I will be shooting a wedding in April in Texas. The wedding takes place starting at 7:00pm. The wedding party be using christmas lights and (sparkles). They want to make sure these lights show up great. I have Ranger RX, Ranger Quadra, SB910s for lights to choose from. I shoot with D3S and D800E.
It should get dark about 7:30 so the lights should show up great.
I have softboxes, and Unbrellas for light modifiers.
The question is how cam I maxamize the picture and effects so the lights sparkle and pop. What do I use? Strobe or Flash.
What kind of settings, (A) (S) (ISO). ?
Thanks for helping....I need to do some test shots, I have time..
#2. "RE: Flash or Strob....That is the Question" In response to Reply # 0
I think I would go in first and try a few shots without flash OR strobe. Depending on how the lighting they have is deployed it may provide enough to give some facial features, but you still retain the semi-dark effect with the christmas lights and sparkles.
I would go in trying ISO 800 or 1200 in Program mode with a -2 or even -3ev adjust.
From there you may have to play it by ear.
I had a situation at christmas where our church sang "silent night" with only candles (about 250 candles). I could have flashed the whole thing, upset everyone and had a nice photo of people in the church all holding something and you cannot tell what they are holding.
I don't remember the settings exactly, but I think it was about ISO1200 and it was a D90 so not great low-light -- the photo was great, but I had time for a few with different settings.
You may then want to try with some flash, perhaps with the flash output lowered 2 or 3ev so you still get SOME sparkles, but you see people - people like to see people at weddings.
From there -- wee what you get -- you probably won't know much until your camera actually sees it. At least you should have a few minutes to play around without losing some good shots.
#5. "RE: Flash or Strob....That is the Question" In response to Reply # 0
I suspect, that exposing and lighting for the "Christmas Lights" to show up great, will have a serious negative effect on the quality of the faces of the wedding party, including the bride and groom, and guests.
By lighting the faces so they show up well, the amount of light there, and the exposure to allow it to show the faces well, will negate the lessor brightness of the "Lights."
The question is, which is more important, great images of the lights, or great images of the people? Read that bride and groom. They might want the "Lights" today, but I suspect, when the photos come in, it will be everyone's faces which will be paramount in their desires, and then it will be too late, and disappointment and upset feelings will rein supreme.
You must absolutely test to be sure this is so. If I'm right, you should go back to the couple and discuss this.
#6. "RE: Flash or Strob....That is the Question" In response to Reply # 5
Ned, you are right, I will go back and have a chat with them, right now I think I might do a couple of shots for the lights but the majority of the shots will be done for correct ex-poser for the faces and scene.
Thanks for the good advice. The site link was great....
#8. "RE: Flash or Strob....That is the Question" In response to Reply # 6
I'm happy to help Tom. Fortunately, I don't do very many weddings these days (They are pressure packed and not my idea of fun anymore. I still get talked into a few each year, but very few.), but I've done my share over the years.
We have a Wedding & Events photography forum at Nikonians. For questions about weddings, I suggest asking your questions there, where I think you'll get the best information.
#11. "RE: Flash or Strob....That is the Question" In response to Reply # 0
Chula Vista, US
Hopefully this is outside. Someplace just before or just after sunset you will have an exposure that looks great. About 10-15 minutes before sunset I'd settle in a place of where they wanted a prime photo taken form. I start taking some photos and walking it down (slower shutter, larger aperture) keeping pace with the sunset. At someplace your goanna loose the capability to handhold the camera and get clear shots (anyplace from 1/60 - 1/10, will work just the slower the more ambient light), pop on and turn on the flash - maybe about 20%, mostly pointed above the shrubs, and keep increasing the flash as necessary.
#12. "RE: Flash or Strob....That is the Question" In response to Reply # 11
Clint, in the past, I used to do quite a few weddings. I just try to stay away from them now, though I just took one on in September on Labor Day weekend. That will likely be my only one this year, and it will require an assistant. I'll hire a student from the local University of the Arts, as I've done before.
I wanted to comment on your post. This wedding starts at 7:00pm. The OP is from Kileen, so I assumed nearby Waco to get the Sunset/Golden Hour numbers. I also used April 15th since the OP said sometime in April. On that date their Sunset is at 7:57pm, and the Golden Hour starts at 7:24pm.
That means that by the time the wedding starts, it's already pretty darn low light. When I've done weddings, outdoors, under such conditions, while I have some light, it's not enough to get nice crisp photos of the faces of the people at the wedding and the participants, especially the bride and groom.
Despite the utterances of the bride and groom (I always especially listen to the bride, because unless this is an unusual couple, down deep it's her day and he's along for the ride.) concerning the "christmas lights and (sparkles), they want to show up in the photos, if their faces aren't spot on, even if the lights and sparkles look great, they will be greatly disappointed. When all is said and done, the memories are going to be the faces of everyone there, not how great or bad the lights look. The bride and groom just might not have figured that out yet. As I mentioned earlier, it's unlikely, even with great manipulation, that both will look great at the same time.
So getting back to the light, even at the beginning of the ceremony, I'm willing to bet that at the least a fill flash will be essential to show off the faces in the photos well.
That late I've used fill flash on every wedding I've ever done, and eventually moved to predominate flash to light the people. If done well, even right at sunset, you can handhold the camera/lens and still get wonderful shots, which use ambient light, plus flash. (Actually, even earlier in the day, I'll likely use fill flash. I did an event yesterday morning through early afternoon. I used a fill flash all day long as faces were paramount, but the rest of the photo was important too.)
So below, please find a sunset shot at a west coast afternoon beach wedding I did. The bride and the groom love the shot, and I can't tell you how many copies of it and variations of it are being used by destination wedding travel agents for their websites.
The shot was taken using a D70 (Yes that old technology.) with the 18.0-70.0 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens set to 29mm, ISO-200, f/7, 1/200 sec, with an SB-800 flash on a bracket, set to i-TTL BL. I'm sure I was using matrix metering, no EV used.
According to the position of the sun, how the lighting is filtered at the location, etc., you may or may not be able to use solely ambient lighting at any time during the wedding, according to the max limit of ISO you want to use, though with either the D3S and D800E, 800 wouldn't be out of line, although, based on everything, I'd probably top it off about ISO=400 to ensure my blacks are beautiful.
Using a fill flash will keep the ambient lighting in the photo nicely, but enable the faces to look great, and keep the shutter speed up, even with the aperture kind of middle of the road to create good depth of field, which is a good thing to use during the ceremony.
I'd use the SB-910 Tom indicated he had, front sync, i-TTL BL FP (His cameras can be set for this and are both compatible.), matrix metering, Aperture Priority (A) (so he has depth of field control) and let the camera/lens/flash figure it out. If it's a bit off, a bit of EV will take care of it.
One final note, with a 7:00pm start, they've got just ~24 minutes until Golden Hour and less than 57 minutes until the sun is down. That means they don't have a whole lot of time to get through the ceremony, and have time for a few after ceremony set shots. You said, "About 10-15 minutes before sunset I'd settle in a place of where they wanted a prime photo taken form." That's a good idea, if they have the time according to the length of the wedding service. I've been at weddings with a 10-15 minute ceremony, and others over an hour. It's according to what they are having if that will work.
Whether it will or not, I'd definitely schedule the mandatory single, double and group portraits prior to the ceremony, to be complete between 45-30 minutes before the start of the ceremony, or maybe even further before the ceremony. I'd certainly be at the wedding site for the pre-wedding candids and posed candids, from 2-5 hours before the ceremony, according to what the bride and groom want and are willing to endure.
In my opinion, weddings are the number one pressure sport for photographers. You get one, and only one bite at the wedding ceremony apple. Miss and it's all over. Preparation is key. For outdoor weddings in particular, in my opinion, the photographer must be at the site on a day very close to the wedding and take test shots so the photographer has a solid idea of what to expect, and hope that the conditions are repeated.
I'm based in the east coast. When called to do a west coast wedding, or even a wedding closer, but out of my immediate area, especially if it's outdoors, I fly in 1-3 days before the event and go on site at least once if indoors, and twice if outdoors, during the time the wedding is to take place to take test shots which I share with the bride and groom to make sure we're on the same page. For outdoor weddings getting the basic exposure is key, and for indoor weddings the challenge is the white balance, which is typically a composite, and therefore custom white balances must be preset. I charge for the advance in the wedding's prepaid package price.
#13. "RE: Flash or Strob....That is the Question" In response to Reply # 0 Mon 04-Feb-13 04:36 PM by Arkayem
Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
>I will be shooting a wedding in April in Texas. The wedding >takes place starting at 7:00pm. The wedding party be using >christmas lights and (sparkles). They want to make sure these >lights show up great. I have Ranger RX, Ranger Quadra, SB910s >for lights to choose from. I shoot with D3S and D800E. > >It should get dark about 7:30 so the lights should show up >great. > >I have softboxes, and Unbrellas for light modifiers. > >The question is how cam I maxamize the picture and effects so >the lights sparkle and pop. What do I use? Strobe or Flash. > >What kind of settings, (A) (S) (ISO). ? > > >Any help??? > >Thanks for helping....I need to do some test shots, I have >time.. > >Tom
I have shot lots of weddings under similar circumstances.
The key is to balance the flash with the Christmas lights. However, even though I did say 'balance', I wouldn't use TTL-BL, because the ambient will be very low, and the camera would have to be set to a very slow shutter (or very high ISO) to make a properly exposed ambient image. TTL-BL depends on a properly exposed image to work correctly.
So, I would use regular TTL with the camera in A mode. That will limit the shutter to the 'flash shutter speed' which is set to 1/60th as a default. Then, I would set the ISO to achieve nice bright Christmas lights (probably around ISO 800), and reduce the flash by about -0.7 ev to keep the subject from being 'over-flashed' - that's my term. It doesn't mean overexposed. It means too bright to look natural.
During the Golden Hour you will also have the problem of quickly changing light conditions and bright sky. Then, especially if there is a sunset, try using TTL-BL and camera P mode. Pick up your focus by pushing the AF-ON button. Then, point the camera above the head of the subject to include the sunset sky and push and hold the A-EL button to pick up the exposure and hold the focus. Then, reframe and take the shot while still holding the A-EL button.
You should practice this method for balancing the sky with the flash a lot before the wedding, so you can do it quickly. It's easy once you do it a while.
And don't be afraid of using camera P mode. My wedding photographer friends say the 'P' mode means 'Professional' mode, since most amateur photographers won't use it. You just have to fully understand it to make it work for you. In bright ambient conditions you have bright ambient conditions when you want to expose the sunset sky correctly, and P mode first sets the shutter to sync speed and then controls the ambient exposure with the aperture. That's exactly what you would do manually in M mode, so why not let P mode do it for you automatically.
Of course, you could always use Auto FP High Speed Sync and put the camera in A mode. The problem with FP Sync mode is that the maximum flash power is less than half of what it is in regular sync, meaning your maximum working distance from your subject is much less. I normally use regular sync and P mode when shooting TTL-BL.