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Old Oct 23, 2009, 6:59 PM   #1
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Default Help with large group photo

Hi, I am a new photographer and have my first photo shoot for a large group (about 60-65). I went to scope out the location today and it is a small restaurant party room. I have a space picked out for the photo and have decided to leave the group standing and use a ladder to shoot above them. I have two questions, 1. How do I use a tripod if I am using a ladder? I have seen that suggested, but have no idea how I would pull that off.
2. Lighting issue. There is minimal light in the small room and I wanted to just shoot with my flash that attaches to my hot shoe on my camera.

Is that type of lighting going to be ok or do I need to pull out some bigger equipment (which I would really rather not)?

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Old Oct 23, 2009, 11:37 PM   #2
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Sure it is possible. a handful of cement block spread in a triangle pattern, the legs of the tripod firmly resting on the blocks, and the center column fully extended might work for ya. Also can use chairs, 3 tables etc etc for resting the legs well above the floor. Some people have also mounted PVC pipe leg extensions to the legs.


How tall is the ladder? Maybe just fully extending the legs and the center column might be enough.


You better check your flash performance (width and depth).

60 people in 3 rows would be 20 people wide. Allow more than 2' per person in width (even stacking them slightly sideways) and you suddenly have more than 40' of width. Back to front (again 2' per person) and you have 6' of critical depth.

Think your flash is going to spread the light wide enough?

How about the depth? Think the people in the front row risk being overexposed while the people in the back row risk be underexposed?

Not advocating bigger equipment... maybe a nice f/1.4 lens might do the trick.
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Old Oct 24, 2009, 6:46 PM   #3
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Since folks will want to be able to recognize faces, you will need to have good resolution. Twenty people wide by three deep still basically means 60 faces for the width of the photo. If your camera's sensor is 6,000 pixels wide, that will allow 100 pixels wide for each face. That doesn't leave much room for any kind of error (rough figures, but good enough to make the point).

Practice. If you can get into the party room, figure out how you are going to set things up. Then stand up some booms, flower pots, ... as proxies for people and shoot away. You might want to use your flash, you might want to crank up the ISO, or you might want to rush out and buy another lens.

If you can get away without using the flash (or it has a really fast recharge time), set your camera to burst mode. That way you will have a chance to swap heads for the folks who yawn/sneeze/blink/... just as the shot is taken.
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Old Oct 24, 2009, 9:00 PM   #4
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A fast lens isn't really going to help in this situation. In order to get everyone in focus, you will probably need to use an aperture of f/5.6 or smaller, and lots of light. If you have a strong flash, it should be able to do the job set to about 60 or 75 degrees and reflecting off a (hopefully white) ceiling. This should get you the most even lighting.

Without knowing the capabilities of your equipment, all we can offer is rough advice. I recommend that you take several shots, bracketed, and with flash at various positions. The more exposures you make, the better the odds of getting one just right.

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