Step up my game

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by Pukka312, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. Pukka312

    Pukka312 TPF Noob!

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    I am interested in stepping up my game with wedding photography. I want to play with some more dramatic lighting. Right now my general method is bounce flash and high ISO to maintain the ambiance, but I've been drawn lately to images that are more subject focused.

    I really find some of the more striking images to minimize the background environment, while lighting the subject (and immediate surrounding area) with narrow light and still maintaining rich colors. I really want some ideas how best to shoot this style with speed lights...including what modifiers to use. I am also a bit nervous straying from the comforts of bouncing light. It's such a departure from how I currently shoot, but I want to spread my wings here and tackle the challenge. My equipment may limit me a bit seeing as I only have 2 speed lights, but I've seen some amazing work done when you can master lighting with the basics. I also have 2 shoot through umbrellas, 1 honeycomb grid, and a small reflective umbrella (meant as a direct attachment to my camera bracket so not more than 18 in across). Bare bones really. I would probably have to invest in pocket wizards as my wireless triggers are a nice knock off brand that was more affordable, but less reliable in terms of consistently firing.

    To give you a rough idea of the lighting I had in mind, there are several examples I'm enamored with at this page (my friend just booked them so I spent part of yesterday looking through their images). I'm still learning how to master my flash, so this kind of lighting is not something I've practiced much.

    Chicago Wedding Photographer | Salvage One
    (all the photos here are beautiful, but I'm more interested in the lighting used at the reception...not to mention the location. I seriously think that place is a photographic dream!)
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Looks to me like a combination of ambient light shots using a body that handles high ISO well, and an off-camera flash (speedlight in an Ezybox?) held by an assistant.
     
  3. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    An assistant would be helpful but for the most part I think you're just going to have to go out and play with your gear until you can get what you want.

    I honestly don't know enough about Canon flashes but if you're going to go out and buy some gear I'd think that you'd want ETTL triggers; one for a flash on a bracket -bouncing to keep up your ambient- and one for a flash on a stand (there are rolling stands if you work alone) so that you can keep from over lighting easily. I'd stay away from shoot through umbrellas and look more to a grid or a brollie -the kind that has the diffuser at the front and not the shoot through so that you can better maintain placement of the light.

    While you're playing I'd also use your flash meter to make things go faster.
     
  4. Pukka312

    Pukka312 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks so much for the suggestions. I do work alone most of the time, so the rolling stand appeals. I've also heard of retractable legs on some light stands that enable swift and easy movement of the light. Like the idea of the brollie... Guess I need to start playing. :)
     
  5. Pukka312

    Pukka312 TPF Noob!

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    Slowly saving for the mark iii :)
     
  6. davidbockphoto

    davidbockphoto TPF Noob!

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    Hey there!

    This is David. Saw you linked to my site and very much appreciate your kind words. I always feel extremely honored to be a source of inspiration. That said if you ever have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! :) Hopefully this helps to understand a little of what we do with off camera flash.

    1. We learned from some of the masters, Ben and Erin Chrisman.
    2. We use a 5D Mark3 and a 5D Mark2 (soon to both be mark3's) and the 600EX-RT as our off camera flash system (we have four, two each).
    3. We don't do any sort of soft boxes or anything like that. Just a matter of manually adjusting zoom and spread of the flash to get it to look the way we want. A lot of times one of us will be shooting while the other person holds the off camera flash.
    4. We do a lot of bounce flashing but for that room which has wood ceilings and doesn't do well with bounce we had two off camera flashes set up on the dance floor. They were cross fired at one another to get the look we wanted.
    5. First we adjust the ISO to get the ambient lighting we want and then we add our flash, either bounced or direct (off-camera only, we never point the flash at the subject if it's on our camera) until we are happy with what it does to light the subject. A lot of this at first is guess and check. :) Now I can do it in my sleep. But often it's between 1600 and 6400 iso.
    6. For lightstands we use these super awesome Manfrotos that weigh like 5 lbs. I think they were like $80 and go up to 8ft.
    7. It's rare that we do auto for determining flash output except in special situations -- we do nearly everything manually and adjust it wirelessly with the ST-E3-RT or via another 600EX-RT.
    8. 99% of what we shoot in camera is also full manual. It's important to know your camera and know your gear! :)
    9. We never use brackets because we don't do direct flash on camera (always bounced over a shoulder or on reflective nearly surface, i.e. white wall)
    10. 95% of what we do is shot with the a 35mm and 85mm lens, usually between f/2 and f/4.

    Hope this helps!

    Also -- who is your friend that hired us? :D
     
  7. cynicaster

    cynicaster No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just wanted to chime in and say that I also think your work is fantastic, both technically and, more importantly, artistically. Thanks for sharing the tips.

    Two questions--since you say you dial in ambient exposure by adjusting ISO, does that mean for shutter you use max sync speed? Do you find that once you find a suitable ISO for a certain reception hall, it's set-it-and-forget-it, or do you find you have to keep adjusting it?
     

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