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Photography Question 
lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2007

Low Light Wedding Ceremony

Help!! I am shooting my first indoor wedding November 17 in a very poorly lit church. The couple knows it's my first time inside, so that's a bit of a relief. Last night, however, I shot the rehearsal, and all the pictures were grainy from the high ISO. But even with the ISO at 1600, they were junk - too dark and lots of motion blur. I don't know what to do! Flash is not allowed durring ceremony. I shoot digital with a Nikon D40x. Thanks!

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11/11/2007 10:18:44 AM

W.    "Photography" is Greek for "writing with light". If there is no light, then there's nothing to write with. Forget the church under those circumstances, Lindsay - unless you're a magician.

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11/11/2007 11:52:16 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Re-create the ceremony before or after the ACTUAL event. Then, use a flash! That seems to be your only option.

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11/11/2007 3:37:37 PM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  A Canon would've taken Great Just shows how important lenses and experience come into play.

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11/11/2007 4:25:56 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  what kind of lens do you have? I purchased a 50mm f1.8 lens this summer (under $100 and great for those of us on a budget). It allows me to take pictures indoors without the flash (but then, I still usually need a lot of window light because my photos are too grainy at even 400 ISO). Some 50mm lenses even open up to 1.4 and 1.2.

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11/11/2007 5:55:05 PM

Devon McCarroll
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2005
  Hi Lindsay,
Two things you need--a tripod and a fast lens. If you can't afford to buy a lens but have a good camera shop nearby, most shops rent them. I would suggest renting a really good fast lens for the day.
Good luck, and have fun!

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11/13/2007 8:22:58 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Okay Devon is Absolutely correct rent what you need. I just signed to partner with one of NorCals top wedding/event photogs and we discussed equipment this link.

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11/13/2007 9:08:09 AM

lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2007
  Thank you all so much for the info! I'm going to read the blog and check out my area to see where I can rent a lens.


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11/13/2007 10:41:01 AM

Eric K. Farewell   Check out:

Tell them Eric Farewell sent ya'

Shooting in low light IS do able, it's just one of the things that makes our jobs as wedding photographers difficult.

You're welcome to check out some of my low light work:

All My Best,


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11/13/2007 12:17:40 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Lemme get this straight: Lindsay hasn't had experience shooting indoor weddintgs. She doesn't seem to know how to handle low light situations without using flash. And, she needs to rent equipment to shoot this assignment, presumably equipment she hasn't used before at all. And the wedding is in less than 4 days.

Am I wrong, or is someone sticking a fork into the ole toaster and flirting with disaster here?

I like Pete's advice but I think recreating the wedding before AND after is probably going to be appropriate. Personally, if I were in that boat. I'd get the bride and groom to sign a written waiver of quality for the end result and make sure all the guests stick around for a few days until the proofs are done for that second recreation. YIKES !!!!

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11/13/2007 12:36:57 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003
There's no reason you should have to recreate anything. Shooting the ceremony at ISO 800 @ f4-f5.6 should give you a shutter speed fast enough to get good images -- provided you use a sturdy tripod and time your shots carefully. I shoot weddings all the time in low light without flash and get lots of great shots. Remember that the important ceremony shots are generally times when no real movement is taking place. The father and bride standing at the altar, scripture reading/solo, vows, and ring exchange. Even the kiss can be captured without flash if you time your shot right when the bride and goom's lips meet! Everything else before and after can be captured using flash. However, I would suggest that shooting someone's wedding without having really practiced these techniques is very risky -- I wish you the best.

God Bless,

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11/13/2007 6:33:20 PM

lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2007
  WOW! So much information, thanks you guys. The links were really helpful, so thank you for those also.

In regards to the comments from Mark about me flirting with disaster, thats not quite the case. Although I am no professional, I would like to be at that level in the future. I am not use to shooting in low lighting with out a flash. The majority of what I have done has been family, senior, engagement, which has all for the most part been outdoors in nice wheather. I am trying to branch out with my expierence, and someone I know was nice enough to offer up my name to a bride she knew who was on a tight budget, and I MEAN TIGHT! The bride, groom, and I got together to view some of my samples of prior work. What I lack in expierence, I make up for in smarts, meaning that I didn't promise anything I couldn't deliver. I think I actually under sold myself as the prospect of a indoor wedding had me sweating my socks off lol. After the rehersal, I let the bride know the situation, and tonight I went back to the church to fool around some more with different settings and a different lens that I have, but seldom use. It made a huge difference.

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11/14/2007 9:47:28 PM

lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2007
  I don't believe I will have to recreate anything. Things were certainly better tonight.
I also did make a contract for them, its one I used for another wedding, but I had my attorney review it lol, I'm not taking any chances. I was very clear about things such as quality, officials who have the final say, and things of that nature. They understand that I cannot be held responsible for poor lighting or rain or snow lol. The couple is very happy to have ANYONE there to shoot it since they are on such a tight budget, their other option was guests using disposables. I didn't charge much, because the expierence is pricelessssssss, and I think that helped seal the deal. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere right??!!??

Take Care,

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11/14/2007 9:57:02 PM

Cathy Powell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/2/2005
  I've shot two weddings so far. The lighting was atrocious and I couldn't use a flash for a couple of reasons: 1. it's against the rules during the ceremony and 2. flashes have a nasty way of casting even nastier shadows.
The first wedding I used my kit lens (I have a Canon EOS Rebel XT). I used a tripod and set it program mode, tweaking the ISO (up) and fiddling with the settings until my shots started to look okay. Post processing was a must to get the lighting and color correct. My second wedding, I used a Tamron 18-250 f2.5-6.3. I also purchased an Expodisk which is GREAT at getting the white balance correct in a hurry (and that's important for weddings). It was well worth the $85 I paid for it. I didn't need to post process these shots much at all. You can see them at Fast lenses are the preferred answer, but they are pricey. You can work around them, but you really have to practice with your camera to get all of the settings correct.

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11/15/2007 7:57:10 PM

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