Strobing a wedding reception?

Discussion in 'Photo Assignments & Technical Challenges' started by Destin, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hey guys; I’ve shot a few dozen weddings now and I’m pretty confident in my abilities. I always run on camera flash units and bounce or use modifiers as needed depending on the venue.

    I have an upcoming wedding where the reception venue has 30-40 foot high white ceilings. The room is basically a pretty large gymnasium style open space with white walls.

    I’m debating setting a flashpoint xplor 600 strobe in opposite corners on a Stand, bounced off of the ceiling mid room. I strobe basketball similarly but I’ve never tried with a wedding reception. My main motivation is that I could get more consistent lighting and faster recycle times.

    Anyone have experience doing this? How does it compare to on camera speedlights?


     
  2. JonA_CT

    JonA_CT TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I don't have any personal experience with this, but the last three weddings (or so) I've been to have done something like this. The photos came out great, and I don't think anyone but me even noticed them.
     
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  3. Dave442

    Dave442 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have been to a wedding that used this type of setup. The main photographer was shooting with the lights from the two strobes and the second shooter was not using flash. In this case the bride had won a beauty contest a few years earlier and the photography for the wedding was part of that deal was and provided by the pageant agency. I think the attendees hardly noticed the strobes and it seamed to make the photographer less noticeable to the people in the ceremony as he was not firing off a flash from different locations.
     
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  4. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Awesome, thanks guys! I've also been to weddings where photographers have done it this way or similar, and I've never been bothered by it. And if I'm not bothered by it, I'm guessing the average person never notices it. It's never bothered basketball players or fans either to my knowledge.

    Just like watching hockey games; most people never even notice the ceiling mounted strobes going off the whole game.

    I think I'm going to give it a go, but I'll definitely keep a speed light in my pocket in case it doesn't work since this is my first time shooting this way and it's a paid gig.
     
  5. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I still would use a speedlight on body for direct/bounce fill plus the strobe for ambient.
     
  6. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You use the R2 system right? Is it possible to use commander mode and run an on camera flash at the same time? I haven’t actually tried that to be honest.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I've shot a few high-ceilinged events like this in reception/meeting/community halls, and have strobed basketball games from the balcony area. The advantages I noted were the speed of the flash recycling off of AC power and a Speedotron power pack's inherent capability, and a light, nimble camera not encumbered by a strobe on top or by a strobe on a flash bracket, and frankly, I think prettier lighting from the bigger studio flash head and the HUGE light source it created when one is bounce-fired into a large wall, or a wall/ceiling juncture, and the flash POP! creates a reallllllllllly large source. For me, 200 to 400 Watt-seconds and the 7-inch metal reflector is a reasonable choice, but I've also done this with 43-inch shoot-through umbrellas in 16- to 20-foot high ceilings like those often seen in apartment or condominium "clubhouse" type vaulted ceilinged designs.

    If the ceiling really is 30 to 40 feet high, that could create a very long "throw" for the light, and using two studio flash units might be needed to get even lighting across a big area. How even the light is depends on distance; the longer the flash-to-subject distance, the MORE-even the lighting will be across the run of the room. The closer the flash-to-subject distance, the more variation there will be in effective flash f/stop. How even the light ends up being will depend on where you put the flashes, and the room, and the distances involved.

    Whether you want to also use an on-camera speedlight or not will depend on how the effect looks with the way you are shooting the pictures; it might or might not be what you want or like.

    If you can get f/6.3 or f/7.1 at ISO 200 to 400, you ought to be golden.
     
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  8. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thanks Derrel! That’s actually really helpful. I’m definitely gonna give this a go, I think it has potential to work much better than an on camera speedlight in this environment.
     
  9. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is a reception from one of my friend's weddings: It's Time To Party!

    the photographer used two alienbees with 7" reflectors shot into the rafters (very tall white angled ceilings) -- I don't believe he used a speedlight. I think he went a little too much with the strobes, and while he created a very even light, the room looks like daylight. There are some shots in there where the strobes didnt fire and I prefer the look -- so you can see the lights on the strings strung across the room.

    IIRC he was using a sigma 50mm ART lens, and looks like he was shooting it pretty darn wide. you can see the setup in shot _MG_6101 -- i believe the second strobe was on the same side just the near corner.


    My suggesting for the on-camera speedlight would be mainly to make sure to get a little fill and catchlights on the subjects.
     
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  10. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Those photos are nice, but I agree the ones where the strobes didn’t fire are preferable. I generally try to avoid using flash on the dance floor because it kills the ambient mood created by the DJ’s lights. I either try to shoot straight ambient; or set up a few color gelled speedlights (to mimic the DJ lights) as backlights/rim lights and expose the subjects with ambient.

    I think for the toast, dinner, and such... the strobes are good. But once the dancing starts I’ll probably stop using them.
     
  11. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I know nothing about the Flashpoint.
    My only concern is, does it have enough power to bounce the ceiling and illuminate the area as you want to.

    IF you can, I suggest running at test at the venue, to test and validate the lighting.
    Yes it is extra work, but I would rather do the test ahead of the date, and know it it will work or not. If not, then I can plan alternatives, rather than show up on the wedding day and find out that it won't work.

    But since you have done basketball games this way, you at least have that experience to know that it will work.
     
  12. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I did the basketball games with 4 speedlights.

    The strobes are 600ws, more powerful than the Profoto B1.

    Power won’t be a problem.
     
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