Flash for large group shots


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 10:14

I was invited to photograph a gymnastics club award ceremony last weekend. What I didn't anticipate was the group shot of 83 children! I am using a K7 with Metz 36 AF -4. Time for a flash upgrade.

What flash would users recommend for large groups like this. And any pointers on settings would be appreciated also.




Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 10:45
Welcome, Andy!!

By the sounds of things, this will be taking place indoors??.. If so, then find out what the internal lighting is, as fluorescent lighting creates a colour-cast. Set your camera up accordingly. Secondly, no doubt you will need flash to help cope with action shots in artificial lighting conditions, but I doubt you will have to take a load of group-shots with all 83 kids in the picture at one time, so group them out a wee bit. My own suggestion would be to use some sort of flash diffuser to widen the angle of light emitted from your flashgun, but I think that also means upping the light output - think of it as a 60W lightbulb in a small room, but needing a 100W bulb to give (close to) the same amount of light in a large lounge/dining room.

It might also be worth a trip to the place where it's all going to happen, as a pre-planning exercise.

Best of luck!.. And don't forget to come back on here with some of the results!


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 11:39
Thanks Steven,

didn't make myself clear - this took place last weekend so the big group caught me on the hop! I'm now planning for the next competition day in September. Lighting was fluorescent but I use raw so I've tweaked the colour output. Here's what I came up with.

I'm weighing up what upgrade to go for with in terms of more power but also I'm not familiar with the different flash modes and what advantages these might bring. Or not? You can see the result is reasonable but lighting's not even.


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 12:16
If you are limited to only one hot shoe flash, some kind of wide angle diffuser might be an idea. Alternatively, if you are likely to be doing much of this type of work, consider a studio flash system.

I've made a relatively cheap portable system with 2 x stands, brollies, AF500FTZ flashes on brackets, and radio triggers. Cheap studio flash systems are also available if you don't mind mains and triggering cables across the floor.

PS, apart from the remaining bright spot in the top centre of the image, it has a magenta cast to it. Fluorescent lighting can be horrible to deal with because it changes intensity and colour slightly 50 times a second. Even if you used a grey card to set white balance, when you come to take the shot the WB and exposure may have changed.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 12:32
A quick test shooting JPEG and trying the three fluorescent settings could have been a good idea. I would try that with a tripod mounted available light shot first.

A flash set up would probably need several flashguns or a studio set.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 14:38
I have a three x 600w studio set up which was in a different room for doing individual and small groups shots. This was in the main gym hall and done on the run before the older kids competition started.

Maybe I need to discuss in advance and bring my main lights in for groups this size or as John suggest go tripod/ ambient light. K7 isn't great above 800ISO, would prefer 640 and I don't think I would have got away with that in the available light. Conundrums!

Thanks for the comments guys. I won't jump too quickly to upgrade my single hot shoe flash anyway.
Last Edited by Shabach on 27/06/2013 - 14:39


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 15:03
Sounds like you have all the gear you need, it just needs to be in the right place at the right time.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 15:14
You can see the area that your flash illuminated. Can you force the flash to give a wider spread?

Or maybe set the lens to a wider angle or move further back. It will result in a slightly lower resolution as you will have areas to crop on the left and right but at least the whole group would be illuminated.


Link Posted 27/06/2013 - 17:11
Shabach wrote:
......... K7 isn't great above 800ISO, would prefer 640 and I don't think I would have got away with that in the available light. Conundrums!

You need to carry out proper tests, usually noise changes at the
main boundaries 400-800-1600-3200 etc. so 640 could well be the same
as 800 and all that's happening is that your losing speed

Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff


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