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Author Topic: Lighting large groups, help needed!  (Read 7694 times)

Rienzphotoz

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2013, 05:44:55 AM »
...... I use 2 cheap light stands (bought from Amazon) to hold whiteboards and I bounce the light off of them ... it is not the perfect setup but it does a decent job of illuminating all the people in the pic ...

I think that is brilliant. I have been thinking of that for long, but could not figure out how to fix the white board on the lightstands and then where to fix the speedlights. Rienzphotoz could you please some info about that if that is possible? Thank you.....
Unfortunately I've never made an image of my light stands with the whiteboard on it, while in the "field" ...  but here is an image I just took to show you how I use it ... there are 2 clamps with goose necks holding the board, they help position the board any direction I like ... I got 4 of those goose neck clamps for $30 a few years ago ... also the board you see in this image is a foam board for art work, which you can get  for a $1 or $2, which I use for indoors when the ceiling is too high or if I need additional lights bouncing off of them ... when I'm outdoors, I use a stronger light wooden board (which I don't have at the moment) that does hold in moderate wind (provided I stabilize my cheap light stands with my camera bag ... sometimes I also use garbage bags with sand, we have a lot of sand her in Qatar as it is a desert country).
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 05:48:20 AM by Rienzphotoz »
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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2013, 05:44:55 AM »

Zv

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2013, 06:39:01 AM »
Thanks Rienzphoto and RAKAMRAK for the tips and the lighting diagram.

Rienzphoto - When you said you bounce two speedlites off the ceiling are they both together or split? Both at same power levels? And where do you place the LED, are they acting as fill?
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Rienzphotoz

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2013, 07:10:52 AM »
Rienzphoto - When you said you bounce two speedlites off the ceiling are they both together or split? Both at same power levels? And where do you place the LED, are they acting as fill?
In my working conditions its a bit difficult to answer that question as it varies from situation to situation ... but let me try (hope it isn't too confusing) ... if the room has identical ambient light I always split up my speedlites (at full power, if it is a large group of people ... both speedlites at the same power levels).
If the ambient light is different on one side of the group to the other, then I use the LED lights to bounce the LED light on the side where there is less ambient light to match the brighter side (but with the short time I have, this is never perfect, but it does minimize harsh shadows).

Having said that, if the group is very large, I do occasionally use the speedlites + the LED (all at full power) bouncing off the ceiling and worry about fixing any harsh shadows or uneven lighting in post production (not the perfect situation but given the very limited time I get, I have no choice but to deal with it in PP).

One thing I've learned over the years is that group photos are a nightmare, there are always lots of things going wrong e.g. a few people are looking away from the camera (maybe checking the bosom of lady next to them or in front  ;D) or someone with their eyes closed, or looking grumpy etc etc etc ... so I take as many photos as I can in that short time and clone eyes (or even heads sometimes) from one image to the other.

As I work in a company that has 47 nationalities with varied skin tones, the group photos usually have some dark skinned people standing next to a very fair skinned person etc ... so I do have to use "screen" in Photoshop Layers to bring out the details in the dark skinned people.  In an ideal world, I'd have an assistant, massive fancy backdrops, top-of-the-line lighting equipment etc etc, but since I only have what I have, I rely heavily on photoshop for fixing group photos ... thank God for photoshop!
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 07:35:37 AM by Rienzphotoz »
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Zv

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2013, 07:32:30 AM »
Rienzphoto - When you said you bounce two speedlites off the ceiling are they both together or split? Both at same power levels? And where do you place the LED, are they acting as fill?
In my working conditions its a bit difficult to answer that question as it varies from situation to situation ... but let me try (hope it isn't too confusing) ... if the room has identical ambient light I always split up my speedlites (at full power, if it is a large group of people ... both speedlites at the same power levels).
If the ambient light is different on one side of the group to the other, then I use the LED lights to bounce the LED light on the side where there is less ambient light to match the brighter side (but with the short time I have, this is never perfect, but it does minimize harsh shadows).

Having said that, if the group is very large, I do occasionally use the speedlites + the LED (all at full power) bouncing off the ceiling and worry about fixing any harsh shadows or uneven lighting in post production (not the perfect situation but given the very limited time I get, I have no choice but to deal with it in PP).

One thing I've learned over the years is that group photos are a nightmare, there are always lots of things going wrong e.g. a few people are looking away from the camera (maybe checking the bosom of lady next to them or in front  ;D) or someone with their eyes closed, or looking grumpy etc etc etc ... so I take as many photos as I can in that short time and clone eyes (or even heads sometimes) from one image to the other.

As I work in a company that has 47 nationalities with varied skin tones, the group photos usually have some dark skinned people standing next to a very fair skinned person etc ... so I do have to use "screen" in Photoshop Layers to bring out the details in the dark skinned people.  In an ideal world, I'd have an assistant, massive fancy backdrops, top-of-the-line lighting equipment etc etc, but since I only have what I have, I reply heavily on photoshop for fixing group photos ... thank God for photoshop!

Brilliant! Thank you so much for this! I feel more confident about bouncing as per my original plan. And yeah I suppose I can fix up shadows in LR or Photoshop fairly easily.

The bosom thing made me laugh btw  ;D
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Rienzphotoz

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2013, 07:40:21 AM »
Rienzphoto - When you said you bounce two speedlites off the ceiling are they both together or split? Both at same power levels? And where do you place the LED, are they acting as fill?
In my working conditions its a bit difficult to answer that question as it varies from situation to situation ... but let me try (hope it isn't too confusing) ... if the room has identical ambient light I always split up my speedlites (at full power, if it is a large group of people ... both speedlites at the same power levels).
If the ambient light is different on one side of the group to the other, then I use the LED lights to bounce the LED light on the side where there is less ambient light to match the brighter side (but with the short time I have, this is never perfect, but it does minimize harsh shadows).

Having said that, if the group is very large, I do occasionally use the speedlites + the LED (all at full power) bouncing off the ceiling and worry about fixing any harsh shadows or uneven lighting in post production (not the perfect situation but given the very limited time I get, I have no choice but to deal with it in PP).

One thing I've learned over the years is that group photos are a nightmare, there are always lots of things going wrong e.g. a few people are looking away from the camera (maybe checking the bosom of lady next to them or in front  ;D) or someone with their eyes closed, or looking grumpy etc etc etc ... so I take as many photos as I can in that short time and clone eyes (or even heads sometimes) from one image to the other.

As I work in a company that has 47 nationalities with varied skin tones, the group photos usually have some dark skinned people standing next to a very fair skinned person etc ... so I do have to use "screen" in Photoshop Layers to bring out the details in the dark skinned people.  In an ideal world, I'd have an assistant, massive fancy backdrops, top-of-the-line lighting equipment etc etc, but since I only have what I have, I reply heavily on photoshop for fixing group photos ... thank God for photoshop!

Brilliant! Thank you so much for this! I feel more confident about bouncing as per my original plan. And yeah I suppose I can fix up shadows in LR or Photoshop fairly easily.

The bosom thing made me laugh btw  ;D
You are most welcome ... wish you all the best for a great shoot ... remember, where there is no hope, sometimes there is photoshop! ;D
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adebrophy

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2013, 08:47:27 AM »
Great subject - I learned a lot from the advice on bigger groups here.

On individual headshots, I'd recommend a very fast option - find a large window and use that as one light and set up a strobe and umbrella on the opposite side. The results can be gorgeous - nice diffuse light all round - and you're working with one light, one stand, one modifier and a trigger on camera. Makes it very fast to dash between rooms if you have to!!
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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2013, 09:07:51 AM »
Good to see some folks stepping in to help the OP.....kinda what these forums should be about.  Some people were born professional, experienced photographers.....we mere mortals have to learn.  Have fun and let us know how it works out, Zv!

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2013, 09:07:51 AM »

Zv

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2013, 09:43:01 AM »
Good to see some folks stepping in to help the OP.....kinda what these forums should be about.  Some people were born professional, experienced photographers.....we mere mortals have to learn.  Have fun and let us know how it works out, Zv!

Isn't until the 30th. In the meantime I'll be practicing in my living room and any other place I can! I'll keep you guys up to date.

Adebrophy - hmmm finding a room with a window in a Japanese office might be difficult!  :P
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RAKAMRAK

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2013, 10:11:49 AM »


Adebrophy - hmmm finding a room with a window in a Japanese office might be difficult!  :P
(This might not give you "professional" arty portraits, but will give properly exposed headshots; however it is so stupid lighting that you may not even think it is worth it)

Ok, can you find an inside corner of two white walls?  Then stand kind of at the vortex of the two white walls such that the two walls are behind you (imagine standing in the middle of "V") Ask your subject to stand at the open end of that "V", mount the speedlight on your camera but facing backwards towards the corner and fire. The results always pleases me for simple headshots.

Another good headshot lighting is available in hallways (not too wide and with white walls). Put the speedlight off camera facing one of the walls (right or left) Now depending on where you make your subject stand you can get differential lighting on both sides of the face. You may also use two speedlights hitting both the walls and get more even (or by chaning power of the flashes differential) lighting on both sides of the flash. For the headshots I will always go for bounced light (assuming that you do not have softbox or any such contraption). And if possible get some large white chart paper (may be called art paper or cartridge paper in your country). You can probably pin or tape them on any wall or glass window or partition or even white board and use them as reflector for any of the above lighting set ups.

Also pay attention to how you are asking your subjects to pose for the headshots. Do not let them stand as if you are taking passport photos. Make them stand side ways facing you. They may rest their hands on something, brace themselves tightly or looses.... different poses with similar lighting will also give you different results.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 10:14:49 AM by RAKAMRAK »
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agierke

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2013, 10:50:50 AM »
lighting is simple, 2 45" umbrellas to left and right. get them positioned above the subjects heads so shadows fall behind them. speedlights or strobes doesnt matter so long as you understand your limitations on power output and how that will affect your optimal exposure settings. dont overthink this...you dont have the time to mess about.

the real problem will be 1. finding space to accommodate a group of 30 2. organizing that group of 30 so they aren't a mess piled on top of each other and (steps or chairs will come in handy) 3. maintaining enough depth of feild (this will greatly depend on the maximum power output your lights are capable of).

i would bring a step ladder if i were you.
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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2013, 12:03:50 AM »
My YN-560IIIs arrived today!   :D

Just had a play about with them there - these things are frikkin awesome! Especially considering the price. Built in wireless trigger work real nice and the speedlite makes a recycling whine (can be switched off) to let you know it's ready. Pretty cool!

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pwp

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2013, 03:32:29 AM »
Flashes for this type of group photo, no scouting, multiple locations, limited set-up time, no assitants = recipe for disaster
Brilliant! Thank you so much for this! I feel more confident about bouncing as per my original plan.

If you haven't done a location check how can you be sure you can bounce your Speedlights? I've gone into locations and been hit with 40 foot ceilings, or dark brown wood ceilings or had to contend with incredibly bright light from windows that speedlights couldn't possibly balance against. Assume nothing about your location.

Personally I just wouldn't dream of approaching an indoor group photo of 30 people equipped with speedlights. You need good old fashioned V8 universe horsepower. That means mains powered monos, be they Einsteins, Alien Bees, Profoto or whatever. In the absence of a location check, I'd go to this job with six Einsteins and a selection of modifiers. But if you are going for it with speedlights, then good luck. I hope the physical environment at your venue works in your favor. If you're doing lots of headshots as well with your speedlights, be aware that you'll flatten the batteries in short order. Take plenty of spares, external battery packs if possible.

A tip about positioning people, if you can't achieve even lighting, put the palest skinned people where there is the least light and the darkest skinned people in the lighting hotspots.

Lotsa luck!

-PW

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2013, 04:50:53 AM »
PWP - thanks, good tip about the skin tones. The ceiling is relatively low and walls are white according to the client. I saw some pics of inside the office. Looks like any other office. No wood paneling!
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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2013, 04:50:53 AM »

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2013, 11:22:32 AM »

adebrophy

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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2013, 03:58:57 AM »

Adebrophy - hmmm finding a room with a window in a Japanese office might be difficult!  :P

Ah - good point! Two umbrellas two flashes is the only way. Or three if you want to light the background or create a nice rim light. But the point of using window/ambient is that doing lots of headshots when you need to move around an office a lot and don't get the luxury of setting up with lots of time means that - as you suggested - simpler can be best. It also helps subjects relax more.

One good tip from Strobist.com was using coloured gels to warm up your flash much more than the ambient. Colour correcting afterwards in post makes the non lit sections cooler than the subject. Its a good way of making a dull office look good without having to light the room as well. Another example of more with less that's faster.

By the way, I should add that I'm still quite new to doing paid jobs so unlike some of the others here - who are offering excellent and very valid advice on much more sophisticated lighting set ups - I am sticking to simpler set ups to make things faster and to let me focus on the subject and the shot and not the lighting.

Having said that, as I've grown beyond those simple techniques, I still find that for the most part doing photos of people in at work means speed is more often more important. Execs too busy to stick to time slots, impromptu set ups in meeting rooms, subjects not willing to all come to one location on site... Often keeping mobile and simple is better for the client too, which is another reason a bag of flashguns isn't neccessarily a bad option. If you can stay on top of the batteries!
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Re: Lighting large groups, help needed!
« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2013, 03:58:57 AM »