While you can plan all you want, a part of the role of being a wedding photographer is learning how to be flexible and work with the situation you’ve been handed with a smile on your face. That bright sunny day you and your bride were hoping for? Nope. You’ll have to make do with the indoors and umbrellas. That early ceremony you so tediously and meticulously helped them schedule so you’d have enough natural light to work with? If only that sweet bridesmaid hadn’t gotten her zipper stuck, and the limo driver hadn’t taken a wrong turn on the way to the Church. There go 30 minutes of your precious light.
These things happen, especially on wedding days. It’s your job to roll with the punches and make any situation work for you so that you can confidently capture the absolute best for your clients.
Almost every couple is worried about the good photos during the ceremonies in a dark Church. Never mind, professional photographers, are equipped with the endless creative freedom to bring out an excellent prospect through skilled use of the equipment. While photographing at the wedding in the Church, the professionals are always prepared for different lighting situations.
When the couples have to exchange vows and rings, the wedding ceremonies are typically held inside the churches. But photos are even taken outside the Church despite the harsh midday sun raging on. On the other hand, the photographers adhere to the particular arrangement if the dark Church is limited to natural lighting. Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.
A few basics do the trick to take care of Church Wedding Photography in low light dark Churches. Professional photographers abide by the basics to bring out awesome photos in such situations.
Focus on the Right Equipment
First, they conduct a brief study on the natural lighting facility of the Church and then take up the photography equipment subject. They analyze both the capabilities and limitations of the equipment to get the desired results after shooting. Finally, when they have to shoot, they make sure to carry the following:
Full Frame Camera
A full-frame camera is worthy of support during the limited-natural-light performance. Even these are more tolerant towards more excellent quality images at higher scale ISOs. As the camera sensor is larger, the full-frame camera can capture a more excellent light than the crop-sensor camera.
While shooting in low-light situations, the prime lenses are ideal since they have wider apertures so that more light is allowed straight into the camera’s sensor. The photographers save time struggling to acquire adequate light using the prime lenses’ wide aperture effectively in a dark Church.
Wise Settings Adjustment
Being professionals in their field, they are always aware of how the camera sensors receive the light while shooting in the low light areas. It is possible to increase the light into the camera’s sensors by opening up the aperture, raising the ISO, and slowing down the shutter speed. Flash adds amazing light in low-light conditions. So, as the bride arrives at the altar, the photographers are cautious about using the standard lighting and not the flash since it could cause distraction. On the other hand, bouncing flashes play a significant role when the bride comes down the aisle and during the bridal party.
Enough light enters the camera’s sensor when the aperture is opened. The photographers ensure the couple is on the same focal plane during photography. Even keeping the same focal plane, the photographers shoot wide open when they are amidst the altar ceremonies.
For harnessing more light, the photographers slow down the shutters’ speed. Simultaneously, they are careful not to lower a lot as it will affect the images’ sharpness and even cause motion blur.
Raising the ISO is essential when the photographers are shooting in a dark Church. When the ISO is raised, then the sensitivity of the camera’s sensors increases to light. As a result, higher exposure results in the images.
Lessening the Grain and Noises
As the ISO is raised, Noise and Grains start to introduce. When the photos are clicked at higher ISO, then the noises’ tendency is more, but the photographers deal with the number of grains in the images. They make sure that the couple is exposed correctly to in-camera.
Inside the dark Churches where the natural lighting is inefficient, the photographer takes care to abide by the basics. These basics help them to keep the photos as splendid as possible. Using the exact equipment, they make sure no one can understand that the images were shot in low light.
Techniques to Try When You’re Running Out of Light
When shooting inside in low light, look for a window. Don’t be afraid to get close and try out different compositions. Window light is a true gift when working indoors!
Let the fading light work for you rather than fighting it. Silhouettes are stunning and dramatic and are a nice change of pace from all the other shots your client will receive in their final collection of images.
Hold Your Breath
See what your camera can do and push it to its limits. Use a high ISO, your widest aperture, and the slowest shutter speed you can get away with while keeping your subject in focus. Then hold your breath, plant your feet firmly on the ground, tuck your elbows into your sides to secure a steady hold, and shoot several images in a row in continuous mode. You may be surprised by the outcome! If you use an ISO higher than 2500 or a shutter speed slower than 10 with this technique, you risk grainy images that may be out of focus.
When holding your breath doesn’t work, it’s time to use your tripod. A tripod is the surest way to capture a high-quality low-light image. Although it’s not ideal for a fast-paced shooting environment, your tripod is a vital tool when you have a few spare minutes to slip away and focus on one particular shot. Tripods allow the flexibility to use a higher quality ISO and a narrower aperture to give you a greater depth of field and sharper focus. Any moving subject in the frame will be blurred since you will use a plodding shutter speed. For this reason, a tripod is best, in my opinion, for landscape or overall scene shots.
There are times when none of the techniques above will produce a great picture. It’s inevitable that the flash is going to come out of your gear bag at every wedding you shoot. Why not have fun with it?
Practice at home until you are entirely comfortable with your flash and are not worried about the technical details. Then experiment and get creative! It’s a given that you will use a Speedlight on top of your DSLR, but have you tried using several off-camera speed lights that fire remotely? It’s a great way to add exciting lighting to reception and dancing pictures.
The beauty of wedding photography is that every photographer has their style and techniques to achieve the images they love. For every photographer, there is a client who resonates with his or her unique style.
If you capture lots of low-light weddings, shoot a range of events, and make use of creative lighting, flash photography lets you bounce lights off the ceiling as you switch from master setting to slave setting remotely and adjust the power option with no running cables.
Flash photography is excellent for weddings. It allows light shadows accordingly. This one is necessary when you don’t have a very bright lens, particularly indoors. It also allows you to make a good shot during the evening party, the dark scene at night.
Using Flash During the Wedding
Flash is ideal when lighting conditions are difficult to light up a scene or a part of a location you would like to photograph. The flash can be automatic with a TTL mode, a.k.a Through The Lens, a measure of the exposition, or manual, sometimes both of them. Beats can be combined with other small off-camera flashes and studio strobes; then, they will drive other light sources. The best use is the indirect flash. Looking for a Wedding Photo Location? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo locations to help you choose.
Top 2 Ways to Model Your Light
To have the most realistic depiction (grey shadow and mat sheen) and not light up your subject directly, you will need to model your light source. You can use light shapers against the flash as clouds can filter the sun’s rays or swerve the flashlight using a wall as a reflector.
Use Light Shapers
There are many light shapers for small off-camera flashes going from the simple diffuser to the little transportable softbox or beauty dish on the market. According to the wished result, it will be advisable to use an adapted light shaper. But these accessories have an essential cost and are not easy to transport, especially for the wedding photographer.
Swerving the Flash
For me, it remains the best technique and the simplest to implement, provided that the walls of the room are white or with transparent colour. You can direct your flashlight to the ceiling, giving a homogeneous reflected light, creating little shadows under the eyes and mouth. By running the flash behind you, you will obtain a much more natural depiction. Never forget that the colour of the wall can modify your white balance! Indeed the flashlight will take the colour of the wall.
Wedding at the Church
The Church is generally the darkest place and one of the most critical moments of the wedding. That is the reason why it’s necessary to control your light. You can raise the ISO until 3200 or 6400, but the post-production on Photoshop Lightroom will be so hard. If you use flash, the light bounces on the walls of the Church and is then filtered when it arrives on the subject.
To conclude, it’s necessary to mix the various sources (natural and flash) and play with the white balance to blend yellow colours and blue colours in the lights. Swerving light is the best way to avoid sending light in front of the subject and having a flat picture. It’s necessary to create relief by moving the light source.
How to Take Stunning Indoor Wedding Photos
As wedding photographers, we love photographing outdoor ceremonies, taking family photos at sunset, or documenting events in the town’s unique venues. However, in Canada, especially in the winter, we don’t always have the luxury of choosing our lighting conditions. Often, we have to shoot in dark wedding venues when using one or more on, or the off-camera flash is crucial. As such, one of the most common questions new wedding photographers have is how to take perfect indoor photos.
Here is how to take perfect indoor photographs:
Expose for the Ambient
The first step in creating beautiful shots indoors on the wedding day is to adjust the exposure to capture the ambient light of the event space. I like to expose one stop under the ambient light so that my flash becomes the leading light and the subject is the brightest part of the frame. As such, I set my ISO, shutter speed, and aperture so that I preserve the ambient light for which the couple often spends a lot of money and captures the venue’s atmosphere. Generally, the uplighting is blue or purple, and that complements the human skin tones. I always make sure the shutter speed is under this speed sync so that my flashes don’t have to go in hyper sync mode (HSS), which drains the batteries very fast. Also, I try to keep my shutter above 1/60s to avoid motion blur during the dances.
Set Your Flash to Second Curtain Sync (or Rear Curtain Sync)
We use second curtain sync to capture most of the ambient light and freeze motion even at the slower shutter speeds. That will allow you to shoot at shutter speeds as low as 1/60 of a second and even drag the shutter at 1/15th of a second for more artistic effects. Dragging the shutter is an art in itself, and I strongly suggest that you practice it at home before trying it during an event. Please do yourself a favour, and unless you are mastering the technique, do not try dragging the shutter during crucial moments of the day. If you were to miss critical shots, your clients would not be impressed. On the other hand, the party after dinner is a perfect opportunity to try and improve any new lighting techniques.
Add Flash to Taste
I generally use between one and three-speed lights (two of them off-camera flash) when I shoot indoors, and in this article, we will be talking only about the leading light (or about the on-camera flash). When I started my career as a wedding photographer, I used E-TTL until I got burnt real bad during one wedding when during the grand entrance of the bride and groom, there was an intense light coming from outside, so my flash didn’t trigger because it calculated there was no need for more light in the scene. That is turning my subjects into silhouettes and fortunately, my second shooter was photographing using his flash in manual mode, which saved my bacon at the time. After that life-changing experience, I only shot moments in manual mode, except for situations where things happen so fast that I didn’t have a chance to take a test shot to adjust the flash power.
Gel Your Flashes
Generally, I set the white balance to tungsten/incandescent / 3200 K when I shoot indoors to capture the warm colour of the chandeliers and light fixtures. Many photographers skip this step because they either don’t know any better or are too lazy to gel their flashes. However, don’t do that as the bride’s dress and the human skin tones look muddy.
How to Set the Flash Power Properly
During a workshop held by Zach Arias, one of the students asked this question. “Where do I start with my flash power?” Zach’s answer was “start somewhere.” I find that for me, a good starting point is 1/32. The rule of thumb is to use the ISO inverse when you set the aperture at F2 or F2 .8. Remember, the shutter speed controls the ambient exposure, not the flash. In other words, if the direction is 1/200s, F2, and ISO 1600, the flash power should be 1/16th (ISO 1600 – 1/16 power, ISO 3200, 1/32 power, and so on). While it is not perfect, that rule gives you a good starting point in a pinch.
Bounce the Flash in the Direction of the Subject’s Gaze
I like to call this rule “follow the nose.” What it does, tells you to bounce the flash in the direction where your subject is turning. If your issue is looking at the camera left, you should jump the flash 45° to the left and 45° up. That transforms the ceiling into a softbox that creates a beautiful light on the subject. The rule also ensures that you shoot from the short side of the face using narrow lighting or poor lighting.
If you’re photographing large groups, bounce the flash slightly behind you. That will create a soft light, so important in photography.
Practice, Practice and Then Practice Some More.
I attended a seminar with one of the top wedding photographers globally, and she was mentioning that she was terrified by the flash. For one thing, the idea of blending two exposures is difficult to comprehend for beginners. When I finally understood that concept, I had an epiphany. That is why most newbies avoid flash and call themselves natural light photographers. At the same time, I love natural light. Unfortunately, most of my receptions happen indoors, and very often, the ambient light is insufficient, or it lacks direction and quality.
Often, couples want a romantic atmosphere during the reception and especially during their first dance. That makes it very difficult for the cameras to focus because of the low contrast in the scene. There are a few tricks I will share in another article. Here at Brighton Savoy, we have compiled an exclusive list of Wedding Photo Locations in Melbourne to help you decide on your special day.
Mastering flash photography is a lifelong journey, and once you become good enough, the rewards are immeasurable. Nowadays, there are plenty of free training materials online, and it is easier than ever to master this beautiful craft.