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View Full Version : I'm shooting a wedding in two weeks...



No Control
09-13-2007, 10:42 AM
...And I'm scared and nervous! :( Really, I am. I'm no portrait photographer and flash has never been my strong point. I'm much better at outdoor photography. It would be a great help if I could get my thoughts and questions out here and if I could get some feedback.

For one thing I know that I need a flash so I'll be ordering an SB-600 very shortly. I'm hoping this paired with my 50mm lens will cover the worst of the lighting I'm going to face.

And being the [young] idiot that I am I didn't think about renting a lens until now so unless someone can suggest somewhere in the New York area that has a 17-55mm f/2.8 in stock for rental, I'm stuck with my 17-70mm lens. Will I be able to pull off shots with this lens or will I have to use the 50mm more often?

Also I'll hopefully be able to see the church beforehand. Does anyone have tips on setup? Such as where to be to get shots of the bride/groom on the alter while not being extremely intrusive?

And I think that's all I wanted to ask. Just as a note I'm doing this for a friend of mine who I've known a good while as a favor so that he doesn't have to spend too much on a pro photographer, so the expectations are [hopefully] a bit lower than usual, but I'd absolutely like to knock their socks off. Any advice you guys can give would be immensely appreciated. :)

jcon
09-13-2007, 11:43 AM
Since its a friend and your first wedding, I would suggest doing it for free. You will be getting the much needed experience and a start at a portfolio. So you both will be helping each other out.

This may sound a little harsh but if you are that scared and doubtful, you shouldnt be doing it!

The 50mm is a GREAT lens, but I dont think its nearly wide enough for group formals, nor is it long enough to use during the ceremony. I think the pre-wedding formals you could get away with the 17-70 since you can use the flash for those, but during the deremony where 90% of the churches dont allow flash, it sounds like your S.O.L. Sounds like using the 50mm for the ceremony and then doing heavy cropping in PP is your best option at this point.

If you need ideas for poses I would suggest looking at online galleries and pro photographers examples and you will get good ideas from seeing their work. Thats what I did before my first wedding and it helped give me some creative ideas.

Make sure you have everything charged up and ready to go, and have back-ups for everything, incase something dies or fails(batteries, cards).

Good luck!

No Control
09-13-2007, 11:56 AM
Jcon- thanks a lot. Yes I am a bit nervous, maybe I was overstating it. I'm not going to back out now and I'll definitely just do my best for them.

And when I mean friend it's more a friend's father haha. We'll see what happens.

XaiLo
09-13-2007, 11:58 AM
Unless your friend, and his wife to be are extremely understanding don't do it! Run... to a land far far away. A wedding is a really big undertaking and I'm not trying to discourage you. But by your own words portrait photography is not your strong suit. The Canon section has quite a bit of wedding pics I'd also check out some Wedding photography sites for inspiration, bridal magazines there are also wedding photo must have lists circulating. Preparation will be key here and those sources should at least give you a head start. Good Luck;)

VTEC_EATER
09-13-2007, 11:59 AM
I would rent the 70-200VR if possible. I have been to 4 weddings this summer, and 85mm is about the bare minimum focal length for the ceremony. Depending on how "in your face" you want to be during the ceremony, that extra length of the 70-200 is very useful.

Other than that, I would recommend picking up a flash. SB800 is the way to go on this one. The 600 just may not be enough, and the rapid recharge of the 5th battery in the 800 is great. The flash will help out a lot with your 17-70 lens as well.

Other than that, more gear wont help you. You just need time behind the camera at weddings. In teh 4 weddings Ive been to this summer, I have only had a few shots turn out nicely. Granted, I was staying way in the shadows and trying to not draw any attention to myself, but never-the-less, it took 4 weddings to get a few decent shots. Its just seat time, thats all.

Oh yeah, buy extra memory. And shoot in raw. Post process the hell out of the shots if you have to.

Good luck.

e_dawg
09-13-2007, 07:47 PM
Don't bother with the 50 mm lens unless you know you can move around freely and your subjects are relatively fixed. You will need zoom to compose your shots. You only have one chance to get certain shots, and you need focal length flexibility to do so.

Your 17-70 should be just fine. Don't worry about that stop you lose at the long end relative to a f/2.8 zoom. That's what higher ISO, low contrast setting, controlled underexposure, and post-processing is for. I don't know if I would agonize over getting a bigger piece of fast glass for this one shoot.

Natural-looking flash photography is not easy, but there are some things that you can optimize without a "proper" lighting setup (and with just a single flash, that is really important):

The most important thing to remember here IMO is that you have to try to expose the scene as best you can as if you were NOT going to use the flash.
With a single cool-bluish point-source of light, having it as the dominant light source is going to make your pics look awful. That means you have to carefully control it's contribution so that it is nothing more than a fill-flash. That also means that you should try to match the colour of the flash to the colour of the other light sources in the room.

To enable you to use your flash as fill, you will need to use flash exposure compensation (FEC) (-1 to -1 2/3 EV), slow sync (set it to shutter priority and use 1/8 to 1/30 sec shutter speed), and high ISOs (800 minimum, but you will usually need 1600). You will probably have to underexpose by about a stop most of the time anyways, so shoot in RAW + JPEG basic as VTEC said and get used to post-processing with exposure + WB + curves adjustments, Noise Ninja / Neat Image, and local brightness & contrast adjustments, etc.

To soften the light of your flash, add a diffuser like the Gary Fong Lightshpere or Whale Tail to your flash head. To match the flash colour with the other light sources, get the amber dome for the lightsphere to match incandescent, and use amber / purple gel filters over your flash lens (Nikon sells this stuff as a kit, but the SB-800 comes with it in the box).

That should get you relatively natural looking flash, where the flash just lightens the shadows but does not make itself known or wash out the subjects.

pagnamenta
09-13-2007, 09:47 PM
If you really want to rent, forget the 17-55 and get something longer for the ceremony. Perhaps the 70-200 f2.8 VR or a longer and faster prime.

Flash and 17-70 will be fine for the group shots. 50mm might find some use.

No Control
09-13-2007, 10:18 PM
Ahh thanks so much everybody. These tips are invaluable.

I have a bit of a clearer mind now. I think before the reality of my whole situation hit me all at once and I was kind of overwhelmed. I'm thinking much clearer now.

Thanks again everyone. Hopefully I'll have good news for all of you in a couple weeks. :)

jcon
09-13-2007, 10:45 PM
I also suggest the 70-200VR 2.8 if you choose to rent something for the wedding. I have used it for 2 weddings and its a masterpiece!

I disagree with edawg that the 17-70 and an aperture of F4.5 will be efficient, it wont! And more than likely you wont be allowed to use flash during the ceremony anyway, and really, you dont want to in most cases.

As I said previously that lens will work fine for the pre-wedding formals, but you will want something better for the ceremony.

anco85
09-14-2007, 07:55 AM
ive only done 1 wedding in my life time, 2nd one coming up in a month, so I canot give you profesional advice.

I can however give you advice based on what I saw I could have done better as I first time shooter.

1. Go to the location long before hand. By long I mean a day or 2 before hand. Take a pen and paper with you and walk through the whole area, marking everywhere you want to shoot and what you think would make a great shot. Also make note of WHAT shot you want to get so you have a refrence point on the day and not have to run around looking for a great spot.
Also sit down with the couple before hand and discuss what shots they would like

2. When choosing your seat, make sure your close enough to the front and at the very inner end of the isle seats. Theres nothing as bad as being stuck behind a tall bald bloke with dandruff.
That way you dont have to get up and "intrude" on the wedding and can still pull of some amazing shots of the ceremony.

3. Get the details, think like the bride(wedding planner) and imagine all the effort they put into the little things. Theyll thank you for it.

4. Make sure your ready at all times and fire off as many shots as possiblle. Rather spend extra time filling up memory cards than explaining why you didnt catch this or that.

5. Relax, if you enjoy photography, itll be easy. This is just like any other subject your shooting. Enjoy it, its an experience.


On a side note: one of our fellow forumiters had one of the most intuitive ideas of heard of in a long time. He took 2 great shots at the ceremony, rushed home right after the ceremony, did slight PP work on the shots, printed the shots, framed them, rushed back and put the framed photos on the bride and grooms table at the reception before she arrived. Apparentlly the bride was bawling her eyes out from joy.

i cant remember exactlly who it was, sorry but I applaud you for a great though and create thinking. Thumbs up mate :cool:

e_dawg
09-14-2007, 09:28 AM
I disagree with edawg that the 17-70 and an aperture of F4.5 will be efficient, it wont!

Well it's not ideal, but this is basically a one-time favour for a friend. And let's face it, while we would all prefer to have the right equipment for the job, we are all capable of being resourceful and working around equipment limitations. In fact, there's probably more satisfaction in that, wouldn't you say? Everyone knows it's a lot better to shoot in low light with a fast lens. But kudos to the person who can shoot great pics with a f/4.5 lens.

I took some of the best pics of anyone at my cousin's wedding with a Canon Powershot SD110 3.2 MP P&S. I took several shots of the bride where I just nailed the shot. Captured the moment and facial expressions where you could feel her elation and excitement, tinged with a bit of worry about the future and sadness of the life she was leaving behind. In her eyes, you could also see the hopes and dreams of a building a wonderful life together. Those shots still move me to the core, and it's shots like those every now and then that drive me to take pictures. Could I print anything bigger than 8x10? No, but I created a slideshow using IrfanView and everyone wanted me to send them a CD of the slideshow and the full resolution files so they could view it on their screens and take it to their local shop to print.

Could I have taken better shots with a high-end dSLR + a 70-200/2.8? Sometimes, yes. But might that massive lens have made the bride a little nervous or self-conscious seeing that thing pointed at her down the aisle? I think that's a definite possibility too. Maybe it was the "friendly" P&S that helped me get those great shots?

I guess what I'm saying is not to worry about the equipment. If you have enough focal length range, an eye for capturing the moment, and are willing to make up that missing stop through optimizing your settings and post-processing, it should not prevent you from nailing your shots. Think of it as a learning opportunity and a challenge, and rise to the occasion!

No Control
09-14-2007, 09:45 AM
I guess what I'm saying is not to worry about the equipment. If you have enough focal length range, an eye for capturing the moment, and are willing to make up that missing stop through optimizing your settings and post-processing, it should not prevent you from nailing your shots. Think of it as a learning opportunity and a challenge, and rise to the occasion!

Thanks a lot e_dawg. That was really encouraging. :D

No Control
09-14-2007, 09:46 AM
ive only done 1 wedding in my life time, 2nd one coming up in a month, so I canot give you profesional advice.

I can however give you advice based on what I saw I could have done better as I first time shooter.

1. Go to the location long before hand. By long I mean a day or 2 before hand. Take a pen and paper with you and walk through the whole area, marking everywhere you want to shoot and what you think would make a great shot. Also make note of WHAT shot you want to get so you have a refrence point on the day and not have to run around looking for a great spot.
Also sit down with the couple before hand and discuss what shots they would like

2. When choosing your seat, make sure your close enough to the front and at the very inner end of the isle seats. Theres nothing as bad as being stuck behind a tall bald bloke with dandruff.
That way you dont have to get up and "intrude" on the wedding and can still pull of some amazing shots of the ceremony.

3. Get the details, think like the bride(wedding planner) and imagine all the effort they put into the little things. Theyll thank you for it.

4. Make sure your ready at all times and fire off as many shots as possiblle. Rather spend extra time filling up memory cards than explaining why you didnt catch this or that.

5. Relax, if you enjoy photography, itll be easy. This is just like any other subject your shooting. Enjoy it, its an experience.


On a side note: one of our fellow forumiters had one of the most intuitive ideas of heard of in a long time. He took 2 great shots at the ceremony, rushed home right after the ceremony, did slight PP work on the shots, printed the shots, framed them, rushed back and put the framed photos on the bride and grooms table at the reception before she arrived. Apparentlly the bride was bawling her eyes out from joy.

i cant remember exactlly who it was, sorry but I applaud you for a great though and create thinking. Thumbs up mate :cool:

Thanks to you too anco'! Very helpful. :)

VTEC_EATER
09-14-2007, 09:47 AM
On a side note: one of our fellow forumiters had one of the most intuitive ideas of heard of in a long time. He took 2 great shots at the ceremony, rushed home right after the ceremony, did slight PP work on the shots, printed the shots, framed them, rushed back and put the framed photos on the bride and grooms table at the reception before she arrived. Apparentlly the bride was bawling her eyes out from joy.

i cant remember exactlly who it was, sorry but I applaud you for a great though and create thinking. Thumbs up mate :cool:

<raises hand> Yeah, that was me.<puts hand down> Thanks for the compliment!

The problem with this is that you can only do this if do not have to take photos between the ceremony and reception, AND you need access to a computer which has programs that can open and manipulate RAW images, then a good printer to print off some nice 8x10's. Buy the frames, ect... It ends up taking a bit of time to do this.

If you have access to things like this, I would recommend giving a memory card to a good friend who has an understanding of post processing images and have them do this for you while you continue to take shots.

Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. In the 4 weddings I went to this summer, I only had access to a computer twice, and the first wedding was a disaster for photos. No smiles out of the bride or groom, and it was my first wedding, so I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I still don't know what I'm doing, but I think Im getting slightly better at this photography thing.

tcadwall
09-14-2007, 10:35 AM
also in that thread I had mentioned the photog. that I saw that loaded a shot into a digital frame.

The whole ordeal of framing a print really wouldn't be that impossible, but I think it would be more likely something that would be done while people are stuffing their faces (after the introductions at the reception), so that you could get back behind the camera before the dancing starts.

For my business, (which has nothing to do with weddings) I am rigged up with a laptop with all you would need. In my truck sits (with quick release mounts) a decent photo printer running off of a power converter. It is easy enough to get the photos onto the laptop, laptop plugged into printer, and pop out a print pretty quickly... Now there is no reason that matted frames can't be sitting there ready to receive your print. Further, if you are using a batch converter, you could at the same time you are waiting for the print convert the images to low-rez and later add the rest of them to a folder for burning a proof cd. In the meantime, you can also cue up a photo and label for the printable cd you have sitting there. When the 8x10 is done, put the cd in the cd tray slide it into the printer and while that is printing get back into the reception to finish the job. When the wedding is over, you burn the proofs to the already labeled cd, and hand them to the mother of the bride.

That sure will make you look like a pro pretty darned quick

bobc4d
09-14-2007, 08:50 PM
No Control, you might check to ensure that you are able to use a flash in the building and during the ceremony, there are some places that don't allow it.

In any event, good luck, relax and I'm sure you'll do a fine job.

peace,
bob

anco85
09-17-2007, 12:29 AM
@vtech_eater - its all coming back to me now :D
Great idea bud.

I have a portable Epson printer and an invertel in my car + laptop. I can do all the PP work, print and frame at the wedding and be done in 10 minutes:D

@no_control - Just enjoy the shoot, if you dont enjoy it, it'll show in your photos.