This post is for all the photographers that have been sending in their questions the past few months. Firstly, super big apologies *with some puppy eyes* from my side. I’ve been wanting to answer them for such a long time, but I have finally managed to sort them out according to the areas of interest and translating all the Afrikaans ones into English :) I’ll now be posting up Q & A posts with one theme running through. This week’s Q & A is all about lighting. Probably one of the most important aspects of photography. No light, no photo…So here are the questions and my answers:
ps. Please remember that these answers are MY opinions, other photographers might have other views on these subjects, but this is how I see it :)
Ilanie asked: I see you use a flash at the receptions, but how do you get your lighting to look like you do? I also use a flash and I stuck a white piece of cardboard to the top, to bounce when I’m in a thatch roof or dark room space, but it’s not working as I’d like it to work. What would you suggest?
Illanie, firstly I’m not a big fan of flash, because I love soft light. I don’t like shadows or hard light, but in most receptions I have to use one because the ambient light is not enough. The big thing for me, when using your flash, is not to use it directly at the subject and if you do always use some sort of a defuser. I mainly have one 580Ex flash on my canon body and I twist the flash in a 45 degree angle up. This will bounces some light onto my subject, but it will be much softer than direct lighting. I also use a Gary Fong Clear Lightsphere on my flash most of the time, especially in a venue with a very high ceiling or a thatch roof venue. The Gary Fong has a curved dome that acts as a “ceiling” for the light to bounce of. Other items that work for softening the light from the flash is the Sto-fen Omni-Bounce. Both of these items are available at Orms in Cape Town.
Kaycee asked: What do you do in really harsh lighting where the sun is so strong and there isn’t much shaded areas?
This is a hard one! As I said above I’m not a fan of shadows and hard light, so I make a point of it to explain this to my clients when I meet with them before hand. I always try to organize my shoots in the “sunset” time of the day or at least early morning or late afternoon. If I do end up with only harsh light and no shaded area, I will make sure that they are in a full sun lit area, no mottled light. Also make sure your subject is either standing facing the light directly (will be difficult as they will probably squint, but I always ask them just to turn their faces sideways a bit), or with their backs to the sun, shooting directly into it (this will probably result in some lens flair, but can be great :) If you don’t want lens flair, make sure you have someone blocking out the sun for you with) Remember that you will be blowing out a lot of background with this if you only use natural light and expose correctly for the couple. So to even out the light a bit and add a bit more pop to the shot I use my reflector to bounce some sun light back into the shot.
Kaycee asked: How do you get good detail shots if the reception is indoor and there isn’t any natural light? Do you move the centerpieces outdoors to get good lighting?
I shoot all the decor/details of the wedding before I go to the bride. This gives me enough time to get everything in detail. Many times the reception is not very well lit, so I use a tripod. I like to use natural light, over flash, but the shutter will probably have to stay open a bit longer than what I can achieve hand held, so I just put the camera on a tripod. For details this is perfect, everything is standing still, so you just wait for the shot to be properly exposed. I also use a very fast lens (50mm 1.4F and also my 135mm 2F) for my details, so if I bump up the ISO to about 800-1000ISO and have the F. on about 2F I get great hand held shots. Most of the time the candles aren’t lit yet, so I make a point of getting those shots just before all the people enter the reception. I did try a few different things at Helena & Henri’s wedding (check out the cake shot), as it was a super dark venue with hardly any light. I popped a 580Ex (with Gary) on my canon 5D mark2 and then I had a separate flash on a tripod that acted at a slave unit. Both flashed triggered together and it created quite a nice look :)
Pierre de Villiers: Im doing research on flash units and was wondering whether you have any specific ideas that is worth while to mention? I have spoken to a whole bunch of sales people but you know, there is nothing like getting advice from someone who knows, BUT doesn’t want to get money out of you! ;)
As mentioned above I use the Canon 580EX flashes with the The Gary Fong. For off camera flash I use the Pocket wizard units. I’m still not a pro when it comes to off camera and I’m not sure if I really like it, but I’m learning as I go :)