Group Portrait Lighting

Discussion in 'Studio Equipment and Lighting' started by bep207, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. bep207


    Nov 27, 2006
    Columbia, MO
    I will be taking group portraits in a church in about a month.
    The lighting is bad but I plan on using my two SB-800s

    I do not own any light stands or umbrellas or anything.
    I would like to use my D80 to fire the flashes remotely. One at each side of the group, facing them at angles.

    I would also like to purchase light stands and umbrellas for this shot. Is this a good idea?
    What all do I need to purchase to make this set up work?
    Light stands, umbrellas, umbrella adapters? (what are these?)
    Where can I find some of these things cheap?
    Do the adapters hold SB800s?

  2. How many in the group?
    How high is the ceiling?
    Which lens are you using, how far back will you be?
  3. bep207


    Nov 27, 2006
    Columbia, MO
    around a dozen at the most
    pretty high ceilings... 20 feetish
    Probably use the 50 f/1.8 on a tripod or a 17-50 f/2.8
  4. I should have mentioned earlier that I don't have umbrellas or stands, others here do and should be able to help.

    You probably already know this but I'd like to make a few suggestions on the lens and composition:

    Watch your DOF, shooting wide open with either of those lenses can cause some people to be out of focus.

    Shooting very wide like 17mm can cause people on the ends to look wider than they are.

    When you frame the shot in the veiwfinder, allow for a crop. Some of them may want an 8x10 copy, others will want 5x7.

    Some will be wearing glasses, ask them to tilt their head down slightly to reduce reflection of the flash.

    Turn their hips and have them point one foot toward the camera to make them look slimmer.

    Consider using Flash Value Lock, FV. This will help with people closing their eyes, blinking.

    Getting a dozen people to smile and look relaxed can be a challenge.
    Use a comment like "Ok, pretend like you like each other" be ready to take the shot when they laugh. Asking one person in the group beforehand to make it fun can also help. If you're taking five or six shots, sometimes they loosen up by the fourth or fifth one.

    good luck, have fun
  5. When shooting in groups like this should you always use a tripod and what aperture do you recommend?
  6. I always use a tripod for important shots, I also use a ten pin remote control.
    You are probably safe with f/8. I would take trial shots at the church with a couple volunteers days before so you can see them on a computer. The higher the f/stop # the darker the background will become. I would think no more open than f/5.6

    Group shots are the reason I bought the WT-3A and Nikon Camera Control Pro for the D200. I shoot and the photo is sent wireless to a Mac Book Pro notebook. You see the image on a 17" screen within seconds. With Camera Control Pro, I don't need the remote. The notebook computer controls the D200 and shutter release.

    You can do the same thing hard wired (tethered) to a computer using a USB cable and Capture 4.4 or Camera Control Pro.

  7. I would recommend renting some *real* studio lighting. When you get a group together, the more people there are in the shot, the more things there are to mess up the shot (eyes blinking, etc.)

    With CLS, with the camera in commander mode, the pre-flashes seem to cause more blinking, and when you add that tendency to the already higher likelihood of someone blinking or flinching, you're fighting a losing battle.

    See if a local camera store, or local photographer has some that they will rent or loan to you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2007
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