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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 30 Dec 2008 (Tuesday) 15:22
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Wedding Portraits

 
Pearlallica
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Dec 30, 2008 15:22 |  #1

Hey guys,

My friend is getting married this Saturday (impromtu) and I volunteered to do it. It's very "wintery" here in Northern Ontario, so we'll be kept indoors for all of the pictures. I wanted to provide some half decent on-location formals so I ordered a background system and white muslin fabric (10' wide).

I decided the look that would be best, and most universal for all of the formals (family/groups). This is the style I'll be using:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com …cture=2005-01-11_20-38-50 (external link)

The groups will be small so my muslin should accomodate everyone space-wise.

Here's where my lack of experience has me second-guessing - light setup for my desired style. Here's my setup.

- huge room with huge ceiling (all white)
- (2) narrow windows on camera right, probable ambient/fill source
- (2) 8' lightstands, (2) 60" white umbrellas
- (2) 2 remote vivitar 285HV strobes (ungelled to match outdoor)
- (1) remote 580EXii and tripod

Goals: TRY to blow out background, evenly, as best as I can. (best position???????) and evenly light as much as 5 people wide with a good ambient/key ratio for modeling.

I'm thinking it might be more wise to overpower ambient and use a strobe as my base/"ambient"/fill. Would I put this camera top, umbrellad, to provide the most even-spread light across my group?

Key: camera left, 45 degrees, umbrellad = safe. Would I see light falloff for individuals positioned on the right. Maybe there's a bettery way?

This is pure theory based on a great deal of research. I've yet to put this into practice. If anybody with actual experience can butt in in the middle of my thought process and intervene with a greater suggestion that would help achieve these pictures.

You guys have come through for me in the past. I'm sure this puzzle is a cinch for most of you experienced photogs. Any pointers you can shoot my way would be of great benefit to the bride and groom on their special day. TIA


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
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bobbyz
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Dec 30, 2008 16:02 |  #2

I think it is going to be hard doing what you show in the example shot with group of 5 people using 2-3 hot shoe flashes.

And with the light you going to need to make bg white, your ambient is not even going to do anything. So just take it out.

Why not keep it simple and shoot with dark bg?


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Pearlallica
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Dec 30, 2008 18:05 |  #3

thanks for the perspective, bobbyz. Perhaps I'm in over my head. It's just the reality check I was looking for!

I didn't go black because I didn't feel it set the mood for a celebratory day. While white is not a "yipeeee" kind of tone, it is at least symbolic of the purity of the couple as they enter into holy matrimony.

I probably won't go 5 people wide. I'll try and work in rows of tall to short, or overlap as best as I can. I'll keep that in mind for lighting with 1 mere strobe. If there's fall-off then I'll use a + exposure gradient in post-processing to balance the difference. I suppose I'll go in a day before and experiment on a dummy subject and find what works the best.

Thanks again, bobbyz, for your time!


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F4 ­ Cyborg
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Dec 30, 2008 18:44 |  #4
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A nice uncluttered room with some north window light, a flash or to just as fill take a few, chimp till you get dialed in (a meter works wonders). You can put a love seat in it then maybe a few chairs. Your backdrop will work for some of the formals but, will grow dull if everything is white background. Do a search or North Window light to get a few Idea's. That kind of light goes a long ways. Just remember if you use it over the course of the day to custom white balance. As the the sun crosses the sky the light changes.


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Pearlallica
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Dec 30, 2008 19:31 |  #5

great pointer on the love seat. My parents have a whole slew of extravagant furniture which would incorporate nicely, as well as a another prop or two... (ie. pillar)

I'll look up north window light - haven't heard of it.

Great advice. Hats off...


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Pearlallica
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Jan 06, 2009 09:04 |  #6

this is just an update for the thread in case anybody gets this search result in the future and would like some final insights overt the outcome of the shoot I did.

Not sure if I mentioned this, but this was my first ever attempt at off camera flash and studio style portraits (I purchased my lights/stands/umbrella​s/skyports in December). The room I used was "the prayer" room, which was left of the main sanctuary platform. I setup the day before and ironed the heck out of my white fabric muslin backdrop. I didn't get any light positioning input from this thread, which was asking a lot given the great challenge of the available tools.

Ultimately, I crossed my fingers and decided to use my umbrellas for the purpose of blowing out the background evenly. I put DIY gobos between the illuminated umbrellas and the subjects so as not to spill. Soooo.. this left me with a single, 580EXii, tripod mounted. At that moment I thought a softbox would be the necessity to get me the key light I needed. But I knew it wouldn't have helped me in some groups shots with as many as seven people.

The solution... go full power and aim my flash up and angled and place it at camera right for some (white) ceiling bounce.

The "north window light" tip came handy as I decided to line my subjects up directly beside the the window (camera left.. north window) for ambient fill had I needed it. The umbrellas were 60" photogenics, not even to turn the muslin full white. I could have photoshoped the slight light gradation/fall-off... but I liked the look as it defined the background space better than straight white.

I managed to get enough light to stop down to F/7.1 at 1/160th. I forget what my rear vivitars were set at, but they easily blew out my background without a problem.... quite evenly might I add.

I adjusted the white balance in post since the 18% grey card I used didn't yield results quite as accurate as I had hoped. Also, some of the muslin was crumpled up and wrinkled at ground level from having shot almost 20 different group pictures with much variety. I blurred the material out somewhat in post processing. I also used a lower exposure copy of the bride and dress since only the groom (all black) was exposed properly. Lastly, I clone stamped some additional muslin on the left and top since the muslin did not fill the entire frame.

The lesson learned here is get it all right the first time so as not to waste time in post processing.

The 1st most important lesson I learned, however, was that you don't need to shell out thousands of dollars on equipment to get a shot look the way you want it. Sure, I don't have the convenience to do this at high volume with great flexibility. But this is a side business for me which I don't advertise as a specialty (portraits). It was a make-shift solution to the winter weather which prohibited us from doing outdoor, pre-reception photographs. In conclusion, I'm very relieved this little experiment turned out and that the happy couple has some quality pictures for the rest of their lives.

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bobbyz
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Jan 06, 2009 09:53 |  #7

Not a abad shot. Could have used some more fill.

BTW - Where is the group shot?


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Pearlallica
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Jan 06, 2009 10:26 |  #8

bobbyz wrote in post #7015705 (external link)
Not a abad shot. Could have used some more fill.

LOL... yeah, i guess at the time I was feeling desperate about the situation so I took what I could get in haste of things..... oh, and thanks!

bobbyz wrote in post #7015705 (external link)
BTW - Where is the group shot?

I started my post processing last night at midnight... I haven't dug that deep yet.


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Papa ­ Carlo
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Jan 06, 2009 10:26 |  #9
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A white background is the most difficult to shot against and the wedding day is not the best time to experiment. I would suggest just grabbing your camera and taking photos of everything you see. The time wasted on setting up the staged white background shot could otherwise bring you a hundreed of interesting photos.




  
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Pearlallica
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Jan 06, 2009 10:49 |  #10

dude, i set up the day before while my wife was in the kitchen preparing the catering portion. Plus, I can experiment as much as I want. She's my good friend and the pictures are her wedding present. I have enough theory in my head that I wasn't going to botch the shoot that bad.

A hundred other interesting photos were taken pre-ceremony, but this topic has no purpose on elaborating on that. I shot 2000 pictures and ~75 of them made use of this set up.


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kmcconn9
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Jan 06, 2009 12:39 |  #11

Good work, I would love to see some before and after PP of the shots you took.

For the first time shooting something like this, i think you did very well.


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Pearlallica
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Jan 06, 2009 14:50 |  #12

kmcconn9 wrote in post #7016700 (external link)
Good work, I would love to see some before and after PP of the shots you took.

For the first time shooting something like this, i think you did very well.

Thank you. I appreciate the kind words. :)

I'm happy to oblige. Here is the out-of-camera RAW file downsized to 700px wide & JPEG'ed. The before picture has a +1 stop exposed bride and untouched background. Bobbyz mentioned the fill could be better, but I now see it was a mistake to underexpose the bride's skin tones. The original idea was to bring out the dress detail buried in the RAW data. I accidentally forgot to return skin tones to normal which also feature better fill detail. Time to edit the PSD and apply a little fix-a-roo.

Notice the groom is in the umbrella hot spot and the bride's outline is (subtly) better defined in the grayer area.

Yes, that's the $100 value 'impact BG support system' with a $50 ebay muslin.

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(for comparison)
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jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
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Galaxy99
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Jan 06, 2009 15:17 |  #13

the difference between two skin tons makes this shot difficult. You may need more light on the groom than the bride with redirecting the light or adding extra spot light for him. Just my thought...


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Pearlallica
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Jan 06, 2009 15:49 |  #14

Galaxy99 wrote in post #7017774 (external link)
the difference between two skin tons makes this shot difficult. You may need more light on the groom than the bride with redirecting the light or adding extra spot light for him. Just my thought...

Tell me about it! :eek: The groom is from Kenya and his skin tone is very dark. Every shot between the two, outfits included, made for high contrasting couple shots.

Good pointer for future consideration. The flash was camera right - should have been left. Being wireless it would have been an easy fix!


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
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Pearlallica
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Jan 20, 2009 10:15 |  #15

I finished all of the photographs (external link) for the wedding this morning and posted a website for the bride and groom to be able to view their wedding picture gallery remotely.

There was a request to view the full group pictures since that was the main challenge of this particular light setup. While the light did not cover the entire width of the group evenly, a simple exposure gradation of + .4 stop was applied from left to right to compensate for those further from the "spot light". I won't bother posting a before picture since the difference was so subtle. Also, I boosted the saturation somewhat since the the lighting seemed to wash out the skin tones. I'm not sure if this is typical under these conditions, but all of the studio pictures had to receive this touch.

typical group width:

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widdest group:
(too wide for the backdrop... photoshop brush tool to the rescue)
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another perspective of the studio:
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jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
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