Friday, August 26, 2011

More Light at Weddings

More Light at Weddings

A friend emailed me this question and I thought it was worth posting, with my answer, here on the blog:

I recently did a wedding photo shoot. My camera is a NIKON D80 AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm 1:3.5-5.6 G ED. The church lighting was very very dim that day. It was more like a catholic church, and candles were the only illumination.

The biggest f/stop I could get was f 3.5, and when I zoomed in for close ups, the f/stop lowered, making my pictures darker. I couldn't get the shutter speed lower than 100, because the motions would blur. So I was kind of trapped and didn't know what to do. I couldn't raise my ISO any higher than 800 because of noise. And my EV was already like +5.0.

Um, So, what do you usually do if you have so little illumination at a wedding? Do you think I should have bought a wider angle lens to enhance my f/stops? Tripods? (but I don't know how I can use a tripod and still move around at a wedding.) Flash? But I also remember you didn't use a flash at Faith's wedding. Did you just use lens that had bigger f/stops? Like f1.8???????

I also remember that at Faith's reception the lights were pretty low, too. So, I'm just curious how you managed there? Was it because of the reflector that Jocelyn was holding? Or was it also a wide angle lens??????

I’m sorry to hear about the trouble you’re having, but you are asking the right questions and dealing with the right issues. There are three ways to improve the situation you’re dealing with:
• Use a flash – no one likes this.
• Get brighter lenses – I don’t shoot with anything darker than f/2.8 and have a 50mm f/1.4 if needed. Having brighter lenses lets you open up wider and create good imagery even in dark situations. These lenses are often really expensive to own but can be rented for pretty cheap. See if it would be possible to rent a lens in the future…
• Use higher ISOs – Yes. ISO noise is evil. Dark, blurry photos are MORE evil. I will shoot weddings at ISO 1600, 3200 or even higher if that’s what is needed to create a good image. I would much rather have a sharp picture with adequate light and a bunch of noise than a nice smooth image that’s way too dark. Shoot in RAW. Do your own processing. The newer the camera the better the noise levels will be.

During a wedding there are some events that you don’t have any control of, but there are a lot of photo ops where you can move the bride and groom into better lighting. Take the initiative to find good light and use it.

A bride prepares to walk down the aisle.
This bride didn't just happen to be standing in the only window light in a dark hallway. I asked her to stand there. [ISO 3200, 15mm, f/2.8, 1/40s]

Hope this helps!