This tip is being brought to you from my friends at Porter’s Digital Cameras and Imaging. Visit them at http://www.Porters.com —
Few things stump the assigned family photographer like trying to shoot a large Thanksgiving table populated with people and decorations. The traditional table shot is an important annual ritual, and because of this, it’s worth investing in a little bit of advanced planning time to make sure you’re ready when everyone sits down to celebrate.
Things to Bring: If at all possible, bring a tripod and a remote trigger for your camera. A tripod will steady the camera and allow you to try different locations and angles to see what works for your particular situation. You will also want your lens cleaning kit nearby to ensure smudges don’t ruin your holiday memories. By the way, if you don’t have a remote trigger use the self-timer instead!
Lighting Considerations: When photographing a long table with people seated from one end to the other, proper lighting is critical to making sure everyone is evenly covered. If your light source is far away from your subjects, the light will fall off gradually; however, if you are shooting close to your subjects (using a point and shoot camera, for example), the light from the flash will fall off quickly and can make those seated further away from you appear darker (because the light from the flash is diminishing and not giving proper illumination). Here are a few things to try: Check available light around the table. Do you have windows that will provide light and how will this light change when it is time for everyone to sit down for dinner?
• Ask a couple of guests to ‘model’ for you for a few minutes. Seat one close to the front of the shot and the other at the far end. Play with different angles and with light sources (lamps, overhead, etc) to see which best provide necessary fill light.
• Try bouncing the flash off the ceiling to see if you can create a more even light stream across the table.
The Kids Table: This is where the real fun happens! If you have a separate kids table, make them the stars in a few photographs. Try standing on a chair and shooting from the top down while they hold up their water glasses in a kid toast. With kids, playing with angles is particularly important because you want to capture the event from their perspective so shoot at their eye level—as adults, we often tower above them, especially when they’re seated.
During busy holiday visits, you will also find extra memory cards handy. There’s nothing worse than running out of room on your memory card and trying to impulsively decide which images to delete to make room for new shots.