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Old 04-11-2008   #11
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Default Re: Powerful enough?

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Originally Posted by dffrantiask View Post
Bob, I have a couple of Photogenic strobes and sb800, and live in Danville Oh (Knox County) about an hour away from Columbus. I would be happy to come and assist you if you want.
Don Frantisak
Thanks for the offer Don - much appreciated, but I already have several monolights (also Photogenic). Unfortunately, there won't be enough time to set everything up, pose/shoot the class pictures and then take it all down in the time allowed. That's why I'm trying to get these shots with my most powerful flash.


Bob S.
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Old 04-11-2008   #12
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Default Re: Powerful enough?

I don't know if a 16"x12" is going to worth anything because it is so small. You might be better off bouncing the flash off of a large foam core board, maybe covered in foil so you don't lose so much light (the foil may not even be needed). You probably could grab someone to hold the reflector for you. Gooo luck.

Bryan
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Old 04-11-2008   #13
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Default Re: Powerful enough?

After 50 years in the photography business, I too try to avoid jobs with almost ridiculous time constraints. There are times, however, in order to get the job done, when you just have to make do with the time available to you,

The key to success when you have restrictive time schedules hanging over your head is good planning. It is best to check out the venue you are going to be working in to avoid nasty surprises such as bad backgrounds, no space to set up your groups or things like no chairs being available if you need to pose your group pictures in rows.

I prefer to set up soft boxes or umbrellas to light groups but if there is no time or space to do that, the old candid man's (wedding photographer's) method of using two portable electronic flash units, one mounted above the camera on a bracket and the other on a mono-pod maned by an assistant, can provide great lighting even for large groups.

The light mound above the camera is the fill light and the remote light is place about 24 to 30 degrees from the camera subject axis and provides some modeling and depth of lighting. The modeling is for the three-dimensional look (highlights and shadows) and the depth of lighting means that if you have the remote light high enough it will give you even lighting with up to 4 rows of people. Make sure the light are carefully aimed to prevent fall off at the edges of your composition.

When shooting you may want to secure some elevation- a stepladder will come in handy- shoot from a level half way up the group so that you can see all the faces. Never pose people directly behind each other- have the people in the second, third or fourth row peek out from between the shoulders of the folks in front of them. If the front row of people who are seated, watch out for awkward leg and foot positions. People should be seated so the are well supported by the seats but should lean forward so that the are not leaning back too much- the yshould bend forward at the waist. If you divide the group in half down the middle, have one side of the group with their bodies facing in at about 25 degrees and the other half in the other direction. If instructors are included in the groups, seat them in the front and middle of the group and have everyone else posed around them.

With this suggested lighting system, there are no troublesome stands to set up and take down, You can concentrate on posing and expression and shoot each group quickly and easily. Make several exposures to assure you have everyone's eyes open with good expressions. Talk to the group so that you have their attention at the moment of each exposure.

If you know the group populations in advance you can set up your chairs so that no time is wasted once the people are ready to come in. In larger groups I will usually have on (front) row seated, the next row standing behind them and the last row standing on chairs behind the second row. I place the last row of chairs with the backs facing front, If you have steps or a riser unit on a stage you can do the shot without chairs.

Exposure- 5.6 is the widest aperture I would recommend. With a couple of 100 watt/second units you should be able to pull this off.

If you need to use a wide angle lens or zoom setting, try to keep the camera level and crop out too much ceiling or floor in printing- shooting down with wide angle lenses can causes for shortening. Use the normal lens or zoom setting if you can. Focus 1/3 into the group for depth of field.

I hope this helps. Ed
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Old 04-11-2008   #14
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Default Re: Powerful enough?

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If you divide the group in half down the middle, have one side of the group with their bodies facing in at about 25 degrees and the other half in the other direction. If instructors are included in the groups, seat them in the front and middle of the group and have everyone else posed around them.

If you know the group populations in advance you can set up your chairs so that no time is wasted once the people are ready to come in. In larger groups I will usually have on (front) row seated, the next row standing behind them
I hope this helps. Ed
Thanks Ed!

I know how many folks are to be in each shot, so I already planned how many rows, how many seated/standing and whether to divide the groups down the middle.

Just like you mentioned - so I must be on the right track!!


Bob S.
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Old 04-11-2008   #15
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Default Re: Powerful enough?

Hi again Bob!

You have taken steps in the right direction for sure! I guess it's just a matter of the lighting and the strength of the lights. Over the years, I have been using rather high output portable flash units. Presently I use the Lumadyne systems with Q-flash and Lumadyne heads. Theses units feature large round reflectors which yield broad even light patterns. I don't know exactly what some of the smaller dedicated flash units actually put out. I would guess some of the self contained units give you about 80 watt/seconds. The question is not only the light output but whether or not you will get the coverage you need for larger groups. Some of the smaller units are surprisingly powerful and have enough coverage even when a wide angle lenses are used- some do not have the coverage because the additional "power" is gained by using shiny and concentrated reflectors behind the flash tube- you get a good blast of light but relatively poor coverage. Only testing will revel of you units have the coverage. Shooting a white or lightly painted wall will tell the story. Use the focal length and distance you are gonna use at the shoot and see of there is any significant fall off at the edges. A 2 light system will help with this issue but if that turns out not to be the case, it may pay to set up your mono-lights and bring along some help to assist you in setups and take-downs.

Best of luck on that shoot- Ed
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Old 04-13-2008   #16
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Default Re: Powerful enough?

Posing is probably going to be your best asset to reduce the width of the group. Obviously anytime you reduce the width the closer you can get to the group. You have enough power to properly expose the groups even if you just point and shoot. ISO 200 or 400 should give you more than enough on your largest group.

If you turn the outside people into facing the middle on both sides of center and squeeze in, position a few heads in the back row to go between gaps so you are not blocking heads; you can get by with 3 rows deep at about 3 feet in depth. Position yourself higher as mentioned with a step ladder and bang away.

How I would probably do it is 6 chairs down. 8 in middle and 6 heads in back on your group of 20. Tallest in middle to shortest outside.

Art is sacrificed in circumstances giving to you. Worrying about that can get you in trouble when capturing history while good composition, exposure, and focus will be the art. So I like your basic idea of your light higher than you.

Also here is where a vagabond portable power two light alien bee set up with umbrellas would come in handy. Tear down would be just a minute.

J T


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