Large Group Umbrellas with an Umbrella | Transcription
Once again, this is a fantastic light modifier when we don’t mind that light kind of spilling everywhere. The fact that an umbrella is this kind of a shape. It is this orb shape. This convex shape. Meaning that it is basically bending out, means that when the light hits it, it is going to push a large amount of light forward, and then small amounts of light are going to basically spill out, outside of these other edges. Essentially, it is going to fill an entire area. We don’t have a lot of light control but when we want that, it is an absolutely fantastic tool, especially for the price and for the portability of this guy.
Let’s take you on set to an actual wedding. Isn’t it cool that we get to take you guys on actual shoots? These are all actual shoots. Real clients. Real photographers teaching you real techniques.
Here we are. We have a large group. We have roughly, I don’t know like close to 20 people in this shot. Somewhere around that number.
Tip number 1: Set up your lighting. Set up everything so that at least you have the rough lights and everything in place before you start actually working with your group. While the wedding party is kind of all talking and mingling amongst themselves, I just say “Give me about three minutes, guys. I’m going to set up my light.” Now, this is a fantastic light setup because it is so dang quick.
With the composition attributes, we are shooter with a wider aperture of f/5. That is used basically because we have a large depth of field here that we need. We have 3 rows of people. We have one sitting. We have standing in the middle and then standing in the back. With those three rows, we are shooting f/5 for that reason. That is the main compositional camera attribute that we need to set in.
From there, we essentially start to dial in the other attributes. We don’t need to worry about sync speed because we are dealing with low-light situations. Sync is obviously going to be less than 1/200 of a second.
For the ambient light exposure, we go down to 1/50 of a second and ISO 800. There are a couple reasons for this, why we are bumping the ISO and why we are slowing the shutter down and doing that in kind of conjunction.
One, we want to keep the shutter speed around 1/30 to 1/50 is adequate for this type of a shot. Why? Because we are shooting on a Canon 24-70 Mark II, and so this is wide-angle lens. We are shooting wide and stabilizing a wide-angle lens is fairly simple. You don’t even need to pop it on a tripod. Even if you are at 1/30 of a second, as long as you are holding the camera in a fairly stable manner, just like this, you are going to get decently sharp images and it will be totally fine.
We bring it down to a point where, basically, we can get enough ambient light into the shot. We are raising the ISO for two reasons: One, we want to amplify ambient light, but we also want to amplify our flash power. Shutter speed, we know is not going to affect flash power, so that is just strictly an ambient light balancing issue, but ISO will. We bring the ISO up because we need to add additional power to the flashes and so that way we don’t need to fire at full power. The whole goal here is to not to have to fire at full power, even though we are at 5 on our aperture.
While the aperture and the ISO are going to affect both ambient light and flash power equally, our shutter speed isn’t, and so we are using shutter speed to kind of control ambient. We are using aperture to control depth of field. We are using ISO to boost up the flash power to balance everything out in conjunction with ambient light.
This is the goal here. You can see this top shot is fired without flash just so we have that image in place and just so we can show you, basically, what the ambient light looks like.
The ambient light is fairly bright. We want to make sure that we have a good balance in the background. We can see these chandeliers and because the ambient light is beautiful. It is in the scene. It’s present. We want to make sure that we don’t override that and just end up with dark chandeliers. That would look kind of poopy. Okay, so get that right balance. If flash and your overall image just isn’t looking the way you want, it is that ambient to flash balance is off. Look back and analyze that.
Now, for the light direction and quality, again, similar to the previous large group shots. This is basically we are building on another technique to that previous large group shot. Remember when we did a large group shot with just bare bulb flashes in midday light? Now, we are taking that a step further. We are improving on that technique this go around by modifying it with an umbrella.
Could we do this technique outdoors? This modifier over a pocket strobe outdoors, even when fired at full power, is going to make that pocket strobe look completely invisible. It is just not going to travel. If we are firing with pocket strobes outdoors and midday sun, then an umbrella really is not going to do any good because it is going to cut off too much light. You are going to end up with not enough flash power.
With pocket strobes, if we are shooting outdoors and we want to use an umbrella, it needs to be around dusk. It needs to be where the sun is set and that is the only time where we can kind of balance and get the right ambient to flash power exposure with a pocket strobe. Otherwise, we need to step into a medium strobe.
The lights placed off to the left, we have two lights on their stands. We have the two newer TTA 50s on stands. We do similar to the previous setup, where basically one of the stands has this placed into that umbrella bracket. The other stand, basically, when we are modifying the flashes like this .. One of the flashes on this stand. The other one is just set next to it. All we are going to do is do the same thing that we did before, where we basically feather the flashes. Now, this go around, you don’t really need to feather the powers as much. You can if you would like but because they are both firing through the diffusion cloth, it doesn’t make as big of a difference.
Basically, I have one pointed off to the right of this to cover the right side of the group. One pointed off to the left of this to cover the left side of the group. We might do one quarter-power and then one half-power on the right side as we are trying to cover the further subject. Together, when they hit the umbrella, they kind of open up in a way that the flash power doesn’t make too much difference there.
What we want to do is just make sure that the angle is correct because from left to right, we want to make sure that we have roughly within a half-stop of light, a good balance across the entire group.
This doesn’t take long to set up once you get used to this, everybody. Once you get used to this, this is like a 2, 3-minute setup. You will be done and ready to go. It makes for a fantastic-looking image.
We are using 2 stands. You guys can use 3 sticks if you would like. You can use 4 sticks. You can use however many you would like to get to a good balance. Generally, at least two is a good number for this type of a shot.
You don’t see here the test shot with the … I have my own lighting assistants basically standing in different places. I have one on the left and one on the right. We take a test shot, basically.
All right. With that test shot, we know also that because of the ambient light being all tungsten … That yellow 3000 to 3600 Kelvin temperature … We need to gel our flashes. We just use a Velcro gel. We pop it directly over with a full CTO on both of those flashes.
One thing to keep in mind. When you gel, it does cut down the flash power by a bit. Because you are adding a gel, it is changing the color, and it is also dimming the light just a little.
We pose and frame a shoot. Now, this is where we would say, “Okay, guys, we are ready for the wedding party to come and step in.” We have everything 90% ready to go and we start posing. We start grouping. We tell them, “Just be patient for one second. We are going to organize this.” This kind of a shot becomes very complex. Why? Not necessarily because of the lighting. The lighting is fairly simple. It is just the fact that we have so many people in the frame that we are going to cast a ton of shadows.
What do we do to help us out? Not only is the light directional as far as being from the left side of our group, we are also placing it up so that the shadows are going down. Again, look at all of the shadows being cast. They are going down, against bodies behind them. They are not traveling up. If they are traveling up or in a direction straight across, they become distractions.
The next thing we look for, once we have our entire wedding party is in place, is to make sure that flash balance from the left to the right side of the group is roughly within basically a half-stop range. In the next tutorial, we are going to show you how we essentially balance that out in post-production because it is a very simple fix and easy to do.
All right. We get everybody posed in this shot. Now, a couple little tricks here.
We have of course the front row sitting. We have the middle row, which I composed of mainly our girls and kind of the people that are medium height. With the taller people, we placed them into the back. We tell them to put their heads basically where people’s shoulders are, or in-between the middle row’s heads. Their heads are all in-between. Then, we ask the back row to lean forward into the middle and we ask the front row to lean backwards into the middle.
Basically, what we end up doing is bringing all of the faces closer together. When you do that, you don’t stagger the depth and the distances as much and that makes it easier when you are firing this kind of shot because you don’t have as much shadow to worry about essentially. There is not a lot of people casting shadows on to each other. At least it mitigates it a little bit.
We take our first formal shot and then it is time for fun stuff.
From there, we analyze and we make sure our balance is good and we’re solid, so we start popping off shots. I adjust them into another pose. I love to do different shots with the wedding party. We have them all set up. Let’s do some formals. Let’s do some fun stuff. Let’s do stuff where we have them all hugging on to each other. Just be careful. With this hugging shot, you will notice that our guy’s head right here got caught into the shadows of her head. Again, I would just say, “Hey don’t worry about that one. Just lean forward a little bit more,” and I pop the shot again. You need to make sure that you are analyzing between frames. Otherwise, you are going to miss these things.
Don’t feel like you are so caught in the moment that you can’t slow things down a little bit. Just say, “Perfect, guys. That was amazing. Hold still right there. Let me just take a quick look.” Glance to the back of the camera. Zoom in to zoom across the images, and then go back and start shooting again.
We get another shot. I love these kind of fun shots. I have the bride and groom go for a little kiss. I have everybody kind of look and snicker and do whatever they want at the, and we get a really cute little shot of the entire wedding party.
Again, I love doing these kind of things. We work off their mood boards to make sure that we are covering and creating images that they want. If they want fun and goofy, and great kind of wedding party images like that, create them. If they only want formals, we will just do formals and we will do kind of what they ask on the mood board.
This is how to light that scene. We did this all with just simple … These are $100 flashes, a $20 modifier … We were able to create an amazing group shot. Again, with just making sure that we balance our ambient to flash exposure and making sure that we are watching to make sure that we have balanced the overall flash in the group, and making sure that we don’t have a lot of shadows and highlights in the wrongs kinds of places. Mainly in this kind of a shot, we are looking for those shadows cast in the wrong places.