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Photography QnA: Tips for Taking Wedding Photos

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Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Tips for Taking Wedding Photos

Get tips for taking wedding photos for amateurs, semi-professional, and professional photographers. Topics range from the best portrait lenses for wedding photography to working with clients to coming up with a wedding list of shots. Additionally, here is a helpful article you should take a look at: Portrait Lenses for Wedding Photography.

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Photography Question 
Mary Iacofano
MARYIACOFANO.COM

member since: 10/12/2005
  1 .  Wedding Cruise: Any Tips?
Hello friends,
This is not a question on settings and exposure for this assignment, rather a question on any fun ideas. This is a wedding on a 100' yacht, under cover and on the deck. Do you have any suggestions for some different shots with the bride and groom? This is a very elegant but untraditional wedding.
I have the idea of the groom lifting (to appear that he is throwing) the bride overboard. This is not a professional shoot, just doing a favor for a friend.
I would welcome any ideas - no matter how crazy they may seem. It's all in fun.
Thanks in advance!

4/2/2010 4:29:12 PM

 
 
 
Hello Mary,
I did a wedding shoot on a large sailboat that posed real problems and also offered cool perspectives as well. There were ropes everywhere for the sails, etc., and I had to constantly be aware of where they were and positioned people to keep the ropes out of the frame as much as possible. I did still spend time in post production - cloning out some of the ropes.
While there were some open spaces on the bow and stern areas, it would often get very crowded, which would also cause problems positioning myself to get a good point of view of a larger group. I opted to get lots of smaller group photos and also got on top of the cabin to shoot down on everyone (still having to mind where the ropes were) but this worked pretty well. They timed the wedding for late afternoon, which also presented a few lighting challenges as the fill light I used for most of the day was now needed for full illumination as it grew darker. One of my favorite shots was after the ceremony. The bride and groom were on the stern with champagne glasses and kissing with the setting sun right behind them.
Work with positioning the bride and groom and the captain to maneuver the yacht where the sun is working to your advantage if possible. Luckily, the captain was really helpful and accommodating, and this made a HUGE difference in helping me to get better lighting.
So get up high and shoot down, and use that sun to create some beautiful images.
Have fun Mary...
Love in Light,
Carlton

4/2/2010 10:43:12 PM

 
 
  Hart 1
Hart 1
 
  Hart 2
Hart 2
 
 
Here are a couple of photos that shows the high color contrast & ropes. These are before I did my final edit where I removed the ropes and lightened/softened the saturation & skin colors a bit.
The constantly changing background color as the sun was setting is very beautiful.
Carlton

4/2/2010 10:50:05 PM

Mary Iacofano
MARYIACOFANO.COM

member since: 10/12/2005
  Carlton,
Thank you so much. Great advice. Lots of challenges for me!

4/2/2010 11:15:10 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  A yacht on the ocean can give beautiful blue skies, or cloudy turbulent ones. Shooting from high, looking down is always a good approach (but not for everything). Do the opposite also (low to high) especially with masts and flag etc. Wide angle will also give you some drama. Use a polarizer for the day shots (best with strong blue sky), and if possible set your camera to under-expose by 1 f stop, but tell your flash to over expose by one f stop (with camera on manual settings that is) - and use a monopod but tilt your camera often for drama (ie: the horizon can be boring when it is always straight).

4/27/2010 12:24:23 PM

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Photography Question 
Scott McCord

member since: 10/16/2005
  2 .  Attend Wedding Rehearsal?
As a wedding photographer, I always go to the rehearsals. People always seemed to be surprised that I'm at the rehearsals because they tell me they never see other photographers at rehearsals.
I am wondering if you other wedding photographers out there attend the rehearsals or not. Personally, I find it a pain because they are always disorganized, take forever, and never start on time. And it keeps me up late Friday nights getting my gear ready for the next day. That being said, I do like seeing how the ceremony is planned so I don't have any surprises the next day and I can also step in and make a suggestion if I see something that's going to interfere with my photography.
So, what do you other photographers do as far as attending rehearsals?

10/31/2008 8:58:07 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  You're exactly right Scott. I've shot two weddings in my career and planning is the key to success. Besides, watching the disorganization, while it can be amusing, lets you know what you will be in for when they try and pull it off.

It's really the same as scoping out any other venue in advance. Knowing where people will be approximately, AC outlets if you need them, vantage points, camera angles, the buffet tables, (jk), and seeing who the key players are is always important.
Take it light ;>)
Mark

10/31/2008 9:42:29 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  I'm in the catering business and have NEVER seen a client's photographer attend the rehearsals for ceremonies contracted through our facility.

The photographer(s) will only show up on the day of the event.

11/1/2008 3:18:41 PM

  Hi Scott,
I don't attend rehearsals either but I do meet beforehand with whoever I will be working with (getting the groups together and scheduling) and will also check out the venue(s) to see what my lighting challenges will be so I can prepare for the event. I still take everything with me anyway because lighting and situations can and do change but having a basic equipment list to start with saves time.

11/2/2008 12:58:04 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  If I shoot a wedding, I always attend the rehearsal for some tech prep. I've learned that there's no better way to get good shots of a ceremony. If you are unfamiliar with the venue being used, You can prep, especially for the lighting. You can talk to the minister and find out in detail what the rules are for such things as flash and movement during the ceremony. Also, you will be able to find a good vantage point before the crowds arrive. I have found that most venues will reserve you a place so that you can get good shots, while being out of the way during the actual ceremony. I whole heartedly concur that it's a great idea to attend the rehearsal.

11/2/2008 11:54:18 AM

Scott McCord

member since: 10/16/2005
  Mark,
I attend the rehearsals for the same reason. We had a wedding on Sat. where I attended the rehearsal and even though I knew what was going to happen during the ceremony, the pastor made a last-minute change by moving the groomsmen in front of a chair where the bride and groom were going to sit. Had I not been there, the groomsmen would have completely blocked me from every vantage point. I was able to point that out and resolve the situation. Also, something that happens at EVERY wedding is that the attendants want to walk right behind each other while coming down the aisle. This gives the photographer no chance to capture the following attendants coming up the aisle because the couple immediately in front of them is in the way. I always iron this out at the rehearsal so I allow myself enough time to capture each couple coming down the aisle.

And on occasions when the wedding is far away from where I live and I cannot get to the rehearsal, I have noticed a big difference in my capturing the images. It's much harder when you aren't there to give feedback beforehand.
I wish not to attend the rehearsals, but I just don't see any way around it as far as preparation goes.

And it's becoming more common for officiants to not allow flash. And many times the bride and groom will tell you it's okay until the night of the rehearsal when the officiant tells me no flash is allowed. In fact, I'm usually the one who tells the couple that flash is not an option by request of the officiant. It always gets me that the official photographer can't use flash, but the guests are sitting there flashing away. In fact, I had one pastor tell me that flash was not an option although he fully expected the guests to use flash. His comment was, "I don't have control over the guests, but I do have control over the hired photographer."

Guess you just gotta go with the flow and adapt to the situation you're given.

11/3/2008 7:38:17 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Scott,
Ah the stories that can be told about weddings!! I have lost count of the number which I have photographed in the past 30 years, but it is well over 500. And just when you think you have "seen it all," something else pops up. Most professionals do not attend the rehearsals, although I do know one of my friends who does attend them for all of the previously mentioned reasons. As a business, I need to be concerned about the hours spent away from the studio and whether or not I get paid for what I do. I already spend anywhere from 6-8 hours or more at each event. I have an additional "prep" time to be sure my equipment is ready to go. Afterwards, sorting files, getting previews ready, designing an album, etc. takes about another 20 hours before you deliver the product. There are ways to streamline all this but the point is that there is already a LOT of time involved here. Knowing the event and seeing the church are a must. Conducting yourself as a professional is also imperative. We all have egos, including pastors, but we all have a job to do. If you ever want to do another wedding in the same church (as a BUSINESS, repeat business is essential) then you must at all times be professional -- even if it seems like you are dealing with idiots. Like the pro athletes, your job is to get it done when called on. No excuses! Fast film (now digital ISO), fast lenses (as well as telephoto), and tripods will point you in the right direction. And you need them all. In all but a few churches, you can get the few shots you need of the ceremony without flash. In some churches, flash is allowed but still, don't overdo it. A wedding has not been staged just for you. It is an important day in the life of (hopefully) one of your long time customers. Many of the "issues" of weddings are handled in a consultation with the prospective bride and groom when you "book" the wedding if you know what things to look for and questions to ask. Are you lighting a Unity Candle? Are you presenting flowers to the parents? Is there anything else special scheduled? The answers sometimes vary by denomination but the geographical region is also a factor. Different areas have different customs for ceremony and receptions and you should have an idea of what to expect. Treat the people involved with respect and doors will usually open. Just for the record, the processional and recessional are not usually considered parts of the ceremony where flash is prohibited. Once the wedding party is in place and the bride is in the front of the church is when the flash usually stops. Often you can get a photo with flash of the dad (or whomever is giving the bride away)giving her a kiss. From then on, for me, it is available light until they come back up the aisle. Another important consideration in some churches, depending on the time of the ceremony and in some cases whether or not there is another ceremony either before or after the one you are photographing, is whether or not you can get back in the church to do the "formal" photos. Once in a while, other services are scheduled and people start arriving for that before you finish. Most photographers (and some have) could write a book about their experiences at weddings. At a wedding this summer, the pastor and I were quietly commiserating about how disorganized this particular bride happened to be.... and then later in the day she turned out to be one of the only brides to give the photographer a $200 tip in addition to the usual fees for albums and coverage. You gotta go with the flow!! Amen.
Bruce

11/4/2008 5:02:20 AM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Scott,
I always attend rehearsals for the many reasons mentioned above. It always goes smoother on wedding day as a result. One thing I also do at the rehearsal (didn't see this mentioned) is to coach the bride and groom to face each other when lighting the unity candle -- that moves them a little apart and allows everyone (including me) to see what's going on. Otherwise they stand together with their backs to everyone and look like they're stirring soup!
I use my practice of attending rehearsals 'at no extra charge' as a selling point.

God Bless,
Greg

11/4/2008 1:48:57 PM

Rachel Larson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/3/2005
  Hey Scott,

I also attend the rehersal for all of the same reasons already mentioned. There have been a few that I haven't attended due to the travel that was necessary. (I only wanted to make one trip.) I completely agree, that they are rarely on time and fairly disorganized, and sometimes I even question myself at the time why I came...but they are also helpful in meeting more of the family, and refamilerize yourself with the venue.

Rachel

11/6/2008 12:31:24 PM

Scott McCord

member since: 10/16/2005
  Bruce,
You make very good points and it seems like we are of the same opinion as far as wedding photography goes. Although I like to have flash available during the ceremony, I actually do a lot of natural light photography during the ceremony - it's more "romantic" as far as the style of the photograph goes. And I agree about most officiants not considering the recessional and processional part of the ceremony. So it's really not that big of an issue. I guess the only beef I had about it was the way some of the officiants approach the subject. I mean, I understand there are some completely unprofessional wedding photogs out there and if the officiant has not worked with you, then they have no idea how you handle yourself during the wedding. I was told by one pastor that he had to stop the ceremony because the wedding photog was standing next to him on the stage, shooting over his shoulder...can you believe the nerve of that photographer? It's the couple's day, not the photographer's...and the guests should be focused on them, not the idiot photographer walking all over the stage.

I also address many of the "issues" during consultation. I must say, however, that every once in a while I have clients who let it all go in one ear and out the other and when wedding day arrives, they do exactly opposite of what we agreed upon - even if we just discussed it prior to the wedding. There's when you gotta go with the flow.
And I had my worst case of this a couple of weeks ago when the bride and groom turned Jekyll and Hyde on me and completely did opposite of what we agreed upon (two hours late for rehearsal, two hours late for formal photography, 45 minutes late for their own ceremony, etc.) It was a nightmare and for the life of me, I could not persuade them to keep on schedule. Their answers to my suggestions were a flat "no." But we made it work nevertheless and did our job.

Greg,
You do exactly as I do when it comes to the unity candle. When I first started weddings a few years ago, I quickly grew tired of the throw-away back-of-the-head unity candle shots. That is one of my main discussions on the night of the rehearsal and it has made a huge difference over the years. I walk up to the unity candle the night of the rehearsal with the bride and groom and suggest to them where to stand when lighting it. They seem to follow my advise 90% of the time - and the other 10% is just nerves getting the best of them, making them forget. The unity candle shots got much better after I started addressing the issue.

When I posted this topic, I never intended to stop attending rehearsals, even though they make me crazy. But after hearing so many comments of surprise that I actually showed up to a rehearsal, I thought maybe I was the only photographer going to them. At the very least, it really impresses clients and their parents - who usually are paying the bill.

11/6/2008 4:01:37 PM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Scott,
Certainly the topic of weddings among photographers will undoubtedly generate discussion!! LOL. Attending rehearsals was never a "bad" idea but one of time -- and sometimes duplication. As with anything pertaining to wedding and other photography, do what works for you. There are a number of things at weddings where I photograph from the back of the church during the ceremony -- and the unity candle is one (tired of the back of the heads)-- and I also pose a shot later of the bride and groom where I can direct it and get a great available light shot of them lighting the candle together. (Arms around each other, lighting with the outside hands -- whether or not they actually do it that way during the ceremony -- the same as I do with the cake cutting shot.) I learned very quickly, by the way, when posing the "ceremony" shots later NOT to get an empty church behind them as background. Then that posed shot alternates with the actual ceremony from the back, giving two different perspectives and more interest. There are also LOTS about weddings that indeed MAKE YOU CRAZY but that is what we do as photographers. While I do not have a BP web gallery yet I do have one at www.photosbydart.com if you care to look. I need to update images to more current ones but those on the site generally depict what I do. Best wishes to each of you. Keep it clickin'!!
Bruce

11/6/2008 4:31:08 PM

Ian Lozada
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2005
  I should start by mentioning that wedding photography is my primary business. For my style, I've found that attending rehearsals is actually a detriment to good work. When I go beforehand and start looking around, what happens is that I start thinking about what shots I'd like to take. The problem is that my work is strongest when it's organic-- brides book me because my work is about capturing emotions and the unplanned.

The second the images become about my preconceived notions of what a wedding should look like, I'm dead in the water.

11/10/2008 5:17:12 AM

Scott McCord

member since: 10/16/2005
  Ian,
I understand your point, but when I attend the rehearsals, I don't plan out my shots. I look for things that would impede those spontaneous moments. For instance, let's say the father really gets emotional giving away the bride and a beautiful exchange takes place. If grandma in the wheelchair is placed directly between you and the subjects, then your potential for that spontaneous capture is gone.
Another example...some recent clients decided to participate in feet washing rather than a unity candle because they are very devout and thought it represented their beliefs better. It was a very emotional moment. However, if I had not been at rehearsal, all the groomsmen would have blocked them from view from not only me, the photographer, but the entire congregation. There would have been absolutely no way for me to get the shot (short of standing right there with them) because the groomsmen had essentially built a wall around them.

I use rehearsals to remedy those problems and make sure I have my camera settings down so I can more successfully capture all those "organic" moments.

11/15/2008 11:02:59 AM

ANTHONY CAROLINA

member since: 2/17/2004
  I personally attend the rehearsal for technical reasons. I also take my assistant with me. The cost is part of the package. it also helps me to know how to get to venue, alternate routes in case of traffic, street closures, and approximate travel time.

12/8/2008 2:22:42 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/18/2005
  To the photographer who was irked because he couldn't use flash even though everyone else in the place could... what would happen if you did use flash? :-)

12/9/2008 12:55:16 PM

Scott McCord

member since: 10/16/2005
  I would be banned from shooting in that church again because I would have disobeyed a direct request from the pastor. It has already happened to one photographer. And it would be tough to explain to a potential client that you can't shoot their wedding because you're banned from that church.

12/11/2008 9:50:12 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  John,
Scott is right. There are different standards for professionals, primarily because they are going back to the church for other jobs. Other people don't have to worry about being invited back if they disobey the pastor's instructions but the pros do. 'Tis far better to bite your tongue and be able to go back another day!! When the pastor complains about the flash, it puts you in a much better position to say, "It wasn't me!!" I had one pastor who actually had an eye disorder and if he saw a flash would have had to stop the ceremony for about 20 minutes because he literally couldn't see. That is rare, however. At any wedding you want to always LOOK and ACT as a professional. No matter what!! Period. It will pay big dividends in the course of your career.
Bruce

12/11/2008 1:50:43 PM

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Photography Question 
Tracy A. Emerson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/18/2005
  3 .  Wedding Photography: Which Lens?
I have a big wedding party this weekend and was wanting some help on which lens for the wedding party, 6 guys and 6 girls and the bride and groom. The choices I already own are Canon 24mm 1:2.8, Canon 50mm 1:1.8II , Sigma dc 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5. I'm worried about the large group and get everyone as sharp as possible. Any help, please ... thanks!

8/11/2008 5:13:40 PM

  Hi Tracy,
I would take them all, but I would think the zoom lens may be preferable for its ability to get closer without having to move so much. Prime lenses are great, but you have to position yourself for every shot, and that can sometimes place you in awkward positions to get the angle and distance you want. For large groups, the 24mm will work, and for other portraits, the 50mm may be better suited.
I am also shooting a wedding this weekend, and I will use my 24-70mm & 70-200mm most of the time.
Good luck,
Carlton

8/11/2008 5:39:37 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Like Carlton says, Tracy.
Addendum: Wide-angle lenses provide a very UNflattering perspective to human faces and bodies. People look fat and distorted if you use a wide-angle lens. A short telephoto focal length, like 70 to 100mm, is a much more flattering perspective for people. It makes them look decidedly slimmer and less distorted. It also enables you to keep more distance to your subject(s), which will make your subject(s) relax more as you are not invading their 'private space'.

Have fun!

8/12/2008 7:39:14 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Tracy,
I'm also shooting a wedding this weekend, which I have done professionally for more than 30 years now. What has been said is true....However. Zoom lenses have certainly made photography easier over the years. I use a 28-200 most of the time; use the 17-35 for groups and switch frequently to the 50mm f/1.8 for available light images during the ceremony. While I have handheld most of my images for more than 500 weddings, a tripod is MOST helpful. Available light images from the back -- even at a higher ISO -- are better with a tripod. The group photos, similarly, are also better with a tripod. Wide angle lenses CAN be used effectively and at times offer a unique perspective. Keeping the lens level with help minimize the distortion.One thing about photography is that there are always exceptions. Seminar speakers have joked that "always" and "never" mean 80% of the time!! Lenses in the "normal" to telephoto range usually offer more flattering perspective for people and that is certainly true. But don't be afraid to use the wide angle, just watch how you are using it. One of my favorite images to do is a wide angle shot of the bride and groom in the empty church (usually one of the last ones I do before we leave for the reception). With the bride and groom closer to the lens so they don't look 100 miles away, it makes a very nice image to show almost all of the church. Most times I shoot this facing the back of the church since the bulk of images have already faced the altar. The rule of thumb for handheld is match your shutter speed to the focal length of the lens for the slowest handheld speed. At 100mm, for example, a shutter of 1/125 is recommended. Can you shoot slower if you are steady? Of course. But the BEST results are close to this formula. When in doubt, remember Wayne Gretsky's comment about hockey: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." A tripod, with a quick release clamp to allow you to easily remove it for some shots and then put it back as needed, improves your results. While I have managed without a tripod for years, helping a fellow professional who DID use a tripod shoot a wedding earlier this summer, I "lost" the argument that "I can do this" when his images were sharper!! As with most things in photography, you need to learn the limits of your equipment and use it to your advantage. But HAVE FUN as well.
Bruce

8/19/2008 4:23:30 AM

James Kirk
jpkirkphoto.com

member since: 10/17/2005
  What body were you using? I assume a digital body. When ever I do a wedding I like to have a selection from wide angle to telephoto. If you are using any body other than the 5d or EOS 1Ds MII or MIII you have to figure in lens crop factor. The 17 gives similar wide-angle coverage to a 28mm assuming a 1.6x factor. That should be sufficient for wide angle. Slightly wider would be nicer. The previous comment about distortion is definitely true though. Limit the use of wide-angle to large group activities that are not bothered by a little distortion or some specific effect you are going for. Creativity is cool.

The telephoto, I use a 70-200, is great for being less intrusive during the ceremony yet still being able to isolate specific intimate components of the ceremony. 200 is usually more than enough. Unless you have a balcony some distance from the ceremony. Get a 1.4x tele-converter. That helps. Image stabilization is great as well on the longer lenses.

Of course, all this costs great gobs of money that… maybe you don’t have. Again, assuming 1.6x lens factor, that 17-70, in the 50 to 70mm range gives you reasonable focal length for portraits and group shots. If you can, use your body’s built in zoom system (feet and legs) to get the appropriate framing at those focal lengths for portraits.

Now if you are using a full frame sensor body or 35mm film, then a 24-70 and 70-200 with a 1.4x or 2x tele-converter is good. Keep in mind that all canon bodies really need f5.6 or below for autofocus to work. So if you use a 2x tele-converter on an f4 lens or above don’t expect autofocus to work.

That’s my $0.02 worth. OK maybe a nickel.

8/19/2008 10:28:44 AM

ROBERT  F. CUMMINGS

member since: 5/30/2007
  Tracy, I would have to agree with the previous comments on wedding photography, but not only do you need to know which lens to use and when; but, you also need to know about flash lighting. For your group shots, I recommend a flash pillow, made to fit the flash on your camera and is inflated with air; not real expensive but works wonders. It is made to spread out the light and kill harsh shadows. You might be able to find just a flash card system, where it bounces the light off of a white board mounted about the flash. These are not for built in flashes. For an off camera flash, you want a flash with a fairly quick recycle time, say no more than 2 seconds on full power, will adjust for different ASA film settings, has several different distance settings and has the ability to magnify the light at zoom lens useage. Meaning the more focal length you use, 100 say, you adjust the lens magnifier out to narrow the beam of light so it will travel farther. If you use stand lighting, and I recommend this for portrait work and group work, you should get some slave flashes and bounce them off of a photographic umbrella at about 45% measured from the center of the person in the middle back row out to about half way between the front row and you. Those slave flashes along with the flash on your camera will give you a very even light. Ritz camera sells some good light sets for doing things just as weddings and portraits for a very resonable price, you might want to check them out in your local area. When it comes to an off mount flash, I like to use one that makes it's own handle. But, this type is more expensive and is more for professional photography and constant useage. The one I have now is a handle that you mount a flash on. It works OK and you can get a dedicated flash cord to attach to your hot shoe on the camera so you can use a dedicated flash that matches settings with your particular camera. That is not as expensive as a larger flash unit, but for infrequent useage it works just fine. If you take into consideration all the information the other photographers gave you about the lens choices and get some good, not expensive, slave units and umbrellas, I think you will surprise even yourself with the quality shots you will get. That is when you pictures turn into small portraits. Also, offer the wedding party, their choice of the photos printed in 5x7, if you are useing film. MOST likely, this will inspire them to reorder enlargements from you and that is where you can make some good money. But, you have to know what it will cost you to print 8x10's and larger, even 16x20 and sometimes 20x30. This is where you can make some extra money. Good luck and have fun, try not to make it work. If it is pleasureable and fun, you will want to do it again. Bob

8/19/2008 12:40:25 PM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  Tracy, I just shot a wedding last Saturday and used 3 lenses with my Canon 1Ds MarkII. Canon 50mm 1.4, 24-70 2.8 & 70-200 2.8IS. I used the last the most, its fast, has (IS), shot around ISO 500-1000 most the time so I need the f/2.8, and didn't need to get into the guests business....I also recommend the Quantum Turbo for the flash....

8/19/2008 2:38:44 PM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Tracy,
Every photographer has their own pet system for photographing most anything, including weddings. While many pros take umbrellas, secondary lights with slave units, and even painted backgrounds mosxt of that is not necessary to do the job. Knowing your equipment is. Having fresh batteries and enough to get the job done is. Having a backup plan and equipment in case something fails also is important. While I have taken a background to use at a wedding (for pre-ceremony portraits) it has been a matter of practicality where the church did not have a distraction free area -- as opposed to a style of doing weddings. Many "double light" weddings and use a second strobe to simulate studio lighting. While that produces wonderful results if you know how to use the equipment and balance the lights, I have never found it necessary to take all that extra stuff. Nor have I ever needed a teleconverter or have I ever needed to calculate the crop factor as I shoot. You do have to keep in mind the proportions for final prints (8x10's will crop at least 20% of the image so if that is your final product you need to allow some extra room and not crop too tight. However, apart from that, what you see in the finder is what you will get for the most part. Each photographer also has a "system" to sell their work that they are comfortable with. Digital has changed some of that but if you make prints on speculation without having your client committed to buy them, you could easily spend more than what you sell. Presenting your work, pricing your work and selling your work so that you actually make money is the subject of a whole 'nother dissertation. You asked about the photography, though. Six people on a side is a manageable group. One group that drove me nuts years ago had 12 on a side or a group of 26. Without a wide angle in that case, you are back so far to get everyone in the photo that the light falloff on your flash is so much that it's hard to get an adequate exposure. Start your day with fresh batteries -- you don't have time to change your old ones when the bride is coming down the aisle, and have a backup. Equipment, even fairly new equipment, can quit on you at the wrong time. I just sent a D200 body back to Nikon for repair. Without a backup, I would have to rent a camera or be out of business until I got it back!! Test your equipment, in the church where you will work if you can, or if not in similar space and then just do it. You will be fine. Enjoy the contagious enthusiasm found at nearly every wedding (it is rare when it is not present)and record the event as you would want it recorded for you. With digital you can see how you are doing as you go and make adjustments if necessary. Good luck.
Bruce

8/19/2008 6:26:01 PM

  Tracy,

I recommend taking a class from wedding professional photographer Paul Gero. He'll teach you what you need to know about flash equipment and fast lenses. All of his lenses are fast and most are wide angle.

However, with a wide angle, positioning is crucial, especially with a group. Those on the outside of the group will be distorted the wider the angle.

8/20/2008 5:24:24 AM

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Photography Question 
Mike  Lavigne

member since: 11/24/2005
  4 .  Indoor Church Wedding - No Flash Allowed
My son is getting married next week, and I've just learned the church does not allow flash photography. I've never shot indoors like this and would appreciate any advice. I have a Pentax K10D, Pentax 18-55, Sigma 70-300, Sigma 105. Any advice urgently needed so I can practice first.

6/12/2008 1:20:00 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Hi Mike,
It obviously depends on what light IS available, of course. Is the ceremony in the daytime? Does the church have large windows to let in light? Or is it gonna be at night? And what light is there available then?
If you want to practice – which is a VERY sensible idea – I'd recommend going to the church, if possible, tomorrow! Or as soon as possible, anyway - at around the same time the ceremony is going to be so that you may find similar lighting conditions. And shoot whatever is at hand to be shot, although preferably people.
Set your camera to ISO 800 or 1600, and shoot Raw. Find support wherever you can. A tripod is best. Monopod next best. Pay attention to your stance: pull your elbows into your sides, and control your breath if you must shoot unsupported. Use the Pentax 18-55, and the Sigma 105. Forget the Sigma 70-300. Use Av, aperture priority, set to F/4.0 or F/5.6. Try to keep the shutter speed at 1/60th or preferably 1/125th. Then shoot away and rush home to your PC to see what worked and what didn't. And learn.
Have fun!

6/12/2008 3:04:29 PM

Mike  Lavigne

member since: 11/24/2005
  Thanks very much for the help. It is greatly appreciated. The service is at 7 pm so still light out. My son says the church has large stained glass windows in front and on the the sides, so it's whatever evening light comes in. I haven't seen the church yet. He says no problem using the tripod. It's a small wedding - immediate family only - so not formal. Thanks again, this is a big help...

6/12/2008 4:43:44 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Good you mentioned the stained glass. That's gonna play havoc with your white balance if you have it set on AWB, Auto White Balance. Every frame could be different. So set the WB at Daylight, to have it firmly anchored. And shoot RAW of course.
And with a tripod you can, of course, also use 1/30th of a sec shutter speed. I wouldn't go slower. Not because of camera shake, there can hardly be any left, but because of subject movement. Try to catch people in instances where they pause their movements. Those moments often last not even 1 second, but they're there! Watch for them. Observe. It's very effective to use them.
Can you get to the church at 7 pm one of these days for a light and settings check, and test run?

6/12/2008 6:54:21 PM

  You might see about renting a low light lens. Not sure what is available for a pentax but if you can rent a 1.8 or a 1.2 and just shoot from close range it might make life a lot easier for you. I shoot a Cannon and have a 1.8 just not sure what is available for Pentax. Hope that helps.

6/17/2008 9:32:54 AM

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Photography Question 
Tara Zerbe

member since: 6/4/2008
  5 .  Lighting for Wedding Photography
I have a friend that is getting ready to be married in July. I was planning on getting Excalibur 6400 strobes to shoot with, but the finances have not come through and the only thing that I have are two 160 watt strobes. This is a summer evening wedding (5:00 pm) and there are a total of 8 in the bridal party (including the bride and groom). Do you think that the two 160 watts will be enough light for proper exposure?

6/4/2008 11:23:18 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  6400's are 640 W/S monolights. Whether 160 full w/s are adequate for this gig depends on how you intended to use the monolights vs. how you plan to use what you have now, like on stands using radio slaves with what kind of modifiers or bracket off the camera or both and how far from the subject at what ISO, and using what focal length of lens under what 5 P.M.lighting conditions? Seewhatimeaneh?
Take it light ;>)
Mark

6/4/2008 9:03:51 PM

Tara Zerbe

member since: 6/4/2008
  I plan on using two monolights. One on either side of the wedding party. I will be using radio slaves. Lights will likely be set at the highest level that the stands will be able to go pointing somewhat downward. I haven't had the opportunity to see the church, but I'm assuming cathedral ceilings. Since the wedding is in July it won't be dark outside, but the lighting conditions will not be as bright as noonday. I will be shooting at 200 ISO. My lense right now is about a 4.5 speed. I just can't afford to sink the money into the 640's right now, but want to ensure that the quality will still be there if I shoot with the 160's. What do you think?

6/5/2008 7:01:55 AM

Jerry Frazier

member since: 6/6/2005
  How are you going to shoot an entire wedding with those strobes? That would be impossible, unless you have human tripods.
I've never used anything more than Canon 550/580EX strobes for formals. These are actually very powerful. And, I also use them as external light either on a stand or with an assitant hold them on a monopod. The strobes you are talking about are way too over kill, will take too long to set up, by the time you get everything set, they'll be kicking you out of the church to get ready for the next wedding; or they just all want to go home and aren't going to wait for you to get ready. I'm lucky if I get 15 minutes in a church.
At the reception, you can use both, but I'd just use one at the corner of the dance floor, and shoot it directly into the middle at about f/5.6.
Have on-camera flash for fill when on the dance floor. When off the dance floor, just use your on-camera flash either direct or bounce (I prefer bounce, but you don't have a fast lens, so you'll have to settle for direct most likely).

SnapShot Editor's Note: At BetterPhoto, we offer two outstanding online courses: Wedding Photography Techniques: An Introduction and Digital Wedding Photography.

6/5/2008 7:30:27 AM

Tara Zerbe

member since: 6/4/2008
  Thanks for the information. I've been basing my larger wattage needs on advice from other professionals. I am not going to shoot the actual ceremony in strobes, just the wedding party and family prior and after the ceremony. Everything else will be with my Nikon SB800 flash.

From what I'm gathering it sounds like the 160's should be OK. Should I kick them up to the highest setting for both or have one at highest and one down a stop?

6/5/2008 7:58:32 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  The Excalibur 6400, your hearts desire, is rated at 640 wattseconds. Further, its published guide number is 220 @ 100 ISO.

Sorry to report that wattseconds cannot be converted directly into a guide number. There are too many variables so we must submit to the manufacture’s specifications or test for ourselves.

Guide number: A value used to calculate a satisfactory exposure setting when using a flash. Electronic flash delivers a short blast of light. So short is the duration the shutter speed setting becomes moot. In other words, the flash from an electronic flash is so extremely short the shutter time has no effect on exposure. Therefore we are mainly concerned about calculating a proper aperture setting.

Exception: If the ambient light is powerful, outdoors in sunlight, or lighted sports event, the use of a slow shutter allows ambient light to record along with the flash. The results can be are ghosting, streaking, and perhaps over-exposure. Therefore, you are advised to keep the shutter speed up unless you desire the ambient light to record (helpful as often the background goes black thus no sense of the sounding comes across.

To calculate the aperture (exposure) setting using a guide number we estimate the subject-to-flash distance and do some math. Example: say the subject is 20 feet distant, we divide the distance into the guide number thus 220 ÷ 20 = 11 therefore we set our camera aperture f/11. Another example: subject 10 feet thus 220 ÷ 10 = 22 we set the camera aperture to f/22.

While the use of the guide number is arguable in this era of automation and chip logic, it retains its value when setting our camera manually and for making comparisons between different brand and styles of flash.

You can easily derive a guide number: Set up a test. Set your camera at the desired ISO say 100. Replicate the wedding party area. Position substitute subject at a distance 10 feet from the flash(s). Shoot a series at different apertures (f/5.6 – f/8 – f/11 – f/22 etc.). Select the best exposed frame. Let’s assume f/11 was best. Now multiple distance in feet times aperture thus: 10 x 11 = 110. This is your guide number.

Warning: Published guide numbers are generally based on average conditions, i.e. a room with normal ceiling height and light colored walls. It will be necessary to open up the aperture a stop or two in an outdoor setting or sports arena.

How to use: You are pre-positioned – wedding party distance 20 feet. Do the math 110 ÷ 20 = 5.5 round to f/5.6 this is the taking aperture.

Don’t like this math? OK the formula as published by ISO commission to derive Guide Number “Guide number is the square root of (Effective Candlepower Seconds x .063 x ISO).

Nobody said it’s easy!

Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)
ammarcus@earthlink.net

6/5/2008 8:02:45 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  No offense Tara, but I think you'd do well to get down to either your local library or a bookstore like BN.com. Sounds like you're not only unfamiliar with how to shoot a wedding using artificial light, but types of equipment and how to use what you've got to your advantage. Your original plan will result in cross lighting your subjects which leaves nothing for shadow. It produces very flat lighting. You're shooting people not products, right?

You also need to presurvey the church and reception hall so you can visualize your set-ups, be in position before you need to shoot, where to rig any lights, power sources like wall outlets if you need them, AND most importantly, being able to estimate what the available lighting will be when you shoot next month. Plan for both clear and overcast conditions. Take a light meter or your camera to get some light readings so you know what you're getting into.

As Jerry said, a single strobe on a bracket like an SB800 should be fine BUT you should know where to be and have it orchestrated BEFORE the wedding. Attending rehearsals is a good idea. AND if you go with the SB800, get a separate, rechargable power pack, like a Quantum Turbo battery and cords to work with the SB800. It'll cut your recycle time to a second or so and even at full power, would get through about 200-250 shots before it needs a quick recharge. Pricey but worth the dough for what you're doing.
Latah.
M./

6/5/2008 9:46:45 AM

Tara Zerbe

member since: 6/4/2008
  Thanks for the information. It's been years since I've used strobes so I'm trying to get re-accquainted. I also had done limited shooting with them so I'm trying to learn by trial and error. I used to shoot with my Metz and that worked well, but when I made the switch to digital my Metz no longer works. I didn't think that my SB800 would be strong enough, but I have a light meter and can get the proper exposure reading from that. Since this is such an important date for my friend I wanted to make sure that I was going to be able to take quality photos for her on her wedding day.

6/5/2008 11:16:25 AM

Jerry Frazier

member since: 6/6/2005
  You don't need a light meter. Just set it to ETTL, and check the histogram and adjust. Take a test shot, adjust, take one more, and you should be good to go. It's easy. Make sure to shoot RAW in case you need to bump up the exposure a notch or two.

6/5/2008 11:35:14 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  What she needs to do, Jerry, is measure the light. You say "histogram", I say shmishtogram and just use a meter, especially because she already has one. The determination, either way, should be pretty much the same. Right? And since Tara really doesn't want to blow this, IMO she needs to go to the venues in advance (as I mentioned) take a look, take some readings and have a plan to shoot this. Yes?
M

6/5/2008 6:04:43 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Almost forgot: Not everyone shoots with pixels. How'd you know T has a histogram or exactly what kind of a camera she has? AH HA !!! ;>)
Relax Jer. Just kidding with you.
M

6/5/2008 7:17:54 PM

Jerry Frazier

member since: 6/6/2005
  Yeah, since going digital, I haven't any need for a light meter. I can use the in-camera meter to get an initial reading, then adjust based on the flash power. It works out fine.

6/6/2008 7:38:11 AM

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Photography Question 
Beth Huling
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/29/2007
  6 .  Wedding Territory
I recently shot a wedding, where I encountered an individual who was very enthusiastic about jumping into my frame. What is the best way to deal with over-zealous photogs who are not supposed to be there? I have never told a couple that cameras are not allowed. Does it have to come to that? Besides, I do not want to become the camera police. All suggestions appreciated. Thanks!

4/26/2008 5:43:51 AM

Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/8/2004
  Beth,
Let me start out by saying I'm not a wedding photog. Assuming you have a contract with them and assuming you have a statement similar to this; "1)Exclusive Photographer.The Photographer shall be the exclusive photographer retained by the Client for the purpose of photographing the wedding. Family and friends of the Client shall be permitted to photograph the wedding as long as they shall not interfere with the Photographer’s duties and do not photograph poses arranged by the Photographer." I would enforce that statement by first talking to the bride and groom and firmly; but, politely inform them of the contract they signed and ask them to stop this invasive person immediately. If it comes down to it and they don't put a stop to it, they are in breach of contract. You can then, either choose to work around this person or pack up your gear and leave owing them nothing.

If you don't have this in your contract, I'd suggest putting it in there and make sure your clients know it is there.

4/26/2008 11:59:26 AM

  Hi Beth,
I don't know that I have ever done a wedding that didn't have 1 or 4 people wanting to shadow me as I was shooting. I make myself very clear that they are welcome to shoot, but DO NOT get in my way in the process. I will ask them to stand behind me as I shoot and get their shots that way. When doing portraits, I ask them to refrain from shooting until I have taken my shots and then if the bride/groom or group doesn't mind posing for a few more moments to allow their friends to get a couple of shots, it's fine by me.
If I am in a time crunch, then they will just have to shoot from behind me.
Like I said, I see this at every wedding, so I make my boundaries very clear to the organizer and ask that she assist me with keeping this issue in check. Add this note to your check list, Beth, and let the organizer tell the friends beforehand to allow you to do your work unimpeded. Having a good and competent organizer will make your shoot much easier, but they tend to be hit and miss as well.
This is where Todd's previous advice may save the shoot, if it's out of control - just point to the contract to try to get things in control. But I don't know that I would walk off the shoot (liable or not), because a lot of wedding business is word-of-mouth, and your ability to rise above the challenges can win you a lot of future business. My .02 cents. - Carlton

4/27/2008 8:24:19 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  Make sure they let you shoot first so they don't trigger your slaves. How many of us have had that happen?

4/27/2008 12:50:47 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Mark is right.

I usually let those carring cameras know I will let them shoot after I have finished. and then when I'm done, I say ok,thank you to those posing.
I at that time will say "I need you &you and YOU for the next shot",this assures that the pose will be broken very soon.
I just do not believe that we can stop family & geusts from getting thier pictures as well.

However, I had a guy, not an invited guest nor friend or family but hired
DJ do that to me at during the posed church shots.
I asked the mother who he was, after telling me and seeing my expression change she asked why, and I told her well he keeps taking his shots before I can ,just as soon as I get them posed.
I explained that since he was not a geust but a professional hired to do another job,that it was inappropriate
for him to contiue,that would allow him to promote work he had not really done or be capible of doing.
She had remove and told thier whole crew that if she saw a camera in their hands they could pack it up and go with out thier pay.
Never saw him again.
and Mom told me later she had wondered why they wanted to be at the church.
and YES it made me mad at the time.

I hope this helps,
Debby

4/28/2008 8:31:38 AM

Jerry Frazier

member since: 6/6/2005
  Hey Debby,

That happened to me one time. A DJ started taking photos. I was like, "what the hell, dude?" He said he was just taking some fun snaps. I got in his face and said at his next wedding, I'm going to bring a huge boom box, set it up in the corner and blast it just for fun because maybe the guests would like an alternative to their music choice.

He stopped. But, it's a real PITA. Anyone who is doing wedding these days, there is a "photographer" at every wedding now. It is very annoying. I've been doing pretty good by telling the bride to tell everyone to keep their big gear at home. I explain why, and it's been fairly successful lately.

I don't mind P&S cameras and all. But, no one, as a guest, needs to whip out 1Ds cameras with "L" glass and 580EX flashes. They are guests at a wedding for Pete's sake! I just don't get it. Enjoy the day, let the pros do their jobs.

4/29/2008 4:35:54 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  LOL,LOL! Good Job Jerry!LOL!

You know you are so right!
and as you say that I remember my very first wedding it was so very small.
in a park on an Aug. day, I went with my nikon,flash and fill flashes to put about.
I looked very unassuming and that was great for me.again first wedding with stage fright and all.
So , I have been doing the posed shots before the wedding as she wanted,the pre-wedding stuff and I'm felling pretty good, when as the wedding was being seated here comes this guy-
with his big Quantum Q Flash on his bracket looking like all that.
LOL,LOL I felt so goofy.
But, she told me later," yeah, he owns all kinds of equiptment but we don't think he realy knows what he's doing"
she also told me he gave her his shots,but very few were what they were looking for.
LOL,LOL,so I do know what you mean,lol.

4/29/2008 8:14:06 AM

Michael D. Miller
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/26/2006
  I agree with Carlton and Mark (the ones listed on the front page at least).

I am officially a hobbyist, have been semi-pro and have taken weddings.

As a hobbyist who attends friends and family's weddings and takes pictures at them (with 'pretty good' equipment) I understand not to get in their way nor shoot -and- ask the wedding party to look at me while the wedding photographer (WP) is taking pictures so those are good rules.

However, I also LOVE it when I, as a hobbyist, can talk to the WP about photography when they are inbetween shots. I also like to inform them of shots, like a baby crawling across the floor who I know is in the immediate family.

So. If you are a wedding pro, and have not already considered this, I think you need to be friendly to the ENTIRE family, hobby photographers and all. They can all recommend you for future jobs.

Michael
West Hartford, CT

4/29/2008 10:08:27 AM

Michael D. Miller
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/26/2006
  To Debby:
Along the same lines of someone having pro equipment but not knowing photography, I was photographing my great aunt and uncles 50th wedding anniversary, way back, and came across one of my cousins who was now about 18 and the son of the Aunt and Uncle's son. He was wearing a Nikon F# (maybe 2 or 3) around his neck. I approached him and said that I noticed he was wearing a Nikon F# and didn't even know he was interested in photography and asked how he came to pick the F#.

He replied that he father bought it for him because it was the MOST EXPENSIVE CAMERA IN THE STORE.

How's that for funny? I couldn't even afford an N90S until about 7 years ago and that was with trading in 30 years of Olympus OM equipment and a ton of accessories and a few lenses. I got the N90S and a 28-80 (NOT 2.8) and then ended up taking my first trip to Alaska to Denali and then a cruise down the inside passage, all with a 28-80 (full frame) film camera. Not terribly effective for the wildlife.

Michael
West Hartford, CT

4/29/2008 10:20:22 AM

Beth Huling
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/29/2007
  Hey thanks to you all for the insight!
It's nice to know others are facing the same issues. In my contract I have specific things listed and the bride and groom have always been just fine with the setup. But in the meantime, I have had individuals set up shop right in front of me to take photographs of what I am posing. I have had my slaves triggered by photogs, I have had to ask individuals to move! bc they are right where I need to be! It just makes for an awkward moment in a couples big day. I am going to use the advice about a competent planner! I agree though about not walking off a shoot. There are so many word of mouth referrals that come from guests and family, I could not recover from a walk out. Thanks again for the advice! lol I'm fixing to post another question....

4/29/2008 12:57:43 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  The most expensive camera in the store. It's so nice that people have good reason to buy a camera. I myself have never had the money to buy the most expensive camera in the store. If it wasn't for the deal I got, I would never have bought my Sony.

One more thing, I am glad to hear that I'm not the only one who has had problems with rouge photographers. They are some of the biggest P.I.T.A.'s.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark H.

4/29/2008 5:47:37 PM

Dee Augustine
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  WOW,, I guess we all have the same problem dont we and the whole problem is the bride and groom want to get to eat they are hungry and it already takes so long to do the shots anyway. I tell them meaning the wedding party PLEASE look at THIS camera Im the photograper and if they want to look at other cameras after I take mine thats fine but it cant take too long. Its really irrating tho,,, Thanks again ,,,

Dee I have one in July,,,,LOL

5/8/2008 8:53:20 AM

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Photography Question 
Angela Griffin

member since: 4/18/2005
  7 .  Bridal Bouquet
I will be doing my first bridal session next month and am wondering: Do I bring an artificial bouquet for her to hold? Or does she need to order a bouquet like the one she will be using at the actual wedding? Thanks!

4/21/2008 8:44:05 AM

Crystal A. Moore
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/19/2008
  It would be a good idea to have a silk bouquet on hand. I use one that is a white cascade type and on that is the stem wrapped type. Check with the bride to see if she is planning on bringing one. Hope this helps.
By the way, your gallery is awesome.

4/21/2008 8:50:59 AM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Angela,
Most brides prefer to use their own small bouquet. However, I keep a couple silk ones on hand just in case. Make sure any bouquets you have are understated color wise (and size wise). My favorite is a white silk lily arraingement that I have -- it looks great in the portraits and doesn't overpower the bride or her gown.
God Bless,
Greg

4/22/2008 4:48:44 AM

Roy A. Meeks
Contact Roy
Roy's Gallery

member since: 10/21/2003
  Angela, I have the honor of photographing 20+ weddings a year and I have never furnished a throwaway bouquette. The florist that the bride hired makes a throw-away and the wedding co-ordinator is responsible for it. It is not in your job description. Good luck.Roy Meeks

4/22/2008 8:40:57 AM

Angela Griffin

member since: 4/18/2005
  Thank you so much for your advice!

4/23/2008 11:23:13 AM

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Photography Question 
Amanda Baker
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/24/2003
  8 .  Fast Lens and Depth of Field
Hello,
I have a Sigma 28-70 2.8 lens and a Canon 50mm 1.8 that I am hoping to use at a wedding I have coming up. I will be shooting in Raw and planning to shoot in Aperture priority mode. Since I will be using a fast lens at the wedding to help with low light, how do you get enough depth of field so that, for example, you're not just getting perhaps the bride in the picture in focus and the groom blurry? I am using two Canon 20D's. One of these will have a flash and the other will not. I will have an assistant using one of the cameras.
Thank you so much!

3/23/2008 6:26:46 PM

Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member
wildlifetrailphotography.com

member since: 3/2/2006
  The larger the aperture number (smaller aperture opening)the greater the depth of field. You may have a depth of field viewing button on your camera. Push the button while looking through the viewfinder, and you can check the depth of field for a particular aperture setting. Of course, a larger aperture number means a slower speed. This could present a problem in low light. conditions. You will need to use a flash if this is the case.

3/23/2008 8:54:00 PM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Amanda,
As Mr. Curry expressed, depth-of-field is a function of aperture setting. Tiny aperture openings like f/22 – f/16 – f/ 11 yield the greatest depth-of-field; f/22 having the greatest.
As you know, the depth-of-field zone extends back towards the camera and away from the camera as measures from the point focused upon. You need to know that this zone is not split down the middle. The depth-of-field zone extends further away from the point focused upon (away from the camera) than it does back towards the camera. In fact, depth-of-field extends 2/3 away and 1/3 back towards you from the focused distance. You can put this knowledge to good use; when shooting a group, have the middle person extend a hand towards you, focus on this hand. This way you are not focused on the center point; but forward of center. This maximizes your chances to get everybody in focus.
Depth-of-field is a function of focal length. Your zoom operating at 28mm yields the greatest depth-of-field. Your 50mm wide open (f/1.8) has very shallow depth-of-field.
I have never found any pre-viewing technique for depth-of-field to be useful.
Use a flash whenever possible. Hopefully, the flash will allow you to use the smaller apertures to maximize depth-of-field.
Depth-of-field is a function of subject distance. Greater distance yields increased depth-of-field. Try to step back as you compose; this yields greater depth-of-field and forces you to allow some extra room surrounding the principal subject. Extra head room and the like can be put to good use; it allows you to crop for effect and/or allows you to deliver print sizes 8x10 or 5x7 that are a mismatch with regard to your camera’s format.
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)

3/23/2008 10:03:31 PM

Amanda Baker
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/24/2003
  Thank you for your help.

I understand how you get more depth of field with a largest aperature and that the larger aperature lets in the most light so this is great for low light situations but if I use a large aperature in the church during the wedding without the flash I am worried about only getting a small area of the picture in focus when I may need more of the picture. It seems like you sacrifice depth of field but gain the ability to capture a photo in low light. Is there any way you can compensate for this? So that you can get more depth of field but use a great aperature (smaller number) to allow photos in low light with no flash? Thanks

3/24/2008 4:54:00 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  No – No – No – A thousand times NO.

Tiny apertures produce more depth-of-field. Large apertures produce shallow depth-of-field.

You are confused by the numbers. The f/numbers starting at the left are tiny apertures. As this list goes right the aperture (entry opening) increases.

32 – 22 – 16 – 11 – 8 – 5.6 – 4 – 2.8 – 2 – 1.4

Theses are the full f/stops. Each allows twice as much light to enter going right - - that’s 100% per increment. Going left each reduces light entry by half - - that’s a 50% reduction. There are between values that are in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments f/1.8 is one of these.

Alan Marcus

3/24/2008 6:46:36 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Amanda,

To answer your question directly; NO!
Wide open apertures will NOT allow you to have a deep DOF.
Your DOF is even more limiting with telephoto lenses.


Pete

3/25/2008 4:36:31 AM

Amanda Baker
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/24/2003
  Thank you so much for your responses. I actually do understand the f-stops and the numbers and that you do not get much depth of field with a f-stop such as 1.8 but you get a lot of depth of field with one such as f-16. What I'm unsure about is shooting in low light with no flash. I realize you can use an aperature such as 1.8 and get great pictures in low light but then you sacrifice your depth of field, if you shoot with a smaller aperature you are not letting in enough light for the low light even though you may get the depth of field you need. I guess you have to compensate with a higher ISO and slower shutter speed. Is that correct?

3/25/2008 6:12:02 AM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Amanda,
It's obvious that you understand the f-stop/aperture opening relationship. I think you are probably worrying about a non-issue. In just about any church, you should be able to shoot the ceremony at f2.8 - f4 (ISO 400 - 800) using a tripod and get more than enough DOF --unless you plan to shoot from right in front of the altar. I generally shoot a ceremony from the back of the aisle, or the choir loft and have no problems. Your camera has a sensor that is somewhat smaller than a full 35mm frame sensor which gives you the benefit of greater DOF at any given aperture. I use an Olympus E-3 which also has this characteristic, and ironically is often criticized for its lack of shallow DOF -- there are advantages and disadvantages to every system depending on the circumstances. Hope this helps.
God Bless,
Greg

3/25/2008 4:14:16 PM

David E. Bunkofske
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/2/2007
  I have shot hundreds of weddings with manual setting at 5.6, 125 sec. Always great results.
Enjoy yourself and have fun. Dont worry
David

3/25/2008 7:04:52 PM

Amanda Baker
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/24/2003
  Thank you so much!

3/25/2008 7:22:29 PM

Amanda Baker
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/24/2003
  Thank you so much!

3/25/2008 7:24:07 PM

Bernard 

member since: 3/25/2005
  David
Just curious! what ISO, and lens manufacturer, and were many shots unuseable.

3/27/2008 5:20:18 PM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  It helps if the people you are shooting are in line with each other. I.e. the bride and groom standing next to each other will probably both be in focus with a 1.8 aperture than if one was standing further behind the other... Good luck!

3/29/2008 9:39:25 AM

Bernard 

member since: 3/25/2005
  David
viewing your website was very educational, quality deep depth of field is posible with a f5.6 lens. why not post your website address in this tread, as an addendum to the answers of Amanda's question

3/29/2008 11:59:42 AM

David E. Bunkofske
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/2/2007
  You can see what depth of field at F5.6 will do at www.reflectedimages.ifps.com

3/29/2008 5:11:29 PM

Nancy 

member since: 10/24/2005
  We have used both lenses of your type. Bumped up the ISO and used a mono pod for any shutter speed under 125-200. Ask the church personal for some pre-shoot time. If not close by maybe a church with simular lighting.

3/30/2008 2:54:50 PM

Amanda Baker
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/24/2003
  Thanks to all your responses.

Nancy, what aperature do you perfer in the church? Also why do you use a mono pod for any shutter speed under 125-200. I always thought you only really have to use a tripod or mono pod if the shutter speed is slower then the length of your lens.

3/30/2008 7:10:29 PM

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Photography Question 
Tammy L. Newcomb
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Tammy
Tammy's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2006
  9 .  Wedding Photography: What Camera?
I am curious! What kind of camera do wedding photographers use when shooting on location?

1/22/2008 5:36:49 AM

Kevin Moss
thekevinmossgallery.com

member since: 12/27/2006
  Tammy,
I am an instructor here at BetterPhoto, and I would love to answer your question. I have shot many weddings, and I have to tell you, I recommend 100% professionalism when working with clients. That said, I recommend that you shoot with professional-level gear. The durability and quality is demanded by your clients.
If you shoot Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, or one of the other popular manufacturers, I recommend that you first purchase a professional-grade camera, like the Nikon D300 or the Canon 40D as a minimum.
Additionally, I recommend the best-quality flashes you can afford. Canon's 580 Speedlight and Nikon's SB800 would be great choices, depending on the camera brand you choose.
Good Luck!

1/22/2008 6:52:47 AM

Robyn Gwilt
BetterPhoto Member
robyngphotography.com

member since: 7/15/2005
  Canon 30D with a 350D for backup - Canon L lenses. 24-105 and 70-200. Canon 580 EX flash.

1/22/2008 9:03:14 AM

Christopher A. Walrath
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/25/2006
  Mamiya M645j w/ 45, 80 and 150mm Sekor-C lenses. Vivitar 280 flash.

1/22/2008 8:11:26 PM

Ian Lozada
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2005
  As a working wedding photographer, I can tell you that the majority of my colleagues and I are using high end Canon or Nikon equipment. Prosumer level DSLR's like the Canon 40D and Nikon D200 are used mainly as backups, with most of us preferring bodies like the Canon 5D and 1D Mark III or the new Nikon D3 as our main bodies.

Lenses are generally top of the line as well. For those of us who are Canon shooters, you're looking at the L series zooms, 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 at f/2.8 but be forewarned that a lot of working pros have not liked the 24-70 lens specifically. Most of the people I know who won't touch that zoom have gone over to even faster primes, such as the 50mm f/1.2.

Flashes tend to be top grade as well, as most of us use Canon or Nikon's best available flash of the moment. A number of people, however, are partial to portable studio lights like the Alien Bee B800 off camera for lighting difficult rooms.

***

While medium format ruled in previous decades, it has fallen out of favor in recent times.

1/29/2008 5:52:57 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Tammy,
I am a professional photographer who has been in business for 30 years and has photographed hundreds and hundreds of weddings. Professionalism is the key -- from start to finish. Your appearance on the job, the gear you use, the results you produce, and the products you deliver -- including the packaging. And, if you charge for your work, you need to follow applicable laws and regulations for your state, such as a license to collect sales tax in my state of Pennsylvania. Then there is equipment. Professional level gear is a MUST. However, that does not mean that you have to have the most expensive gear on the market. It does mean that you have to have backup camera body, flash and perhaps an extra lens, and batteries in case something quits working at the wrong time. You have to be familiar with your equipment and be able to use it quickly, if needed, without fumbling with controls on the camera. For me, that mean having two camera bodies the same. I can't be taking extra time to adjust controls that are different from camera to camera when events are occurring. When buying ANY gear it is always wise to get the best you can afford and will anticipate using. You don't need overkill if you will never use it, that will just waste your money. While trends today lean toward natural photography with available light in a "photojournalism" style, that is more expensive than purchasing good flash equipment. Long lenses with wider apertures (f/2.8 for example) are pricey but a good investment if you are going to be in the business. Your flash has to be cable of relatively fast recycle times and capable of lighting up a large group (wedding parties and families). I use a Nikon D200, a pair of them to be precise, to operate my entire studio. While the D300 and D2X are wonderful, you can double the price of investment off the bat. A lot of pros shoot with Canon. It depends of what you like. The Mamiya 645J -- is a film camera. While it can be acquired easily now, it has not been manufactured for a long time. If it breaks, and eventually they all will, you will have trouble getting parts and getting it fixed. When you have jobs to shoot, you cannot afford to be in that position. I have used them for hundreds of weddings for years. Great gear. But my professional lab and the industry in general is geared to digital. If you want to get them and use them because you like them, go for it. But pick up at least an extra one, meaning you need at least three bodies -- two to take on assignment and one in reserve if something happens. Start, always, always, always, with fresh batteries. You cannot stop a wedding to switch when the bride is starting down the aisle!! Plan, be prepared, and keep smiling. Your day will go smoother, your customers will be happy and you will have more opportunities to be creative and do better work because of it. Good luck. If you would like to check out my work it is at www.photosbydart.com

1/29/2008 6:30:55 AM

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Photography Question 
lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2007
  10 .  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!

11/11/2007 10:18:44 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  "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.

11/11/2007 11:52:16 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

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.

11/11/2007 3:37:37 PM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  A Canon would've taken Great photos...lol Just shows how important lenses and experience come into play.

11/11/2007 4:25:56 PM

A C
BetterPhoto Member

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.

11/11/2007 5:55:05 PM

Devon McCarroll
BetterPhoto Member

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!

11/13/2007 8:22:58 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

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 yesterday...read this link.

http://photo.net/learn/wedding/equipment

11/13/2007 9:08:09 AM

lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member

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.

Lindsay

11/13/2007 10:41:01 AM

Eric K. Farewell

member since: 5/23/2006
  Check out:
www.lensprotogo.com

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: www.blueshoephotography.com


All My Best,

Eric

11/13/2007 12:17:40 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

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 !!!!
M.

11/13/2007 12:36:57 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Lindsey,
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,
Greg

11/13/2007 6:33:20 PM

lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member

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.

11/14/2007 9:47:28 PM

lindsay king
BetterPhoto Member

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,
Lindsay

11/14/2007 9:57:02 PM

Cathy Powell
BetterPhoto Member

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 www.calepo.photostockplus.com. 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.

11/15/2007 7:57:10 PM

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