February 8, 2013

wedding photography – lighting large groups of people / formal portraits

Relating to the article positioning your flash for the wedding formals, where the family portraits and groups where photographed with a single umbrella and two speedlights, the question then inevitably comes up – what do you do when you need to photograph a large group of people.

The obvious answer is – you need a lot more juice! You either need to add more flashguns, or use a more powerful unit.

As a wedding photographer of Indian weddings, I know that I will be dealing with huge groups of people. And that means a small aperture – and that means a really powerful flash.

In a previous example, shown in this article  - how do you light large groups? evenly! - I used two Quantum flashes and large 60″ umbrellas to spread the light. But the Quantum flashes, even though they are tough workhorses, aren’t that much more powerful than a speedlight.

Instead of the effort of setting up two Q-flashes on their light-stands, I am now using a much simpler set-up – a Profoto 600R kit with a huge softbox. The current equivalent of that set would be:   Profoto AcuteB2 600 AirS/R Power Pack  (B&H). The softbox is the Profoto RF 3×4′ Softbox (B&H). The Profoto is ridiculously easy to set up. Even the softbox with the spines is hassle-free. The way that the softbox clips around the flash-head is also very straight-forward and hassle-free.

What you see in the photo above, was lit by that single large softbox 4 ft by 3 ft. There is slight light fall-off to the sides, but nothing that a quick swipe with the Local Adjustment Brush in Lightroom won’t fix. It’s a small trade-off doing this in post, for the simplicity of the lighting setup during the event. Do keep in mind that most groups would be much smaller, and then the light fall-off doesn’t exist.

The positioning of this Profoto softbox is exactly the same as described in this article - positioning your flash for the wedding formals. With this, I get consistent awesome light.

The summary to all this: I use whatever is necessary for the specific task, but also with an eye on what is easy to use.

camera settings: 1/125 @ f/10 @ 400 ISO

 

equipment used

Nikon D4 (B&H);  Nikon 14-24mm f2.8G AF-S (B&H)
Profoto AcuteB2 600 AirS/R Power Pack  (B&H)
Profoto RF 3×4′ Softbox (B&H)

 

video tutorials – wedding photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check them these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

another example, with a pull-back shot

The pull-back shot here from another wedding, shows the absolute simplicity of lighting the formals this way. One massive softbox to my right, just inside the pew so that there’s no chance of someone tripping over the light-stand. What I like about the Profoto and the amount of power it is capable of delivering, is that it doesn’t strain to get enough light on your subject. (With a speedlight or two, we’re often working at full power, and the recycling time is then much slower.)

The following image shows the quality of light on just the couple themselves.

camera settings: 1/60 @ f/5.6 @ 400 ISO

 

equipment used

Nikon D4 (B&H);  Nikon 24-70mm f2.8G  (B&H)
Profoto AcuteB2 600 AirS/R Power Pack  (B&H)
Profoto RF 3×4′ Softbox (B&H)

 

related articles

 

{ 7 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Leo Dj February 8, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Thank you for this article! :)
Just curious, with so many rows like in the example picture, what aperture did you use, f11?

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2 Trev February 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm

“camera settings: 1/125 @ f/10 @ 400 ISO”

You must have missed it Leo [I sometimes skim over things too quickly also :) ]

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3 Neil vN February 8, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I added the camera settings later on .. so it was entirely possible you read it before I added the details.

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4 Mauricio February 9, 2013 at 12:08 am

Hi Neil, thanks for the post. I own a Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Set of two lights, do one of this light could match what you got from the profoto? I also have the Elinchrom 39″ Deep Octa but not sure if this could do the job for a large group. Any advise would be preciate it.

Regards,

Mauricio

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5 Neil vN February 9, 2013 at 12:23 am

Maurico … The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra will definitely be up to the task. The Quadra has 400 W/s according to the spec sheet. So two of those puppies will give out a lot of light!

You could always set up two umbrellas, one on either side of you.

The Elinchrom Deep Octa might give light that is too focused. I’m not sure. But it has specific uses.

With a shoot-through umbrella, you’re spreading the light fairly wide. So perhaps get an umbrella. They are so easy to set up and take up very little space.

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6 Troy February 12, 2013 at 8:46 am

Hi Neil: I must have missed it (I read the article 3 times). With the pull back shot using the 3′x4′ softbox, what is the light source (strobe, speedlight,???) You don’t specify in the equipment used section, and I clicked on the link for the profoto and it only brings up the power pack, it doesn’t indicate that it’s a kit, thanks!

Troy!

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7 ZeeKay March 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Neil thanks for another great article!

I can’t help but notice that you have moved away from Speedlight/QFlash setup in this wedding. So here are some follow up questions for you:

1. Have you moved away from the speedlight/Qflash setup now? If yes, would you care to share your thoughts on what tradeoffs you had to make before and now you don’t. Since this ProFoto is an expensive setup.

2. This setup is not very mobile, which means that you cannot reposition it during the wedding if you needed to. How do you avoid that pitfall?

3. If I cannot afford a ProFoto setup like this yet, then what would be an equivalent setup with speedlights (I am assuming I would need 2 or 3 speedlights in a large softbox?).

4. What kind of lamp did you use in this setup? As Troy posted earlier, the links you mentioned only take us to a ProFoto battery. These lights are also not covered in your gear review.

Many thanks!
ZeeKay

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