Matt King - Yes, there is shade nearby, on the same grassy slope not far from the stairs. This has also been suggested by others and is starting to look like where it will be. I plan to develop the film myself and initially do a hybrid work flow, which I know how to do, and then *maybe* use it as my introduction to darkroom work in my new bathroom setup.
This will be right outside the building where we work so there is plenty of opportunity for practice.
There was a general corporate group photo taken on the stairs a few years ago at high noon and it was just awful. My boss's husband did a digital portrait of our small group 6 years ago in this same location that was very nice. The group has grown a quite a bit since then and so deserves documenting. I am hoping that doing it in B&W will avoid comparison with his work.
How big of a group are you going to have?? I've done 80+ people shot and it was not easy.... For one, have an assistant. When you get more than half-dozen or so people together, there will always be some who won't be listening or paying attention. You'd want your assistant to go over there and beat him up. (kidding)
For two, bigger the group, more difficult it will be to ensure everyone is correctly lit. It's much easier if you can line them up under a big tree or something. (that's how I did mine) Mid-day sun on stone stairs will be a problem as it will reflect much more light than people would. You can end up with hot spot if you are not careful.
If you have sun directly lighting faces, sharp distracting shadow can form on faces. (faces are 3 dimensional!) You really don't want to be using reflectors to "touch up" 20 faces at once. (more reasons to use shadowed area) You really don't want back lit situation going either as fill light will be next to impossible.
I don't think choice of film will matter that much. I'd just use whatever you are used to. Same with lens... With larger group, you can even use standard (80mm for MF) lens and not be "weird". You'd be sufficiently away from everybody anyway.
I've shot many a group with a Yashica D, you just have to get creative. Shot a family for an aniversary, 14 kids on a stone bridge in a city park, around trees, and on a grassy embankment.Largest group was seventy people at a family reunion, Kowa Super 66 with 80 and150mm lenses, loads of smaller groups and such with great grandma on down. Tripod set up in the back of my CJ-7 and went for it. Make sure you take a short step ladder and get the camera high enough to get decent perspective. Heck, get a camera clamp and a tall step ladder and shoot from the top. I've used tarps for scrims to block harsh light, and 4x8 sheets of foil faced rigid insulation board for reflectors. Since you will be shooting where you work, get a bunch of test shots then make a plan. Someone suggested an assistant, great idea. Make sure you inform the group that blinkers buy the beer.
Originally Posted by Rick A
I'm not an expert in this genre but I would go for a picture in the shade. No shadows under noses or chins to manage, no squinting.
So if you have the front of the building which is in the shade during business hour and is high enough to project a shade to cover the entire scene, I would use that. If there is no adequate place without direct sun illumination I would look for an inner courtyard to get the shade.
EDIT did not notice there was a page 2 and the shade thing had already been widely suggested.
Unless you're shooting from a ship.
Originally Posted by MattKing
Wow, lots of great advice.
There were two reasons I wasn't going to use a flash. I gave up on it years ago because I just couldn't decent results and never discovered until last night that I have an automatic flash that will cable to the lenses. There will be 3 groups of 8-12 people and it should be powerful enough to light them up, but probably not if the whole bunch get together. So now it looks like it will happen in the shade with fill flash and I'll have to rope a coworker into donating his pickup truck to get the camera a little higher.
Originally this was just going to be an opportunity for me to get the group together and snap a couple of shots with my new toy, but it's taken on a life of its own. With all this help, I got a feeling the results are going to be a whole lot better.
For group or single, studio or outside I have a polaroid back for my medium format that way I can see pretty much what I get and make adjustments. And as suggested have the group interact in someway that way they don't appear as a firing squad. Delta 100 would be my choice.
And have fun with it, if you look like you are having fun then your subjects tend (for me at least) to relax, makes for a better shot.
I read somewhere to have the group all close their eyes. Then on the count of three or whatever have them open them. That way you have a fighting chance of having all their eyes open at the same time.
Ah yes, further confirmation that no good deed goes unpunished :laugh:
Originally Posted by pbromaghin
Sounds like you're managing the hardest part of the project well....the planning and development. Relax and have fun with it.