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I remember seeing some photos taken of children which had been staged by getting the kids to form a rugby scrum - all in a circle with arms around each others shoulder and leaning in to look at the floor with the camera lying on the floor in the centre.

So the photo would look something like this:

enter image description here

I have a remote trigger for my Nikon DSLR (D3000) and a 50mm Lens (also a kit lens 18-55). What aperture / shutter settings would people recommend? Its likley to be outdoors and I won't have much time to play with settings, kids being kids! I'm guessing the distance between the camera and the kids' faces would be 1 meter or less. I could just stick the camera on auto but was hoping to learn something in the process.

  • I don't have the full answer, but I think you'll need a wide angle lens and an (off-camera) flash. – Saaru Lindestøkke Apr 4 '15 at 11:26
  • Have you considered laying down and letting the kids ruck over you? – user38275 Apr 4 '15 at 12:24
  • The best way of working out how to do this would be to actually get some kids and try it out. You'll almost certainly want a remote trigger of some description. Depending on how sophisticated you want it to look, you can probably get away without off-camera flashes, but you will need a wide angle lens (kids legs are short). – Harry Harrison Mar 20 '16 at 23:47
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There will be many different ways of achiving this, but this is the way I would go about it. If you have limited time available for the shoot, then practice first.

Mounting the camera

Take a square of scrap wood, and mount a simple tripod head to it in the centre - this will get your camera low. The bigger your piece of wood, the more stable the camera will be, and the flatter it will be. I'd go for something about 50cm square. This will also give your kids a target.

Only some tripods will go low enough for this shot, and they would probably require the legs to spread far enough to interfere with the legs of the players. A tripod would be less easy to level on rough ground as well. Lying under the scrum will raise the camera quite a bit and raises your risk of getting stood on.

Triggering the shot

You'll want a cable/remote release, trigger many many shots, and then filter after the shoot. You'll want to be close to the action yourself, as you'll want to check that the kids are central over the camera.

Posing the shot

Get the kids to try combinations of looking at the camera, and looking up at each other. The pose required may look nothing like a scrum from the outside.

Find a way to make it fun for the kids, especially if they're shy about having their photo taken, you'll get a much more 'camera time' and you'll get much better photos from it.

Camera Settings

You'll probably want a medium-small aperature, as you'll want their whole body in focus. Manual focus may be a good idea to avoid the camera focussing on the sky accidentally. Shutter speed doesn't need to be too fast, and as you'll be using a flash, you'll have to keep it below your sync speed.

Start by exposing for the sky - if you have a dull sky this will ruin the image.

Get a flash or two mounted to your board, and find a way to get the light diffused a little - probably push them away from the centre of the board where your camera is mounted. Modify your flash strength to expose the faces to match the sky.

Dealing with Kids

Show them what you're aiming for to start with, provide them feedback by showing them the pictures, and make it fun. If it's a game, kids will maintain their interest a lot longer.

Take some "muck around" shots, this allows them to have fun, without ruining your shot (these sometimes turn out to be the best shots of kids)

Other ideas

  • If you can tether your camera to a laptop, it may make it easier to be dynamic with the shots, and provide quicker feedback.
  • Be prepared to lie on the floor, and for your gear to get a little dirty.
  • If you're doing this at a practice session your choice of 'time of day' may be a little limited, but think about what the sun will be doing, if the sun is high, then it will make it hard to get interesting skies.
  • Good tips, but 2 minor points of contention: 1) rugby terminology: this is a scrum (set play), not a ruck. 2) "No tripod will go low enough for this shot." Inaccurate. There are several Gitzo, Manfrotto, Benro, Really Right Stuff, etc. tripods that get flat to the ground. With a ballhead with 90° dropout (and perhaps an offset bar/plate/slide), or a 90° angle adapter, the camera back / camera LCD can get to a mere couple inches from the ground. Also, there are some tripods with center columns that rotate to become low angle boom arms to get the camera low to the ground. – scottbb Mar 21 '16 at 3:21
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    @scotbb - 1) good point, will correct (I know very little about rugby, but enough that I should have got that correct) 2) I'm aware of such tripods (I actually own a gitzo that does this) - however, in this case the leg spread would probably be too wide in these configurations - I'll update my answer to correct both these points – Harry Harrison Mar 21 '16 at 5:32

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