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In this installment of the popular Photo Assignment series, professional photographer Derrick Story demonstrates the art of shooting timeless group shots. Derrick provides suggestions for appropriate lighting gear and shares advice for capturing subjects at their best, both indoors and out. After viewing the tutorials, join Derrick and the lynda.com community in the course's companion Flickr group—a venue for lynda.com members to submit their group shot samples for discussion and review.
Group Shots Photo Assignment Flickr Discussion Group
Let's take a look at some of our group shots. We have indoor and outdoor shots here. Now, by the way, all of these shots will be available on our Flickr public group, and I'm going to talk more about that in a movie that is coming up. But for right now just know that everything that you see here will be available online. You will be able to grab it and play with it and analyze it even beyond what we discussed here. So we're starting out indoors, and here is a group shot that is kind of the finished product in the sense that I like how everything is working.
We have a light on this side here, an upper light, and then I have a little bit of fill light coming in right here. Now one thing about the light, you might argue that she's a bit too bright, and that's an easy fix. All you have to do is angle the light. You don't have to change the position; just angle that light that's on the side. More over here. It will brighten up this area here, and it will bring this down a hair. So there is a little lighting trick for you right out of the gate.
Now in terms of position, there are a couple of things that I want to point out here. Remember how I mentioned while we were shooting, little things can drive you crazy. This hair just drives me crazy. And if you don't catch that stuff while you're shooting, you're just going to die afterwards when you look at your shots. So this is where your helper can be invaluable. Or if you don't have a helper, try to keep an eye on everyone's condition as we say because they will change even over the course of a short shoot.
And here is another example, where one of the people are looking off. And again, just a simple thing. It does happened for a few seconds. It has a big impact on the photo itself. Now let's take a look at background also. Here the camera angle is up a little bit, and you'll notice how all these background elements suddenly appear. When the camera angle is lower, you can hide that sort of stuff. So lower camera angle. The camera is actually right about probably this height here, and then a higher camera angle where I raised it up a couple of feet.
Completely different shot. Not only does it show more of the distracting background elements, it changes the angle of the people. So again, keeping in mind that you're looking at background, you're looking at position, and you're looking at lighting. So background and position often work together. So if you can't change the background and you can't really move the people around, then you can change the position of your camera. There is another example right here. Now once you sort of have things set up the way that you want, then have a little bit of fun.
Also, get the straight shot, get it in the can, and then see how they'll work with you. And in this case, I like the front shot actually more than the shot that we set out to take, which is the shot right here. People usually want both. A couple technical things before we go outdoors. We have some theater lighting here, and you can see that it's influencing the color of the shot. We have flash lighting mixing with theater lighting. If you like that, then keep the exposure-- the shutter speed--down around a 30th or a 60th of the second, and that will let the ambient light influence the shot.
If you decide you want light just from the flash, then raise the shutter speed up to around 1 to 100th, 1 to 50th of a second, and that will make the exposure depend mainly on your flash lighting and hardly have any light influence at all. And then, one little trick if you forget, your lighting setup, just magnify the pupil of the eyes. We're working in Adobe Bridge here. That has a good magnify tool, but this works in practically any photo imaging application. You can see the two lights.
So here is the top light, and here is a fill light. Same thing right here. You can see both lights in the eye, so that you can remember, did I use one light, did I use two lights, did I use no lights? All right, let's go outdoors. Now when we first walked outdoors, it was late in the day. This is what my eyes saw and I took a frame, and this is what my camera saw. Two different things. Actually I was a little shocked. But sometimes cameras see the world a little differently than we do, especially in very dark conditions or very bright conditions.
The way I fixed it was I moved my exposure compensation for the environment to -1. That darkened the scene a little bit. And then we're using the fill flash on the camera, and I moved that to -1.5, reducing the output from the flash. By doing those two things, I was able to quickly move from this type of exposure to this exposure here. And again, as with the indoor group shots, once you get the shot that you want, play around a little bit, have a little bit of fun.
And don't forget to play with the background. Again, remember, we're thinking about background, position, and lighting. And in this case I moved back a little bit to light a little bit more of the theater come into play. I think these people are probably going to want all three of these shots. They tell three different stories, and they are a lot of fun, so include a variety of position and background in your group shots if you have time and if your subjects are open to that. So keep these simple rules in mind and they will help improve your group shots when you're working out in the field.
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