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Old Mar 27, 2011, 3:35 PM   #1
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Default Group Photo in a Church

I have been asked to take group photos of the confirmation class at our church. I have a Canon T2i. Could anyone help me with ideas as far as
getting a clear picture and correct lighting, so the kids don't look washed out with the white gowns they will be wearing. Also which lens would you suggest? Thanks for any help.
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 4:59 PM   #2
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How big a group?

How big a church?

How good is the lighting?

Have you taken any test shots?
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 5:04 PM   #3
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To add to TCav's questions, which lenses do you have to choose from, do you have any extra lighting available (external flash)?

Then we should be able to throw some ideas your way
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 5:31 PM   #4
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There will be 4 kids plus the Pastor, the colors in the church tend to be red/orange up by the altar when I have seen other pictures taken.
Smaller church. I will be taking these pictures right before the actual service, which will be 8:00 in the morning. I have an external flash, lenses- 18-55 kit lens, sigma 18-200 1:3.5-6.3 Sigma 70-200 2.8 Canon 85mm 1.8 Canon 50mm 1.8
Thank you!
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 6:58 PM   #5
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OK, a few things I would do, shoot RAW, take a couple of flashed shots (bounced off of a wall/ceiling etc) but with these go for about 1 or 1.5 stops under exposed for ambient light and then fill in with flash.

As for lens, it really does depend on the light, if you are working in a very dark environment then go with the 50mm and step back a bit. Just be careful that if you have too thin a depth of field then you will not have everyone sharp so it is a trade off. If light isn't too bad then go with the 18-55. No matter what you are likely to be working with an ISO of 1600.

Look at your foreground and background as well to give context to the shot without being distracting.
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 10:46 PM   #6
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If at all possible, practice before hand. Brooms have roughly the same color/reflectivity as skin. Put the robes on hangers hung below up-side down brooms and shoot away.

That way you can try all kinds of things and spend a lot of time without the kids getting bored an antsy.

If it turns out that you can shoot without flash, shoot in burst mode. Then you can clone in heads/faces from one shot to another where the kid has his eyes closed or has a truly weird expression.
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Old Mar 28, 2011, 7:10 AM   #7
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I'd put one of those white plastic caps over the flash, and point the unit straight at the group if you're going to be at least 10' away from them. Any closer, and we'd need a more aggressive diffuser. I recommend this since the ceilings at the altar will be too high, and the walls too far away for an effective bounce flash.

Shooting in RAW will allow for white balance adjustment later, but then there's the exposure. The camera may meter the white gowns to 18% grey, or it may do the same for the dark or black pants. It might be best to set the camera to point metering, meter for the gowns, and overexpose the shot by a stop to get the whites really white. I'm still trying to get that right for a wedding I have coming up, so let's let the more experienced photogs evaluate that idea.
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Old Mar 28, 2011, 9:47 AM   #8
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I would shoot Raw Try to bounce the flash depends on how high the ceiling or how far away the walls are. One thing to remember is canon use flash as a fill in light, you should go to the custom settings and set it so it only uses the speeds 1/60 to 1/200 this will stop a slow sync and help to eliminate camera shake.
Marks right about the Iso but I would see if you can have a practise before and try ISO 800 too. problem with churches they seem to eat the light up. Good Luck
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Old Apr 2, 2011, 5:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iowa_jim View Post
I'd put one of those white plastic caps over the flash, and point the unit straight at the group if you're going to be at least 10' away from them. Any closer, and we'd need a more aggressive diffuser. I recommend this since the ceilings at the altar will be too high, and the walls too far away for an effective bounce flash.
Sorry I haven't chimed in sooner but I've been busy the past couple of week closing out (retiring) my day job for the past 42 years.

I've seen all sorts of ceiling heights (& reflectivity) in small churches and some have low enough and light enough to lend themselves to bounce flash but realistically the chance is <30%.

The issue then is to convert our small (1 1/2" x 2 1/2"), hard light source into a large, soft light source. Note - small=hard, large=soft, diffusion is just an aid to issure our converted light source does in fact function as a large light source.

A STO-FEN type diffuser on an external flash at 10', in the absence of any relfecting surfaces is the just as small and as hard a light source as that flash w/o the diffuser. The only thing it has done is to shorten the maximum range and the minimum range of the flash through transmission light loss. If the size doesn't change the light is just as hard regardless of the "aggressiveness" of the diffuser.

What can the OP do? White poster board or foam core, remote cable from the hot shoe to the flash and two assistants. Since this is a church function the assistants can be parents or siblings of the confirmees. Position the assistant holding the flash just outside field of view and as close to the subjects as the cord will permit and sitting /kneeling on the floor. The second assistant will hold the white board facing the subject at a distance from the flash so that the whole board is illuminated. A second board near the camera position might help even the light.

The OP's event is likely over but the physics (small source=hard light, large source=soft light) will be around for a while.

A. C.
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