Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Kent Wedding Photographer - not in Kent

I had the pleasure of photographing Felicity and Dan's wedding last Saturday at Newstead Priory in Brigg, Lincolnshire - check out their wedding gallery. As mentioned in a previous post, I don't normally travel so far to photograph a wedding (it's neither in the clients, nor my interest, to do so) but Dan is an old friend, and I was there as both guest and photographer.

Shooting started at the Forest Pines Hotel at 11:30am with the bridal preparations. I was then driven to the venue (with a packed lunch en route) to photograph Dan with his best man and ushers at 1pm, followed by candids of guests arriving from 1:45pm onwards. The bridal party arrived at 2:25pm and the ceremony took place from 2:30-3:00pm. We then took the formal group shots immediately, which allowed us to take some bride and groom shots with the setting sun in the background at 3:45pm. The time of sunset was known in advance (check out the time of sunset by postcode calculator) which allowed us to plan our timings with these shots in mind. I then took further bride and groom portraits in the Priory until 4:30pm, when we joined the other guests in the dining area for some candids shots, before dinner at 5:00pm. I then photographed the speeches, the mock cake cut and first dance before putting my camera down for a well-earnt break. Wedding photography is hard work!

Everything went smoothly except for battery troubles just before the ceremony. Shooting with a battery grip means I have two BP-511 batteries powering the camera, which generally lasts all day. Unfortunately, it was so cold on Saturday that this severly reduced the batteries performance and the battery power indicator started blinking at about 2:10pm after 70 minutes of shooting outside. I put in two fresh batteries but the indicator started blinking again at 2:20pm - just 10 minutes use! I think it was because the camera body was so cold. I put another two fresh batteries in my pocket (I carry 8 with me!) just in case I needed them but the charge indicator returned to normal as the camera warmed up. Panic over!

Now for a selection of photos with commentary - check out the post on EXIF data for an explanation of the information below each of the images.

1/400, f/1.4, ISO 400, -1/3 EV, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

Shot wide open to minimise depth of field - this does require good focusing technique though. I could have reduced the ISO for this particular shot, but for the sequence of shots taken at this time, at a variety of apertures, ISO 400 allowed me to keep the ISO setting constant. I'm not too worried about always getting the lowest ISO setting for every shot. The slight negative exposure compensation accounts for the dark tones in the background and prevents any burn out of highlights. I didn't need to reduce this by too much as her white dressing gown counteracted the background.

1/200, f/3.5, ISO 1600, 0 EV, 35mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

1/200, f/3.5, ISO 1600, -1/3 EV, 16mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

Wide-angle lenses are essential for capturing more of a scene - a so-called environmental portrait - when working in a tight space. Perspective distortion is the downside though - some corrections can be made in Photoshop.

1/1000, f/2.8, ISO 200, 0 EV, 70mm (70-200mm f/2.8 L IS)

Working outside gives the 70-200mm f/2.8 L zoom lens a chance to shine. The dark and light tones average out to medium grey so no exposure compensation was required.

1/1600, f/1.4, ISO 200, 0 EV, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

The occasional humorous shot livens up proceedings! The 35mm prime lens is sharp wide open.

1/60, f/3.2, ISO 1600, 0 EV, +2/3 FEC, 16mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

The ceremony room was cramped. I took a few shots at 16mm even though perspective distortion is obvious. Rather than upping the exposure compensation to take account of the backlighting (which I had tried in an earlier shot, but which led to the bride and groom being engulfed in a light haze, reducing contrast) I upped flash output by 2/3 of a stop to light the scene.

1/200, f/4.5, ISO 400, -1 EV, 0 FEC, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

Outside for the sunset. Ambient exposure was reduced by 1 stop to bring out the colours in the sky. I took a few shots, varying both the ambient and flash exposures.

1/80, f/2.0, ISO 1600, 0 EV, -1/3 FEC, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

Indoors to warm up - both the bride and my flash light! From now on I had a full colour temperature orange flash gel on my Speedlite to balance the tungsten-dominated indoor light.

1/100, f/2.0, ISO 3200, +2/3 EV, +1/3 FEC, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

Light levels indoors were low - up to ISO 3200. Positive exposure compensation to account for the bright background and full blast from the flash because of my distance away from the subjects.

1/160, f/2.0, ISO 3200, +2/3 EV, -1/3 FEC, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

Flash exposure compensation reduced as I come in closer.

1/100, f/1.4, ISO 1600, 0 EV, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

No flash for this one. Spotted a nice pool of light from a tungsten lamp.

man, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 16mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

The reception venue was so dark I switched to manual mode. A shutter speed of 1/50 is as slow as I dared go shooting candids. The lens was wide open. Basically I'm getting as much ambient light as possible without risking subject blur. Most of the exposures were at least 2 stops under-exposed though. Keep an eye on your camera's light meter when you move to better lit areas - don't over-expose your shots! TTL flash metering (with FEC of between 0 and -1 depending on my distance from the subject and the background tones) then lit the subject. From now on I was using the CP-E4 battery pack to ensure good recycling times of the flash.

man, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 0 EV, -2/3 FEC, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

man, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 0 EV, -2/3 FEC, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

1/250, f/1.4, ISO 3200, -2/3 EV, -2 FEC, 35mm (35mm f/1.4 L)

A great example of the camera flash metering being fooled by the dark background. FEC of -2 stops to prevent the subject being completely overexposed.

man, 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 3200, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 23mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

No comment!

1/50, f/1.2, ISO 3200, +1/3 EV, 85mm (85mm f/1.2 L)

No flash - 1/50, f/1.2 at ISO 3200 shows you how dark the venue was. Fast lenses partnered with an EOS 5D are an ideal combination in low-light conditions.

man, 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 3200, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 16mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

Back to manual mode for the dance floor. Stopped down to f/4.0 for a bit more depth of field.

man, 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 3200, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 16mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

man, 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 3200, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 16mm (16-35mm f/2.8 L)

I hope you enjoyed this detailed overview of Saturday's wedding shoot. Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.

Check out more of my photography here: wedding photographer in Kent

2 comments:

bertpalmer said...

A great selection - thanks for sharing. I'm curious why you use a fairly high shutter speed (for the focal length) - I would have lowered it a bit - this would have meant a lower ISO...

David said...

Hi Al,

It's a good point and I touched on it in the post as I thought an eagle-eyed reader might raise it after looking at the EXIF data!

"I could have reduced the ISO for this particular shot, but for the sequence of shots taken at this time, at a variety of apertures, ISO 400 allowed me to keep the ISO setting constant. I'm not too worried about always getting the lowest ISO setting for every shot."

If I were shooting in low light at ISO 6400 and had the opportunity to reduce the ISO speed by 2 stops then I would take it, since there is a reduction in noise over this range, but the difference between ISO 400 and 100 is so small that I prefer to keep the ISO setting constant, for sake of efficiency, and adjust the aperture for the depth of field that I'm looking for.

I would use the automatic ISO setting on the 5D Mark II if it were possible to set a minimum shutter speed, but alas it isin't!

Yours,

David