Advice for beach portrait lighting

Started Jul 26, 2010 | Discussions thread
OP PeterK Contributing Member • Posts: 898
Re: Advice for beach portrait lighting

yvind Strm wrote:

Havent seen this advice listed: Be sure to work on a tripod! And bring a short ladder and a cable release. Also make a device, to attach to the tripod, for blocking the sun if neccessary.

Thanks, I was wondering about a tripod. I have a heavy manfrotto 3021B that I'd rather not lug, and benro travel angel that is only 3 lbs.

I expect to have people sitting or kneeling, so I don't think I'll need the ladder. I have a lightweight one I use for events, but I'm going to carrying enough gear in the sand!

the most important thing is to be in control. To take control. Never let people place themself. Gather them away from the picture, and lead them in. Very important....You need to move around IN the group, touching and physically lead/move people.

Now that's great advice - something I have not done before. I have advised people after they started gathering, but it does not always work out that well. Time to step it up. Of course your advice highlights a mistake that was not clear.
to me before. Thank you.

Angle their bodies, place people tight and place their arms. (You do not want folded hands sticking out of the ears of the guy in front). Position their heads. If small kids are in the picture, you must specifically instruct its parents to under NO circumstances to look at their kids when doing larger groups, else you will never see their faces.

This I have done for several years now, usually pretty successfully, but thanks for the reminder.

And when shooting, you do not want to look through the camera, instead look over it. Hence the tripod. With crop cameras (and even wih 35mm) it is hard to see whats actually is going on in the group. You need the contact to the group, not to hide.

And with the tripod, you know you have the camera at the decided spot, you dont have to put it down to make adjustments etc.

I actually used to do this with groups at temple (I shoot a lot of bar/bat mitzvahs), but felt rather constrained by the tripod. Now that you mention the upsides, I realize I kind of miss them. I think once you get the framing including people and background set, it gives you a lot more ability to get the posing just right.

Watch for people covering each others face.

Always do.

Other difficulties is DOF and even lighting.

Even if a crop camera gives advantage regarding DOF, I would pack the group as tightly as possible. (I must say that to me, 12 people with a crop camera is to stretch it a bit - I always used MF cameraes for more than 3 people )

I don't think I'll have 12, although I haven't heard back about the exact size of the larger family - I think about 8. I think what you're saying is that focus on the front row at f4 and the back row is oof. I'll stop down and focus on the front.

To me, reflectors are out of the question, starting from 3 people and up.

Agreed. I was thinking for 1-3 people, only for fill, not as the main.

Flash through an umbrellas is the thing. One flash at each side, at something like 45 degrees. If you have to have three rows of people, place the lights higher than if you have two rows. And remember, if you get problems with even lighting, try to pull the lights back a bit.

Done this many times with success, but INDOORS. With my friend holding a light stand on one side, and me with the remote release in one hand and a light stand in the other, it might work ;). I have the speedlights, pw's, and stands, just not sure if I have enough hands - BUT there may be extra people, not on the current shot that can do light stand duty.

If you have an handheld flash meter, its easy to see the if the lighting is even,

Again, done this many times.

As you will have no modelling light, you have to be very observant regardig peoples glasses and visible watches.

ditto above.

Make sure you have a plan to follow. The largest group is most difficult; do it first.

That makes sense. Thanks.

Dont go too wide on lenses if you have to have people sitting.

Not sure what you mean by this? Why does it matter if they're sitting? AS above, I think they will mostly be sitting poses. If it is a really large group, I can use my 10-22 (changed inside my bag) and go down to 18-20 mm, keeping people away from the edges.

As you will be shooting for a while, you will need to keep an eye on the background exposure. Measure the background from time to time.

Yes, thought about that.

One last thing, I would certainly mire the flashes.

In the beginning it will not matter much, but as you near the sunset, it might look strange, even if you adjust in PP.

I have a velcro solution on my little flash, and its so easy to get more gel on. Its not difficult to find the right gel.

How do you find the right gel? If I over do it,I'll have to cool everything down in pp, and that will look worse than the converse, won't it? Don't know where my old ones are, but I guess I can order a pack from B+H.

Good luck

THANKS for the detailed reply!!

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