View Full Version : Blink-free photos

10-30-2007, 07:51 AM
Hi All,

Came across a somewhat interesting post on another user group that I sometimes frequent. It seems that some Australian scientists have done a study to determine how many photographs you need to take of a group of people in order to ensure that nobody in the group is blinking in the photograph. They came up with a rule of thumb for calculating the number of photos to take for groups of less than 20 which is to divide the number of people by three if there's good light and two if the light's bad.


And to think friends and family used to question why I always fire of multiple shots of any family/group portrait :rolleyes:. I guess the rule of thumb must be fairly intuitive to those who do group photographs on a regular basis.

I was recently asked to do a group shot of a local choir and they were amazed by the number of shots I took, I explained that it's much easier to shoot 30 frames and discard 29 than to try get a group back together if anything went wrong.

Some people have commented that this must cost me money, but for something like this where they wanted colour I'd have to get a least one roll processed so I feel shooting 10 exposures of 3 different poses is not actually going to cost anything more as I would normally have to process the whole film roll anyway.

Another trick I picked up somewhere along the road was to shot off a few frames before you tell the group you are going to start, I've found you sometimes get more relaxed shots this way. I tend to tell them to relax while I setup the camera, then pretend to be fiddling with settings while I'm actually shooting of frames, sometimes one or two of the group will cotton on to what I've done but at that stage I've got the ones I want.

I don't know how the scientists' study would be impacted if the photographer is using flash lighting, but I'm not a real fan of flash so try to avoid it a much a possible.

Anyhow just thought that scientists took time to look at the math of the process was interesting.

I'm also wondering how others approach taking a group photograph, I was doing this as a favour but my normal approach is to let the group (or the group's leader) arrange themselves as they want, get those shots out of the way and then try some of my own arrangements and let them choose which they prefer, that way nobody can say that they didn't have a chance to suggest a better arrangement ;) . Although I guess this wouldn't work if you have been employed to do the shoot for something like a wedding (which is something I would not agree to do).


10-30-2007, 10:48 AM
Good Morning, David,

In my previous incarnation as a high school teacher, I was involved in yearbook photography and shot lots of teams and other groups, almost always using flash. Blinks were a problem, but actually not a particularly big one. Normally, I'd shoot three or four frames, regardless of the group size. Usually, at least one shot was OK; more often than not, the first one turned out to be the one I'd end up using.

The blink problem, for me, was not major. It pales in comparison to the frustration of waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a girls' track team, for example, to get ready for the team shot. How can it take so long to put on shorts, jersey, and shoes??


10-30-2007, 04:15 PM
One trick that I have always found useful for group shots with flash is to tell people that if the flash looked red to them, they should tell me.

For most people, if the flash appeared red, I caught them mid blink.

This by the way is one of the reasons TLRs and rangefinders still make great wedding cameras - you can observe your subject through the entire shot.


10-31-2007, 07:53 AM
First rule: Never shoot groups whilst viewing through the lens of an SLR. Use a TLR or rangefinder if possible. If shooting with an SLR, be sure you use a tripod; focus and compose through the lens, then straighten up and view the group directly as you fire off shots. Watch for blinks as the flash fires. If the camera has mirror lockup, use it to shorten the lag time between pushing the button and shutter firing.
Second rule: shoot at least one roll of film. But if you shoot too much, they will begin to get tired of you, and you will lose expressions.
Third rule: If using flash, test your flash synch before every shoot by looking through the lens and releasing the shutter.

10-31-2007, 03:02 PM
I heard somewhere that you can get everyone to close their eyes for a few seconds then open them as you take a burst of shots. I did this at my sisters wedding and dont think I got a single "blink shot" :)

Gay Larson
10-31-2007, 11:12 PM
I also ask people who tell me they have problems getting a picture where they have their eyes open to look down until I count to three then quickly look up at me and smile. I shoot immediately on three. It works so well that often they think it's funny and you get wide open eyes and a genuine smile. Sometimes nothing works well and you just have to shoot as many as you can.