Large Group Shot with Canon gear

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by brian_moody, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. Hello all. I am shooting a 50th wedding aniversary party this Saturday night. We are shooting at a
    beautiful Mission with evening light. However, my client just informed me that they want a group photo
    with 68 adults and seven children. WIDE...I know. Any recommendations for me on how to light this for
    fill? I have Novatron's with 36" boxes and multiple speedlites. Also recommendations on Aperture
    settings...F11? smaller? I have Canon 30D.. 17-40L, 50 1.4, 24-105L at my disposal. Appreciate your
  2. go rent a 6X7 with a wide lens
  3. Much depends on whether you can get them on multiple levels (steps). Same with the aperture--if you have multiple rows, how many, and what focal length? f11 with a normal lens should cover quite a few rows, but if you don't have that many rows, you can get away with a wider aperture, same with using a wider focal length. As for lighting, if you are talking about just fill, you should be able to use your on-camera flash unless you are talking about filling against bright sun, which isn't what I'd call "evening light".

    The typical lighting patterns for wide groups is either one, very powerful diffused light over or close to the camera, or two lights placed one on each side with a slight toe-in to the center of the group.
  4. I shot a family reunion this June and found that a ladder really helps out in these situations. You get a better angle and coverage. I also have a Canon 30D and used a Tamron super wide angle, Tamron Zoom Super Wide Angle SP 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) Lens for Canon Digital EOS!
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    (I went to respond to this on the EOS forum . . . found it here: so I popped in for a visit)

    I favour the two light solution (outlined by NH), better modelling.

    Also, I think if the subjects can be tiered in a (slight) horseshoed it would be good.

    I am thinking four or five rows, children at front, casual arrangement overall.

    I would have a small step ladder and shoot from it. (I trust NH has recovered, I was upset to hear of the incident).

    Getting an elevated camera position gets more of the face and shoulders of each subject, it is very important you see each face and a bit of space around it.

    I would like to shoot at 20mm, if possible: I am seeing possible distortion at the edges, using a wider FL ( I mean distortion of the subjects: I refer to is as `edge of group fat arm syndrome`).

    At 20mm FL, using your 17 to 35L, the hyperfocal distance at F8 is around 8 1/2 feet, so I think I would be looking at F8 before F11: allowing a bit more impact from a drag of the shutter to get some nice ambient back / side light glow.

    I would use a tripod or some stabilization for the camera. You might need 1/30 to 1/50 to be creative. I have adapted a ball head receptor to the top of an `A` frame step ladder, but for a one off, you might experiment with G Cramping your tripod to the ladder, and testing the stability.

    Although only a day or two out, I would reconnoitre the venue, Thursday or Friday, at the time I expected to shoot.

  6. Mr. W.--yes I fell off the ladder (was pushed) but I'm fine. Not so with my lens. Thanks for asking. Brian, Mr. W. has some very good info for you. We would be able to help you more if you give more details--lighting, availability of steps, etc...
  7. IF you want fill and IF you only want fill to augment the evening light, then I would use only one light set back about 30' from the group.

    You will likely need about 200ws to get the fill you want but your greatest challenge will likely come from keeping your group still enough to use the evening light.

    I would be ready to shoot by the time your 30d can still use iso400 or lower, with about 1/60th and F5.6. The F5.6 works about the same as f8 on a FF cam. so you should be ok with that. Set your mono to about -2 stops from the available light metering. Shoot several, of course. Also, if you set the mono towards one end of your arranged group, and point it at about 3/4 of the way down the line, you will get some feathering that should help with even light. I would suggest a brolly, shot through if possible, around 45" or larger...

    On the arrangement of the group, I would try to have the front 12-15 people sitting/laying on the ground. Then a row of about 25 wrapped around them in a kneeling or seated position, then a row of about 18, standing but leaning in to the seated row, then another of about 12, stood on posing benches or similar, behind them. Try to keep the couples and families connected somehow, in a frot to back fashion.

    My lens from your selection would be the 17-40 and you will likely need to be at about 20 - 25mm on that body.

    Test with similar light if you can and get a feel for the whole thing before hand.

    Of course, all this is said without really knowing what you are getting into.
    Best, D.
  8. "We are shooting at a beautiful Mission with evening light. "

    What does "evening light" mean? Low sun before sunset? Dusk? Dark? Where is the sun at
    the time you'll be shooting?

    Where will you be assembling the group? In front of the Mission? In a courtyard? If there is
    still natural light, will it fall on the group? If dark out, or in an interior courtyard, is there
    artificial lighting, and how good is it?

    If in a courtyard, is there a higher vantage point at the Mission? If outside using the front
    of the Mission, are there stairs, or a slope upwards? Will you have a step ladder available
    from the mission, or will you need to bring one? How far back from the group can you get
    will determine the focal length to use. Do you have radio slaves or optical slaves for your
    lighting so you can place them closer to the group if you choose to move back and use a
    less wide angle focal length to avoid distortion?

    A tip based on experience: if forced to use a wider focal length (28mm or less), give
    yourself breathing room on each side in order to use perspective and distortion correction
    tools available in post. Actually go wider than just fitting in the group because when you
    correct the perspective and distortion it'll keystone the image and require cropping. Your
    Canon 30D has enough resolution to handle this as long as you aren't making a mural
    sized print afterwards.

    Are you working alone? If so, have the client assign "wrangler" responsibilities to a couple
    of people and tell them what you want done in terms of arraignment. This lets you stay at
    the camera to generally guide by looking through the lens, while they help you get people
    in place so every face shows.

    Upwards of 70 people is no easy task to do well. Luck favors the prepared. Answering
    questions is how you become prepared.

    Best of luck.
  9. All,

    Thank you so much for your recommendations. The sun wiill be setting behind me with
    the light coming into the Santa Clara Mission gardens. I have no access to electricity so
    this will be a Speedlight filled picture. David thank you for your input. I think I will have a
    580 off to the left of the group through an 48" umbrellla stopped back in addition to on
    camera. I have gone and pre-vistied the site to plan the shot. I agree with you Mark,
    preparation and planning are the key to success. Luck though? I think luck should be
    defined as someone who is prepared to take advantage of an opportunity as it presents
    itself. Thank you as well for the input on the 17-40. I was planning on about 24mm
    which is ~38MM on my 30D. I think at that focal range with f5.6 to f8 I should be able to
    deal with any edge distortion.

    Again my sincere thanks!

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