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Archive 2011 · Marching Band on Risers
  
 
Peter Jonas
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Marching Band on Risers


I am shooting a picture of our highschool marching band next week--about 120 kids on risers in an auditorium with a dark background. I am thinking about setting up studio strobes on the left and right side directed toward the kids and using my camera strobe on a bracket to light the middle. My concern is getting fairly even light with a very wide group. Or should I use a light in the back to seperate the kids heads a little better from the background? Or am I making life to complicated for myself, and I should just fire away with my flash on the bracket. I have the two monolight strobes and one flash, which I can also put on a stand if necessary. I have a canon t2i and the standard 17-55 lens. Thanks for any help.


Dec 08, 2011 at 10:18 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Marching Band on Risers


Groups on risers are difficult scenario for a number of reasons. It's not just a question of even lighting across the group but making it flattering also (faces lit from above / similar pattern on all the faces). You also have the optical problem of near/far perspective: the heads in the back row further away winding up looking smaller than those in front.

To tackle the perspective problem you'd want to shoot from a ladder which puts the camera above the top row looking down so the camera sensor plane and angle of the risers are parallel and equidistant / / from front > back row. You'll also want to be up off the ground so the camera doesn't wind up looking up the noses of folk in the upper tiers.

What lens are you planning to use? Avoid any UWA with anastigmatic distortion on edges. The further you can get the less near/far distortion you'll have.

The simplest and most effective lighting solution with your limited gear, ceiling permitting, would be to bounce the lights up off the ceiling down into faces upturned and looking at the camera, cranking up the ISO as needed. The light will be more uniform and from a more flattering downward angle that way. What you want to avoid with crossed light strategies is different patterns on the faces.

Given the logistics I'd suggest a test shoot. As a stand in for the faces get a bag of white shop towels from Costco or a roll of paper towels and spread them around in the same area the faces will occupy. Set up the lights and try to get them all clipping at the same time in the camera warning. That's the easiest way to determine if the lighting is even. Then by simply closing the lens 1/3 stop you'll have perfectly exposed faces .







Dec 09, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Peter Jonas
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Marching Band on Risers


I also have a zoom lens and an 85 1.8. I assumed I would need a wide angle to get them all in. I never thought about backing way up into the auditorium and using a ladder. I have to see what color that ceiling is and if it is plausable to bounce light off it.

Would you suggest bouncing from an on camera flash, or bouncing with my monolights?



Dec 09, 2011 at 04:11 AM
onetrack
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Marching Band on Risers


Two large umbrellas high, camera left and right, high enough to evenly light front to back and left to right.

Third light about 3 ft off the floor in center, strip box if you have one.

Camera on tripod about center height of the group. Perhaps a little lower.

Back up as far as possible to reduce the need for wide angle. F8 or F11 is likely needed.

You should be able to meter across all of the risers and be within 0.2 fstops of your target.

Since your background is dark, consider a strip light high and behind as a hair light.

You could drag the shutter and use the stage lights as hair lights but you'll have to experiment.



Dec 09, 2011 at 01:59 PM
jfnphotography
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Marching Band on Risers


+1F8 or F11 is likely needed.

+1ladder

Get a bullhorn or use the PA system to get people attention. (highschool kids)

Tell everyone to make sure they can see your camera lens.

If you have budget I would rent some lights.

I like to use 2 60" umbrellas crossing for large groups. Then if you have a low ceiling bounce a light or 2 for hair light.



Dec 09, 2011 at 04:26 PM
 

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BrianO
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Marching Band on Risers


cgardner wrote:
...To tackle the perspective problem you'd want to shoot from a ladder which puts the camera above the top row looking down so the camera sensor plane and angle of the risers are parallel and equidistant / / from front > back row. You'll also want to be up off the ground so the camera doesn't wind up looking up the noses of folk in the upper tiers. ...The further [back] you can get the less near/far distortion you'll have.


Ditto.

jfnphotography wrote:
I like to use 2 60" umbrellas crossing for large groups.


Ditto.

Peter Jonas wrote:
...Would you suggest bouncing from an on camera flash, or bouncing with my monolights?


Neither. Use big strobes in big umbrellas from far back and up high; just as with the camera. By moving powerful lights back from the risers, you'll have less fall-off from front to back, and a narrower angle from the lens axis so one person's head will be less likely to cast a shadow on another's face.



Dec 09, 2011 at 05:49 PM
jfnphotography
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Marching Band on Risers


Use big strobes in big umbrellas from far back and up highI have a Speedotron 4803cx pack with 102 heads for large groups. I can put from 2400w to 1200w into my umbrellas to light large groups.




Dec 09, 2011 at 09:03 PM
mrscott
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Marching Band on Risers


Good reading from a few years back...

http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10046-10396



Dec 10, 2011 at 12:40 PM
DavidSchneider
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Marching Band on Risers


I've done this kind of thing a few times. The suggestion of a ladder, preferably a 14 footer, is right one. In addition, if at all possible, you want to use the longest lens you can. The ladder will help enormously, but the longer lens you can use the less you'll have fat heads in the front row and pin heads in the back row.

Two umbrellas or similar will work. Three would be better. You MUST check your lights with meter to make sure illumination is the same top to bottom and side to side. That will cut down on a ton of post production work, but still shoot raw. Position the lights as close to the group as possible where they aren't in your camera's view, but even illumination is more important than power.

I'd also see about a lens that will result in better quality than that kit lens. I use medium format for groups, but if you aren't printing big, dlsr will work ok, but try to upgrade that lens. Use some kind of support, even on that ladder. I've used a monopod or a leg or three of a tripod.

Be in shouting voice to the band director. Just tell him to move people you've identified as being blocked or can see clearly or have their instruments in front of their face. I try to give the tuba guys a warning so they can lift it up to get it off their face. Marching bands usually are like military organizations and take direction very well.

I'd use Pocket Wizards to trip the strobes, but if you have two studio strobes and do have them in front of you, you might get away with your on-camera flash hitting their optical slave. Better test that.

You also need to know (not guess) at your depth of field and if you have to bump up the ISO, that's what you have to do and deal with getting rid of noise and sharpening in post production.

If that background is dark and their uniforms are dark or you have dark complexsion kids, that's another factor. Again, helps to shoot raw and will help even more if you can use a tripod.



Dec 18, 2011 at 12:20 AM





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