Sunday, December 13, 2009

Assignment Archive: Wedding Portrait Lighting

About a year ago, my father got a phone call from some family friends, their photographer had bailed on them the day before they were supposed to re-shoot their wedding portraits [they had rain on their wedding day].

With the expense of flights to get everyone together, Tux rentals, and renting the location again, there would not be a chance to do this again. With not much time to prepare, we got together a lighting kit that would be flexible enough to work quickly, but also would allow some creative control.

The couple had a specific concept in mind for the main picture, underneath the main big tree on the golf course, overlooking the ocean. The golf course was not terribly cooperative, telling us that there was only a short time for one of us to go with the couple down to the tree, meaning I was had to work alone with the bride and groom via golf cart. A great couple to work with, they valued our time and brought a good attitude to the shoot - always helpful on a murky day!

Usually my dad, Bernard Fallon and I work together as a team, he keeps a good eye on the subjects clothing, hair, body positioning - and other little details that really make a difference, while charming them with his British accent. I tend to focus on the tech, exposure, lighting, etc. No assistants meant I had to do both jobs.

Unfortunately, it was a very cloudy, flat day, with little sunset light coming from over the ocean. However, this made the strobes more effective. The couple was still back lit, however.

With a backlit bride and groom, flash was the only way to show the color and detail of the couple and the tree, while also maintaining a well exposed background.

Using speedlights, including the Canon 580 EXII and the Nikon SB-800 [On SU-4 Mode], I could add light under the tree and into the faces of the couple, balancing the exposure to allow some of the nice ambient light off the ocean, while also minding the white of the dress and not blowing it out.

The effect of using strobes to add fill light

I could check the details I needed and make sure the couple liked the main frame, with enough time to try a few other setups before we had to leave the course.

Once we got back to the main putting area at the course entrance, we were able to set up the two strobes on stands, with translucent umbrellas, to take some more formal portraits on the putting green. We had the two flashes, on Bogen stands and umbrella swivel heads.

At this point there was almost no light out, so I was dragging my shutter to try and get every ounce of light I could from the background, without completely blacking out the background.

Looking back now, I would like to get radios and a 3rd speedlight, so I can start to add more hair lights and rim lights to the subjects, to create more depth and make the pictures more dynamic.

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