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Group Shot Aperature help

Discussion in 'People' started by phecksel, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. I've been asked to take a group shot, and will probably end up using the 18-70

    I don't have a good feel for aperature and dof. What would be a good aperature starting point for a group I'm standing 15-20 feet away from, and the group might be 10 feet deep? Should have good indoor lighting, plan on taking the SB-800 too.
  2. Use f8 as your starting point. I would also use the long end of your lens; i.e., 70mm as this will compress your group some and will keep the head size approximately the same from front to back. When you say you will have good indoor lighting I am not sure what you mean by that. Normally indoor lighting is poor and you will need some additional lighting and/or a higher ISO to stop movement among the group. A single SB800 for this large a group will result in shadows unless you can use it bounced from the ceiling. One thing for sure, do not use too slow of a shutter speed as there will always be some people in the group that will move and cause blur at slower speeds. Try to keep your shutter speed to at least 1/60 of a second or faster.

    One last thing, WB will become important with indoor lighting and even more so when you mix indoor lighting with flash. I suggest the use of a Grey card or some other means of setting your WB. I would shoot the image in RAW as you can then adjust the WB in post processing.
  3. Thank you

    For indoor lighting, it is well lit. Hadn't considered the impact of flash and other lighting, so appreciate the card suggestion. I'm going to stop by today and see how well the flash bounces off the relatively high ceiling. Should the gray card be tipped at the same angle as the shot?

    I'll do as much as I can with shutter speed, but unless I can make the 85 work...but maybe I can borrow a friends POS 50mm 1.8.
  4. Ditto...

    If you have the SB800, I'm assuming that you also have the gel pack that came with it. In addition to shooting RAW (an absolute must IMHO), you should add the gel that most closely matches ambient lighting. If it is flourescent lighting, use the green gel. If it is tungsten, use the orange gel. Then set your WB to whatever gel you added. Since you won't have enough flash power to light the entire group evenly with your flash, you will have to rely on some ambient lighting. Your ambient lighting indoor will *NOT* match your flash, so you'll have to gel your flash to keep the colors consistent.

    JMHO, of course.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2007
  5. dsp921


    May 16, 2006
    If you're 20 feet away and use 70mm you'll need at least f10 to get a 10 foot DOF. That should give you 4 feet in front of the focus point and about 6 or 7 feet behind it.
    50mm is probably f5.6 for the 10 ft DOF. Not sure how wide you have to go to get everyone in, but the wider you go your DOF will increase. That 5 foot variable in distance to the group will make a pretty big difference, that same 70mm @ f10 will only give you about a 6 foot DOF at 15 feet vs. 10 at 20 feet.
  6. Seth


    Jun 6, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    How does one go about calculating things like this? I think I've seen calculators out on the net somewhere but am curious if there is a better way to do it on the spot or what?
  7. Matthias


    Apr 13, 2007
    Central Texas
    Thanks for the question and the tips (Gordon) - gleaning information all the time - now have to put it to use :smile:
  8. dsp921


    May 16, 2006
    You need a few formulas and the circle of confusion number for your camera ( 0.02 for Nikon DSLRs). You need to calculate the hyperfocal distance, then figure out the near focus limit and the far focus limit. A lot of math to do on the fly. Maybe use an online calculator and make a table with a range that you can use as a guide. There's always the DOF button, but that doesn't help me much for some reason.
  9. Dave, I think you are making this way too complicated. If he shoots at f8 and focuses on a face a little ahead of mid-way into the group the focus will be reasonably good and perfectly acceptable for a group photo. Sharpening in post will easly take care of that. I don't know too many photographers taking group shots that use a caculator to figure DOF. This of course is IMHO.

    Circle of confusion, hyperefocal distance, depth of field, distance to subjects, aperature, caculator, hmmmmmm?? :confused:  :confused:  :confused:  :Whistle:

    Just FYI, I do know how to do all of that. :smile: :smile:

    I will share one other thought and that is the more wide angle your lens is the more it will distort the people on the sides of your group; i.e., make them look fatter. I would not go less than 50mm for group shots. If you do not have the room to back up and 50mm will not accomodate the group of course go ahead and do it. Just be aware of the consequences.
  10. Thank you for the great help! I'll take my grey card and the orange filter and get the white balance set. Went up there yesterday afternoon. White Ceiling is about 20' high. Bouncing off the ceiling, without any filter, took a couple of test shots. WB was on auto, but didn't have anything to see how bad the colors were. It appears to have sodium lights, but nearly daylight in color.

    F8 appeared to be plenty of dof. My best guess without having any people there, that 50mm will be stretching. iso 1600 and 60s

    All this led to an interesting discussion... Apparently they have been looking for someone to do photography for the band parents, who are usually very involved with their kids. Guess having the great shot of the symphony band on the front page of the local rag got a lot of attention.
  11. dsp921


    May 16, 2006
    Sorry, I'm an engineer, my job is to make things too complicated. Guess I got a little carried away....
  12. That's OK Dave I wore a pocket protector with lots of pens, pencils and a small screwdriver for years. Shoot, I still have my old slide rule. :biggrin: :biggrin:
  13. OK since I'm in the area, PM me and if you need it we can work out a loaner for my 17-35 and flash bracket etc.
  14. Thank you for the offer. I will definitely give it some thought.
  15. I wish I had learned to use a slide rule...By the time I hit college, the first technical calculators were affordable
  16. You really don't mean that??? :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:
  17. Yes I do! I still use a set of linear mechanical calipers. At my prime, with experience, and better eye sight, could read them to .0005".
  18. question. So is the advice for 70mm with the crop factor or 70mm not including crop factor? I'm shooting both film and digital and would like to use this info but want to clear it up with you all.
  19. Thank you for the help. This is a quick edit on what I thought was the best of the 30 or so photos. Asked the band director to pick the best one.

    Some after shooting thoughts, the room didn't give me as much distance as I initially thought. Being on the wide end was worse then I expected. Even for newspaper, iso 1600 has a bit more noise then I'm happy with. Should have explored forcing the flash to full power and backing off the iso. Even those these kids are the best of the best, they still had some fun clowning, lol. I bounced the flash off the ceiling, with out any gels. Pre measuring off the grey card did a decent job. For as little time as I had to prepare, and the very short time available to actually shoot, pleased with the results.

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