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Archive 2012 · Shooting holiday photos
  
 
gnod
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p.2 #1 · Shooting holiday photos


nolaguy wrote:


haha sorry about that one. to be frank, i wasn't given a budget... yet.



Oct 19, 2012 at 09:37 PM
gnod
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p.2 #2 · Shooting holiday photos


so i discussed some ideas a bit more with my pastor and found the following.
there's about 40 couples, with kids.
and around 40 singles at most.
plus or minus 20 so i'd say at most 100 people, probably not.

i think in terms of budget, it really depends on the direction of what we're trying to accomplish in the next few weeks. i think it can go either way but here's the 2 possible routes.

1. take family portraits for annual photo album (for record/distributing purposes). We've never had this and really will be good to begin this year.
2. distribute these photos (i'll likely be giving out at max 4 photos per family if this route is taken), to give the families the freedom to use them however they see fit for their holiday cards (since most families go to CVS, Target or online for families photos anyway). I feel like at this point in my experience and quality, asking for monetary requirement was pushing it, while we're opening it up to donations as the families see fit.

The way I envision this going is instead of the old-school pro film style with the gray background, almost stern faced portrait shots, I was thinking of keeping it light and fun for the whole family. I'll be scoping out some areas to shoot in my church but I saw this recently and loved this back drop idea and was thinking, hey this can work with the family shots too (if big enough)! http://bklynbrideonline.com/24815/engagement-love-shoots/engagement-shoot-lauren-zac/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bklynbrideonline%2FSRBY+%28Brooklyn+Bride+-+Modern+Wedding+Blog%29

i think it'll be great if i can: 1) find a big enough back drop of this color and stand 2) find stools/benches for the parents to sit on with kids 3) ask families to bring in their own "personalized" props for the shoot.

thoughts? problems you see? please share!!!




Oct 25, 2012 at 06:59 PM
nolaguy
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p.2 #3 · Shooting holiday photos


Hi again, gnod,

Did you ever decide on lighting?




Oct 25, 2012 at 11:41 PM
gnod
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p.2 #4 · Shooting holiday photos


Not yet but I'm assuming 2 strobe off camera lights.


Oct 25, 2012 at 11:45 PM
nolaguy
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p.2 #5 · Shooting holiday photos


Hi gnod,

This has become so last minute. You face significant challenges, and with all respect, you don’t seem to feel the actual urgency of the matter. You seem to be still focusing on the less important matters and I’m tempted to suggest you put this off till next year.

Nevertheless, again, good for you for wanting to give your time, talent and use of your gear to such an admirable endeavor. If you press on, I’d strenuously suggest…

F o r g e t props for now. It may not feel like it but you’re deep in the heat of battle and so far it’s not looking well for the good guys. I urge you to work everything else out and don’t think about props again until the week or day before you begin shooting.

The scope you describe is big – you’re attacking 100 portrait sessions with four days to work with. With an average of 6 productive hours each day (assuming you work a long day and your assistant(s) move people through like cattle) you’re looking at 14 minutes per portrait – actually, it’s 14 minutes per portrait mini-SESSION.

Unfortunately, that’s optimistic. People will arrive late or wander off and things will go wrong. Your assistantS (it should be clear by now you need more than one) won’t be able to control everyone. They/you will wind up trying to move the schedule around and that won’t solve all problems, but it will create more. A few families may get irritable and just walk. It’s possible that many more will thank you anyway but say they have to run. Or you may have such a close congregation that they’d never do that but when things get tedious, it’s only reasonable to expect that they’d want to. Consequently, you need to be a photography machine to make this happen.

Alluded to in an earlier post, I urge you to view these sessions as production. You’re setting up a manufacturing line to crank out images as consistently as possible with as little guess work as possible.

Preparing for almost worst case, you’re going to be lucky if you have 5 or 10 minutes with each subject/family. There will be little room for creativity or missteps. It’ll be more like:

“Hi. Move here. Do this. Click. Thank you. Next.”


It goes without saying, you can’t depend upon natural light in a series of long sessions like this. This moment, IMHO, you should focus on two things:

1) your artificial lighting (doesn’t have to be strobes – you can do this with Home Depot shop lights – and considering you’re very new to OCF, continuous may make things easier on you);

2) understanding your lens options, choice and aperture settings to isolate your subjects from whatever background you choose (or wind up with) – and frankly, the backdrop almost doesn’t matter at this point. Focus on your lights, one or two reflectors, and how you’re going to use your lens settings to keep everyone in focus and the background nothing but pleasant blur (recall the DOF notes no_surrender and jefferies1 offered).

You’re biting off a lot with this shoot and it could turn to worms if you don’t keep it simple. You want everything in the background to fade into nothing but you also need to make sure your aperture is stopped down enough (high enough f/stop number) that the three or four feet of depth difference (from your lens) that group shots may involve will 1) include everyone in focus and 2) bokeh/blur the background. See: http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html


I’m probably forgetting things but this is my suggested short list:

1) a location with (given your camera and lenses) 15 to 20 feet of distance to your subjects and 8 or so feet (more would be better) between them and whatever backdrop is present;

2) the two strobes you reference (spare bulbs?); how are you triggering them?

3) 2 stands and 2 umbrellas (softboxes are probably not an option);

4) stand(s) and one or two 5 or 6 foot reflectors (assistants can hold reflectors but the durations of these sessions is too long);

5) memory cards sufficient to capture a day’s worth of shooting x 2

6) spare batteries

7) a backup camera (seriously, borrow someone’s Rebel for backup)

8) a tripod and remote release if possible

9) if hand held, set your shutter speed at least at 200th of a second or above

10) ISO set at less than or at most to 400 (will depend upon your other settings), preferably 100 or 200

11) White balance for whatever lighting you wind up with

12) Shoot RAW if you have experience with post production

13) If possible, have a computer close by to check results on something beyond your 5DII LCD

14) Schedule breaks for yourself to contemplate what’s going well and what sucks. If you don’t, you’ll easily think of many things you wish you’d have done differently after all is said and done. Better to give yourself a few unpressured moments to pause and really think.


Way before the first session, set up the location and test shoot. Then adjust, rinse, repeat. You can probably pull this off if you get down to the brass tacks of successful light and camera settings.

If you have a couple of hours to spare once you do the above, then think about props.


There’s more to consider but if you can nail down the above, you’ll be much closer to classy, consistent results.


Lighting patterns are probably the next topics to discuss but it’s late. I have to get some sleep.

Sure hope this works out for you.

Chuck



Oct 27, 2012 at 02:39 AM
gnod
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p.2 #6 · Shooting holiday photos


UPDATE today.

Chuck, you were right! Today definitely was a selfmade, humbling experience. None of my plans worked out and while I was a bit frustrated, I have no one to look at besides myself. I'm over it and going to prepare and improve for the next shoot and will take this as a HUGE learning experience. Luckily, I only ended up shooting 4 families today. The rest will happen in 2 Sundays from today, and the following Sunday. I only expect to shoot 20 families in total from now on. I'm going to find time to go beforehand and practice, practice, practice.

The photo below is the stage I had prepared my setup. The backdrop came over the bars up top and came down about 5 feet on the floor. I had additional 5 feet of white boards connecting to my backdrop paper.

ISSUES I FACED - lighting
I researched and initially came to the conclusion that the lights in the top right corner you see in the photo will be my key light, and I can fill with my off camera flash. This did not work. I guess I don't fully understand what a key light is because when I positioned my off camera flash at a 45 degree angle to my subject, the shadows were ridiculous.

My steps today.
1) I tried to find the right exposure without using flash to see what my starting point is. I came to 1/80th @ 2.0f
2) I tried to increase my aperature as I changed the exposure with my flash, and ended up only getting more shadows behind my subject. I ended up just putting the flash on my camera with a diffuser on.
3) initially, my subjects were too close to the background - I forgot that the distance between the subject and backdrop matters greatly in the midst of the chaos. After moving them up forward, the shadows greatly reduced.
4) After I asked the families to move up, shooting with my 85mm prime in the short distance between the subjects and I got really tight. Not optimal shooting.
5) I still could not increase my aperature higher due to even the slight shadows I was getting. I had to shoot around 2.5F constantly. Consequently, as I already checked my photos, a lot of blurs were present.

Mistakes I made today, I would like to learn and improve.
1) Lighting. Should I just get 2 off camera flash on both sides of the subject, at a 45 degree angle? Would this give me the most freedom to "just" shoot?
2) Lens - I wanted to really shoot with a prime lens considering their sharpness. In my lens collection I have the 24-70mm, 85mm 1.8, and a 50mm 1.8. Which of these shall I shoot with? The 85 made it really tight on stage and I ended up shooting with 24-70mm the 2nd half of the shoot.
3) Logistics/admin - this was a HUGE, underestimated task I overlooked. I already have someone appointed for next time's shoot with scheduling, manning the line, etc. This alone will allow me to focus more on the shoot.

I think that's all I have for now.. it's been a long day and i've got a long day tomorrow at work.
Goodnight everyone and thank you again for your suggestions and patience.









The stage




Nov 26, 2012 at 04:19 AM
CW100
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p.2 #7 · Shooting holiday photos


gnod wrote:
UPDATE today.

Chuck, you were right! Today definitely was a selfmade, humbling experience. None of my plans worked out and while I was a bit frustrated, I have no one to look at besides myself. I'm over it and going to prepare and improve for the next shoot and will take this as a HUGE learning experience. Luckily, I only ended up shooting 4 families today. The rest will happen in 2 Sundays from today, and the following Sunday. I only expect to shoot 20 families in total from now on. I'm going to find time to go beforehand and
...Show more

more lighting options are better, the 24-70 works better for group shots
practice makes perfect !






Nov 27, 2012 at 12:27 AM
nolaguy
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p.2 #8 · Shooting holiday photos


Hi gnod,

Glad to see you're making progress. Could you post a few of the shots from your first session? FMers would be able to assist much more readily if they could see what's happening.

On that note, posting your set-up was useful. It looks like you tried to combine continuous track lighting with your flash. Hard to say (for me at least) without seeing the photos but the chances are good that the flash rendered the continuous lighting moot… if so, your key became fill, at best.

As ever, I admire your tenacity but I’ll also say, the comments offered don’t seem to be getting through – perhaps one reason this thread has grown largely silent.

FM is filled with good folks that are all too happy to help. Perhaps you can make it a bit easier for them. Post some of the first session photos and maybe even take the replies to heart, if they are offered.

Best,
C



Nov 27, 2012 at 04:37 AM
 



DigMeTX
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p.2 #9 · Shooting holiday photos


You need to be shooting at a smaller f-stop or you're going to have some out-of-focus faces no matter where you focus and for that you'll need more light. As you've realized, you do need off-camera strobes.

Off-camera flashes above and at 45 degree angles to the subjects shot through umbrellas with maybe a bit of center fill on the camera would be probably your easiest road.

brad




Nov 27, 2012 at 06:24 AM
gnod
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p.2 #10 · Shooting holiday photos


DigMeTX wrote:
You need to be shooting at a smaller f-stop or you're going to have some out-of-focus faces no matter where you focus and for that you'll need more light. As you've realized, you do need off-camera strobes.

Off-camera flashes above and at 45 degree angles to the subjects shot through umbrellas with maybe a bit of center fill on the camera would be probably your easiest road.

brad



thank you for that - i realized that i had to shoot with smaller f-stop but it was tough getting the lighting right with my single off camera flash only on one side. see below, and..please be gentle. this is my first time using off camera flash.. haha
this was shot at iso 200, f/7.1 at 1/200th

clearly i think having two flashes would've helped the shadowing behind me.








Nov 28, 2012 at 03:26 AM
gnod
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p.2 #11 · Shooting holiday photos


nolaguy wrote:
Hi gnod,

Glad to see you're making progress. Could you post a few of the shots from your first session? FMers would be able to assist much more readily if they could see what's happening.

On that note, posting your set-up was useful. It looks like you tried to combine continuous track lighting with your flash. Hard to say (for me at least) without seeing the photos but the chances are good that the flash rendered the continuous lighting moot… if so, your key became fill, at best.

As ever, I admire your tenacity but I’ll also say, the comments offered don’t seem
...Show more

chuck, i think you're right. i gotta say i didn't really understand what a lot of you were saying since i literally had 0 experience. now that i have what little experience i had from this past sunday...a lot of it makes so much more sense!

here's 1 shot that i thought was half decent of what i wanted to accomplish. the floor unforunately was not a full set of white boards.. i couldn't fit them into my car so i had them cut and hoped to PS them. this is the unedited raw version converted into jpeg.

the 2nd shot should give a better idea of what i had setup, and was working with.






half decent... or not.







small view of what i was working with.




Nov 28, 2012 at 03:37 AM
peterindb
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p.2 #12 · Shooting holiday photos


Hi gnod,

Looks like you got the background shadow issues beat in the last couple of pictures.

I was looking for ways to take pictures like yours with a clean background and floor. It's hard to avoid having to get a wide background so you could photo groups of 3 or 4 and still have them far away from the background enough so as to avoid harsh shadows.

If you can afford a 5d mark II, it's not a stretch to invest $150 in a roll of 9 feet wide seamless and stands. You can simply not light the background and allowing it to fall to gray as mentioned earlier. it will still appear clean and undistracting.

Photoshopping out the same imperfections over and over over 20+ sessions will get old fast.

Wishing you smoother sailing in your upcoming sessions. It's where you will learn the most.

Peter



Nov 28, 2012 at 06:08 AM
DigMeTX
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p.2 #13 · Shooting holiday photos


Gnod,

One more thing... if white seamless is the way you'd like to go then you should definitely check out the 5-part Zack Arias white seamless tutorial. He takes you through everything step-by-step. If nothing else you could follow this tutorial to the letter and come out with some great white seamless shots.

http://www.zarias.com/white-seamless-tutorial-part-1-gear-space/

brad



Nov 28, 2012 at 02:08 PM
gnod
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p.2 #14 · Shooting holiday photos


peter and brad.. not that im ignoring you but i am exhausted from a long day and have to sleep. will respond to you both tomorrow hopefully... crazy week.


Nov 29, 2012 at 05:07 AM
gnod
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p.2 #15 · Shooting holiday photos


ok so i got home at a decent hour today and am finally responding!

peter. thanks so much but to clarify all i did was put the flash on top of my camera with a diffuser and shoot. i was so fizzled trying to get the lighting right, i got frustrated and in the end just decided to "shoot". probably an amateur move/mistake but again, a big lesson learned.
my biggest challenge was making the aperature small enough to get everyone sharp.
i do have the savage 9ft wide paper, and will be having a backdrop stand as well.

brad, i actually came across that website! i thought it was amazing detail but frankly, quickly lost focus when i realized that his setup was much more elaborate than what i was able to afford/accomplish in the limited space i was working with.

i definitely plan to revisit the article this weekend to thoroughly study it. i like that you recommended it and feel more inclined to really study it.



Nov 30, 2012 at 03:33 AM
gnod
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p.2 #16 · Shooting holiday photos


ok so i got home at a decent hour today and am finally responding!

peter. thanks so much but to clarify all i did was put the flash on top of my camera with a diffuser and shoot. i was so fizzled trying to get the lighting right, i got frustrated and in the end just decided to "shoot". probably an amateur move/mistake but again, a big lesson learned.
my biggest challenge was making the aperature small enough to get everyone sharp.
i do have the savage 9ft wide paper, and will be having a backdrop stand as well.

brad, i actually came across that website! i thought it was amazing detail but frankly, quickly lost focus when i realized that his setup was much more elaborate than what i was able to afford/accomplish in the limited space i was working with.

i definitely plan to revisit the article this weekend to thoroughly study it. i like that you recommended it and feel more inclined to really study it.



Nov 30, 2012 at 03:33 AM
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