First time doing wedding shots in the church. Please help.

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by NJMAN, Apr 2, 2007.

  1. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Hi all,

    I am going to be practicing wedding photography at 2 weddings coming up this month and in July. I wont be the paid pro, but I have permission to practice as much as I want without getting in the way. I have a Canon 30D, 28-135mm IS lens, and a Speedlite 580EX ETTL shoe mount flash. What I need to know specifically for shots IN THE CHURCH is:

    1. What do you recommend for a good light bouncer/diffuser unit?
    2. How much distance do I need between the subject and me when taking those all important impromtu shots quickly, in order to make best use of the flash with diffuser/bouncer?
    3. Depending on how far I am standing away from the subject (say 10 feet for example), what do I need to have the shutter speed, aperture, ISO set to so that I get the most of the flash unit with diffuser/bouncer, and have more flash power when I need it, but also get just enough for fill flash when necessary?
    4. Is a stroboframe absolutely critical for good professional shots?

    Thanks so much.
    NJ
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It really depends on a lot of factors. If you can bounce the light off of the ceiling, then that is something you should probably do...however, when doing that, it helps to have something that will throw some of the light forward. The Stofen Omni-bounce, The Fong Lightsphere, the Lumiquest 80-20...or even just a simple white card attached to the flash with a rubber band.
    If you can't bounce, then most of theses thing won't really help all that much. You could get something like a flash mounted soft box...but I don't know how useful those really are.

    It depends on whether you can bounce or not and the type of diffuser etc. As long as you are not really far or really close, it shouldn't matter much.

    That depends more on the light you have to work with than the distance to the subject. When using the flash for fill, you want to try to balance the flash and ambient light. Do this by shooting in Av or M mode and setting the exposure (aperture, shutter speed & ISO) at or close to what you would need if you didn't have the flash. Then adjust the FEC (flash exposure compensation) to taste. The Canon electronics that decide how much light the flash should output...is rather complicated and I don't know if anyone person knows exactly how it all works. Read THIS for more info.

    The problem that you will run into, is that when you try to balance the ambient light, your shutter speed may have to be fairly low (unless you risk the noise of very high ISO). The flash can sometimes help to freeze the movement when shooting at lower shutter speeds...but not all the time. In this case, you will need to increase the shutter speed, which will give less ambient exposure. This is why it's nice to have a faster lens than the 28-135. For wedding photography, I recommend a lens with a maximum aperture of at least F2.8.

    The advantage of a stroboframe (flip or rotate) bracket is that you can turn the camera to portrait orientation and still keep the flash above the lens. Since you will be shooting people most of the time, it makes sense that you shoot in portrait orientation. If you don't have a bracket, the flash is off to the side...this will throw the shadows to the side of the subject...which can really look bad when there is something behind them.

    So no...a bracket is not absolutely critical, but it really, really helps in many situations.
     
  3. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the great information Mike!

    A couple of things in response...

    I also have a Canon 50mm f/1.8 in addition to the 18-55mm kits lens and the newly acquired 28-135mm IS. I was told by some photographers that given the choice between the 2 lenses (28-135mm or 50mm) for this kind of work, I should use the 50mm and "zoom with my feet", while using a flash and diffuser/bounce tool.

    Also, I dont know exactly how the Canon SLR's measure ambient and flash light either, so I end up just setting the speedlite on automatic, stand about 10 feet back, bounce the light if I can, and hope for the best. There has to be some simple/easy to understand techniques to gauge ambient light and light given off by the speedlite.

    Thanks.
     
  4. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    You will be VERY lucky if the minister allows any flash photography during the ceremony. Most weddings I've done, I've been advised "no flash photography permitted"!!

    If you plan on moving around in the church, you really must speak with the minister (AND THE PRO) to find out what is/is not allowed. The pro will probably have done so and you really should introduce yourself before the wedding ceremony. I've been asked to stay at the back of the church too and you don't want to be getting in the way if this is the instruction.

    If you can move around, I'd say use the 50mm f1.8. Depending on the available light you will probably be able to shoot without flash at higher ISOs (start with 400 and then increase if you need to until you get a decent shutter speed). Really it's probably best to just forget the flash (if at all possible). Using flash ruins the atmosphere of shots. If you want to try using fill flash, you'd need to set the flash a stop or so under the ambient light - and set the camera to Av mode. You may find shutter speeds slowdepending on the lens you use.

    If you try to use the 28-135, you'll find your shutter speeds will most likely be very slow! f5.6 just won't cut it indoors. IS will help but as soon as the B&G start moving the slower shutter speeds will cause motion blur.

    In a church you will be unable to bounce the flash in most cases as the ceilings are so high! Get a decent diffuser. You don't say where you are but I have used the fong lightsphere with acceptable results.

    Be very careful if you are wandering around you do not get in the way of the pro who may be shooting from a balcony. It won't look good if you are in odd positions in all the photos of the ceremony.

    Really depends on what instructions he/she has been given by the minister and you should try to find this out and respect both the Church's views and the pro's.

    Hope you have an enjoyable day. Stand near the end of a row, switch off the flash, use higher ISO and keep the 50mm f1.8 on and enjoy your day. :) Outside the 28-135 should perform better, but even then the 50 will provide sharper images. As you noted, use your feet to zoom.

    Cheers
    Jim
     
  5. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Good points above. :thumbup:

    It's rare that you are permitted to use a flash during the ceremony. It's also usually expected that you do not move around much during the ceremony. Sometimes officials will allow you to move during the procession and use a flash at the kiss... but that's also not too common.
     
  6. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Yes Dewey. Another thing though. Be aware what the pro is doing. You do not want your flash to ruin his shots!!!

    Let the pro do his work first and foremost. Try to get the odd few shots and shoot the congregation. Get some great expressions that the pro will not get. The couple will love these shots.

    You really do need to be aware of what's happening around you.
     
  7. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Dewey and JD for those good points!

    I have already called the paid photographer and explained my position as a relative hobbyist, and assured her that I will stay out of her way, but that I plan on taking a few shots during the ceremony. Sounded like she was more than okay with that. I also plan on introducing myself to the minister well before the start of the wedding. The groom actually wants me there 2 hours before it starts, so that I dont miss getting some portrait shots before the ceremony.

    One thing I am not sure about though JD, when you say "If you want to try using fill flash, you'd need to set the flash a stop or so under the ambient light", what should I be looking for on the speedlite and exposure for indicators of this?

    Thanks.
     
  8. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    If you set your camera to Av with the flash on, the camera will meter for the ambient light. If the church is dark this could be f1.8, ISO800 @ around 1/50th - or less!!

    Flash in ETTL mode press the centre button and dial to -1. If outside and bright light switch on high speed flash, keep the FEC around -1 to use as fill. With high speed on the camera will use the flash for fill.

    Not a master at flash and hope this makes sense.

    I regularly put the camera to M when shooting with flash. Flash to Auto. With M you control shutter speed and aperture but the flash will adjust to give a good exposure. Best not to use it in the Church anyway (as I noted above)

    Regards
    Jim
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You can set the FEC (flash exposure compensation) either on the flash or the camera body. I prefer to use the camera body. It's one of the top four buttons, just press it and then scroll either the wheel or the dial and it moves the needle on the scale. I also like to keep it set to about one full stop under...this way they don't look like deer in the headlights.

    I'm surprised to hear that so many churches don't allow flash. Most of the weddings I've been involved in, do allow flash. There may be restrictions; don't shoot during a prayer, for example. Or don't go behind the officiant (up on the 'stage' area.

    These are things you learn from the minister. The key is to be prepared for anything. I've heard stories of ministers changing their minds or forgetting what they previously told you. Or the minister being changed and the new one having a new set of rules. You should be prepared to shoot with or without flash.
     
  10. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Mostly it's down to the officiant. Most Roman Catholic churches, some Church of Scotland ministers and even registry officials here in Scotland don't like the use of flash during the service.

    Also they don't like too much movement so you have to tip-toe around (quickly :) )

    To be honest even if they did allow it I'd try to avoid it!
     
  11. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Actually for me now its less likely that flash will not be allowed most officiants unless you are in a very large church agree that the wedding day belongs to the B+G so it is usuallt O.K.. That being said have your 50mm ready a 2.8 lens is a very valuable tool during a wedding. If you are trying to help the B+G whatever you do do not shoot over the pro's shoulder she will already be providing those shots and probably be shooting them better than you. A nice thing for you to do would be shoot alot of the guests that you know and the photographer may not while concentrating on the couple. Providing something like that moght be a better way of giving them some good images thananother set of the posed photos.
     
  12. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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