Wednesday 31 December 2008

Wedding Photography Kent

Here's part two of a selection of photos from Nicky and Michael's wedding that I shot last week at the Ashford International Hotel. Shots with flash were taken mostly with a 5D, without with a 5D Mark II. I didn't warm up my flashlight with gels for this wedding in order to keep the warmth of the ambient light.

manual, 1/50, f/3.5, ISO 1000, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 16mm

The big group photos were the most demanding shots of the wedding. The room was very poorly lit and space was limited. I had to get the best man and ushers to move, and keep, the guests back to give me room to work. I used three 580EX II Speedlites to light the above shot. One was on camera, set to master, with my usual flash bracket and Lastolite micro Apollo softener, and the other two were on stands, set to slave, and softened by Lastolite EzyBoxes. All flashes were left in group A. Flash ratios were controlled by adjusting flash-to-subject distance. I could just squeeze everyone in with a focal length of 16mm - not ideal due to distortion at the edges of the shot but better than no shot at all. Focus was achieved using the AF-assist beam on the Speedlite.

manual, 1/50, f/3.5, ISO 1000, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 24mm

Taken with the same set-up of Speedlites and softeners.

1/200, f/1.4, ISO 1250, +1 EV, 35mm

Taken with the 5D Mark II and 35mm f/1.4 L prime. Aperture priority with +1 exposure compensation to take account of the candles and reflective white table cloth.

manual, 1/50, f/3.5, ISO 1600, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 16mm

The reception room was pretty dark too. I set the camera to manual with the above settings which was about 2 stops underexposed for the ambient light. Subjects were then lit with flash.

1/60, f/2.8, ISO 6400, +1 EV, 200mm

A chance to check out the high ISO performance of the 5D Mark II - I've discussed this shot in a previous post. I've just read a review of the 5D Mark II in Practical Photography (Feb 2009) which states that, 'ISO performance has improved, although not significantly'. I reckon it's at least a 2-stop improvement - I suppose it depends what you define as significant. It may not be as good as the Nikon D3 or D700 (although the latter appears similar in a comparison test at Photography Bay), but the 5D Mark II allows you to shoot low-noise shots at ISO 6400, perfect for very low-light wedding photography.

1/50, f/2.8, ISO 6400, +1 EV, 125mm

Again the subject is lit by candlelight. You need to keep a careful eye on the quality of light falling on your subjects - you can't just switch to ISO 6400 and imagine that all shots will turn out well.

manual, 1/50, f/3.5, ISO 1600, 0 EV, -1 FEC, 16mm

Back to the 5D in manual mode with softened flash on the camera bracket. A close-in light subject with a dark background causes the flash to overexpose, so I dialled in -1 stop of flash exposure compensation.

manual, 1/50, f/3.5, ISO 1600, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 27mm

E-TTL II copes well when the subject is further away, and with a more even distribution of tones in the shot (I've burnt in the corners here in post-production for a vignette effect).

manual, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 63mm

1/50, f/2.0, ISO 800, -2/3 EV, 0 FEC, 35mm

Taken with off-camera flash. I connected an ST-E2 wireless transmitter to my 5D Mark II and then held a 580EX II Speedlite, with a StoFen omnibounce diffuser fitted to mimic a barebulb, in my left hand. Shot in aperture priority mode with -2/3 exposure compensation.

1/50, f/4.0, ISO 1600, -1 EV, 0 FEC, 35mm

1/60, f/2.8, ISO 1600, -1 EV, 0 FEC, 100mm

The Speedlite was supported by a voice-activated light stand (a guest!) and triggered by the ST-E2.

1/60, f/4.0, ISO 3200, -1 EV, 0 FEC, 70mm

manual, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 0 EV, 0 FEC, 16mm

On-camera softened flash with the 5D. Back to manual mode.

1/25, f/2.8, ISO 6400, +1 EV, 16mm

Ambient light only with the 5D Mark II. Exposure compensated for the lit background.

Any comments welcome.

Check out more of my photography here: wedding photographer Kent


Anonymous said...

Hey David,

Do you make much use of the metering modes on your camera at weddings? Do you focus on the bride or groom during shots of the pair - I imagine the large amount of white would suggest partial metering? What works for you?


David said...

Hi Marcus,

Great question.

I take most of my shots with evaluative metering (Canon's term for considering all of the frame) and then manually adjust using exposure compensation. I have learnt to quickly, and reasonably accurately, assess the overall tonality of a shot and make the relevant adjustments (he says modestly!). See earlier posts on exposure compensation.

If the incident light is constant, I'll find an exposure I'm happy with and then dial these settings into manual mode. No issues about the camera's reflected light meter being fooled.

I used to frequently employ partial metering when shooting film but find it's of less value with the instant feedback that digital provides.