>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.