Low Light Church...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by aammoore, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. aammoore

    aammoore TPF Noob!

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    Okay, so I've been asked to take some pictures at a friends wedding. I'm a beginner and have shot weddings before but never with such low lighting.

    My dilema is the lighting in the building AND reception are...VERY low...with only candles and dimmed lights.

    My question: What equipment is needed for this such as flashes, strobes, etc..For the formal portraits and the ceremonial portraits.
    I'm searching for brand names that you suggest are best.

    Working with a Canon 30D and 420ex. Also, just bought a Gary Fong Lightsphere but haven't had a chance to work with it.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    I am certainly not the best person to help you but I see that no one else has responded yet. My suggestion is to use a really fast lens, such as 50mm f/1.4 and a tripod (no flash) in the church. Can't help you regarding the reception.
     
  3. NYPhotographer

    NYPhotographer TPF Noob!

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    I don't think the 50mm 1.4 would be enough.

    I'm also not the best person for this
    but I have a 50mm 1.4 and it may make it a lot
    easier but...
     
  4. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    You may well be correct. I was giving it my best shot since no one else responded.
     
  5. Spott

    Spott TPF Noob!

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  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I suggest that you find out what you are getting yourself into before doing something as advanced as a wedding.

    Flashes are the least of your concern. Your ability to deliver quality photographs in a challenging environment with the RIGHT equipment should be your main concern.

    Before accepting or rejecting your friend's offer, do a google for wedding forums, take at least a week and find out what is involved to do a proper wedding as a photographer.

    You may find that what you deliver, compared to even a mildly experienced professional will not do the couple justice. This is a once in a lifetime event that can never be duplicated, it would not be fair to them to potentially deprive them of capturing this event properly.

    I never really knew what it took to do a wedding well... until I shadowed a professional wedding photographer three times and learned the basics (yes, doing it 3 times sure as heck doesn't qualify me to do even ONE by myself yet, and I consider myself a fast study).

    The duplication of HIGH quality equipment is an important factor. As an example, the photographers that I shadowed, each carried around $5000 around their necks, and had 2 backups of everything that they considered more critical (batteries, flashes, cameras, light stands and so on).

    A few examples of what the pro that I shadowed did that normally a "friend" doesn't consider to even think about during a wedding:

    - He had a checklist of over 200 items to do BEFORE taking the first shot

    - He had another checklist of 50-250 shots that he ABSOLUTELY had to get, and this list came from one or more conversations with the couple

    - He told me that on average, he lost 5-7 pounds on the day of the wedding, from running around. I believe him, as I lost 3-4 pounds myself and I often took breaks that he never took.

    - Forget about socializing, eating with the guests, dancing or even taking long pee-breaks. If you do, you potentially can lose that once in a lifetime shot that will NEVER happen again.

    - Can you get in to take pictures of the bride dressing or getting ready for the biggest day of her life? If you are male and a friend of the family, not likely... but a pro does, and thats one of the most poignant parts of the day for the bride!

    - What happens if your flash burns out? What happens if your camera breaks? How many batteries does it take for you to take 500 shots? 1000 shots? 2000 shots? The photographer I shadowed took an average of 2500 shots per day, and I added 1500 to that without trying very hard.

    - Being honest... how good are your post processing skills? How good are your photography skills? Can you operate a camera in aperture or manual mode without thinking about it, just doing it? If not, you have a longer way to go than you just imagined.

    - On camera flash? Only a true beginner would dream to use a flash on camera at such an event. On camera flash results in flat lifeless boring and lower quality pictures than if off camera lighting is used, and even then, it would not be all that often. You cannot use the flash during the most important moments of the wedding (like possibly the entire ceremony if in a church). You will not use flash if you want the best quality shot (most of the time!) in conditions where ambient light can offer superior results, if you understand how to exploit it.

    - Tripods? Monopods possibly? Always needed in low light conditions.

    - How about lenses? No kit lens will ever work to give you a useable picture if you are at the back of a church and the ceremony is candle lit. Fast lenses are a must (F/2.8 and numerically lower are not options... they are mandatory). Most professionals have a range of 3 lenses for wedding use: wide angle, medium and zooms in the 70-200mm range. None slower than F/2.8 as a rule and more often when the demand is there, F/1.8 or F/1.4 are used to get the shot.

    Ok, ok... Time out!

    I am NOT trying to discourage you, but I am trying to make your realize the enormity of the responsability and challenges required to do a wedding. And if you are already thinking "wow, this is a lot"... I've not even touched on the all the more important aspects and also other 95% of what is needed to do it right.

    Seriously, do your homework, find out what is involved and make an educated decision... not an emotional one, or one based on false pride or a pressured one. Formals and portraits are just a TINY aspect of a wedding!

    Good luck.
     
  7. aammoore

    aammoore TPF Noob!

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    The reply was great...but please DO remember I HAVE done weddings. More than one..and GREATLY understand how precious the day is ...which is why I'm asking for advice on a low light wedding and not telling her that I can do it until I have proper equipment which I am trying to get. Thanks for the remarks. Everytime I ask a newb question on here it seems that I get this kind of response but sometimes its worth it :D
     
  8. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    If you're not allowed to use flashes during the ceremony then you'll basically need the fastest lenses you can get your hands on, and a camera that's good at high ISO isn't gonna hurt either. A 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.4 would work great, as would a 35mm f/1.4. How good is the 30D at high ISO? From what I've seen it's pretty good at 1600 so that'd probably be enough. After the ceremony you're probably allowed to use a flash, so then use whatever.
     
  9. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well this is the reason professional wedding photographers always carry fast lenses. I would suggest going out and either renting or borrowing or both some fast glass. A body that will be very effective shooting low noise at a high ISO wouldn't hurt either.
     
  10. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    I was going to say what JIP just said. Renting glass it pretty cheap considering how much it can help. Also, try out some programs for removing noise so you will be able to shot at higher iso without concern.
     
  11. osirus

    osirus TPF Noob!

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    is the church near you?

    stop by when nothing is going on there and check out the lighting conditions in there.
    get to the wedding early and make sure your all set up right.
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The equipment is literally a no brainer:

    - Fast lenses. Nothing slower than a F/2.8 lens. F/1.8 and F/1.4 have a strong place in very low light or candle light ceremonies. In the church from a distance, the 70-200 range rules and is VERY popular with the pros (unless its a really small place). Somthing in a 20-70mm range would also be mandatory at a wedding. The wide or ultra wide angles are ALWAYS nice for those unique shots that VERY few wedding progotgraphers use, but when used, really make a fun and unique effect.

    - Flashes (or full setups with multiple flashes and umbrellas), have their place too, but rarely in the church. In most ceremonies no one is allowed to use a flash. The fast lens and a camera that does well at ISO 800 or above REALLY helps. Ask the prist/paster if they would permit flash anyways, one never knows, they may make an exceptionfor the event photographer only. Good tripods and monopods are big helps here.

    - Outside the church, anything goes in terms of what you can make work for you. At the reception you can use all the flash you want but care that no one pulls down your light stands is a big factor. Off camera flash is the only way IMHO to get good shots. If you cannot use off camera flash, bounce, bounce, bounce. Do NOT use off camera flashes with optical slaves... every P&S camera in the place will set off your strobes leaving you in a very awkward place.

    If you want to know in more detail what other wedding potographers use, a fast google search for wedding specific forums or forums that specilaize in wedding photography exclusively may be beneficial for you.
     

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