Wedding Photo Bright Mid-day Sun Blowout

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by B Kennedy, May 18, 2009.

  1. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    Ok so I messed around a little during my best buddies wedding, I didn't have much time to shoot but as you can see from the 2 attached pics, I had some blown out highlights. Had I shot raw I could have definitely saved them, but they are too far gone with no detail here. With that said, how the heck do you shoot in broad harsh daylight with a bright white dress. Yes, the photog brought them into the shade and caught some great pics of sun breaking through the trees, but for instance here in front of the car and the shot of the reception with an entire wall to the left of glass.

    A little tid bit of info, in front of the car I was in so much of a rush to grab the camera I forgot to change the iso back down to 100 from 400, so I know that was part of the dilema, but I feel those highlights would have still been blown out. Inside I tried to expose for the general ambient lighting, but her dress is soo bright. By that time we were several shots (jack daniels) deep, so I was really just shooting from the hip. Any advice is appreciated. I have a couple weddings coming up that I plan to photograph a bit more since I won't be involved with the wedding party. Thanks!

    The first shot...
    1/200, f14, iso 400, flash auto

    2nd...
    1/64, f3.5, iso 1600, flash auto
     

    Attached Files:

  2. CrimsonFoxPhotography

    CrimsonFoxPhotography TPF Noob!

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    Exposure-wise, I think you've got some pretty good shots here. The bokeh's nice and blown highlights aren't always a bad thing. In the realm of wedding dresses, the blown highlights are most at issue if the dress has lots of texture since the bride would want to show that off. On the other hand, if it's a very plain dress, such as plain silk, then you're not losing as much. If you do overexpose the dress, you may want to be sure that there's enough contrast between it and the background it's up against; I say this mainly because I notice that her dress in the indoor picture overlaps the almost equally exposed white tablecloths in the background. But on to answering your question nonetheless...

    Don't be afraid to slightly underexpose your backgrounds in order to rightly expose your subjects. I think the color saturation and exposure in your backgrounds here look great, but in some shots your subject is the most important thing to concern yourself with. If the detail in a wedding dress or a pale person's skin texture is important then expose in between the light reading on the face and on the background...as a happy medium. Backgrounds, especially skies, that are underexposed just enough are bright yet very rich in contrast and saturation. You're right that RAW likely would've done the trick here..so much so that your exposure may be as "perfect" as it can be given the conditions as they were (assuming you had no lighting equipment).
     
  3. LarryD

    LarryD TPF Noob!

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    If you have a bright white gown, then perhaps you should meter off the gown as it's really the brides day..

    Also, the photographer shouldn't hit the Jack as hard as the guests....
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I doubt you'd be able to nail the exposure without some lighting to assist in that situation. A reflector or a fill flash. The bride's dress is probably a good 2 stops above the rest of the scene, which is just a reality of white fabric in the sun.

    Problem is that if it was exposed correctly you'd likely lose shadows of the grooms cloths, which when brought back up to the right exposure level would look either noisy or outright fake.

    Personally I think you've nailed the exposure dead on, and the photos would look expertly professional if a tree wasn't half growing out of the grooms head, he wasn't cut off at the ankles and the car on the left was cropped out.

    LarryD? What do you mean the bride's day? It's just as much the groom's day.
     
  5. jcolman

    jcolman TPF Noob!

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    Metering off the dress will render it grey. Meter off the skin or other neutral tone and check your histogram for clipping highlights. If the dress is clipping (blinking in the histogram) then stop down or up your shutter speed a bit.
     
  6. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    Right I understand that I could have bumped up the aperature and/or the shutter, but like garbz said, it will darken up the shadows to the point with less to no detail. Of course had I had a fill flash off camera I'm sure I could have messed around with it a bit, then again the time frame was about 10 minutes of pictures in front of the church so it was definitely hectic. But I think i may have gotten away with shooting a little bit faster, and next time when I shoot the portraits I will definitely shoot it jpeg+raw even though the 21mb it produces will eat up my hdd's;)
     
  7. Alerick

    Alerick TPF Noob!

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    Would a large rectangular diffuser work to block the harsh light of the sun but allow enough to keep the details and the luminosity of the dress?
     
  8. jcolman

    jcolman TPF Noob!

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    Yes but it won't do anything to prevent the background from blowing out. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Film productions do this on a regular basis but they'll still add some additional light.

    If you want to preserve the dress detail and shadow detail, the only way to shoot in bright sun is to add fill light to the shadows.

    Here's a shot of a 12' x 12' diffuser in action. This was on a commercial shoot I directed.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. jcolman

    jcolman TPF Noob!

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    Shooting RAW will help in Post but you still need to add a bit of fill light to get optimal results if you're shooting in bright sunlight. Moving your couple to the shade then adding fill light will help as well, especially with darker skin. Here's a simple shot to illustrate.

    [​IMG]

    Even in open shade with no direct sunlight, adding some extra light makes a world of difference.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The best thing to do, the one that gives you the most options would have been to blast them with light that can overpower the sun and stop down the lens to F/16 to F/22 if needed or increase shutter speeds. That way YOU have control over the lighting, and not the sun.

    Power aside, the smart thing to do is do what the pro photographer did... get them in the shade, and fast. ;)

    Having control over the light is what it is all about and one of the reasons I invested in a nice 1000 W/s pro studio head and a portable battery pack!

    When you can take this at F/9, ISO 100 and 1/200th:

    [​IMG]

    Then up the shutter speed to your maximum sync speed (I could have gone all the way to 1/8000th using a trick only Nikon owners can use) and smallest aperture to F/22, ISO 100 and 1/250th and get this:

    [​IMG]

    ... and then blast away from 12 feet away with a powerful light source (AA battery powered strobes are not going to cut it, sorry) and still get 1.5-2 stops over exposed to get this:

    [​IMG]

    ...then you have control over the ambient on even the brightest of days... and not the other way around. ;)

    Then you can shoot literally anywhere and not worry about even the brightest of days or no trees or shaded areas (like in the case of beaches for example). The nice thing about the "more power" solution is that it underexposes the skies and backgrounds nicely making clouds more dramatic or the skies a nice dark deep blue without a CPF.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  11. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    thanks for the help guys I appreciate it. What I did find interesting about the pro that was doing this wedding was this: He said that on most of the weddings he shoots, the brides don't want to pay enough for him to warrant bringing an assistant with him. So for instance, when he brought the couple into the shade I guess he would have had to lug around the tripod/flash/battery pack as well rather than just having an assistant walking around with the flash on a monopod or something. He also shot the whole ceremony with no diffuser and very rarely bounced the flash (as I was almost paying more attention to him than the ceremony). I think I would have rather seen some pics without the flash in the ceremony because in some of the pictures I was, there was very harsh shadows. He also didn't have time to set up any flashes at the reception. I think we lucked out in the beginning tho because the 1 wall was a huge window wall and we got great ambient lighting off that.

    All in all I can't wait to see how his pictures came out, they seemed really good when he showed me some of them on his lcd.
     
  12. jcolman

    jcolman TPF Noob!

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    Interesting. I only pay my assistant $50 and it's money well spent. He or she carries my "light stick". It's a Godsend for formals, receptions and staged shots. During the wedding, I'll shoot with my on-camera flash straight on only when I'm using it outside for a touch of fill light, otherwise I bounce it.
     

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