When the weather is bad, or it’s dark outside don’t let your creativity evaporate. Rise to the challenge and embrace a whole new set of opportunities. There really is no escape from the fact that if you are going to shoot weddings you need to have total command of your artificial light sources. Super sensitive cameras can help as the next 2 pictures show.
Click on the dancing picture to see the full size Canon 5Dmk11 picture taken at ISO6400 (19Mb)
Placing a Speedlight on camera is generally to be avoided. It creates flatly lit pictures that could easily have been taken by uncle Henry. The solution I adopted from a few press photographer friends back in 1998 was to use the Speedlight hand held off camera. I held the flash in my left hand and the camera in my right hand. Ten years on and this system is still used by us and many of the top wedding shooters. Here are my recently updated kit choices for wedding shooting.
Use a D700 or D3 (If you have big muscles) and add an SU800 commander. You can use the pop up flash on your D700 camera as a non-firing commander but it won’t give you that vital red focus aid illumination that the SU-800 uses plus the communication pre flashes can cause blinks. Set the SU-800 to trigger your SB800 or SB900 Speedlight in TTL and finally fit the flashgun with the diffusing dome that it came with. Julie prefers to use the SC29 coiled lead by Nikon. It is cheap, light and totally dependable. Again, it has the built in red focus aid illuminator and those leads without one should be avoided. Julie also prefers the less bulky SB800 to the new SB900. Looking further ahead, I expect Pocket Wizard will have perfected the Nikon version of their radio TTL trigger system by early 2010 and will have made it available in the UK.
Use a 5D or a 5D Mk2 camera, I find the 1Ds series cameras are just too heavy for single handed use. Fit a Sto-Fen omnibounce diffuser. There are other makes available, but try to avoid looking like a Belisha beacon. Fit your camera with a Canon STE2 transmitter and away you go. Unfortunately the Canon coiled lead is a bit too short and there is no infra red focus aid built into it so it becomes next to useless when the going gets tough at night. If you use the Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 and the FlexTT5 radio set up you should use the ST-E2 on the Mini TT1 to provide focus aid illumination.
Whatever kit you choose you can make small adjustments to the flash output by using the on camera flash exposure compensation or the on flashgun exposure compensation. Simply adjust it to taste using the camera screen as feedback and away you go.
The message here is don’t be scared to use long exposures with flash, use a monopod or tripod and give high ISO a try. If the ISO setting is available without resorting to the extended range on your camera it means the manufacturer has deemed it okay to use.
Practice at home first; Set out a candle lit dinner, do a few test shots, eat the dinner and examine the shots the next morning.
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If you found this helpful, you may also like to read How to shoot winter weddings – A guide.