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Old Jul 6, 2005, 6:05 PM   #1
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I was thinking sometime about taking a bunch of photos of some friends and their families. Is there some way you'd suggest I could learn how to get good shots? Having a friend of mine who's good with cameras and photography taking them is an option, too.

Basically the people in the groups would be side by side, and they would probably be shot in landscape format. If I take full length portraits, I get more people in the frame (even so, a few families might require more than one picture to get everyone in the frame, as I am NOT going to have anyone "hiding behind someone else" - i.e. standing in front of or behind someone), but my enlargement / cropping quality (assuming I use the same camera, and chances are it would NOT be my 3 megapixel Canon S1 IS due to the extensive cropping I'd like to be able to do, and the large print sizes of the main portraits I would want to be able to print) would be poorer than if I took 1/2 portraits (then I'd only be able to get a few people in the frame.

One way I could squeeze an extra person or two in the frame is by having them put their arms around each other's shoulders, like I've seen done in some semi-spontaneous small group pictures being taken by my friends.

For families with small children, I suppose I could take a full-length, and young babies can be held by their parents, while children who can stand on their own but are shorter than where their parents' top of pants/skirt/etc is can stand in front of their parents.

Basically, as far as cropping, I'd like to be able to crop and get an excellent photo-lab quality 4x6 (an 8x10 would be nice but I think that's asking too much) of each person's face. I did some calculating, and it seems that even with 1/2 portraits, the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II wouldn't have enough resolution (no, I'm not planning to buy the camera) for these types of enlargements. I'm thinking of using something like 24 x 36 inch size prints for the uncropped photos (or at least I'd like to be able to print them that large).

When / if I get the shots done, they will be primarily of PEOPLE and not of other things. So, I don't want to waste hardly ANY space above the top of the tallest (in each shot) person's head.

I DO want the pictures originally in digital format. Would the EOS-1Ds II have enough res for what I mentioned above, or should I borrow a medium format digital back & lens instead, or have someone take the shots with a film SLR then supply me with digital files of the images (I'd like the max res possible)?

I would probably want to use the lowest ISO speed available for the best quality shots. Natural lighting would be really nice to have, so I would probably have the photos taken outdoors sometime around midday to avoid having to use a flash. Also, I would probably prefer a telephoto lens as opposed to a standard or wide lens. For one thing, I don't want egg-shaped faces, AND, as you might be able to tell in a few example photoshopped self-portraits I'll link, I think the places where the lenses would be pointing would make girls uncomfortable (a friend of mine has voiced that concern to me), so I think a long telephoto (like 400mm, 600mm, or even 1200mm) would be less likely to make them uncomfortable. Putting their faces in the center of the frame as opposed to the top is NOT an option, unless I can get as good of a quality crop with all the wasted space above their heads.

full-length, landscape, side by side

full-length, landscape, side by side with arms around each other[url=%20%28I%20had%20to%20%20cheat%20with%20photosh op%20on%20this%20but%20I%20hope%20you%20get%20the% 20idea%29%3Cbr%20/%3E%0A%3Cbr%20/%3E%0A%5BURL=http://70.181.196.176:1180/stephen/pics1/selfportraits/fulllength_portrait_sidebyside.jpg%5Dhalf%20%20len gth,%20portrait,%20side%20by%20side] (I had to cheat with photoshop on this but I hope you get the idea)

half length, portrait, side by side
half length, landscape, side by side with arms around each other (same cheating as before)

face - this is what I want to be able to crop a 4x6 of (and I want it better than that of course - it was out of focus)

(P.S. I clicked send when I meant to click preview, and right now don't have time for editing. If I think of something I'll edit it.)
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Old Jul 6, 2005, 8:02 PM   #2
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A 24 X 36 print from a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II will give you just a tad under 140 PPI if you don't have to do any cropping. That isn't a bad resolution for a print that large. My best guess taking what looked like the right sized 4 X 6 crop from that sized image gave about a 200 PPI print. It could give a little more, but 200 PPI is acceptable.

I don't think a 35mm SLR would do as well. I've seen extreme conclusions either way, but the most reasonable I've seen kept the digital within the digital process until it was commercially printed and the film completely within the photographic process through to print. Comparing the prints they thought the best quality ASA 100 negative film was about equivalent to a good 6Mp DSLR and Provia slide film to 11 Mp. You would get a little deterioration going back to digital even with a big buck professional level drum scanner. You can get as many pixels as your scanner is capable of in resolution and it is often much larger than a digital image. But the pixels don't equate with pure digital pixels.

You would probably do better with the medium format than you could do with the Mark II if you used Provia and had them professionally drum scanned. Large format would definitely be better.


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Old Jul 7, 2005, 2:11 AM   #3
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I forgot to add a couple of things.

I don't think you want to shoot outdoors in the sun without fill flash. If you keep the sun out of their face so they aren't squinting you have to blow the highlights everywhere else to get the face exposed properly. I almost always use fill flash for outdoor portraits when they are in the sun. Even in the shade they look a little better with fill flash if you have a unit that can moderate it down to the right level.

Your best portrait range is 70 to around 135 mm equivalent. The old rule for a portrait lens was 70-90, but you can go longer. Get too long a lens and you flatten the faces. I have also read that the print size makes a difference. You want to be in the lower range for a really large print.

It would be a really strange girl IMO that had never been in a full length photo and thought you were taking a closeup of her breasts.



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Old Jul 7, 2005, 3:19 AM   #4
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I think it's partially because they know my camera has a 380mm (1216mm if you count digital zoom) lens, and they see me taking full-length portraits of them using somewhere between a 38mm and 76mm focal length or something like that (but they think I'm zoomed way in).

Maybe I should borrow an SLR with a 10mm lens and take pictures of them with THAT! Then they might have less reason to be uncomfortable when I use my normal camera.
Of course I'd show them the picture to prove that their face IS in the picture. Although, you know how perspective distortion is with a super wide angle lens - they might not like me using that focal length - I wouldn't be suprised if some of them would be more comfortable if I used a 3,000 mm lens and stood about 400 feet away.

Oh, and how do I get natural light shots?

If I come up with a few (whether on the net or off my camera) examples sometime, I'll post a few ideas of the skin tones I like.

One other thing, with the new way message editing / composing is on here, how do I edit the actual UBB/HTML code in the previous message? I have a few incorrect links in there I think.
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Old Jul 7, 2005, 10:42 AM   #5
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Group shots in natural light are difficult. Definitely use a film camera for the wider exposure latitude if you want to completely avoid fill flash or reflectors. Slide film like Provia is excellent for detail, but doesn't have the exposure latitude of regular consumer negative color film. I would go for the Provia and use at least a reflector or you aren't going to have enough detail for a 24 X 36 print.

I've rethought the focal length. Focal lengths will be in 35mm equivalence.

I would guess you are cropping to somewhere around 1/12 of your original picture to get the 4 X 6 individual shots. That is effectively a 6X digital zoom. So if the original was taken with a 50mm standard lens the 4 X 6s would have the appearance of having been taken with a 300mm lens. You do have to go a little longer for small prints, but 300mm is going to flatten the features a little. Take the originals with a 135mm lens and the small individual prints are going to look like they were taken with an 800mm and aren't going to be very flattering.

We'll start with an extreme for your large print. Say you have a wall 10 feet high and print a giant 10 X 15 foot fisheye shot and put it on the wall. If you stand in the middle a couple or three feet from the wall the print will look like it was taken with a normal lens. Things in the two dimensional shot are reducing in relative size with distance at the correct rate to represent your 3 dimensional world.

So make a 10 X 15 foot print from a 28mm shot. Looking at it from maybe 25 - 30 feet it will look like a medium wide angle shot to a photographer. But as you walk toward the picture it starts shifting toward normal. I would guess at maybe 12-15 feet it would look like it was taken with a normal lens. If you got in closer it would start looking like it was taken with a telephoto lens with items not reducing in size with distance from your viewing perspective as fast as they do in the real world.

There is an interrelationship of focal length, print size and viewing distance.

If you took your photo with a 50mm lens and printed it at 24 X 36 it would look like a normal shot from probably 5 to 8 feet away. But people seem to choose a closer viewing distance for group shots to see the faces. If they got close enough that the faces appeared the same size they do in your 4 X 6 crops the faces would look slightly flattened with a telephoto effect.

You do not want to shoot the main shot with telephoto IMO for that large a print size and with small crops of faces being made into individual photos. The old 70 – 90mm portrait lens was based on a single face printed 8 X 10 or larger, hung on a wall and not looked at from close distance. Get much outside those parameters and the numbers change. Snapshot sized prints look better with a little more zoom for instance. And very large prints generally look better with less zoom. Of course actual viewing distance would alter that.

Quote:
One other thing, with the new way message editing / composing is on here, how do I edit the actual UBB/HTML code in the previous message? I have a few incorrect links in there I think.
Just highlight the code and URL then paste the new URL, or backspace through it all and then just put in the correct URL – Steve will add the code for you





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