Shooting again...by surprise...

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by schuylercat, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    Hi all - new guy here.

    I shot racing for about 8 years back in the 90's. Carried Canon hardware - 1N and an A2 backup body, 540ez, some L series glass, thousands of dollars of product and I'd burn through 50 rolls of Provia in a weekend at the track.

    Never made a dime. Got published in On Track, The Global Racing Network, and a couple Finnish mags (they paid WAY better than the American Mags, even Racer). Had 5 kids, so I went back to my job in IT and my cameras have been gathering dust since. Sold the 1N. Still have an Elan II and the A2. I never missed it until now.

    I have a 22 year old who's getting married next May. He's broke, and called me with a really disturbing proposition: would I shoot the wedding for him?

    I’m still laughing.

    Like a good dad I said, “sure. I’ll get a book or something, and if you guys run by really fast I can get good speed shots…”

    What an idiot. Back when I was shooting I knew a bunch of wedding guys: they worked twice as hard as I did, they had to actually know what they were doing, they all had Hassies and made real money. I got to drink beer in the press room and work in good light almost every weekend.

    So I’ve got my old gear, but it’s time to take this seriously: I cannot shoot 35mm chrome at this wedding. I’m going to go digital. Oh, and I also have to learn how to shoot weddings in about 6-7 months. This is going to hurt.

    So: here’s my challenge: you guys all know what you’re doing, and frankly I am barely capable of locating the shutter release. I was pretty good at shooting racing: sunlight, slow shutter, just carry a monopod and two loaded bodies at all times, panning is easy. It helped that I was a fan. But weddings? Oy. I am not a fan of weddings. So I need you to tell me what to do.

    Here’s my plan: first, I need to get money. Meanwhile, I need to plan a system. Then I gotta go shopping. Then I gotta practice my backside off. I’m going to eBay off all my old gear (not the lenses: just the bodies and the flashes) and get new stuff. I have good Canon glass leftover – a 28-80 F2.8L (tested it on a Rebel xti – shot fine) and a 70-200 F2.8L. The long glass may come in handy if the pastor doesn’t allow photographers in the crease (marriage, like Hockey, is a full-contact sport, right?). I think I’m good, but with the 1.6 conversion I’m left wondering about wide angle.

    Here’s my shopping list:
    - Canon EOS 40D body - 1
    - Canon Wide glass? I dunno. Do I need it? Can’t afford the L stuff.
    - Canon Speedlite 580 EX’s – 2 of them
    - Canon STE2 slave controller (do I need this too? What if I keep one of the flashes on-camera? Will it remote-fire the other flash?
    - Canon BGE2 grip
    - Batteries – 4 kits each with chargers
    - Compact Flash – 4 8MB cards, super-fast stuff.
    - Diffusers, accessories (I have a bunch of Tiffen stuff already for stars and soft focus and the like. People still do that?

    It adds up to about $3,000. Ouchie. Did I mention I’m broke?

    Next:
    Can I live with a Rebel xti? Will that handle what I need?
    Flashes: I like to shoot two flashes, but can I survive with the little ones, the 430’s?
    More about flashes: can someone help me get my head around how to use a two-flash setup with the new E-TTL stuff? Do I need the remote transmitter?
    The last lens I bought predates image stabilization. I wonder – if I need wide glass, should I look at a little zoomer with IS?

    Comment and critique invited.

    Cheers!
     
  2. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Well, you've got a huge task ahead of you, but based on your post, I'm confident you can do it. Your lenses are great. Personally, I don't know if you'd need anything more. I don't think you'll need to shoot any wider than 44mm (28*1.6).

    Will the XTI be enough? For weddings, sure.

    Flashes: You have 2 580 EXs on your list. 1 580 on camera, and the second set to "slave", and you'll have both firing. This works pretty reliably indoors, but outdoors, forget about it. If you want them both to work via TTL, then I'm not sure. I'm a fan of keeping the flash off camera completely. Your in luck, because there is a great little online resource to give you all the info you need on doing that, and tips on how to use it artistically as well.

    www.strobist.com.

    If you decide to forget about E-TTL and get both flashes off camera, I'd suggest buying some older, cheaper flashes, and spending your money on a good reliable set of pocket wizard radio triggers.

    As far as filters and other accessories, I wouldn't worry about that. If you are shooting digital, some photoshop (or other image software) skills are necessary. I would plan on spending a portion of your practice time looking inito that.
     
  3. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    Sweet - Strobist is awesome. I'll be spending time there.

    Thanks for the tips, Matt - I still think old-school, and PhotoShop was a secodary tool for me back then. I'd shoot chrome, effects in-camera, shove it into my Coolscan (it still works, too!), and usually just correct gamma a bit (provia+CoolscanII=juuuuust a little magenta) or sharpen, delete a zit, repaint a port-o-san out of a shot.

    The XTI part...I have this pathetic purist vibe going, so I think I have to drop bigger dollars but can't justify the 5D or (gulp) 1D. If the XTI will give me 8X10s with good color and fast throughput to the media card, I'm all for it!

    BTW - lived in Cleveland Heights until I was 2, then in Shaker Heights until I was 4...long time ago, all I remember is snow, snow, snow...

    Cheers
     
  4. tkme4ard

    tkme4ard TPF Noob!

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    a father shooting his own sons wedding? Seriously I'd hire either an assistant or have someone else shoot it all together. There are many shots you would need to be in, plus you want to enjoy the wedding and the moment not have to worry about getting the right shot.

    Good luck with what ever you deicde, and congratulations to your son and his fiance
     
  5. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    The XTI will give you beautiful 8x10s, 20x30s even, and I think you'll find the speed adequate for a weedding.

    The photoshop part is tough to ignore with digital, especially digital weddings. You might want to look at Adobe Lightroom. Consider shooting in raw format as well, for the highest quality.

    Here are a couple of more links for you as well:
    http://www.dg28.com/
    http://planetneil.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/
    http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/index.html

    I love Cleveland Heights. It does snow quite a bit, but if you are a born and raised Clevelander, you are used to it. Where do you live now?
     
  6. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    Hi Angela - Did I also mention that I'm not very smart? :)

    He's my stepson, actually, and his deadbeat, worthless, dimwit old man will be there...but he's told me he'd rather I sit in the front row. I have been wondering about shooting remote from a tripod as well - I figure I'll take 3/4 tripod-mounted shots of whatever I'm in, and hope for the best!!! Then again, my wife - his mother - can help too. Meanwhile, shooting the wedding will give me something to focus on instead of shooting his dad.

    Hey Matt - I moved from Cleveland (age 4) to Orange County, California to Los Angeles (age 26) to Greenville South Carolina (age 38) to Rochester New York (age 41) to Charlotte North Carolina (age 43). Snow, no snow - I don't sit still long enough for it to drift!

    Thanks for all the tips - I'll check the sites after I mow the lawn...

    Cheers all!
     
  7. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Forgive me for getting caught up in the technical, equipment side of things, but Angela does make a very valid point.
     
  8. tkme4ard

    tkme4ard TPF Noob!

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    wow, Matt, thank you. I love being right LOL

    Schuylercat I don't think it would be all bad to shoot your own kids wedding. There are pluses and minuses :) I would look for a gently used XTi with warranty to help cut down on costs too. Also what about calling your local colleges and see if any photog students would like to assist? or look on craigstlist for someone who is willing to help.

    I understand budgets, I understand weddings on budgets. I also think spending 3,000$ or what ever on equipment could go a long way to either paying someone to do it or partial help. Its a lot of money to invest on something you may only use once. Granted we got married 15 years ago but our wedding photog was 800$


    That and it's a lot of what ifs for something that can't be redone. Also I wouldn't shoot a wedding (ok, seriously? I wouldn't shoot a wedding LOL) with only one camera.
     
  9. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First of all I have to agree with the people who have suggested you stay away from shooting your son's wedding I think this is too special a moment for you to be all tied up with taking the pictures. If you have all that money ($3000) I think you should just bite the bullet and hire a photographer. I am saying this mostly because you will totally miss all the important parts of the day because you are observing them through a camera viewfinder. But if you do decide to do it (and you really shouldn't) first of all you need a second body, I can't imagine what the In-Laws will think if your camera breaks down and you don't have one. Second, no offense to Matt but I would stay away from the Strobist for this I really love that site and recommend it to alot of people who want to learn location lighting but I think for a beginner (especially one involved in the event) multiple lighting concerns will complicate the issue waaaay too much. But again I am not questioning your abilities to do this in any way I just think it is too important an event fro you to have to worry about shooting the pictures while you are involved in the event. This will be a much better memory for you in front of the camera rather than behind.
     
  10. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I think you are missing a couple of key points JIP. First, the OP is clearly not a beginner. While he may not be an off camera strobe pro, it's not rocket science either. While it's true that he should probably look at hiring another photog, encouraging him in such away makes it seem as though he should give up photography, and he obviously has had a passion for it at one time. This may be a perfect time to get back into photography.
     
  11. Sarah5344

    Sarah5344 TPF Noob!

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    I apologize if someone else brought this up already but one thing I would recommend is not using 8gb memory cards. I would really keep it to 2gb a the most. Heaven forbid something happens to one of the cards if it is an 8gb it may have the entire event on it! I would rather lose only a small portion of the event versus the whole thing. Good luck!
     
  12. Big Mike

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

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    It's the age old question of putting all your eggs in one basket. Some people like bigger cards, some don't like that idea. I say, buy whatever is offering you the most bang for your buck...which is probably 2GB or 4BG cards.

    As for the other issues...people do have a point about shooting a son's wedding...it might complicate a day that is supposed to be a proud one for you.

    As far as equipment goes, I agree with what has been said. The 40D is a fantastic camera but the XTi would also do a good job. You will want to have two cameras, just in case. I think it would be OK to use your film bodies as back up, just make sure you have enough film to get you through, if the digital craps out on you.

    I don't know if it's been mentioned yet, but shoot in RAW.

    Don't bother with extra batteries from Canon, go to www.sterlingtek.com and buy from them. Much cheaper and they last longer as well.

    Get some good AA nMh batteries for the flashes...if you don't have some already. HERE is a good place for batteries and chargers
     

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