View Full Version : Shadow in wedding group shots

03-08-2008, 07:55 PM
A friend asked me to take photos at her son's wedding, I guess because I had the fanciest camera--a D70s. Thank God for Paint Shop Pro! (I can't justify the cost of Photoshop.) I was able to save the group shots with PSP, but what could I have done to make my photos look more like the "after" photo, below, to begin with?



The hardest thing to fix was the shadow on the left, which I didn't notice until I got home and looked at the photos on my PC. Some of the photos didn't have the shadow; some didn't have as pronounced a shadow. Should I have simply pulled people away from the wall so that shadows would have been more diffused? Don't tell me to use a remote flash because I'm still just a casual, amateur photographer. I just had an SB-600 on the camera.

I guess it looks okay, but how could I have avoided the brightness from the flash bouncing off the wall above the couple's heads?

I bounced the flash off the ceiling, but apparently I had some light bleeding off the edge of the bezel when I had the tripod too low, hitting the wall and subjects. I suppose raising the tripod would have helped. Any other suggestions? Would a diffuser have helped? I have one but found in the past that using a diffuser with ceiling bounce causes a lot of light to hit the subjects directly because the diffuser effectively puts the light source out in the open more than just using bounce.

I had color balance set to auto on the camera, and I just adjusted it within PSP when I got back home. Is that reasonable, or should I have set the balance beforehand? How would I have known what to set it to?

03-08-2008, 08:47 PM
Try using two flashes - one on the left and one on the right. Your nikon has a built-in speedlight controller.

03-08-2008, 10:09 PM
Thanks, but I had anticipated that response. From my original post: "Don't tell me to use a remote flash because I'm still just a casual, amateur photographer." I know that another flash would have worked, but I wondered if there was anything else I could have done.

I just took a look at the other group photos. The only other times I avoided the shadow was when I positioned the camera in a landscape orientation. That way, the flash was above, and so the shadows were behind and below the subjects, not to the side. IOW, their bodies covered the shadow.

Another thing I could have done ahead of time was make practice shots. I was there the day before and could have done that. Also, having a PC at the shoot might have helped, because I could have occasionally looked at the photos I had already taken to see how they had come out. That would have been better than just looking at the photos on the LCD in the back of the camera.

03-08-2008, 10:43 PM
Rhys, maybe I should go ahead and get another flash. The SB-400 and SB-R200 look nice. But isn't one of the main reasons to use bounce is to eliminate background shadows? Why didn't it work for me in this case? Light should have hit the ceiling and then been diffused towards the subjects without causing any distinct shadows. What went wrong?

03-09-2008, 06:16 AM
It helps the further you can get people to stand away from the wall, even bounce the flash.

03-09-2008, 07:39 AM
I know some people raz on them a bit, but a Gary Fong LightSphere will help with that. It shoots some light up for bounce and out at 360 degrees. I seldom get background shadows...unless (like tim11 said) they are standing real close to the background.

03-09-2008, 08:12 AM
I dunno what exactly, but for a camera with the Nikon's capabilities, the original image looks horribly "wrong", particularly as you were using the flash it doesn't even look like a flash shot!

We'd probably need some EXIF to give you any more detailed advice. Unfortunately and I know you've worked with what you've got but the second image looks as though it's "over-exposed". Notice that you've got highlight clipping on the bride's dress, particularly with the pattern and folds around the bodice of the dress.

I also would've thought that the preview on the Nikon's LCD would have shown the shadow, or at least given a hint of a possible problem with the shadowing?

Cheers :)

03-09-2008, 08:24 AM

03-09-2008, 09:27 AM
Okay, folks, you've given me lots of good info. Thanks!

Beowulff, here is the EXIF:

Model NIKON D70s
Software Ver.1.00
Exif Version 02.21
FlashPix version 01.00
Orientation Portrait (Right Top)
X resolution 300.0 dpi
Y resolution 300.0 dpi
Resolution unit Inches (in)
Pixel height 2000
Pixel width 3008
Component configuration YCbCr
Compressed bits per pixel 2.000000
Color space sRGB
Exposure program normal program
Scene type Direct capture
Scene capture type Standard
Subject distance range Unknown
Exposure mode Auto exposure
Exposure bias F/1.0 (0.00)
Contrast Normal
Saturation Normal
Exposure time 1/60 second
F number 4.0
Max aperture F/3.7 (3.80)
Focal length 27.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm film 40mm
Flash used Yes, return strobe detected
Light source Unknown
Metering mode Pattern
Image sensor type One-chip color area sensor
Image source Digital camera
CFA pattern
Digital zoom ratio 1.000000:1
Custom rendered Normal processing
White balance Auto
Gain control None
Color mode Unknown
Image adjustment Unknown
ISO Unknown
White balance Unknown
Focus distance 2.000
Converter Unknown

I agree with you that the original photo looks "wrong." I didn't realize just how bad it was until I came back to it to include it in this query.

The blown-out dress was the result of my boosting the light levels in PSP. I was trying to get some detail to show up in the groom's dark clothes. Maybe I shouldn't have gone that far or should have use selection to adjust the bride and groom separately. Good point. I'll be more aware of that in the future.

The shadow was just a tiny sliver on the relatively small LCD. Plus, I wasn't looking for such a thing.

All, please keep the criticisms and suggestions coming...

03-09-2008, 11:06 AM
In the EXIF data, what is the equivalent F-stop--"F number" or "Max aperture?"

What are the parameters I should be most interested in--Exposure time, F number, and Focal length? What are some other interesting parameters?

BTW, the planetneil.com flash tutorial is very helpful.

03-09-2008, 04:33 PM
Max aperture is the max aperture of your lens and F-number is the aperture you used for that shot; I believe.
The shadows are there because the couple were to close to the wall. That didn't give enough space for the light to bounce and distribute evenly.

Rich Frye Photography
03-27-2008, 09:37 PM
Use an external Flash with a "flash bracket" FLash Frame, Stroba Frame, so the flash is centered directly above the camera. Avoid having them so close to the wall also.
Good Luck!