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Author Topic: Emergency wedding, of sorts.  (Read 13715 times)

ktabes

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Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« on: January 26, 2013, 10:48:52 AM »
So, long story short, a friend of mine is moving his wedding to a week from now (it was suppose to be 6 months away).  And he knows that I do some photography as a hobby and said he'd want me to photograph it.

I am in no way a professional photographer.

my gear: Just upgraded to the 6d, canon 17-40, Tamron 28-75 2.8, 40mm 2.8, 50mm 1.8, and a nifty lowelpro bag, so i don't mind carrying all my lenses. I also have a rode mic and a led light that I use for video sometimes, but i didn't plan on any video. So I don't exactly have professional gear. I mostly just do some landscapes, or some walkaround stuff when I travel. I'm a casual photographer, as I like to put it.

He says relax, have fun, take some candid photos. But I don't want to disappoint. Should I spring for an 85mm? or a speelight? I don't know when else I would use it, so I don't want to buy it for one day. Should I rent one?  Anything else i should keep in mind? Or specific photos I should remember to get? Not sure how I should approach this.

Thanks!
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Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« on: January 26, 2013, 10:48:52 AM »

EOBeav

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2013, 11:26:58 AM »
Nothing like an emergency wedding shoot to get you started down that road.

Your 6D should be fine, and I would think you'd make quite a bit of use of that 28-75mm. It's good you've got some glass with some wider apertures, too. If you can rent something like a 70-200 f/2.8, that would probably help you improve your longer range shots. You might just have to shoot wider and crop as necessary, though. 

I don't know the venue you're shooting at, but only bring strobes if you know what you're doing with them. You'll have no time to fiddle with settings and experiment while you're there. Make the most of what you've got. Check out where you'll be shooting and get a sense of whether or not your setup can even handle it. If it's fairly dark, and you don't have lights, you're going to be looking at some ugly ISO settings.

Aside from that, hopefully you've sat down with the bride and groom and have talked about expectations. Many people today are foregoing the high-cost formal wedding for something more casual and low-key, and that may be what's going on here. They might just want a photographic record of the event, and not all of the posed group and individual shots. But get all of those expectations out in the open first.

I'm sure others will have some additional advice, but that's what I've got for now.
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AprilForever

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2013, 11:54:52 AM »
Get a backup camera, either a 7D or a 5D mk ii.
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RMC33

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013, 12:23:08 PM »
A second body goes a LONG way. 70-200 2.8 as other posters have pointed out is great too. Do you have a flash unit or two? Great for fill light and getting shots inside. You will have recycle time issues with out an external battery but the 430 EXII is a great light. I would say 1 off camera flash at minimum and read a bit on http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html to get familiar if you are not already.

digital paradise

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2013, 12:44:04 PM »
Are you being paid? I'd forget about the lens unless you have disposable income to play with. It is a very nice lens but you currently have decent coverage. The 85 will be a sharper and faster than your 28-75 but how much difference will it make based on your friends expectations. Your 50 1.4 is fast enough to cover low light situations.

Where is everything happening? Standard Wedding  - church, formals at some other location, reception at some hall?

I know there are natural light photographers which is great if it is available. You will probably wind up in a dark venue and unless your camera can shoot very high ISO you will need a flash. Even with with the 50 1.4 you will need some fill.       

Now the flash. This opens a whole new world. One week is not a lot of time to prepare to really understand how the flash and camera work together. What I mean by that is how to control them separately. Even though the flash is attached to your camera they have two separate jobs. In fact your camera does not care about what your flash is doing and the flash does not care what your camera is doing.

Your camera exposes for ambient or available light using the cameras light meter. When you put your flash on the camera the light meter has nothing to do with flash. It can't because the flash has not fired yet and your system cannot predict flash output.

So as I said your camera has a job and the flash has a job. The camera exposes for ambient and the flash exposes for your subject/s. It is often referred to - two exposures in one.

Watch this video. It is a Pocket Wizard ad but has great animations. At minute 2:30 you will see the shutter open and expose the ambient light or first exposure. It may not be much of an exposure but it is an exposure. Then the flash fires to illuminate the subject - the second part of the exposure. Note: You don't need PW because that is for off camera high speed sync. Also you don't need to know anything about HSS now but it is interesting to see how your shutter and flash work together.

http://www.pocketwizard.com/inspirations/tutorials/pocketwizard_controltl_optimiz/

I'm not sure what your camera is but if you get a flash I would suggest you keep things simple and put the camera P mode and set your flash to ETTL. ETTL fires a pre flash to determine correct exposure of your subject. It is a good tool and gets you close but is not an exact science. The next step is learn how to adjust the Flash Exposure Compensation or FEC. After each shot check the histogram, adjust the FEC as required and shoot again. My guess is there will be enough white to work with. That is all you need.

Here is a link on how to interpret the histogram. If you get whites right the rest of the exposure falls into place. Again remember this is for your subject, not the ambient or surrounding light.  Scroll down to the gent holding the white towel.

http://super.nova.org/DPR/Histogram/

So when using the flash we have the camera on P mode and flash on ETTL and we adjust FEC as required for subject exposure. Now the best way to use flash is put the camera on manual when using flash. In P mode you don't have a lot of control over depth of field. Actually there is little difference between P and M modes. In P the camera controls shutter and DOF and in M you do. This gets a little complex and I can get into that if you wish but like I said one week is not very long for this learning curve.

Next when using flash I would suggest shooting with the highest ISO you are comfortable with. 1600 - 3200 even better. This brings in more ambient light so the flash does not have to work as hard, there is better balance between flash and ambient thus the images look more natural, not like your subject/s have been nuked.

So far. Camera on P, flash on ETTL, learn how to use FCE and use a higher ISO.

If you are going to use a flash I would get it yesterday and start practising. If you do later I will explain why the flash head rotates (bouncing the light) and how that gets better, more even/pleasing flash exposures.

Here is a list that may help you.

http://digital-photography-school.com/wedding-photography-21-tips-for-for-amateur-wedding-photographers
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 12:51:51 PM by digital paradise »

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2013, 12:44:44 PM »
These sorts of things rarely end well. Sometimes they do, of course, but almost never. If it's not too late to back out, do so now. Indeed, my suggestion would be, rather than to spend any money on new gear for yourself, instead offer to buy a whole case of throw-away cameras for the guests and to make an album from them. That is, turn the whole audience into a photography corps, with the hope that at least some of them snapping away like mad will cover everything that should be covered. Or, offer a wedding present of a portrait session on some other day than the actual wedding. Do anything you can to get out of being anything other than a regular guest at the wedding.

You don't necessarily need a lot of gear to shoot a wedding...what you need is a metric fuckton of knowledge and skill that's only tangentially related to photography. You need to know what shots to take, where to be at what time to take them and how to make sure that you actually get said shot, and what to do to ensure that said shot actually happens at that time and place. You need to be a good portrait photographer, which is much less about equipment and much more about lighting and posing and staging. You need to be a good event photographer, which is again much less about equipment and much more about discretely being everywhere in such a way that you're always in the middle of everything but nobody realizes you're there. You need to be good at managing your client's expectations, you need to have a post-production workflow that produces quality results in a reasonable amount of time, and more.

If you really must be the official photographer, you'll need at least two bodies. It's nice to be able to switch lenses by switching bodies, but what you really need is a backup body in case the primary one goes tits-up. Similarly, you'll need three times as many batteries and memory cards as you think you'll need.

I'd recommend a standard (but fast) zoom on your second body and a holy trinity of primes (either 35/50/85 or 24/50/100 depending on your personal preference) for your primary body. You should know ahead of time what you're shooting, which is why you can use the primes on your primary body; the zoom on the secondary is in case something unexpected happens. And the primes and zooms serve as backups for each other. You could lose the zoom plus either the wide or normal prime and still limp through the rest of the wedding. And if you can't comfortably cover the wedding venue with that range of focal lengths, you certainly don't have the skill to shoot the wedding -- you're now into the very dangerous territory of shooting in a venue not suited to wedding photography, something that only an experience professional is capable of dealing with.

Unless you're already knowledgable in and experienced at and comfortable with flash photography, I'd use available light, even if it means cranking the ISO. High ISO shots with available light beat deer-in-headlights flash photography any day of the week, even though the best results are generally achieved with flash. It's just that flash is so easy to screw up, especially if you don't have a lot of experience, and most especially if you don't also have the book learning foundation you need.

If you need much more advice than what I've just given...the only advice that matters is this: run away. Now.

And if you want to get into the wedding photography business, find the best working wedding photographer in the area who'll take you on as an assistant. This is one business where the last thing you want to do is start out on your own without any clue. Word travels fast, and it doesn't take too many fuckups for you to get blackballed. But with a good mentor, you'll not only quickly learn the ropes but have a perfect introduction to all the most important connections.

Cheers,

b&

Boyer U. Klum-Cey

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2013, 12:52:37 PM »
Some very good advice above, eh?  All I can add is to try and visit the venues to be used before you have to go live to determine lighting and sound quirks, angles, shooting positions, et al.  "Emergency weddings" are why I restrict myself to elopements where run & gun is my 1st and only General Order.
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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2013, 12:52:37 PM »

Vivid Color

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2013, 01:02:42 PM »
More than gear, clear expectations setting is key to this effort, if you go through with it. Find out whether the couple is comfortable with the skills and the gear you have. And, make no promises other than that you'll show up and take photos for X number of hours. I recently went to a workshop in DC that was led by one of the city's most expensive wedding photographers and that is the only promise he makes in his contract. Unless you want to buy more gear for your own general purposes, you should not feel you need to buy new gear just for this wedding--that is like giving a very expensive wedding present. As several posters have suggested, renting may provide a low cost option if you decide you need something extra. But, you could also take some very nice photos of this couple's wedding with the gear you have. Not the same type as what a professional photograph might deliver, but again, that is part of the expectations setting. Do that well, and you'll all remain friends.

digital paradise

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2013, 01:03:13 PM »
This is my flash guru. I explained high ISO shooting and just mentioned the word bouncing the light off the flash. If I have to shoot direct flash I put my flash on a bracket. Getting the flash even a little higher off the camera makes a big difference. It eliminates red eye and that is usually how we see light every day - coming from above, not directly at us.

My point here is this exceptional wedding photographer and teacher stopped using brackets because of modern high ISO capable cameras. Like I said before the flash does not have to work as hard so the while image looks more natural. I am moving away from brackets.

This site may be too much to absorb in one week but if you plan to continue then get into it. This is the only site you may need.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/flash-brackets/           

digital paradise

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2013, 01:10:52 PM »
Some very good advice above, eh?  All I can add is to try and visit the venues to be used before you have to go live to determine lighting and sound quirks, angles, shooting positions, et al.  "Emergency weddings" are why I restrict myself to elopements where run & gun is my 1st and only General Order.

And people wonder why pros charge so much especially in the world of digital where anyone can pick up a DSLR. You are not paying for the wedding - you are paying for the years of training and experience.  I have read and heard many times "why should I pay big money for a guy who just presses a button. $200 should be the max for any wedding".       

There is a huge difference between a snapshot and a photograph.   

All the info we posted should melt the OP's brain for a few days ;D. To the OP - that is normal, take the time to read and process. 

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2013, 01:15:35 PM »
This site may be too much to absorb in one week but if you plan to continue then get into it. This is the only site you may need.       

There's no maybe about it. No matter how smart you are, outside of an intense 40-hour workshop, nobody is going to learn how to use flash well enough in one week to shoot a wedding.

That's why I strongly recommend cranking the ISO unless you already know what you're doing with flash.

The best results come from somebody who knows what to do with flash.

If you just crank the ISO, you'll probably get "good enough" pictures.

If you don't know how to use flash but use it anyway, you'll get bad pictures. You won't get the right exposure, you won't get the right shape or ratios of light, you'll generally mess everything up and make it much worse than if you had left off the flash and cranked the ISO.

A wedding is a performance. Only amateurs experiment in performances. A professional goes into a performance already knowing exactly how everything is going to go down. Even when professionals do experiment in performances, they do so with the bounds of the skills that they already know they have and know how to recover from failures they might experience. For example, a wedding photographer might want to experiment with a shallow DOF HDR panorama for the ring exchange, but she'll only do so if she has an assistant she trusts to get the standard shot from some other angle. And she won't tell the couple about the experiment until after the fact, and then only if it turns out well.

Cheers,

b&

tolusina

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2013, 01:19:57 PM »
The 28-75 should do you most everything as long as you are quick on your feet. If the 40 is significantly sharper than the zoom, you might want to use that for the special, posed portraits.
I sure suggest a flash, but I haven't yet experienced the reported high ISO excellence of the 6D, maybe the 1.8 and high ISO will do for the reception.
At least one spare battery, two if you are a heavy live view user.

Obligatory shots include each of the wedding party coming up the aisle, a few at the altar, especially as they are saying the I dos and putting the rings on, of course that magic kiss.
Later, be sure to get a posed shot of the rings on the hands, only pose the rings off the hands if they suggest it, never ever ask for the rings to be removed.
Shoot the table settings, invitations, a few place cards, menu, food.
Do your best to shoot EVERY guest.
Bouquet and garter tosses for sure.
Kids can be counted on to do some cute stuff.
Don't be shy about telling subjects where and how to sit and stand for any posed shots, most all wedding guests are most co-operative in this. Act like you are in charge, be in charge.

If you do the photography well, you won't be much of a guest/celebrant/participant, you'll be more of an observer/chronicler.
40 on 6

ktabes

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2013, 01:31:59 PM »
Thanks for all the advice everybody, a lot to think over. The wedding is at a church, then reception, pretty simple, not huge.

After reading your comments I've now been considering is talking to him into hiring a photographer, and then I'll just bring my 6d, and pancake lens just for some candid photos to give to them.

If he insists on me, I'll then tell him to at least hire someone for the ceremony and I'll shoot the reception.

If he really insists on not hiring a pro, then screw it, I'll just take my stuff and he'll get what he gets!

I'd much rather see them with quality photos than meh photos, from their friend who just does it as a hobby.

But whatever happens, I think I may invest in a nice 85mm. Maybe a new 50mm if they release a new one.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 01:35:47 PM by ktabes »

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2013, 01:31:59 PM »

cpsico

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2013, 01:39:00 PM »
If you have one camera springing for a prime at a wedding is not your best option when you dont have a speedlite. Get a speedlite 580 or better, extra batterys, at least a 32 gig card,extra battery and two stofen diffuser.One whiten and one amber for natural/warm reception shots that have tungsten lighting. Shoot raw, ISO 400 for posed shots(Stay away from strong lights that can throw off white balance), 1600 for reception/ceremony candids(good place to use amber diffuser), Maybe 3200 if you are good at exposure. Outdoor shots should be shot in shade with flash where possible, your diffuser wont help much here so direct flash is better here. The reason I say dont buy the prime is flexibility is your greatest asset here. Shoot f 5.6 for any shot that includes more than one person, It will be sharper and both people will be in focus. Good luck, have fun, Practice on a few people ahead of time!
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 01:40:35 PM by cpsico »

digital paradise

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2013, 01:39:12 PM »
This site may be too much to absorb in one week but if you plan to continue then get into it. This is the only site you may need.       

There's no maybe about it. No matter how smart you are, outside of an intense 40-hour workshop, nobody is going to learn how to use flash well enough in one week to shoot a wedding.

That's why I strongly recommend cranking the ISO unless you already know what you're doing with flash.

The best results come from somebody who knows what to do with flash.

If you just crank the ISO, you'll probably get "good enough" pictures.

If you don't know how to use flash but use it anyway, you'll get bad pictures. You won't get the right exposure, you won't get the right shape or ratios of light, you'll generally mess everything up and make it much worse than if you had left off the flash and cranked the ISO.

A wedding is a performance. Only amateurs experiment in performances. A professional goes into a performance already knowing exactly how everything is going to go down. Even when professionals do experiment in performances, they do so with the bounds of the skills that they already know they have and know how to recover from failures they might experience. For example, a wedding photographer might want to experiment with a shallow DOF HDR panorama for the ring exchange, but she'll only do so if she has an assistant she trusts to get the standard shot from some other angle. And she won't tell the couple about the experiment until after the fact, and then only if it turns out well.

Cheers,

b&

Excellent points and yes that is too short a time period. I prepared for 6 months and it consumed me. I took lighting lessons and even when the day came I felt far from being ready. It went well although I wish I had a little more experience lighting the reception.

The only reason I got into this is it appears the expectations are not that high. You get what you pay for which is not to belittle the OP. It is just fact.

When I took a lighting course there was a woman freaking out because she was doing a friends low key wedding the upcoming weekend. I asked how much was she being paid besides the free dinner. Answer - $100. Question - what are the brides expectations. Answer - just don't cut any heads off.  I asked - so what are you worried about?

No matter what the OP chooses to do as long as there understanding of the skill and expectations between both parties.

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Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2013, 01:39:12 PM »