Photographing a Friend's Wedding: Part III

Continued from Photographing a Friend’s Wedding: Part II

Window-Light Portraits

Window-light portraits are a nice touch as a bonus for the bride and groom. You can do window-lights at any relatively clean and uncluttered window. It is best to measure your light with an incident meter (the light which falls on the subject), if, however, you do not have a meter, you can measure incident light by holding a coffee filter over your lens (white not brown) and then point the camera at the window and take a reading.

Sponsored Links #3

When doing window-lights, the groom usually is posed behind the bride or to the outside of the shot. A reflector can come in handy to even out the light in a window-light by positioning it to reflect light back into the faces of the bride and groom. Basically use your creativity with window-lights and you can have some nice shots to give to the bride and groom.

Tips for Posing People

Taking the time to build every pose for every shot is time consuming and, unless you are very fast, is something you do not have the time to do. A good number of the posed shots at a wedding is going to be done standing, as such, trying to pose people chin to eye is not going to be readily possible in most shots. This does not mean, however, that posing techniques are thrown out the window, instead, wedding poses take on their own form.

Rather than develop a posing guideline as such to follow, I will be providing pointers and things to avoid in the following list:

  • Pose people where two people standing beside each other are no greater difference in height than one head length; if possible, chin to eye (but that is not always possible)
  • Rather than having people standing or sitting straight on at the camera, have their feet pointing 45 degrees away (more or less) from the camera, while turning their face and upper body toward the camera
  • Do not allow gaps between people to show in group poses
  • When available, steps are a handy way to pose people at different heights
  • When in a group pose, center the bride and/or groom and place others
  • strategically around them
  • It is okay to separate family members to different parts of a group pose when the height differences call for it (try not to separate husband and wife, however, if you must, you can inject some humor by introducing them to their new partner)
  • (I am really going to hear it for this one) Avoid putting heavy people in front, if possible
  • If young children are involved, get poses with them as early as they are ready, as they will not last for very long
  • Take 2 or three shots of groups to account for blinks
  • Always be aware of the background and check for cords which are hanging down into the picture and particularly candles or other objects which in the photograph may appear to be growing out of someoneís head
  • It is okay to move items and furniture around the altar or wherever you are posing people as long as you put it back when you are done
  • Always be aware of clothes and hair to notice if any are out of place

Photography Tips

BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY: Over the years black & white photography has become popular at many weddings. If requested, black & white photography can be an option. When using black & white film as a primary film, stay with 400 speed film. When using black & white film for some supplemental shots, anything goes.

A popular use of black & white film for weddings is to use a high speed film for supplemental shots in a photojournalistic style. Photojournalistic is a long word for saying non-posed shots or slice-of-life, if you will. The photographer using the black & white film will roam about and capture images such as the family of the bride and groom together, the bride having her train attached, the flower girl and ring bearer playing, or any of a number of other events which are spontaneous and of which the participants are not necessarily aware that they are being photographed.

For using black & white film as a supplemental shooting choice, you need to have a camera available to be dedicated to black & white film, and this means a third camera, as your second camera should be ready to go with the same type of film you are using as a primary. You do not have to have an SLR as your third camera, as this may well be expensive. A rangefinder makes a fine third camera as does any inexpensive point & shoot camera. In the event you cannot afford those alternatives, or do not wish to add another camera to your outfit, another choice is an inexpensive disposable camera loaded with black & white film, which is often 400 speed C-41 process film (chromogenic) which can be developed at any lab, as it is processed with the same chemicals as color film.

If you are doing the shoot in color, and solo, but would like to have some of your shots done in black & white as well, rather than killing yourself by trying to use two cameras at once, you can shoot in color and have the lab convert a set of prints to black & white. This method offers an expansion to your color photography while permitting you to live.

Many who use black & white film as a secondary do not bother with color balancing filters as it would be time consuming and is not really necessary in a good number of wedding situations. You do, however, have the option of using a yellow (K2) filter which just simply stays on your lens. A yellow filter causes the black & white film to render colors in their appropriate shade in relation to each other, as, without it, some colors will appear lighter or darker than they do in color film. The yellow filter is an option, not a necessity.

FOCUSING: Taking the time to focus is not always an option, particularly during the bridal procession and at the reception. For these moments it is advisable to preset your focus. You can do this by asking someone to stand in place for you and focus on them for a full length shot and a half length shot. When you have these positions marked or memorized, you can set the lens to the position you need for the shot you are trying to get instead of taking the chance on losing a shot because you took the time to focus.

FILL FLASH: In many indoor situations, where we do not necessarily have the best lighting, or dull lighting, flash photos can often come out with well exposed subjects against a dark background. In posed photos using a tripod, this can be corrected by setting the exposure for the available light, then setting the flash to expose the subject one stop more than the background which will provide a well exposed background with a subject which is highlighted, yet softly.

When taking indoor shots with a flash and using the camera handheld, a lot of photographers will set their shutter speed at 1/60 sec. or their maximum flash sync speed. When using a normal lens, or even a short zoom set at normal or wide, you can set you shutter speed for 1/30, which will allow you to capture a higher percentage of shots where the background is well exposed, yet the flash will prevent blurring from happening in the foreground.

When taking shots outdoors on a sunny day, the sun can often cause harsh shadows which are unflattering. To deal with this, you can use the flash set at one stop less exposure which will fill in the shadows without highlighting, providing a natural look. The main problem with this is flash sync speed as a bright sun with 400 speed film is going to require a setting of f/16 at 1/500 sec. or f/22 at 1/250 sec. which is higher than most SLRs will be able to sync. You can use a neutral density filter to bring down your shutter speed requirement, as well, a polarizing filter will work for this purpose.

As an option, you can simply set your camera for its maximum flash sync speed, set your aperture for f/16, and set your flash for f/11, or its maximum if less than f/11, and just go for it. You will get a stop or two of overexposure, but the film latitude will handle it and a little overexposure will soften the contrast, which can provide a nice effect.

OFF-CAMERA FLASH: If you want more controlled flash coverage than using the flash mounted on the camera, or a bracket, you can use a two flash setup. The simplest method for this setup is to place a second flash on a light stand and move it at an angle to the subject of 30-45 degrees, or even less of an angle if you do not have a good place to place the light stand.

For the purpose of this method, your off-camera flash should be set to one stop more exposure than the on-camera flash. This will be using the off-camera flash as a main and the on-camera flash as a fill. You can set the flash units to manual or, and most likely this will be the case, set your auto ranges for one stop difference. Although conventional methods will tell you not to do this because the flashes will interfere with each otherís sensors, in this setup this will work.

LOADING FILM: For those who will be using cameras with manual film advance, and thus must be manually loaded, after loading the film, turn the rewind crank as though you were going to rewind the film until you feel tension. Even though this is a good practice anyway, it becomes particularly useful in this situation as the tension indicates that the film has been properly loaded. If you feel no tension and the crank just keeps winding, you will have to reload, but this prevents you from shooting without the film being properly loaded, and try to explain that one to a bride.

Continue on to Photographing a Friend’s Wedding: Part IV