By JASON LIOH
It’s Chinese New Year, and gathering with family and friends is part of the celebrations… and of course taking photographs is a given. We want to include everyone in the photos, so everyone must be taking lots of group photographs this week and next.
Burst mode or continuous high speed shooting is a must when shooting sports related events and is a handy tool for taking group photos as well. Instead of shooting just one photo at a time, take three or four shots continuously. There is always the possibility of one or two individuals with their eyes shut, not looking at the camera or moving. Taking more shots ensure that you have more choices to select from where everyone looks good in the group photo.
Technical perfection in your photo should be the least of your worries when you are taking group shots. Bump up your ISO till 400, 800 or up to 1600 if you have to as long as you nail the shot.
While high ISO allows you to shoot at a faster shutter speed, it produces a grainy photo. Hence, it is important to know what ISO value is the cut off point for your camera model and avoid going beyond that.
If increasing your ISO doesn’t help, do not hesitate to use your camera’s built in or external flash. It is going to make things a lot easier as generally, you will have a shutter speed of 1/60 when you use your flash.
If your photos turn out too harsh due to the flash, decrease your flash’s power via your camera’s menu or dedicated buttons on your external flash.
If you have an external flash, do angle your flash gun correctly for better result. Make use of the ceilings, if any, for a softer and even lighting on your subjects. There are also flash diffusers which you can get for RM8 that will soften the light so that your photo does not appear too harsh.
If there are simply too many people to fit in your frame, try standing on a high ground and shoot top-down. Chances are you are able to fit in all your friends and relatives into the frame that way. It is also going to look a little different from your usual boring eye-level group photo.
Apart from standing on higher ground, switch to an ultra wide lens (10mm to 16mm) or even fish eye lens.
An ultra wide lens allow you to fit in a lot more people but do watch out for your subjects who stand on both ends of your frame as they will be distorted (pulled/stretched) and end up looking “funny.”
The fish eye lens is a very tricky lens to use and not everyone likes the fish eye effects, so, use it with caution and practise using the lens before using it for important occasions like family gatherings.
Generally, aperture shouldn’t be a problem when you are shooting wide but if you want to be sure, choose a smaller aperture like F8 or F11 for a corner to corner in focused photo. You are going to need a tripod or really steady hands as smaller aperture will lower your shutter speed greatly, especially if the light is low.
Creativity is important in producing a good photo. Being the “official” photographer in your family, you should be creative with your photos by getting your friends and relatives to pose creatively for your photos. While the elders might not like the idea, your cousins probably would. Be creative.
* Jason Lioh is not going to be the official photographer for this coming Chinese New Year’s gatherings. His hands will be holding bak gua, barbecued meat, instead of a camera.
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