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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 26 Aug 2009 (Wednesday) 11:33
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Mid-day outdoor wedding portraits? A little worried..

"Got a thick monopod?"
3,860 posts
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Joined May 2006
Location: Iowa
Aug 26, 2009 11:33 |  #1

I'm shooting my first wedding next Saturday at a country club near Des Moines. The bride wants to start photos at 1PM, with her and the groom going first.

I'm fine with shooting outside, but in direct sunlight worries me. Assuming that we don't get rained on, what is the best way to light a couple in harsh mid-day sun? Should I find some trees and then use my flash/umbrella as a main? Any tips are appreciated!

Steve Lexa
Iowa City Wedding Photography (external link)

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Don't get pissy with me
34,090 posts
Likes: 40
Joined Dec 2005
Aug 26, 2009 11:39 |  #2

Flash, reflectors, open shade, full shade, etc. Lots of options. Just make sure to angle them so they're not facing the sun. Squinty eyes = ick. Also keep the group shots out of spotty shade unless you have one big ass monolight. A speedie just doesn't have the oomph to overpower the sun.

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4,022 posts
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Joined Jul 2008
Location: NJ
Aug 27, 2009 14:14 |  #3

My preference in order are:
- Nothing beats shade.
- A large 48" or so 5-1 reflector can be had fairly cheap. You'll need someone to hold it for you, but it gives good control and you'll see exactly what you're going to get.
- Fill Flash. It takes some technical skill and practice. Do a search and you'll find many strings on the specifics of how to do it. And take some time to practice/experiment. As much as I know how to do it effectively, though, you can always tell that flash was used unless you're better at gelling than I am.

The problem with fill flash is it's hard to tell how you did from the camera's LCD. And errors from being either too strong or too weak are a little challenging to fix well in PP. That's why I like shade and reflectors first; a lot of control and you can see exactly what you're going to get.

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soft-hearted weenie-boy
8,564 posts
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Joined Jan 2006
Location: Alberta, CANADA
Aug 27, 2009 15:40 |  #4

If you want your photos to look like 95% of other wedding photographer's photos, hide in the shade.

Or use the sun creatively and embrace it. Use it as a rim light, or use it to light one side and fill with flash on the other. As don said, just keep the sun out of their eyes or they'll squint. I don't like using reflectors in the sun because it makes people squint just as bad as if facing towards the sun anyways.

For photos of the couple, a single speedlite 580 is enough to light them up. You don't have to diffuse it to get nice photos. Just fire it bare and direct.

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52 posts
Joined Aug 2009
Location: toronto
Aug 28, 2009 15:28 |  #5

I use flash to feel the shadows, it works well in these situations

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"I am no one really"
5,635 posts
Likes: 36
Joined Aug 2006
Location: California & Michigan
Aug 28, 2009 15:33 |  #6

For creative photos - put their backs to the sun - use a flash to fill and capture the love.....
I did have one ceremony outside recently -- during the ceremony the bride was in direct blazing, scorching bright sun and the groom was in the shade. Nothing I could do about it but capture what I could as well as possible -- probably one of my least fav ceremony events ever----- but I did get some awesome creative photos after.

"Do or do not, there is no try"

1,775 posts
Joined Sep 2009
Location: Tasmania, Australia.
Sep 02, 2009 02:55 |  #7

if you have off camera flash, you could fire a slave at about a 45 degree angle to the sun to lighten the shadows.

If you do use a reflector, make sure whoever is holding it for you stands far away or it will make them squint like they are staring in the sun.

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3 posts
Joined Sep 2010
Location: Stockholm Sweden
Sep 05, 2010 02:15 as a reply to  @ PMCphotography's post |  #8

I use a combination of methods, in rough priority:
* Try to work with the sunlight. Finding angles and having people look to the side, shooting into the sun to get flare, rimlight etc....
* Use fill flash on camera. Often -1 to -3 and with gels, ND and 1/4-1 Tungsten filter to go really discreete, as I hate that "flash look".
* Hide in the shadows, but that can easily blow out bright backgrounds, or give a "cold" feeling to the images.
* Use a fill reflector, if I have an assistant with me and take more posed images that gives enough time for this. Most often not for full body shots though I have a very large reflector too, as it can be hard to get close enough to get good effect while not showing the reflector in the full body shots.
* Use a diffusor, same comments as for reflector. Can create some very nice light.
* Have an assistant hold the flash off-camera, using PocketWizard.
* Use a strobist set-up with 1-2 sets of two SB-24 Nikon flashes on a light stand with an umbrella and Pocketwizard. Takes a lot of time to set up, but gives full control and very nice light. Usually there is no time for this on weddings the way I work. If I have to shoot indoors this is a good option.

Pmagi AB - Professional Photograper based in Stockholm Sweden
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Mid-day outdoor wedding portraits? A little worried..
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