"End of year school portraits and class group shoot.."
I got “volunteered” to do end of year school portraits and class group shoot.. These are third graders. It will be taken outdoors in a 9am sun with panoramic hills in the background. Thought of having them sit down because quite of few are hyper-active. Of course I will also sit to equal the height and help with my bad back. I have the D7100 and a D200 cameras and the 12-24mm - 50mm - 105mm 18-200 Nikon lenses. Thought of using the following settings and lenses on the D7100. 200 ISO with a 105mm using AFS-S or single square to aim at the eye. Then for the class group photo thought of using the 12-24mm using close to 22 mmm or so and use AFS but use the d51 clusters setting. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Ben
#1. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 0
St Petersburg, RU
Sounds like fun! First order is to be prepared to shoot when they get assembled, their patience will wane in about 45 seconds. Where is the sun in relationship to the hills and subjects? Are they going to be back lit? If so you will several strobes to balance the background and foreground. If to the side you still need fill flash, a lot of it since you need to shoot f/8 or smaller aperture to get everyone in focus and a lot smaller if the distant hills will also need to be in sharp focus. I would not shoot too of angle or else those on the edges will look fat. Tell us more about the scene and sun position. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#2. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 1
I have no flash or strobe that I can use. The sun should be over my right shoulder at about a 9am. The hills will be behind the students and the morning sun will hit their faces slightly from the right or over my right shoulder. Have to see on site the best position. Ben
#3. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 2 Wed 12-Jun-13 05:19 PM by Omaha
Avoid having them look into the sun. It will make them squint.
If you don't have strobes available, then a basic reflector would be helpful to fill in the light on their faces (assuming you find a way to keep them from facing into the sun in the first place). That won't be of any use on the group shot, but it will help the individual shots come out.
#4. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 3
Thanks, Will position them so they will not have the sun directly in their eyes. Once again are these the settings below what I should use?
Thought of using the following settings and lenses on the D7100. 200 ISO with a 105mm using AFS-S or single square to aim at the eye. Then for the class group photo thought of using the 12-24mm using close to 22 mmm or so and use AFS but use the d51 clusters setting. Thanks again, Ben
#5. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 4 Thu 13-Jun-13 01:50 AM by Omaha
If you've got strong light, then the ISO 200 should be fine. You could even go to 100 if you felt like it, but for a shoot like this, I'd shoot in aperture priority mode, set the minimum shutter speed to something like 1/200s, and let Auto ISO handle the rest.
In terms of focus (on the individual shots) , you're dealing with a static subject so your idea of using a single point on the subject's eye should work fine. In fact, coincidentally just this afternoon I shot a graduating master's degree student and used that exact technique.
Questions of focal length get a bit more into artistic questions of what you are looking for. For the individual students, are you looking for heavy isolation from the background, or are you wanting the background to be more visible/in focus? In general, the more isolated you want the background, the longer the lens and the more open the aperture. Of course, if you go that route then it puts more pressure on your focusing and your technique, since your available depth of field will be razor thin. Concentration/steady hands/breath control are in order...or just use a tripod.
For the group shot, if you go with a very wide lens like that, you will have enormous depth of field, (even at wide open aperture), so your focus settings are less critical. Shoot it at f/8, pick a kid that is more or less in the middle of the group (front to back, that is), put a single focus point on him and you're good to go. Just make sure they are lined up (again, in terms of front to back) within two or three feet of each other.
Personally, I think that's too wide of a lens for this sort of shot. I'd prefer to stick with the 105 and just back up as much as needed to get them all in frame.
#7. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 6
St Petersburg, RU
For head and shoulder shots, since you have room to back up, the 105 would be my choice and not the 50 since you need to be closer and it does not give the compression effect that a telephoto does that is flattering. These will probably be head and shoulders with shoulders not square to the camera axis. If you need to use fill flash with your built in flash, you will need to use the 50 so you can get closer.
I would mostly be concerned with hard shadows which produces a contrasty image that is often not flattering. Wide bright eyes will require shade and them being in it long enough to open the irises. For the individual shots you can use a white bed sheet or table cloth stretched over a frame made of 1/2 in od PVC pipe in a square using 90 degree elbows and set them on a stool to get them to a good height for you to shoot possibly sitting down. Position the shade so it shades the subject. If you are not familiar with manual shooting with a dark foreground and brighter background, use your built-in fill flash and Matrix metering so it exposes the brighter background correctly and the fill flash brings the face up to the background level. That way you can have shade adjusted eyes, no hard shadows and proper exposure in both the hills beyond and the subject. If you are using fill flash you will shoot at lower shutter speed so stopping down is required to get proper exposure. It sounds more complicated than it is to do. Once you set up, all will use the same settings. Go a day before and test it, use a hairstylist's wig dummy head, available at any beauty supply house for about $6 so you can experiment without boring a model Stan St Petersburg Russia
#8. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 7
Thank you Stan, I do plan to use the 105 the head and shoulder shots. Was thinking of also using the 50 1.8 for the group shot. I do own a SB-800 flash, but have hardly ever used it and don’t know what setting to use on the flash. Since the shoot in tomorrow, Friday morning, I don’t have the time and access to setup a frame since I live way out of town. Will arrive an hour earlier and asked my wife to come along and so I can experiment. Ben
#9. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 8
Oh, Man! If you've got an SB-800, you've got it made! Unlike the built-in flash, it will be high enough away from the lens that the end of the lens won't cast a shadow. Its a perfect setup. One of the truly stand-out features of Nikon cameras is their absolute magic use of fill flash. You just about can't go wrong.
Seriously, even if you're not too familiar with it, try to take an hour this afternoon to familiarize yourself with the settings. It will be well worth it.
Here's what you do:
- Make sure your camera is set to matrix metering with "zero" exposure compensation. You set those by holding down the buttons immediately behind the shutter button while turning the rear control wheel.
- Mount up the SB-800.
- Press and hold the little "Flash" button that's on the front of the camera, on the left hand side (as you hold the camera that is).
- With the flash button held down, turn the front control wheel back and forth. You'll see the top display go from "+1" to "-3" (those are measured in "stops") in 1/3 stop increments. Personally, in a situation like yours I prefer to set the fill flash to "-.3" (ie, minus one-third stop).
- With the flash button still held down, turn the rear control wheel. You'll see the top display switch between "eyeball" and "rear". Personally, I always use "rear".
- Make sure the flash is set to "TTL" (stands for "through the lens") mode. I have an SB-700, which has a slider switch for that. I think the SB-800 has it in the menus.
That's it. Prepare yourself for portraits that just "POP"!
#11. "RE: End of year school portraits and class group shoot.." In response to Reply # 10
This is a follow-up of how the shoot went.
I should have sent this early and excuse myself. First of all I thank everyone for their advice. I bought my first and until now the Nikon D200 a few months after it came out. At the time I purchased a number of Nikon lenses and the SB-800. Personally, I have always hated flashes. When I was a kid I must have burnt my fingertips changes flashbulbs. Then I read there were some photographers that followed the “Available light school” of shooting photos. Over the years have used the flash a couple of times and really never learnt to use. Well, I decided I have to use it for fill-ins after reading your posts. Got the flash ready and practiced on my wife and finally got it going. Arrived early to get test shots. Finally, the principal and the teachers got each class to come out one class at a time. I was sitting on a chair and each kid sat on a stool in front of me. The big moment arrived as I aimed my D7100with my 105 mounted on it with my flash. Shot the photo and the SB-800 did not go off. It had worked the day before and even ½ and hour before. Yes I had new batteries and even changed them on the stop with another set of five. Nada. I came home and found a very small green corrosive spot on a the “Quick Recycling Battery Pack” that houses the fifth battery. Don’t know for sure if that was the reason, but it was sure a SB-800 revenge for having it lie on the shelf for so many years Conclusions; You were all right that I needed flash to fill-ins. A few children complained about the sun in their eyes if though the sun was not directly in their eyes. The principal, a warm person and loved by most of his students helped put a warm smile of their faces. Luckily the shoot was still successful because of most of the kids enjoying themselves. Very true the photos do show some shadows and will I will definitely start learning to be comfortable with the flash. I photographed about 45 students plus staff. The principal told me he would like me to shoot 4 classes next year which would be about 200(+) students and staff. Once again thank you all for your help. Ben