn't going to contribute much (not to mention shutter speed issues with ambient contributing too much trying to stop down the aperture).

Use Manual Exposure Instead to keep ambient light from contributing too much, and the flash will automatically adjust to properly expose your subjects if you're within the flash range for the settings being used. I'd probably use something like ISO 400, f/6.3 and 1/100th and see what you get.
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 10:27 AM   #3
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I agree with Jim, shoot in manual... any automatic exposure mode will meter for ambient which may not be what you want

However the main issue here is your Stofen - It may diffuse the light, but at the same time it would cut down the GN of the flash greatly for group shot. You may want to add another 550/580 as a slave to increase the output, or use some bigger device like a QFlash, or similar device for larger group
-> Especially with multiple rows setting, a weak flash will decay as it extend further back, and you may have to use smaller apertures as well to keep everyone in focus...

Last edited by NHL; Mar 26, 2010 at 10:30 AM.
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 1:00 PM   #4
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In a typical school gym, the ceiling is too high for reflecting the flash, so wouldn't be doing much for you in angle settings. Light falloff, as NHL mentions is also likely to be a problem. Since this won't be action shooting, your subjects will be still enough that you should be able to use ambient light. Just make sure to check the WB settings and maybe set custom WB for whatever gym lights they have.

brian
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 1:23 PM   #5
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From what I understand, 45 degrees with the Stofen is optimum:

http://www.stofen.com/Info/HowItWorks.htm

That should give you a light loss of around 2.5 stops from what a flash is rated at, what I've seen reported by others.

The Canon EOS-30D is slightly more sensitive than indicated (ISO 400 is really ISO 500, ISO 800 is really ISO 1000, etc.). Given a 2.5 stop light loss with the Stofen with that flash when trying to shoot at the wider end of a zoom like the 17-85mm, I'm thinking you can reach out to 10 feet or so at ISO 100 and f/6.3, or 20 feet or so at ISO 400 and f/6.3, perhaps zooming into around 20mm to sharpen it up a tad with less distortion compared to 17mm. Then, if you could keep it to around 8 kids/row with a few rows, you should be able to keep the last row at around 20 feet away OK with a bit of room for cropping and might be able to "squeeze in" a group shot with a single flash at ISO 400.

At ISO 400, f/6.3, and 1/100 second, ambient light would be a tad more than 2 stops down so that the flash would contribute enough to get sharper photos due to the short flash burst length, without the background being too dark (only a bit more than 2 stops underexposed from what the OP was getting at f/2.8 and ISO 1600 without a flash).

If you needed more power, you could always go to 1/200 second and ISO 800, still keeping the aperture at around f/6.3 (a bit more than two stops down from wide open, while still staying within the camera's x-sync speed limit of 1/250 second).

Going a tad more than 2 stops down from a wide open aperture should sharpen it up nicely, with more than enough Depth of Field for subjects 15 to 20 feet away at wider focal lengths). I suspect ISO 400 will probably cut it with that setup if the 2.5 stop light loss is correct with 45 degrees being optimum.

If not, ISO 800 should still be pretty nice with the EOS-30D (shoot at around 1/200, f/6.3 and ISO 800 instead for better flash range, giving you the same ambient to flash ratio as you'd have at 1/100, f/6.3 and ISO 400), probably letting you reach out to closer to 30 feet with a 30D and that setup would be my guess. I'd take some test shots both ways and see what you get.

Note that flash range doesn't change with shutter speed as long as you're within the camera's x-speed limits (1/250 second max with your 30D) so that you don't need FP mode. So, you'd increase flash range by 1.4x shooting at ISO 800, 1/200 second and f/6.3, as compared to ISO 400, 1/100 and f/6.3, giving you the same flash to ambient light ratio either way.
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 6:50 PM   #6
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See, you didn't need me or John to answer, you got something far more technical and detailed than I would have been able to put together
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 5:49 AM   #7
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Guys

You are all fantastic and I really do appreciate all of the time taken for your responses. I dont post a lot here, but constantly read posts that interest me and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of clear cut, no nonsense advice you guys freely dish out to us beginners.

Jim C
WOW, lots to take in, will take up all of your advice and put into practice. Will try to post some results soon, many thanks.

VTphotog
Many thanks, I think I have got the custom WB off to a tee now, shot in a gym the other day that was lit via orange sodium lights and still managed to get the whites just about acceptable.

NHL
Many thanks, would you suggest removing the stofen ?

Mark
I dont believe that for one moment, I love reading your posts & replies, ps loved the horse pictures thread you started a while ago.

Thanks again, Neil
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 7:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baller85 View Post
NHL
Many thanks, would you suggest removing the stofen ?
Yes - I would use the pull-down wide-angle diffuser inside the 550EX as it takes away less power from the flash, but I still think you would need a 2nd 550/580EX though (for large group)

May be it just me, but I prefer images with higher contrast than flat pictures afforded by the lower lighting...
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