On July 1, I was blessed to be invited out to Holland State Park by The Nelson Family to help document their family reunion. What a heartwarming experience to see so many families all honor their shared legacy by coming together on such a grand scale. This doesn’t happen without there being a real patriarch and matriarch at the head of the family. Well done, Paul & Ruthie!
Now on to the photography…
One of the big hopes for this session was to capture a massive full-family portrait out on the beach near Holland’s lighthouse. But there were some challenges to overcome:
40+ people. Babies, kids and oldies. Full-on sunshine. 90° temps and humidity. Yikes! How in the world do you manage this?
Don’t try this at home.
The typical solution for the mega group shot is to assemble the whole “marching band” into one big clump, try to squeeze in tight, hope not to obscure faces, and live with the fish-eye effect of a wide angle lens. Predictably, these group photos make for lousy wall art and keepsakes. The best you can do is hope that everybody’s eyes are open. Usually, the camera is so far away that you can barely tell anyway. If only there were a better way…
Panorama to the rescue!
Since this was such an important shot, I pulled out a favorite from my bag of tricks. The panorama below is a composite of 23 (!!!) separate exposures, stitched together to get an otherwise-impossible shot:
click for a larger view…
The resulting image is an amazing 250 megapixels in size (compared to 16 megapixels in a typical single exposure). In addition to a far better composition and the opportunity to select the best photos for each subject, we get a ton more detail. See for yourself in these magnified sections:
Conventional single exposure photo:
Is planning and constructing a panoramic shot like this a lot of extra work? You bet. Is it worth the trouble? Absolutely!