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Old May 26, 2010, 1:11 PM   #1
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Default Need Advice for an Outdoor Photoshoot

My fiance is in a Gospel Quartet, and they want me to take pictures for the cover of their CD. Sounds like a cool opportunity, right? Well, the kink in it is I have no clue as to what I am doing. I told them to hire a professional, but funds are really tight right now for them, as they are having to spend what they have for printing the CDs. So, I was the lucky duck that was chosen to take the pictures.

I purchased a Canon Rebel T1i a few months ago. The only thing I have photographed is a few shots here and there of my son. Haven't really done much with it. Just the standard, auto setting pics. Nothing "fancy" so to say.

Here is what I have to work with: the standard lens kit that came with the camera and the EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM (macro) lens. (I have NO idea what all those numbers mean. Like I said, I am CLUELESS. (Bet you are sitting there thinking, "Oh boy, this should be a fun one to give advice to" lol)

The location of the pics will be outdoor at various places. (i.e. a barn, field, fence with a gate, bridge) and the guys will be wearing white shirts with blue jeans. (Guess that really doesn't matter? But throwing it in there in case)

What settings on the camera should I use? Should I buy any external lens? Or will the built in one work well? Which lens, that I have will work best? Just ANY advice and tricks that you have to offer is greatly appreciated.

I also have photoshop to play around on to enhance the pics. So any advice on using photoshop would be greatly accepted also.

Thanks in advanced for any tips and tricks.
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Old May 26, 2010, 9:03 PM   #2
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The biggest factor is going to be the lighting conditions at the time you are taking the photos. Since it's outside, you have to pay attention to the position of the sun and shadows. In some situations, and external flash used for filling in shadows, is very desirable, but you can do without it. A portable reflector or two, and assistants to hold them in position can work well. You don't really need anything fancy for this - a reflective 'space blanket' can do nicely.
I would guess your 70-300 lens would be the most useful, usually at the 70mm position. Depending on the light, a circular polarizer could be very useful. Midday light on a sunny day is pretty harsh, so at least some of the photos should be later in the day (or early, if you're that kind of person).
Mostly, just pay attention to details, such as items in the frame which could be distractions, and background things that don't fit well. Since you know the people, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting them to pose - try mixing up the poses and positions of the group.
Have fun.

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Old May 27, 2010, 7:48 AM   #3
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Try to find out if they have decided on the layout of the printing on the cover - how much and where. As an example, if they are thinking of a simple, large title in the right upper corner, don't have anything important in the photo in that area.

Even if they don't know where it will go, if they are going to have any writing there will need to be somewhere an uninteresting area to put it.

Overshoot a lot - you have enough pixels to crop down a fair amount for a CD cover sized print.

If you have a decent laptop, bring it along so they can preview the shots larger than the little LCD on your camers.
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Old Jun 2, 2010, 11:10 AM   #4
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First off .... have fun, don't get stressed.

Keep a look on the histogram so that you don't pure whites (guess those clothes do matter) or pure blacks.

Check out what EV does on your camera,thats the thing you're really gonna have to use to get a good exposure.

I wouldn't try anything fancy or get new lenses or an external flash 'yet', you'll have enough work with the camera as it is.

As already said don't fill the frame you can always crop at home.

See that they are not casting hard shadows on each other, but that you can see that they are more than 1 big white shirt.

Don't only look at what you are shooting, but at what's behind them, see that nothing is growing out of their heads.

And start shooting as much as you can with your camera so you know it a bit more.

But most of all --- have fun ---


Last edited by rhermans; Jun 2, 2010 at 11:12 AM.
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Old Jun 2, 2010, 11:43 AM   #5
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To the excellent advice my colleagues have given, I will add this:

In bright sunlight, the white shirts will be a real problem. Try to get them to change their minds about that. If it's kind of a "uniform", that's fine indoors, but outdoors it will cause their faces to be underexposed. Try to get them to wear light blue or even light gray shirts instead, just for the photoshoot.
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 9:38 PM   #6
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Someone else's opinion.

This is what I do before and during a shoot (abbreviated)....

Before I go, I pick the lens I'm going to use. For you, the kit lens is your best deal for closeups.

Then, when I get there I scope out the light. If the light is great (sunlight), then I set my ISO (sensitivity) as low as it can go (like ISO 80).

If it's partially sunny, I set the ISO to 200. If it's overcast, ISO 400. If it's really late in the day, or indoors (ISO 800). If it's twilight, or really low light indoors, I set it to ISO 1600 and pray.

Given it's group shots and I want to lose the background, I would go to aperture priority and shoot WIDE OPEN (F2.8) or wider.

I'd probably use the flash no matter what to give the photo some "fill".

As I take the shots, I preview them and adjust. Too dark, set the ISO higher, too light, set the ISO lower.

Another option is to set the camera on AUTO and hope everything works out (It probably will).

Good luck!
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Old Oct 11, 2010, 7:31 PM   #7
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I vote for Terry's last statement.

Since you are lacking experience, set it on auto, make sure you have sufficient memory cards and take lots of pictures. Take duplicates of special scenes and review as best you can in the camera's LCD.

Even in Auto mode, I think you can adjust the ISO to suit the situation.

Have fun.
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