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Wedding Photography, Techniques and Tips From an Old Hand

Wedding Photography techniques and tips


A Wedding photography shoot can sometimes be very easy and just about anybody can (if the light is perfect) produce acceptable photos. However, it is very unlikely that you will get the perfect light time after time and it is exactly this that sets the pro apart from the amateur shooter. There are also other factors that are important and I will be discussing them one by one in this article.

What should I be aware off when attempting my first wedding?

What to capture?
Weddings are about emotion and it is your job to capture emotion. People also want to have a visual reminder of the wedding from start to finish. In this visual record the bride and groom will be prominent but there are a number of other things that are important for instance, the venue, preparation of the venue and obviously the bride and groom preparing. The chapel or cathedral inside and outside and then off course the main players around the bride and groom. The best men and brides maids, the parents and also any other people assisting or playing significant roles. It is also important to take some formal photos of the bride alone and the bride and groom followed by the couple with the bride’s maids and best men and so forth. Last but not least should be the family portraits. The important thing here is to make sure you get a good picture before you let them go. Enlarge each picture to its maximum on the preview screen and check for sharpness etc. Capture also the important moments in the chapel like the exchange of rings, the bride entering, reading of the vows etc. As for the reception go for the toasts, speeches, throwing of the bouquet, first dance and the removal of the garter and any other memorable moments.

The light
You should be critically aware of the light at all times. Consider the quality of light by looking at the shadows, are they dark and black or are there virtually no shadows? Dark shadows predict problems for the photographer as it means high contrast! While flat light on a clouded day can be a blessing. Under high contrast conditions I would suggest that you put your cameras light meter to partial and then take the reading from the most important part of your main subject which will be in 90% of cases t the faces of the bride and groom and the people around them. Working inside a room or building try and work with your back facing the windows.

How should I frame my photos?
It depends on what you see and what you would like to communicate. If you would like to photograph a group of a few people together you may want to use the wide angle side of your lens, or you may decide that you want to show only the faces of a small group and then you may use a medium focal length. The important thing is that there should be a variety of shots including wide angle and close-ups and some in between. If you err either to the one or to the other side your photos could become very boring.

The Camera
It’s hard to find a bad camera these days but if you would like to take good photos rather get yourself a digital SLR or a good compact that offers the creative settings such as Manuel, Program, aperture and Time.

To play safe (and produce some good photos) I would suggest that you set your camera on program. If you have and SLR with an external flash then I would suggest that you underexpose a half stop and switch your flash on. The reason for underexposing a half stop is to ensure that you do not get ‘blown out’ highlights (areas in your picture where nothing is recorded as result of the brightness). I would also suggest that you set the ISO sensitivity to 400. Once you have done the above try and work with the sun at your back or on your sides and you should be ok. However be very careful when you move into a building as your cameras shutter speed will go down dramatically which will cause your images to blur. I suggest that you change your settings to Manuel as soon as you go indoors and then set your aperture to f4 or f3.5 and your shutter speed to 30. Your quality setting should be on jpeg fine or jpeg large.

If you have an external flash go about as follows; take a piece of wax paper fold it double and put it over your flash and keep it in place with a rubber band. This will diffuse your flash substantially; you may however have to work a bit closer to compensate for the loss of light as result. Try and aim your flash at about a 30 degree angle forward and not at a 90 degree angle for the best results. If you do not have an external flash then take a translucent 35mm plastic film canister with the cap on, cut a hole in it to make it fit over your flash and you will get a much better result.

After the wedding
Download your photos as soon as possible and make a back-up Cd before you start editing.

Digital Photography Techniques – How Digital Cameras Capture Photos

I wanted to talk to you about the concept of digital cameras: How they actually function and take photos. I’ll skip the technical explanation as much as possible but I want you to understand the concept so that you can actually take better photos in the future.

Let’s begin with the camera’s metering. The camera works by analyzing the brightness of the light from the subject and adjust the camera settings accordingly (If you are using automatic or semi-automatic modes). There are normally three metering mode in most digital cameras: ‘Multi-segment’, ‘Center-weighted’ and ‘Spot’.

‘Multi-segment’ metering enables the camera to meter the light falls on all parts of the sensor. This mode is suitable for wide-angled photography like landscapes.

‘Centre-weighted’ metering allows the camera to meter the light falls on the center bracket of the sensor. This mode is suitable for more focused photography like sports and portraits

‘Spot’ metering allows the camera to read the light falls on the absolute center point of the sensor. This mode is appropriate for discreet and isolated subjects like macro photography

Take advantage of these modes and read the desired light. Once done, lock the exposure compensation (this setting is available mostly in DSLRs), and recompose before capturing the photo.

Now that you know how metering works, let’s talk about the subject brightness range. Unlike our eyes, your camera sensor does not have a large brightness range over a subject. The maximum possible range is 9 stops. The sensor takes black as darkest and white as brightest. Therefore the neutral compensation of a sensor is called neutral gray. (On another related matter, this explains why sometimes it is advised to use neutral gray color as a reference for white-balance settings).

There’s a simple way to know whether the composure you make is out of the brightness range of the sensor. Switch your camera to aperture priority and use ‘Spot’ metering mode. Using a constant aperture, point your camera to the brightest region of the view and then to the darkest region. If the shutter-speed adjusts more than 9 stops, then the composure is out of range and the image will either be overexposed or underexposed.

This is when a photography technique called HDR kicks in. HDR stands for High-Dynamic-Range, and it is a photography method that allows the photo to extend to a larger brightness range. The procedure for this technique is simple. Take three photographs: one underexposed, one well-exposed, and one over-exposed. Then use software such as Photomatix Pro to merge the three photos together and generate the HDR image.

This is a digital method of solving the problem. To solve this problem manually using the camera, filters will have to be utilized.