church wedding and stained glass photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by memories and mments photo, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. memories and mments photo

    memories and mments photo TPF Noob!

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    Hello,
    I am a Professional Photographer who is fairly new to the business, I have been doing Wedding, family and Children's photography for about 3 years now, but have only done about 15 weddings and all but one were outdoors. I have a church wedding coming up and was wondering if anyone has any tips for me, as the last church wedding I photographed came out a bit dark and I had to work in photoshop for quite a while. I have permission to use flash, but unless I am close to the bride and groom, that will not help much. The church is a catholic church with a bell tower and stained glass windows all over. I will be using a Nikon d-70 ( 6.1 MP) and a Nikon d-80 (10.1 MP). The lenses I have are :
    18-70mm f 3.5-4.5
    30mm f 1.4
    70-300mm f 4-5.6
    and a 28-80mm wide angle f3.3-5.6
    I am not sure which lenses to use with which camera and which to use with the tripod. Better camera with better lens for best pics with that one camera, or beter lens with lower MP camera to compensate. I have always just used my D-70 ( I am borowing the d-80 from my friend) with the 18-70 lens for wide shots, and the telephoto for ring exchange, first kiss, etc from back of center isle. But they have all been outdoors so low light has NEVER been an issue. any help or ideas is GREATLY appreciated!
    Also, bride wants photos in front of stained glass windows. I have NO experience with that, does anyone have any tried and tested ideas for achieving correct exposure for couple and windows?
    thanks so much!!!
    Kelly
    MemoriesPhoto2@aol.com
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If this is anything like most Catholic churches I've been in, it's going to be fairly dark. When you said you have permission to use flash, is that from both the Bride/Groom and the church? Even if that's the case, I'd avoid it unless there's no other option, especially for the ceremony.

    As far as glass goes, I'd leave everything you mentioned at home, and rent a 14-24 f2.8 and a 24-70 f2.8. I don't know that I've seen anyone use a tripod in a church wedding; perhaps a monopod.

    With respect to the issue of stained glass, that will be difficult. Assumning there's a fair amount of light coming in through the windows, you'll have to use a fill-flash to illuminate the subjects. Recommendation: Go there a day or two ahead of time, at the same time, and practice, find out exactly what sort of light conditions you're dealing with, where the best shooting locations are, which lenses to use when, etc.

    Just my $00.02 worth - your milage may vary.

    ~John
     
  3. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    :confused:
    I'm kind of confused why someone making a living off of what they create would use such tools..

    If you can take the collateral, do yourself a favor and rent a D700, 24-70, and 85mm f/1.8 or 1.4. You don't need flash with that, just shoot at ISO 6400, it's amazing.




    If you can't afford that, at least rent an 85 f/1.4 and keep it on the D80 because it's ISO performance is lousy compared to the D70.

    Keep the 18-70 on the D70 and don't be afraid to crank it to 1600, i've shot weddings (2nd shooter usually) on my old D70s at 1600 almost the entire time and as long as you ever-so-slightly overexpose and crank back in your raw converter, they look great.
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with the comment that the OP's equipment is quite low quality for someone that does this professsionally.

    Taking pictures with a flash in a church even if you have permission is not the best way to get good results. You need a camera that has low noise at higher ISO levels and fast lenses. That means lenses that are F/2.8 or numerically lower.

    Average wedding photographer lenses are:
    - 70-200 F/2.8
    - 50m F/1.8 or F/1.4
    - and a midrange lens like a 17-55 or 18-50 at F/2.8

    For the more ambitious, an 85mm F/1.8 or F/1.4 gives stunning results. Of course a sturdy tripod for those long shots from the back of the church are a must!

    I suggest that you go to the church and take a look before hand at what the challenges are (as a wedding photographer, you already do this anyways with every client, right?).

    Also... practice a LOT! This aspect is VERY important.

    [​IMG]

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    If you want to get artsy-fartsy, a good wide-angle can get you some really nice pictures.

    Finally for info on using a flash where it is supposed to be (off camera!), visit www.strobist.com and read up (and PRACTICE with) Lighting 101 and 102.

    I've done 4 church weddings as a 2nd photographer and one of the biggest challenges is making sure your equipment is good enough to give you a higher shutter speed in low light without giving you unwanted motion blur. There are very few times that a fash should even be used (I use it NOWHERE except perhaps as the new B&G are walking up the isle leaving, and even then, if I can get the shot without it, I will do that before anything else).

    As far as taking pictures in front of stained glass, it is the same as taking a picture in front of ANY window. Your subject becomes backlit and will be silhoutted unless you use off camera fill flash to light up only the subject(s). A fast way to do that is to put a battery powered strobe into a lightstand/umbrella and shoot through the umbrella as opposed to bouncing it. Gives a much nicer effect.

    Not much more to say but... good luck, looks like you are going to need it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  5. shivaswrath

    shivaswrath TPF Noob!

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    need fast glass!!! I'd rent from borrowlenses.com or some other company like that for the weekend shot - well worth it. When I was at Notre Dame, I was making full use of the 14-24 f/2.8 since flash photography isn't allowed. At MontMatre, same situation.

    My 55-200 is relatively slow and most shots weren't clean handheld (and I assume you can't really use a tripod as frequently as you'd like during a wedding). . . . .depending on your style. . .
     
  6. Mike30D

    Mike30D TPF Noob!

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    Lens Rentals is a good place to rent from also. Great customer service!
     
  7. memories and mments photo

    memories and mments photo TPF Noob!

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    Thank you to anyone who provided helpful information. To answer some questions, I would have used the term professional loosly, although I have a license, which anyone can obtain w/o any experience, but on these forums people criticize you for saying that you are working at becoming a professional, saying either you are or your not, as if it happens overnight, one day you aren't, the next day you are.

    Like I stated I have done about 15 weddings, all but one was outdoors, I have had no problems or issues with any of my equipment, it has produced beautiful pictures and I have not had one unhappy client. When I purchaced the camera that I have now, it was the newest on the market, for under $2,000 which was my budget and I do not have the income or finances to upgrade now that there are better camera's out there.
    I do the photography on the side, it is not my full time profession, I do not make a living with it but like I said, it has always worked fine for me outdoors, and my brides have been thrilled with their photos. I live in a very small rural town, and my equipment is very compatible with the photographers in my area, there isnt a large metropolitian city within 150+ miles of where I do my work, and the climate is very mild so most weddings around here are outdoors, probably 90% of them so my lenses ( not the best albeit) work fine under those conditions.

    Yes, I have always checked out the area before hand and attended the rehersal to run test prints, but this is an out of town wedding that is over 100 miles from my home so this wasnt possible. Not for what I am being paid for the job.

    The Catholic Church is not the typical cathederal style fancy church that you might have pictured. It is a wooden A frame building in a tiny little town of about 100 people with about 10 rows of pews and a tiny little bell tower. It has windows all over and stained glass windows also.

    I would like to know what the problem with the 30mm 1.4 lens is, I was told to leave that home too? I realize its a bit wider than the 50mm that everyone was saying to use, but I had also read that was better for the photographer who didnt have much experience with fast lenses, due to the depth of focus where the nose might be in focus, but not the eyes, or vice versa. I guess I am confused. I thought that would be an ok lens to use for wider shots. Like I said, I am fairly new to this, and just wanted some advice on what I have to work with. thank you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  8. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Now I don't mean to point fingers or anything like that, and I have no idea what your financial situation is, but with 15 weddings under your belt plus a day job, you should be able to shoot with whatever you want unless you're seriously and I mean seriously undercutting yourself, or you know you're not worth anything substantial.

    15 weddings at a a pretty cheap $800 a piece equates to 12 grand. I don't know about Redding, but $800 here in Portland is nothing special. $450 and under is bottom-of-the-barrel-you-know-you're-getting-crap-two-weeks-later photography.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have to admit, he's got a point. Even at $500 per wedding (which is a ridiculous price ANYWHERE), with 15 weddings, thats $7500.

    Concerning your question of the issue with the 30mm F/1.4 lens? Easy... distortion. Yes, it can take wonderfully exposed pictures in low light, but why do you think that 90% or more use the wedding photographer's lens of choice (It is the 70-200 F/2.8 lens, BTW)?

    Here are a few reasons:
    - it lets you avoid that "chipmunk cheeks" look that happens if you are up close trying to get that facial portrait from 3 feet away vs 20-30 feet.

    - it lets you remain discreet as you are at the back of the church clicking away instead of being up close and personal.

    - it lets you take advantage of a superior bokeh than the 30mm Sigma F/1.4 has, a very desirable look in wedding pics (yes I own the Sigma 30mm F/1.4 as well, I know when to use it... and better, when NOT to use it. In a church, I really would pass on it... but use it freely in the pre-wedding prep in small rooms as perhaps the bride or groom is getting ready for their big day and also after the ceremony at the reception indoors).

    There are more reasons, I am sure, but the point has been made. Also, as fa as cameras are concerned, even my D200 gives me high ISO woes and requires lots of post processing with a digital noise removal software in low light environments. Your camera is no better, so I know what you should be expecting. If you do some practicing, you too, will hit that wall, and will do a lot of head scratching, unless you prepare properly.

    Finally, please hit the enter key now and then (paragraphs?)... it makes reading your posts a LOT easier. :)

    PS... big thanks to prodigy2k7 for discreetly pointing out my famous typo skills... I mistyped the strobist website address. I still claim the title of KING of TYPOS. Thank-you! :lol:
     
  10. memories and mments photo

    memories and mments photo TPF Noob!

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    Well, thanks for all the advice. Like I said before, church weddings are not my thing, I do not normally do them, but as a favor for a friend....Thats how it goes...This is just a side job as I stated I "loosly" claim to be a prof. Thats why I wanted advice on this one.

    Sorry also about the paragraphs, this was actually my first time ever, posting to a forum.

    As far as the amount I have made doing this so far, and re-investing in new equipment, the majority of my weddings I photographed when I started were done for free, to build a portfolio so I would have something to show for it, and almost every one since then has been for a friend or a friend of a friend, so you can guess what I get for those. I have charged for about 5 of my weddings I believe. I am not in this to make money obviously, and the money I have made, went to pay for my start-up costs which I had to pay for with credit.

    My town has an average income of about $10,000-15,000 a year so its a pretty poor area, and so the weddings in my area are pretty below average on budgets, photographers in my town dont make a whole lot, unless you are one of the top 3 ( yes, we only have 3 top photographers)


    I didnt feel the need to clarify all this info about myself, and where my money goes and what type of low income/no industry town I live in, in my original post, as I was just looking for advice with what I had to work with, but I guess I did.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    It's pretty much the same as with any scene combining ambient light in the background with a foreground subject lit by flash: use aperture to control flash exposure, and shutter to control ambient exposure. The great thing about digital is that you can take a few test shots, and zero right in on the perfect combo. The only thing you want to avoid is direct flash, as that will cause glare on the window. Bounce off the ceiling or a wall with on camera flash, or get the flash off camera.

    Good luck, and don't let the school kids silly name calling bring you down.

    Flash on camera bounced off ceiling.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. memories and mments photo

    memories and mments photo TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for your ideas and help with the stained glass photo issue. That is a great example. I have a couple strobes I can bounce off umbrella's or use my softboxes as I do not think bouncing off the ceilling will be an option ( I believe its vaulted, and wood).
    I practiced with them tonight in front of a window, and was able to achieve the correct exposure.

    I will have 2 hours before I start the shoot, as I plan to arive early to run test shots, and scout out photo areas. I wish I could have already had that part done already, but its just too far with the price of gas out here, to justify it, with what I am being paid to do the wedding.

    Thank you also for the encouragement to not be bothered by the putdowns on my equipment and " professionalism". I didnt know these forums demanded your entire situations details to answer an ideas question. I thought I would just give the basics of the job I had before me and ask for help with that particular situation. I know the limitations of my equipment, but if people knew where I live and the type of photography that is standard around here, and what most in this town can afford, they would understand some of where I am coming from, I am well within the "norm" as far as equipment used around here, not that we are stuck in the stone age or anything :) but its just a small kinda middle of nowhere town about 1/100,000th the size of any big city. You dont get paid much around here to do ANYTHING. But its beautiful here!

    Anyways, I do believe I have gotten off point. Its a habit of mine. I have been reading up on all kinds of threads and posts ( I dont even know if I am using the terms the correct way, as I stated, this is my first time on here) but it seems that if you aren't using the top notch equipment ( that btw, seems to go obsolete in a couple years) and taking absolutely correct photos you are going to be severely criticized. I noticed it all over this forum. live and learn I guess.

    Thanks again also to the info about renting lenses from whomever posted that reply, that was helpful also! Oh, and the info about why the 30mm is a bad choice. I practiced with it some tonight and got some good results, hopefully it will be of some help. I was not planning on using it for portrait shots ( those will all be outside) the only photos inside are ceremony shots ( and the stained glass one) and I was just planning on using it for back of the church full view shots.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008

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