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Photography Question 
Scott Barker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007
 

Lighting for weddings


Ok, so I have been shooting weddings for almost a year now, and everytime I look at the peoples work who have shot for like 5 or more years, I get discouraged! You can see my work at www.lanephotographyonline.com

What are the lighting techniques when using a 580ex on camera. I can't seem to get my pictures to "pop" like the other guys do?

Also take a look at www.kristaleephotography.com

Her work is really what I am striving to get close to, I just can't seem to do it.

Any help or advise would be really appreciated.

Thanks again guys!


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10/2/2008 3:31:14 PM

 
W.   
1) Define "pop" please, Scott! That means very different things to different people.

2) And post one of your photos that you tried to make "pop", but didn't succeed like you would like.

3) List your gear, PP app, and operating system.

With that we will have a bit more to go on.

Have fun!


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10/3/2008 5:22:12 AM

 
Scott Barker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007
 
 
  B&W
B&W
© Scott Barker
Canon EOS Digital ...
 
 
In B&W pics, the skin on the persons seems to be glowing. Like they have lotion on the skin or something like that. I have CS3. I have Kubota, and Mamas plugins. I am working on Mac.

I am also uploading a recent pic.


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10/3/2008 7:19:07 AM

 
Bernard    Scott
Your photos are nice
I do see obvious points to why your photos do not reach the goal that you state.
1. The composition of color.
2. The choice of selective blur
3. posing
4. choice of background


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10/3/2008 7:24:10 AM

 
Tressie Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/4/2006
  I looked at the site you indicate is your goal, and I see a lot of natural light shots there...have you tried turning off your flash for some pics? Especially with a window shot like you posted - turn her slightly more toward the light and let it fall softly on her and don't use flash - the light and shadow play from a window can be very beautiful.


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10/3/2008 8:06:42 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Actually Scott, I think you need to back up a few steps. To me it looks as though you over-fixed improperly exposed images in the first instance. Hence it also seems you're going to be fighting an uphill battle unless you learn how to light correctly and work within the limitations of your lighting equipment.

It's not the camera. The camera records what you tell it to and how to record it. If your scene isn't correctly lit your exposures will look as they do, which is generally mottled or gray and underexposed. For example, there are no pure blacks and whites in your shots, the gray looks dull as well. The color shots appear incorrectly exposed as well.

The work you noted by Kristo Lee is very clean. Contrary to what Tressie said, I would guess that that the work isn't natural light so much as it is a combination of fill AND natural light using reflectors and softboxes. In some, you can actually see the lighting modifiers reflected in the pupils of the subjects. I don't know the output of your lighting equipment, but from my own experience, I wouldn't use less than about 200 w.s. outdoors for fill, diffused light, reflector cards or fill panels, and get the strobe OFF the camera onto a light stand. Some shots require multiple light set-ups like his cheerleader shot, others can be simply filled using a softbox or even an umbrella but you have to know how to balance the light with the strobe to the ambient light. You can do a lot of lighting with a single strobe head off a portable unit like a Vivitar 285 HV or Nikon SB800 in a small umbrella or softbox on a portable stand and radio remote slave/trigger.

I also suggest you post some of your unretouched/unfixed images here if you want some lighting pointers, and also take some lighting courses whether online or elsewhere like at a local community college. Most of all, experiment, practice, practice and practice some more. Perfect your photographic vision so that you can perform quickly and decisively which is really important and necessary for events, weddings and location work for hire. Afterall, you shouldn't be experimenting on your clients unless you can completely deliver what they hired you to do. THEN experiment but don't show them the results unless they're like the paragon of excellence.

Also, for now, you might consider sticking with portraits and back away from the rigors of wedding and location photography until you perfect your craft a bit more.
Take it light ;>)
Mark


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10/3/2008 10:21:42 AM

 
Tressie Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/4/2006
  And I defer to Mark's expertise. :-)


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10/3/2008 10:30:57 AM

 
Scott Barker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007
  Mark, I typically use 320ws alienbees. I have three, but normally only use two. I shot the above shot at f/9, 200 shutter speed, and iso 200. The lights were to the womans right and left (typical portrait lighting), about 10 feet back. For portrait shots that is my typical setup, for photo-journalistic shots I normally use a 580ex flash with gary fong diffuser, I try to bounce most of the time.

How should I have lighted it? I want to learn and get better, but it just seems like no one wants to teach the up and coming amateurs, because of fear that they may actually get better and put them out of a job.

How do you typically light your wedding shots? Is there an online tutorial or book that you recommend? Also, do you typically bump the contract in PS, because I think that might be some of the problem too.

Thanks guys for the comments so far, believe me, most of us amateur guys are striving to be better, but just need the knowledge behind getting there.


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10/3/2008 3:52:26 PM

 
W.   
"I want to learn and get better, but it just seems like no one wants to teach the up and coming amateurs, because of fear that they may actually get better and put them out of a job."

Are you serious? LOL!

"just need the knowledge behind getting there"

There is no magic trick, Scott. You just gotta do it again and again, and hone your m.o. as you go along. You gain experience and finetune while putting your nose to the grindstone. You pay your dues and harvest the rewards. That is of course not an overnight process...

Sorry, Scott, no fast track to success.


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10/3/2008 5:57:19 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I like your work Tress, it's quite nice. I have a feeling you know more about shooting digitally and photo shopping than I want to know. LOL !!! (That's a complement, actually. Honest !!!)

As to what Scott said, yes, Will is right in that there are no shortcuts to success. I've been at this since Moses was in short pants. I still shoot strictly film 99.9% of the time. Mostly Tri-X and Ektachrome in sizes up to 4x5". I usually never work above ISO 100, and I pull Tri-X down to 250.

IMHO, the lights you're describing, Scott, 320 w.s. Alien Bees, don't put out enough horsepower other than for a fill light. When I work in a studio / indoor setting, I use a single monolight that puts out 1000 W.S. of switchable power which allows me to work at ISO 100, f 8.0-11 at 1/125th of a sec. I never have much, if any, difficulty with contrast or tonal range and my negatives don't require fixing. None of the work in my gallery or on my web site has been fixed in any way other than cropping on a couple. I don't shoot weddings but I do lots of portraits. Usually with one light or available light and a fill flash, one of those I mentioned or a Quantum T-2 with a Turbo battery pack and a diffuser.

As far as your comment about putting mentoring pros out of a job, I think that's a bunch of nonsense (to be polite) in fact, I think it's "canal juice". There are plenty of us out there willing to take on an assistant or apprentice, or the opportunity to teach or mentor, but to find us, you have to do some leg work, probably join some associations like ASMP.org or WPA, or Pro Photogs of America PPofA as a student or non-studio owner and go to meetings or go to a local college or university and take classes. Ask around, bring a portfolio, tell them what you're interested in doing and get some input.
True professionals are always willing to give something back to the profession, especially if they're secure enough in their own ability to handle any competition.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of threads here at BP, a lighting course or two along with plenty of online courses for free like at Photoflex.com. Books abound at the local libraries, especially on lighting techniques. Fine art books will teach you a lot about portraiture including how the light illuminated the subject but you need to analyze the portraits and draw diagrams of where YOU think the lighting came from then try and duplicate similar lighting. Again, there's no fast track to success or magic "lighting bullet". If you teach yourself, keep experimenting which you need to do regardless and again, back off of weddings for awhile because frankly, IMO I don't think you're quite there yet. Spend less time fixing and more time exposing and shooting correctly at the camera. THAT will teach you photography. Film is even better. ;>)
Take it light.
Mark


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10/3/2008 9:16:26 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Maybe you need to find a photographer that has no job, therefore, they won't feel threatened.


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10/3/2008 9:37:12 PM

 
Scott Barker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007
  The comment on pros not wanting to teach amateurs comes from me living in Nashville. The "pro" photographers that I have run into, and had contact with, aren't the nicest of people, and/or feel as though they are going to waste their time teaching someone, who will later take jobs from them in the areas they shoot. I am quoting 4 photographers that I have had the opportunity to talk to about apprenticing under, and/or assisting. So when I say that, if you take offense to it, then you are either offended because you are that type of person, or you aren't. I am just tired of some pros acting as if up and coming photographers are little more than "free labor" to pack their camera bags and lights around.

So if you take offense to this sorry.


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10/3/2008 10:17:42 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  What if you don't take offense but like making fun of the odd stuff?


I'll tell you one secret, that's not really a secret because you can see it right there in the photos.
Now this is especially true for people who do weddings. A good location for taking pictures and a good time of day, that has nothing to do with the photographer, even though they may take credit for it. Something like, but not quite as absurd, as using auto focus and saying how many pictures you got in focus.
Don't let an ego or a sense of people owing you something get in the way. Maybe the free labor was the problem, but if you assist a wedding photographer, most of the time you'll be carrying equipment anyway.


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10/3/2008 10:58:55 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  And sense you say you're quoting 4 pros, I just realized that my first statement turned out to be a pretty good idea.


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10/3/2008 11:03:01 PM

 
Bernard    Scott
Now that you've decided stick your
head out of the fox hole, you've received your customary dose of dry
humor along with helpful information.


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10/3/2008 11:11:33 PM

 
Tressie Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/4/2006
  Thanks Mark, I'm takin' it light. :-)


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10/4/2008 3:20:55 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Scott, let me say this once more: [From our Department of Redundancy Department]:

"There are plenty of us (as in guys like me because I can't speak for the other pros here) willing to take on an assistant or apprentice, or the opportunity to teach or mentor, but to find us, YOU have to do some leg work, probably join some associations like ASMP.org or WPA, or Pro Photogs of America PPofA as a student or non-studio owner and go to meetings or go to a local college or university and take classes. Ask around, bring a portfolio, tell them what you're interested in doing and get some input.

True professionals are always willing to give something back to the profession, especially if they're secure enough in their own ability to handle any competition." [Apparently, you haven't run into any of those yet.
Don't whine, modify your attitude, keep looking. If you want to succeed at this, you can. If you fail the attitude test, you'll never make it in this biz. Greg is right about that too.

Maybe you didn't know this, but ASMP has an assistant training program. Advertising Photographers of America has local chapter meetings, and when we shoot commercial work, especially on locations, we almost always need assistants (and chirpas).

Good luck !
Mark


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10/4/2008 9:53:39 AM

 
Scott Barker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007
  Thanks, Mark, I appreciate the info. Yeah I have just feel beat down here lately with assisting guys, that never take the time to show you what you are there to learn in the first place. I will look into joining some of those assoc. you mentioned. Also thanks for not using "dry humor" as sometimes I am pretty gulible and some of that goes over my head and I take it as offense even though it isn't intended to be.


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10/4/2008 9:30:33 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Ever since I got my 580ex speedlite II, I haven't had any problems with flash. If I have really dark situation then I bust out my pocket wizards. I only use flash when I absolutely have to. You have to travel as light as possible in the wedding biz, because lugging around a cart or tripod(s) could cause you to miss a important shot(s).

I understand what you mean about photographers worried about training competitors. That is exactly what I became. I was assisting for $125 a wedding. More of a mule than a photographer. But when time permitted I was aloud to shoot (film at the time). At first I knew nothing about cameras, just really good at composing a shot and setting one up. So the photographer would give me the iso, f-stop and shutter speed and I would shoot away. Once I started to understand how all the math worked I started getting better. So as time went on, I thought I deserved a little more and when asked for a raise got denied. Later replaced by someone who did it for free, who wanted a part time job. So naturaly I decided to start shooting for myself and after two low budget weddings, moved up in price range to match my own ex-boss.

I actualy have no problem teaching anyone, but time is usualy a big factor these days. If I need an assistant, for a bigger wedding, I have my wife come along and keep the money in the family. Problem is for you, is that most pro photographers that I know shot alone. You don't need an assistant, unless you are unsure of your work or you feel more comfortable with back-ups pictures. I shoot all my shots with 2 diff. cameras and 2 diff. lenses so I'm pretty well insured.

You'll get the lighting down as time goes on. By the time you've got it nailed they'll probably have a camera that doesn't need a pro to figure out the math behind a well lit shot, just a good eye for details.


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10/5/2008 11:19:25 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  And a long list of stories and aliases?


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10/5/2008 2:06:18 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Scott alot of the pro's, like my self, shoot wide open for the artistic look and more light availability. Those of us with more pixels go for the higher iso's. The canon Mark III version at over 20mp has amazing quality even at 1600iso. Even better lenses like the 50mm 1.2 are a big bonus if you can afford it.


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10/6/2008 1:07:49 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Yes Scott, in a short amount of time, he's relocated from Hawaii, to California, to Washington state, to Whistler(think that's Canada), to Florida.
All the while being able to get the word out quickly in a brand new city(along with a new name) and restart and maintain a steady flow of business.
I believe it's considered average for someone who's spent a lifetime in one place to first turn a profit not until 4 years of having their own business.
You need to pick his brain to see how he does it.


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10/6/2008 1:30:10 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  oops, bold cancellation didn't work.


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10/6/2008 1:31:50 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Were should start Gregory. Never been to Washington State and no desire to go. Will go if I get a booking though. I shoot destination weddings and don't meet the couple in person until a couple of days before the wedding. I get my weddings from destination magazines. If I am in a pinch I go to the hotels in my area and offer the wedding coordinators a kick-back if they get me a wedding (yes a bribe). Word of mouth is your best and cheapest way to get bookings if you can stay put. I am just having so much fun traveling. In the past 2 years I have already lived in 17 states in the U.S. Not turning a profit until 4 yrs. I met one that took 7 years before a profit. I'm just living check to check right now, but thats what happens when you live out of your suitcase.


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10/6/2008 3:30:49 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Might save some money if you stop changing your driver's license so much.


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10/6/2008 5:12:49 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Drivers License isn't the worst of it for me. Its the registration, I just paid $217. I could probably get away with it sometimes, but if I ever got pulled over for something and my papers weren't in order, I could be late for a wedding.


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10/7/2008 2:31:10 AM

 
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