I currently shoot with a single 430 or 580 flash during wedding ceremony's. For the stuff closer up where I can bounce it up it's pretty decent but for longer distance shots where I have it running straight through a gary fong lightsphere to soften it up some but still straight at them it's not as nice an effect. I've been thinking of getting a third flash (we shoot with 2 cameras) and I'm wondering if it would be weird to have another slave flash off camera just bringing up the ambient light in the room or if that's too distracting. Anybody have thoughts on this or done something like that before?
I don't think it would be weird at all.
As the guy who got married not that long ago, the photos were one of the big ticket line items in the wedding budget (I think it was third and not too distant third after food and drinks), so I was quite happy to help the photographers do the job that we were paying good money for.
In fact I'd be all for going slightly further and putting one on either side in front of the altar.
Regarding larger apertures -- depth of field doesn't just depend on aperture. For example, with a 50mm lens, f/22 at 3 feet gives you less depth of field than f/1.4 at 15 feet. At mfd with 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.4, you have less than 1 inch dof, but when you're at those longer working distances, it is much more manageable (1ft-2ft).
Thanks for the input. I don't totally understand depth of field yet but the closest I've come is that the depth of field is based off the size of the object and the aperture. What I mean by this is if you have someone 10 feet away at 50mm and then you move them 20 feet away at 100mm, they'll both have the same depth of field. Obviously it will look different but the actual in focus distance will be the same. So if I want to fill the frame tightly with two people then I'm learning it's hard to get them both in focus if they're not on the same plane at even f4. Granted one of them isn't super out focus but it's noticeable. If instead you're doing something where it's a wider shot though then I'm sure you could do a much larger aperture but unless you have a really exciting background it's kind of eh. The only thing that helps all is using a crop camera over a full frame which will give a little more depth of field. But then of course a full frame camera will pretty much always have better iso performance so you can shoot at say 3200 5.6 vs 1600 4.0 and get relatively similar results. I'm not trying to be real accurate here so you don't have to tell me that that's not correct due to various other items. These are just the general ideas I've learned. It takes skill to be able to know what needs to be in focus and what's not and I'm still learning that. It also takes skill knowing when to take the shot so that everything you want in focus is on the same plane. I definitely still have a lot to learn there. So until I do, I'll continue to use a smaller aperture to make sure I get the client usable pictures. For that flashes are invaluable.