April 5, 2017 at 7:45 pm #22755
Hey James, I have a question for you!
I have participated in an orchestra/choir for a couple of years now, and this year I sort of volunteered to be the photographer for the group photo. I have seen the group photos for the last couple of years, and the photographer in me felt that there had to be something better. 🙂 You can see one of the earlier group photos on their website here: http://www.lyricasacra.com/ , the group photo from last year is attached.
Here’s the deal: We’re going to be singing in the same place as the picture above ^, with all that HUGE dynamic range! I immediately thought of my 2 little speedlights, but I’m afraid they’re going to be a mere drop in the bucket of that big auditorium… I know I’ll be using my 17-70mm f/2.8-4 lens, since it’s faster than a kit lens. I know I’m going to have to be shooting with a fairly high ISO to expose properly, but I also have to be double sure not to blow the highlights, or I’m sunk! I plan to take my laptop along and quickly review the photos after the shoot, so if I mess something up dreadfully I might get a chance to fix it. I also hope to take some practice shots the night before during rehearsal so that I can know better what to expect.
I’m sure I’m forgetting something though. 🙂 What other recommendations do you have for this situation?
April 17, 2017 at 7:46 pm #22934
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One thing I forgot to mention in the video is the fact that I don’t think it will do much good to have your computer there. It will take way too long for you to snap a photo of your audience, download it to your computer, check over all the pictures, and make a decision as to whether or not you want to shoot it again all while your audience is waiting for you to tell them your verdict.
However, if you want, you could pre-arrange to shoot them twice, once at the beginning before they practice, then you could look over the pictures while they practice, and then you could shoot again after they practice. But this isn’t as good as getting it right the first time.April 18, 2017 at 8:33 am #22944
Thanks @jamesstaddon, for all the advice! Unfortunately, it was all over before I got it! 🙂 I did actually follow some of your advice though, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. 🙂
Being the perfectionist that I am, I’m not 100% happy with the results, but hopefully I’ve learned a few things that will make the next one better! What’s important is that the person who “contracted” me is happy, and so far I think that goal is attained, so that makes me feel a lot better.
So, I didn’t get to take a “practice” shot, there just wasn’t time. I did bring my tripod along, and use it, which was good, because it forced me to slow down, make sure the camera was level, and get a burst of similar shots that can be used to pick the best of the bunch. I actually had a bit more light than I expected, I was able to get by with ISO 1000, 1/100 shutter speed, and f/4.5 (for maximum sharpness and DOF) I used my camera’s live-view AF which actually is very accurate. Looking back, I probably should have tried manual focus, I think the picture could have been a tad sharper with more accurate focus.
I did briefly test my speedlights, but as I expected, they just didn’t have enough power to make a difference for the better. The “ceiling” above the group was a mess of spotlights and stage curtains, so I couldn’t bounce off the ceiling, which limited the effectiveness of the flash. I knew I didn’t want harsh straight-on lighting, so I just went with what I had available from the stage lights. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice till after the fact that they had some weird red lights shining on the very edges of the choir. If some people at the edge of the frame look like they’re really hot or embarrassed, it’s the crazy stage lighting. 🙁
One big disappointment was how soft the edges of the frame were! I expected more from that lens! 🙁 (Next time I think I’ll shoot a little wider, and crop out the blurry part.)
I did shoot RAW, and I manually set the WB so that it would be consistent throughout the sequence of photos. It was WAY too warm, but a quick adjustment in Lightroom made it neutral.
You were right, positioning of the people was one of the most important aspects of the whole photoshoot, and it was the first thing the director looked for when I sent him the final photo. I can see now how I should have paid more attention to that, there are a couple of faces that are partially hidden, and a couple of little gaps that should have been closed. I’m definitely going to put “POSITIONING” on my to-do list for next time! 🙂
I do have another question for you, @jamesstaddon. How would you crop this photo? The photo above was how I finally decided, but I’ve attached an uncropped one so you can see what I have. Since the group isn’t perfectly centered in front of the white “sound boards” (or whatever they’re called), it makes it rather difficult to decide what is best. I went with a tighter crop, because the director wanted to have the faces as visible (large) as possible.May 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm #23234
This is fantastic! So much better than the first shot you showed. I’ll plan on giving my follow up thoughts on Saturday’s webinar….May 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm #23372May 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm #23399
Thanks, @jamesstaddon. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but part of the reason for the gap in the rear men’s row is because I was missing! 🙂April 16, 2018 at 9:54 pm #30446
Just as a follow-up to this discussion…
I was asked to take the group photo again this year, and your tips were very helpful, @jamesstaddon! I was so worried about the technical details last year that I really overlooked the “big picture” (pardon the pun). 🙂
This year I hardly even bothered with the exposure and focus, I just set it quickly, then spent most of the time getting the group arranged into a more pleasing arrangement, (and I’m very glad I did). It’s still not perfect, but in my estimation it’s a very definite improvement over last year’s photo in that regard, so I guess I’m happy. 🙂April 19, 2018 at 9:48 pm #30469
Please pardon the question @buddingphotographer but they are Mennonites aren’t they? Very nice shots! 🙂 God bless.April 19, 2018 at 9:58 pm #30470
Sorry Ezra Morley! 🙁April 20, 2018 at 9:39 am #30471May 8, 2018 at 5:56 pm #30716
Thanks!!!! I’ll check it out. 😀May 25, 2018 at 12:57 pm #31005
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