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How to shoot expressive group photos

For festive occasions such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and the like, a group photo is part of the memory of the special day. Depending on the number of people, however, even more experienced photographers may find this a real challenge. Are all of them in the picture? Does everyone look into the camera or has someone blinked or looked away? With our tips on equipment, camera settings and group formation, you are guaranteed to succeed in creating the next group picture.

Camera and Lens

Considering the various setting options, a system camera or SLR camera is of course best suited. The adjustable parameters, such as f-number, exposure time and ISO value allow you to better compensate for the prevailing lighting conditions. This is only partially possible when using a compact camera or smartphone. In good lighting conditions, however, they can also achieve good results.

For a camera with an interchangeable lens, it is best to use a standard lens with a fixed focal length of 50mm or a light telephoto lens if the group is large. The use of a wide-angle lens is not recommended as it causes distortion and unnatural proportions in the group picture.

Use a tripod

A tripod is almost indispensable for an impeccable group photo. It makes it possible to take pictures without introducing shake and you can easily align the camera to the desired section of the picture without having to search for it all the time. Especially for larger groups you can select a higher camera position with the tripod, so that all persons fit into the picture.

For spontaneous group pictures on the go, small travel tripods are suitable, which are usually lighter and easier to transport. If you have an elevation available along the way, for example a bench or a wall, you can also use it to stabilise the camera for the group picture.

Choosing a suitable scenery for group photos

In addition to the group itself, the background is decisive for a successful group photo. The background should be calm and, if possible, in muted colours in order to emphasise the group as the main motif of the picture. A moving cityscape as scenery or bright lights in the background are less suitable as they are very distracting and let the group drown in the picture.

Family photo in the garden

When the sun shines brightly, shade provides good lighting conditions for floodlit group photos.

Furthermore, an outdoor setting is more suitable than closed rooms because the lighting conditions are usually better. You should avoid bright sunlight such as at midday. The midday sun casts hard shadows, which can be seen on the faces of the people in the picture. In soft sunlight, you should make sure that it falls on the sideways onto the persons’ faces, as this will appear most natural in the picture later on. Direct light from behind or from the front would cast unwanted shadows of the group or the photographer. A slightly overcast sky or a shady spot is ideal for well-lit group photos.

If you want to take a group picture in an indoor space, you should use the flash to better illuminate the group. Windows and lamps can be a great help. If possible, use white walls and bright surfaces to reflect the light.

Positioning the group right

When arranging the people, make sure that they are as close as possible to each other. On the one hand, this ensures that everyone fits into the picture and, on the other hand, it creates a better group atmosphere in the photo. For large groups, a slight ascent towards the back or a staircase is helpful to ensure that the rear rows are also clearly visible. Experiment with different heights and poses of the persons for a dynamic image effect or consciously create a clear symmetry for an expressive group photo. In order to aesthetically stage the faces, it helps if everyone raises their chins slightly and stretches them upwards.

Try out different perspectives to create an exciting photo motif. Depending on the scenery and space, you can photograph the group from above or from a frog’s perspective. In order to achieve a well distributed image sharpness, you should always concentrate the focus on the middle of the group. For unusual group pictures you can of course experiment with focus and image framing and, for example, focus on a certain detail or only capture the people’s shoes.

Excerpt of a group of men in suits with colourful socks sitting on a wall

The detail of the group picture, in which only the shoes are to be seen, creates a funny and unusual motif.

 

Camera settings

As is so often the case, the required camera settings vary greatly depending on the lighting conditions of the selected scenery. In order to determine the perfect values of the individual parameters, you should try out different combinations. Basically, you should close the aperture a bit further (larger aperture value) in order to achieve a higher depth of field. In combination with a slightly longer exposure time, this is especially important for large groups in order to be able to sharply display the rear rows as well. But the exposure time should not be too long, because otherwise small movements of the subjects will cause distortions in the group picture. You may also need to increase the ISO value according to the aperture value in order to achieve uniform sharpness in the image. If the ISO value is too high, you will notice unwanted image noise.

 

Group setting in which everyone is placed behind one another

The depth of field is not sufficient in this setup. The persons in the back and front are out of focus.

When taking a group picture indoors, it is also recommended to adjust the colour temperature using a colour filter. If daylight entering from windows mixes with artificial light, unpleasant colour casts may appear in the image, which can be compensated for by changing the colour temperature.

Continuous shooting, interval timer & more

In addition to the various setting parameters that ensure a well-lit subject, the shutter release also plays an important role in group photography. To catch the perfect moment, we recommend the continuous shooting function. Here, the camera shoots several photos in a row as long as you hold down the shutter-release button. Some cameras also have an interval timer that takes pictures at set intervals.

If you are the photographer and want to be in the picture yourself, you can set a timer or self-timer for almost all cameras. A wireless shutter release is recommended if you want to be in the picture without hectically running into position. This lets you conveniently press the shutter button when you and the rest of the group are ready.

The right timing

An impressive group picture is a matter of timing. Especially with large groups, it is not easy to get the attention and the best smile of all people at the same time. To make everyone smile into the camera at the same time, many photographers use the usual instructions such as “cheese” or “smile, please”. This is where the aforementioned continuous shooting function comes in handy to capture the perfect moment. But somebody almost always blinks. There is a little trick for this: Ask all persons in the group to close their eyes and only open them again on your instructions, because after opening their eyes there is a short time window in which nobody will blink unintentionally. It is best to count down to three and then give the instruction ” Eyes open”.

Group photos will always remain challenging motifs. However, with these tips you are well prepared for the next photoshoot with your family or friends.

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Facetune: Strahlende Zähne und Augen im Handumdrehen

Die Beauty-App Facetune bietet dem Nutzer zahlreiche Retusche-Werkzeuge, um aus einem Portrait das Beste herauszuholen. Insbesondere die Aufhell-, Detail- und Glättungs-Funktion lassen Augen, Mund und Haut strahlen. Daher ist die App besonders bei Instagram-Nutzern sehr beliebt. Denn nicht nur dunkle Stellen um die Augen lassen sich mit einem einfachen Wischen aufhellen, sondern auch Hintergründe. Eine zu dunkle Aufnahme, lässt sich somit schnell optimieren. Ebenso kann der Hintergrund auch unscharf gezeichnet werden, wodurch das Bild mehr Dynamik bekommt.

Funktionen in der facetune App

Auszug der Funktionsübersicht in der facetune App

Mit Hilfe der «Details» Funktion lassen sich vor allem die Augen und der Mund perfekt in Szene setzen. Und dank der Glättungsfunktion wird der Teint im Gesicht fast schon makellos. Dazu wählt man das gewünschte Werkzeug aus und wischt mit dem Finger über die jeweilige Partie. Je häufiger man wischt, desto intensiver wird der Effekt. Damit man es mit der Retusche nicht übertreibt, kann mit einem Klick auf das blaue Symbol unten rechts auch immer wieder schauen, wie sich der Bearbeitungsprozess entwickelt hat. Hält man das Symbol gedrückt, erscheint nämlich das Ausgangsbild. Zudem bauen sich die Effekte aller Retusche-Werkezeuge in ihrer Intensität mit jedem Wischen auf. Ein stark verfremdetes Bild ist somit kaum möglich. Eine kleine Auswahl an verschiedenen Filtern und Retroeffekten rundet das Angebot der Bildbearbeitungs-App ab.

Facetune ist in einer kostenlosen Version im Google Play Store erhältlich: Android Version

Beauty Retusche mit Facetune - Selfies bearbeiten

links: Bild ohne Bearbeitung, rechts: Bearbeitung des Bildes mit den folgenden Facetune Werkzeugen: Filter «Lighter»; Augen aufgehellt; Augen, Mund und einzelne Haarsträhnen mit «Details» Funktion hervorgehoben, Gesichtshaut geglättet.

YouCamPerfect: Der Klassiker unter den Beauty Apps

Die Beauty-App YouCamPerfect ist ein Klassiker unter den Retusche Apps und bietet sicherlich den grössten Funktionsumfang, um ein Selfie zu optimieren. Dabei verfügt die App sowohl über klassische Bildbearbeitungsfunktionen, wie beispielsweise das Anpassen der Kontraste, als auch über eine Vielzahl an Beauty-Tools. Neben einer automatischen Verschönerungsfunktion gehören dazu auch Hautglättungsfunktionen, eine Nasen- und Gesichtsformkorrektur sowie ein Augenvergrösserungs-Werkzeug. Aber auch das grösser und schmaler schummeln des eigenen Körpers, stellt für die App kein Problem dar.

Funktionen in der YouCamPerfect App

Auszug der Funktionsübersicht in der YouCamPerfect App

Ebenso lassen sich mit der App auch unschöne Augenschatten, Hautunreinheiten und die Farbe der Zähne korrigieren. Besonders interessant ist bei dieser App sicherlich die Smile-Funktion. Dieses Werkzeug bringt jeden noch so grimmigen Gesichtsausdruck zum Lächeln. Anders als bei der Facetune App analysiert die App automatisch das Bild. Der Nachteil dabei: Der Nutzer kann bei fast allen Beauty-Tools lediglich die Intensität des Effektes einstellen. Selbst aber nicht bestimmen, welche Partien bearbeitet werden sollen.

Dank der umfangreichen und sehr gut funktionierenden Werkzeuge besteht die Gefahr, dass das Gesicht zu sehr verfremdet wird. Ein Blick auf das ursprüngliche Vergleichsbild ist daher ratsam. Ebenso das vorsichtige justieren der jeweiligen Werkzeugregler.

YouCamPerfekt ist in einer kostenlosen Version im Google Play Store erhältlich: Android Version

Beauty Retusche mit YouCamPerfect - Selfies bearbeiten

links: Bild ohne Bearbeitung, rechts: Stark bearbeitetes Bild mit den folgenden YouCamPerfect Funktionen: Haut geglättet, schmalere Gesichtsform, Hautfarbe verändert, Nasenverschönerung, Tränensäcke entfernt, Augen vergrössert, Hautunreinheiten entfernt, Rouge aufgelegt, Lächeln intensiviert und die Augen aufgehellt.

Airbrush: Ein neuer Look per Finger-Klick

Die Airbrush App verfügt ähnlich wie die Facetune und die YouCamPerfect App über eine Vielzahl an Beauty-Retusche-Tools und Standardfunktionen zur Bildbearbeitung. Während diese Funktionen bei der Airbrush App vom Ergebnis her nur mittelmässig sind, punktet diese Beauty-App vor allem mit dem automatischen Make-up Tool. Mit nur einem Klick lässt sich ein neuer Make-up Look auf das Bild legen und in der Intensität anpassen. Auch das Überlagern der Looks ist kein Problem. Wollten Sie beispielsweise schon immer mal Sommersprossen haben oder testen, wie Smokey Eyes an Ihnen wirken, dann ist diese App zu empfehlen. Für das beste Ergebnis ist es ratsam, wenn das Make-Up des Ausgangsbildes eher neutral ist. Dadurch kommen die einzelnen Make-up Looks, die die Beauty-App bietet, besser zur Geltung.

Funktionen in der Airbrush App

Auszug der Funktionsübersicht in der Airbrush App

Beauty Retusche mit Airbrush - Selfies bearbeiten

links: Bild ohne Bearbeitung, rechts: bearbeitetes Bild mit dem Make-Up Werkzeug der Airbrush App

Fazit

Bei all den Möglichkeiten, die diese Beauty-Apps bieten, sollten Sie es mit der Bearbeitung nie übertreiben. Ist man auf der Suche nach einer App für eine natürliche Optimierung des eigenen Selfies, so bietet sich die Facetune App an. Hier lassen sich alle Bearbeitungsmöglichkeiten in kleinen Schritten anwenden. Möchte man hingegen ein wenig mit dem eigenen Bild herumspielen und schauen, was alles möglich ist, dann ist die YouCamPerfekt Beauty-App das Richtige. Einen neuen Make-up Look schnell und einfach auszuprobieren, ist mit der airbrush App mit nur einem Klick möglich.

Wir wünschen viel Spaß beim Ausprobieren!

Colour in the darkness – Black light photography

The special characteristics of digital black light photography

In black light photography, the photographer determines what can and can’t be seen. The photographic staging is supported by tools with fluorescent properties, which become visible in the black light.

The wide range of tools allows for a very artistic, spectacular and colourful presentation that you don’t see in any other setting.

Conditions for black light photography

Due to the rather dark lighting atmosphere at a black light set, you should use a camera that also takes low-noise photographs in higher ISO ranges. This helps to ensure that the images meet your quality requirements and that disturbing image noise in dark areas can be avoided.

Basically, you should use a high speed lens that allows low aperture values. This allows for a larger aperture, a higher light exposure and shorter exposure times.

As the name suggests, the most important component of black light photography is the black light itself. Depending on your goals, conventional black light tubes or special black light stage lamps can be used as light sources. For selective lighting, we recommend using black light torches, which are already available at low prices.

 

Model under black light against a black background

Here you can see the fluorescent effect of the colours used. To make the colours even more prominent, both the background and the model are kept neutral in black.

In order to create beautiful and colourful images in black light photography, fluorescent materials are needed. Special online shops for black light accessories and the work of other photographers offer a good source of inspiration for possible combinations. The offer is varied and ranges from black light make-up to black light soap bubbles.

The right location for the black light shooting

The shooting should be carried out in a controllable environment. Any interference, such as incident light, can affect the success of the shoot and should therefore be avoided. In general, an indoor performance in the evening or at night is recommended, as possible disturbances can be prevented here. All windows and doors should be darkened for the duration of the shooting. It is best to use a neutral black background for your shots.

However, even nocturnal outdoor shots can lead to fascinating results. To avoid the influence of disturbing light sources such as lanterns or moonlight, it is preferable to take pictures in rural and light-protected environments. Due to their mobility and battery operation, the use of black light flashlights is recommended for outdoor shoots.

Eye-friendly handling of black light

For health reasons, you and others involved should avoid direct eye contact with black light sources. Since photography in a darkened environment can also be tiring and exhausting in the long run, you should avoid long glances through the viewfinder of your camera. It is more advisable to use the Live View function of the camera to view the image composition on a larger display.

Verwendung der Live View Funktion bei einer Spiegelreflexkamera.

Manual camera mode photography – full control over ISO, aperture and exposure time

You should select the manual camera mode for your shots, as this is the only way to adjust the ISO value, aperture value and exposure time extensively.

The ISO value should be adjusted to the brightness of the black lights used and the indirect luminosity of the fluorescent agents. If many luminous tools and black lights are used, a low ISO value can be selected. If, on the other hand, you limit yourself to the use of a few light sources, you will not be able to avoid the use of higher ISO values (up to the higher four-digit ranges). The maximum also depends on the camera model in order to avoid unpleasant image noise. Try out in test shots which ISO values are favourable.

The aperture value should be individually adjusted to the individual subjects and the desired depth of field. If you only want to shoot a single subject and make it stand out from the background, select a low aperture value. If you want to clearly display two or more subjects, you should experiment with higher aperture values. However, since the size of the aperture also determines the amount of incident light, it should also be selected in accordance with the lighting mood of your surroundings.

The exposure time should be set to ensure that the subject is always sharp and visible. The required exposure time depends on whether the subject is dynamic or static. To avoid shaky and blurred images, you should choose a sufficiently short exposure time for dynamic subjects, starting at about 1/50 second. A tripod is recommended for taking pictures of static subjects. Thus, longer exposure times, e.g. 1/5 second, can lead to sharp results and thus favour setting options such as a higher aperture value or a lower ISO value.

For better colour reproduction, it is also advisable to deliberately underexpose the image slightly. Underexposure will cause the fluorescent colours to emerge more strongly.

File type RAW – The basis for subsequent image processing

If possible, you should save the images in RAW file format. This will take up more space on the SD card, but it will also store significantly more information per image. This lets you edit RAW files more comprehensively than JPEG images.

In order to emphasise bright colours better and more expressively, it is recommended to use special image editing programs, such as Adobe Lightroom. You can change the colour of the image afterwards by adjusting the hue and saturation values. It is worth experimenting, as you can often create interesting alternative results.