A new, very scared photographer in need of advice and guidance

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by birdiphotography, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I'm a newbie! I have two wedding's booked this Fall (My first I will be doing alone) and I am absolutely scared beyond belief.
    My equipment:
    Nikon D5100, SB-910 Flash, Sigma 10-20mm, Nikon 50mm 1.8, Nikon 18-55mm, Tamron 70-300mm, and a Speedlite YN460.
    I've been having a lot of trouble with focusing...Not sure what is wrong. Lately, a lot of my images have been coming out blurry. I am worried something is wrong with my camera. To be perfectly honest, I am still learning the technical parts of photography. I never went to school for photography, I just went for general art. I mainly use manual, but even if I'm in auto it still looks funny. Like, the edges are blurry. I cant let this happen at the wedding's. Maybe I should get my camera cleaned?
    I was also wondering if I should add the Nikon 16-85mm 3.5f to my list of lenses? Would that be a good wedding lens? I would love to get the 24-70mm 1.8 but I cant afford it.
    Thanks everyone for reading!!!
    -Jessica Britton
  2. Is the image you attached to your post an example of the trouble you're having? If not, can you attach an example?

    You really don't want to be booking weddings while you're wrestling with fundamental technique issues.
  3. Jessica, can you post the original out-of-camera image with EXIF intact? What you've posted is 6000x4000 pixels.
  4. Jessica,
    You need to work this out methodically. Unless there is something wrong with the focus programming/electronics in your camera, the reason for out of focus issues is not hard to find.
    1) Is it out of focus on ALL of your lenses ?
    2) Have you tested this in good light and not so good light ?
    3) What shutter speeds have you tried ?
    4) What apertures ?
    5) Have you tested this with a tripod ?
    6) Do you have any filters on the lenses all the time that could be dirty ?
    You have to rule out a problem with one lens having an issue vs. a camera issue. I need to make sure it's not that your shooting at slower shutter speeds than is best, especially if your are hand holding. A dirty camera sensor will NOT make your shots out of focus. You get dark spots, when you shoot with the smaller apertures where the dust particles are.
    Why do you think you need a new lens ? Are there shots you miss when changing lenses ?
  5. The image I attached on the first post I took with my 50 1.8 and I could have sworn it was perfect, it looked perfect/clear on the camera but when I uploaded the image it just looked blurry. Half of them did. I need to test out everything, but I think something is either wrong with me or wrong with the camera because this has happened with multiple lenses. I will check the filters but they look clean. I have tried all different shutter speeds. I went nuts last night taking pictures of my cat trying to get a clear perfectly crisp image. They came out horrible.
  6. Jessica, I suggest studying the manual and trying out the various focusing modes - AF-A, AF-S, AF-C and Manual Focus, then familiar yourself with focus areas with its 11 sensors (Single Point, Dynamic, 3D-Tracking). It might take a while but it's part of the process of learning your camera.
    If you are still encountering problems, this video suggests a batch problem with certain D5100 cameras apparently made in Malaysia. See here:
  7. Jessica. I have taught beginning photography and also have done weddings. There are four things that affect picture sharpness. Focus, depth of field (determined by aperture), shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. I can't tell from your pictures but here is what I did in my weddings. First, I used a shutter speed that fast enough to eliminate camera shake. Currently on my 7D I try to keep that above 1/200th. I also in my weddings tried to keep a reasonable depth of field by using apertures around f 8 unless I wanted a deliberately blurred background. I know that is not great for bokeh but in weddings I wanted enough depth to not blur blur the eyes if I accidentally focused on the nose so to speak. It is not unreasonable for me to shoot events at ISO 800 if I have to. One can use noise reduction in post but you can't fix blur from camera shake. I unabashedly used flash fill at one or two stops below ambient readings to fill shadows and eliminate dark eyes. It saved more than a few weddings for me when not in great light. As a general observation, lots happens in compressed time frames in weddings. Fooling around with various options during the ceremony to my mind is not practical. Go out with your camera now and practice, practice, practice in all forms of light. Get familiar with your on camera flash. By all means get a backup camera. A camera failure, although rare, can be disastrous. Although I used manual focus in weddings with medium format gear I think AF is just fine and allows you to be quicker. Work with it. I think you should shoot a couple thousand pictures practicing before you do your next weddings. Really find out what works for you. This is just my experience so other my have better ideas. Good Luck
  8. Jessica, look at the untouched version, it simply looks completely out of focus. Which 50mm lens do you have, the AF-D 50mm f/1.8, or the newer (and more expensive) AF-S 50mm f/1.8G? The first one will not AF on your camera, and the viewfinder of your camera isn't great for manual focus, to be honest. Plus, at f/2.8 relatively close to the bride, your DoF will not be all that much, so it's kind of easy to loose focus too.
    As for understanding what is causing it, work step by step. If all lenses cause it, choose one (the 18-55 probably the most covenient) and start testing changing one setting at a time. Work from a tripod to exclude camera shake as a possible cause. Start with setting the camera to AF-S (single shot AF) with a single AF point active. Use a fixed setting with good light and good contrast and check if the camera can focus correctly. It could be a camera error for sure, but you really need to go step by step.
    The camera LCD is not a great screen to check on, it's too small and too low resolution. So, while testing, transfer often to the PC to see in large size whether the focus is right, or not.
    Otherwise, I'd love to take your fear away, but to be blunt: wedding photography isn't a playground; it's the big league instead. You get paid to deliver great photos from a one-time event (well, it's the intention to be one time). You cannot be struggling with something fundamental as focussing when you do that work, sorry, and you should not accept such jobs yet if you cannot consistently get technically solid photos. Sorry to be this blunt, but it's not fair towards your customers.
    As for lenses, I would look at a Tamron 17-50 or Sigma 17-50, both f/2.8 lenses, plus a second-hand Sigma 50-150 f/2.8. This is the cheapest way to get lenses that are suitable for event work. Getting the proper tools is a business investment you may have to make up front, there is little way around that (as your current lenses except the 50mm are really not great choices for weddings).
  9. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Otherwise, I'd love to take your fear away, but to be blunt: wedding photography isn't a playground; it's the big league instead. You get paid to deliver great photos from a one-time event (well, it's the intention to be one time). You cannot be struggling with something fundamental as focussing when you do that work, sorry, and you should not accept such jobs yet if you cannot consistently get technically solid photos. Sorry to be this blunt, but it's not fair towards your customers.​
    This is the best advice you've had. You simply should not risk ruining someone's big day because you don't yet have the skills to get the job done correctly and confidently. And I'll add two further points.
    • First you need back-up equipment, Again its down to risk. You should not risk failing to deliver on the photography because of equipment malfunction or because you drop a lens.
    • Second, the point's been made that it isn't fair on the people who are (presumably) paying for the services of a skilled ans experienced photographer. But its not fair on yourself either. At least you are demonstrating concern about your position. There's a lot of people in your position that simply don't feel what you're feeling- they just want the job and the money. Thats what's getting you a sympathetic hearing here when a lot of others would simply get criticised for putting someone's wedding pics at risk. But ask yourself whether what you're feeling right now is worth it? Is there not a logic behind continuing to assist or taking jobs that can at least be done again if they don't turn out right (maybe portraits or pets) rather than one chance occasions- until you gain full confidence in your photographic technique- or even doing some street photography to get used to fast , on the hoof decision making without asking a paying customer to take a risk.
  10. Jessica. I agree that you should gracefully back out of those weddings. However, I built a successful wedding and events business after doing a wedding at the last minute because the photographer failed to show. That wedding got referrals and turned into a business. However, when I did that wedding I understood the fundamentals of the craft, had good equipment and had good light for the outdoor wedding. I discussed some fundamentals above. If you don't understand them it is very difficult to consistently produce good pictures. Take some time to take some courses and to buy the needed back up equipment before you accept a wedding commitment. Make sure you have something like Lightroom to process your pictures and you know how to use it. Above all use your gear to take a lot of pictures and learn enough to know enough to improve your techniques on your own. Use of your gear needs to become second nature. Shoot a lot of pictures so you can find out what does not work. You need now to find out what you did to blur the picture you showed. The answer lies in one of the basics that every photographer who does weddings should learn. I am and was just an average wedding photographer. I still make mistakes but I cover myself by leaving margins for error in things like shutter speed, DOF, use of flash when in doubt, etc. Again good luck. It would be best if you took the pressure off yourself with those weddings. As said above, get a mentor and be backup at a few weddings but you need to use your own initiative to learn fundamentals and processing. As I was told early on "fill the frame and shoot a lot of pictures". My best to you.
  11. I had the D5100. At first I was having the problems you were. I used ViewNX, which came with your camera, to view which focus points were being used when I shot(click Image->Show Focus Point in the software). I noticed the D5100 did not always focus on what I thought it was. Everything fell into place after that. Also keep in mind that changing the settings on the D5100 is a slow procedure because of it being menu driven. You don't want to be fiddling around with your camera and losing important shots.
  12. Apparently you're a very good sale woman, or your fees are very cheap. If it's the first, then you need to invest in learning your craft for a few months and try to catch it up with your sales acumen.
    If it's the later, then why are you doing it? Could you really make a living at the rates you're charging? If you're just doing it for a little spending money, then think about the brides and what you "owe" them. (Since you're scared, you clearly take your responsibilities seriously.)
    If you have your fee low because you don't think you're "worth" a market fee, then you need to warn the brides that you may screw up and you really don't know what you're doing. Really.
    The good news is that you can gain technical expertise pretty quickly, if you'll dedicate yourself to understand photography and put in some concentrated hard work. There's good advice in this thread, but it's all over the place. Decide for yourself how you're going to get the training you need (books, online, night course, pay a pro) and get it done, pronto.
  13. You are getting very good advice here. It is too soon for you to be doing a wedding. Perhaps you could associate with an experienced photographer and do these two weddings.
    The shot you made is fine except for your focus issues.
    The first thing to do is put an autofocus lens on your camera and try with that. With the shot you posted you took every opportunity to mess it up. You shot at a large aperture, you shot in manual mode, you manually focused.
    My guess is that probably some forum you read said that professionals always shoot in manual mode. This is decidedly not true. Secondly you used a lens that won't autofocus on your camera. This increases your margin of error. There is not a thing wrong with autofocus and I only override it rarely. You chose spot metering. Your white balance was set to flash but from the EXIF data it appears that you did not use flash. At your low ISO and relatively fast shutter speed what was your light source?
    As for focus. It looks like your focus point was on the bride's nose. That would throw the train carriers out of focus for sure at F2.8. Probably her arms as well. Did you severely crop this shot or is what you sent un-cropped? Did you have to adjust the brightness much if at all? In other words, I wonder how out of focus this shot is. It might not be out of focus at all.
  14. Gup

    Gup Gup

    I'm a newbie! I have two wedding's booked this Fall (My first I will be doing alone) and I am absolutely scared beyond belief.​
    Jessica, sounds like you have three or four months to learn what many of us have taken decades to perfect. Your fear is deserved. I can think of nothing more stressful than shooting a wedding alone. You have received excellent advice so far. Mine is to invest in, or rent, duplicates or triplicates of all the equipment you will be using. I always have three bodies, three or four flashes, LOTS of batteries for both, extra sync cords, light stands, umbrellas, a tripod with quick releases, filters, extra memory cards and, of course, lenses to cover all the focal lengths I will need. I believe in Murphy's Law... If something can go wrong, it will. Your short career could suffer greatly if you allow yourself to fail. Word of mouth can be a vicious thing.
    Some here may feel I'm being overly harsh but this is the training both my own daughters have received. This advice is to protect you and your clients. Wedding shoots are one shot deals. No do-overs. Lawsuits are a reality, too. Protect yourself with a clear contract as to what is expected by both parties.
    You said, "My first I will be doing alone". Does this mean of the two you have booked you will be shooting the first wedding alone? Or does it mean you have been working as an assistant until now and that you are about to begin shooting weddings as the primary photographer?
    I would suggest you volunteer as a second photographer with a seasoned pro for the rest of this summer and work hard to learn all you can from her/him. The fear you are experiencing today will slowly turn into confidence and you will put yourself on the road to success.
    I don't have experience with the D5100, so nothing to offer you there other than I think a used D700 would be a better choice for a professional start.
  15. Gup brings up a good point. Let me give you an example.
    I shot a very small wedding this weekend. The ceremony was outside and the reception inside. Total time about 5 hours. I took a second shooter. She was not very experienced but we spent a good part of the day before going over our plan and our equipment. Just to give you an example, here is a partial equipment list:
    1-D2X (extra spare)
    1 SB-900
    1-70-200 F/2.8 AFS VR
    1-16-50 F/2.8
    1 28-70 AFS F/2.8
    1 50mm F/1.4 AFS
    1-12-24 AFS
    1-50 F/1.8
    1 quadrillion cards (actually about 30) The D4, D7100 and D300s with the second card set to backup.
    Light modifiers assorted.
    Prepared shot list for each of us
    Some will say this is overkill and to some extent I agree. Sometimes I bring stuff because I can and it gives me peace of mind. The point of mentioning this equipment list is to allow you to consider why each piece of this equipment was chosen. I did not use the last two lenses listed but they were there just in case.
    I think you can do your weddings but you need to spend the summer in a cram course on wedding photography. We all have to begin somewhere. It is your experience that will be the most important thing you can bring. You do not need to be afraid. You need to be prepared.
  16. I dont think I explained myself properly. I have done weddings before. Many. But, I always was the assistant. I do have a mentor... if you want to call him that. He has been in the business for over 20 years but always seems to be in competition with me instead of teaching me.
    I am not a "sales person" and yes my prices are low. You can see them on my website at BirdiPhotography.com. The only reason I am doing these weddings is because I was contacted through craigslist. I out an ad up asking if someone would like to hire me as an "Assistant" photograher for a wedding, not a main photographer. I got people asking to shoot their weddings. They clearly know my experience and I told them I never shot a wedding alone.
    They still wanted to hire me. Not because I am cheap (I hope) but because of my so called "style" of editing.
    I do take photography classes through meet-up.com. I plan on taking some more classes through Cardinal Camera. I just spoke to a great guy their who gave me awesome advice. I purchase a soft box and will be purchasing a 16-85mm. I do plan on having a second camera at the weddings. A nikon D90.
    My biggest issue is not remembering everything my camera does, technically. I need to learn more about shutter speed in fast environments, lighting, and how to use my SB-910. I think a lot of my images come out blurry because my shutter is completely off. I move from inside to outside and forget to change settings. I forget to change the WB, etc.
    I appreciate everyone taking the time out to help me and guide me. I really need it and I thank you all.
  17. You may consider reading a wonderful book, Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. This is a must read for anyone trying to understand the relation between shutter, exposure and ISO.
  18. Jessica,
    The second version of the picture you posted showed a shutter speed of 1/250 I think. That is fast enough for hand held shots, with a lens at 50mm, so I don't think the shutter speed alone is your stumbling block. How far away from the bride ? With a 50mm lens at f2.8 you can have a fairly shallow Depth of Field. If you were 10 feet away, it would about about half a foot in front and half a foot behind the subject. That could be enough.
    Now, here is one question that might be helpful to know the answer to. Has this just started happening and everything worked well before, or has it been an ongoing issue ? Sudden changes make me wonder if something got damaged. Did you drop or bang the camera between it working and not working ? Do you wear glasses and maybe your prescription changed ? As some one above mentioned, the D5100 needs your help to focus any AF lens that is not an AF-S lens. I know some folks have gotten their focus points messed up and the camera focuses on the wrong spot. However the photo you posted looks all soft , not with the wrong stuff in focus.
    Your photo data shows manual focus, so that means you either turned off the AF modes or you are using a lens it can not focus itself. Make sure your focus setting is how you want it, and not how it may have been bumped to accidentally.
  19. John,
    I was pretty close to the bride, just a few feet probably. This just recently started happening thats why I am kind of upset and worried. I am nearsighted but I dont wear glasses/contacts. I mainly have trouble seeing letters clearly at a distance.
    I think I need to stop using manual and use shutter priority? A lot of my photos come out super soft looking. I dont understand why. I thought it was because I am not focusing or the camera is not focusing but maybe I am doing something wrong? I have a class on sunday so I will ask around about why my photos are looking like that. It just doesnt make sense.
  20. Jessica, yes, you need to move to either aperture priority or shutter priority. I prefer to emphasize DOF by using aperture priority, but shutter works. Which ever you chose, you need to watch the other parameter in the viewfinder.
    Also, you need to understand how your meter is working. Generally, Evaluative Metering is the best of overall scenes, however you'll be dealing with white dresses and black tuxes, which will test the dynamic range of your camera. If there not already on, turn on the highlight warnings in your preview screen and be especially careful to not blow out the details in the bride's dress. Err to the side of getting the dress right and let the groom's tux fall where it may. (Eventually you'll want to add lighting, where possible, to control the situation).
    Understanding how your AF is working is also key. My Canon has several options ranging from having 61 AF points active to one single spot. I can move the spot around and can select areas of the 61 points. If you allow the camera to chose from 61 possibilities, more often than not it'll select something other than the bride's eyes. You can control that and need to learn how to do it.
    Get your manual out and spend one day practicing controlling the AF programs and moving the points. Spend the next day shooting high dynamic range subjects and looking at the preview results and moving the EV up and down to avoid blowing highlights (don't underexpose either, but highlights are more important to get right). Next day, practice by taking test shots of high DR subjects and see how the various metering programs change the results. This small effort will allow you to MASTER three important elements and give you much more confidence.
    Next steps are doing some portraits of your friends and family, indoors and outdoors. Really concentrate on being aware of all the parameters in the camera, even if shooting Av or Tv modes. Try shooting manual again, but pay attention to the EV in the bottom of the viewfinder and react to it when it starts getting outside of a bound of + or - 1EV. You should KNOW which AF point is guiding the lens and have it or them on the body parts you want crystal clear (eyes most times). Play with the DOF by taking the same image wide open, at f/8, at f/11 and f/16. Do this close up and do it 20-feet away and really notice the differences in post processing.
    By the end of next week you should be able to have put in the work and accomplish these goals. Please try and report back. I think your confidence level will be sky high. Don't roll around in all the things that you don't know. (It'll seem like too much). Decide to MASTER three important elements and you'll gain huge strides. There's still plenty of nuance to learn after that, and it'll take years, but you'll be functional and confident in time for your commitments. (You really do need a second shooter/assistant if you're really going to fully cover a big wedding).
  21. I don't do weddings, but I'd suggest using primes. I probably could do a wedding with fast stop like f1.8 and 35 or 85mm lens. The rest I can do with legs. Some situations require wider lens (like altar proximity from many rows behind) and also a tele. Anyway, do yourself a favor and test the lens/es. Make sure the diopter in the camera is not off....or even tape it, if necessary. Make sure that each lens has its own shade...and any filters (like UV) will compromise your image. Hmmm, it might be something relatively simple. Good luck.
  22. Hi, I'll advise on the problem you asked about, including the sample.
    Anyone who looks closely should be able to find an area in your sample shot which is in good focus. It is near the bottom, just left of center, where there is a slight fold in the dress.
    So in this photo, the problem is clearly that you are focussed too close. By the amount of blur in the bride's face, etc, I'd estimate the actual focus point is about 1 to 1 1/2 ft closer than the face. In this shooting situation, 50mm lens at f/2.8, and distance to face ~ 8 ft., you would want to be within about a half foot on focus.
    I don't know how much knowledge you have about this sort of thing, but it COULD BE things like: with A-F (auto-focus), the wrong focus point was selected, or you used A-F and locked focus (via half press on the trip button), then either you or the bride leaned away from each other. If you're using manual focus, perhaps the eyepiece diopter is not properly adjusted for your eye. Or perhaps something is wrong inside of the camera.
    I can also explain how I, personally, would check this out. First, I'd adjust the eyepiece diopter (almost for sure your camera can do this). While looking into the eyepiece at a blank area (light-colored wall or the sky, etc.) pay attention to gridlines or whatever you can see on the focusing screen. With your eye relaxed, adjust the diopter back and forth until the gridlines appear sharp. It is now properly adjusted for your eye. (Verify that it's still ok in dim light.)
    Next, shoot a few test targets. Something that might work well is to set a few boxes, with text on them, on your kitchen table. The text helps you evaluate how good the focus is. Cereal boxes, or perhaps cake mixes or pasta boxes should be fine. Arrange them at different distances, perhaps a foot or so apart (put them closer together to be more critical.) From about 6 or 8 feet away, focus on one box, take a shot, and examine the image to make sure the camera actually focussed where you wanted it to. Do this with both manual and auto-focus (in auto, you should set a single focus point so that you can control the focus point).
    The test is more sensitive with larger (like f/2.8) apertures. You might want to use some sort of camera stand, like a tripod, to eliminate motion blur. If everything is ok at these fairly close distances, almost for sure it'll be ok farther away.
    Re: the screen on the back of your camera. Almost for sure, there is a "zoom" function that will let you zoom into a small part of the image to check for critical focus (check the manual; I'm pretty sure it'll let you zoom in, then scroll around on the image). You can compare this vs your computer screen to get a sense of how comparable they are.
    Hope this helps with the focus issue.
  23. I was pretty close to the bride, just a few feet probably. This just recently started happening thats why I am kind of upset and worried. I am nearsighted but I dont wear glasses/contacts. I mainly have trouble seeing letters clearly at a distance.
    I think I need to stop using manual and use shutter priority? A lot of my photos come out super soft looking. I dont understand why. I thought it was because I am not focusing or the camera is not focusing but maybe I am doing something wrong? I have a class on sunday so I will ask around about why my photos are looking like that. It just doesnt make sense.​
    I was just rereading your post and had a thought. If someone else mentioned this forgive me. You were shooting with the 50mm lens. It is a 50mm F/1.8d if I recall. So you had to manual focus this lens on your D5100. Is it possible that you have bumped your diopter adjustment on the viewfinder and are adjusting the lens to be in focus when actually it is not?
    I am probably crazy. My wife says I am and she has a BFA so is therefor omniscient. So does this happen with your autofocus lenses when you use them on autofocus? Try resetting your diopter for your eyes and see what that does. Just a thought.
  24. I was just rereading your post and had a thought. If someone else mentioned this forgive me.​
    Maybe you got the idea from the previous post, perhaps even subliminally. Now I'm starting to wonder if you're a bit crazy, if someone else has mentioned this forgive me (is there a "sarcasm" icon I can use?)
    ps., could even be that the groundglass screen has popped loose; this would cause close focusing as Jessica's example showed.
  25. Thanks everyone for all the responses!
    I checked my diopter and it is fine. Maybe it was not in focus that day? I dont really know. I just know that Ive been screwing up a lot lately and Im getting really frustrated with myself. I think its pretty much all me that is making the blur. I think I will just start using aperture priority and see how that goes. I have this one crazy client that wont leave me alone about her pictures. I took portraits for her a week ago. I just gave her the edited images today. She wants a refund because she says I didnt take a good enough shot of the Jacket she made for her son... I had no idea she wanted a full shot of this ugly jacket. Ive never had to deal with this before. She is driving me crazy, calling me names. Very mean stuff. I told her I would do a reshoot but she said no. she wants to keep the photos but get her money back... I mean for 80 bucks, she got 350 photos, 85 edited/retouched photos. I would think that was cheap?
  26. Just ordered this lens BTW: Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR Nikkor Wide-Angle Telephoto. Super happy to get started with it. I think it will be better than my 18-55 and tamron 70-300. I hate always having to change lenses during a wedding. So, I hope this will be the main go to lens for events etc. Anyone have it and use it for event photography?
  27. Jessica, I have the 16-85VR and in many ways, it's an excellent lens. Better than the 18-55 at wider apertures, better build, plus the extra bit of wide angle is useful. But, and this is a big "but" it's absolutely not a great choice as event lens. As I wrote in an earlier post, you want f/2.8 lenses for that - not a lens that's f/5.6 at the long end. As I said in an earlier post, you'd want something like a 17-50 f/2.8 as main lens for this work.

    I hope you're posting here under a false name, photo.net ranks high with Google and calling your clients crazy (even if they are) on a public forum under your own name migth not be the best of ideas. You can request a name change if needed using your workspace.
  28. Maybe you got the idea from the previous post, perhaps even subliminally. Now I'm starting to wonder if you're a bit crazy, if someone else has mentioned this forgive me (is there a "sarcasm" icon I can use?)​
    I did not read the whole thread. I just jumped forward as I was on my way out the door. Perhaps you are just rude and call everyone crazy. Insert eyeroll here.
  29. Thanks guys,
    She really isnt crazy, just driving me crazy! She really wont leave me alone about a refund. I've never had to deal with anyone like this before. She says my pictures are blown out, that her son is sticking his tongue out (Which at the time she thought was adorable). And, that I didnt get good shots of her hand made jacket... I told her I would do a reshoot back when she complained first I wasnt out at the photoshoot long enough. She said I should have been out there for at least two hours! I took over 300 photos in an hour. I think this lady is trying to scam me. She already posted the pics on her facebook page.
    I'm just going a little insane over here. between her and trying to learn everything about my flash and camera.
    I just purchased the 16-85. I really want the 24-70 but I cant afford it right now so the 16-85 will do for the meanwhile. I just need something that a wont have to keep changing at events, it gets to be too much to have to change a lens at a wedding. Changing to one or two lens through out the day is fine but I dont want to have to change my lens constantly. thats why I got the 16-85. Comes at the end of the month. I hope it works well for me.
  30. Jessica, this is the fourth day that we're talking about this. Have you worked enough to master one element of managing your camera? Work is required to master things.
  31. David,
    Yes. I have. You dont have to keep up with the forum. It is not required of you to help me, I merely asked not demanded. I have Narcolepsy and many other health issues so things take me a little longer to complete. This in no means makes me disabled or unable to work. I just need more time to complete things. I apologize if I take longer to "Master" the basics, David.
  32. She says ..., that her son is sticking his tongue out (Which at the time she thought was adorable).​
    Hi, I spent a few years as a traveling department store photographer, high-volume work shooting mostly kids (I was practically a kid myself). Because it was on film, there was no way to review shots, nor was overshooting encouraged (the 70mm film was a bit costly). We learned never to shoot at the peak of an expression, because the face seems unnaturally distorted and these shots never sold. But if you wait just a half-second, it fades into a natural-appearing pleasant smile.
    So we learned that what the parents thought they wanted was not always what they wanted to buy.
    Digital lets you fire away with virtually no incremental cost, so you probably should click the shutter when the parents seem excited. Otherwise they'll think you missed the best shots. But other than that, I think you should use your best judgement on how you shoot (if they're not ok with your style, maybe you don't want to shoot them).
    BTW, I think that missing the hand-made jacket was your fault; you should have found out it was important to her, perhaps by discussing expectations or just small talk during the shoot.
    ps: I applaud your response to David's unhelpful post. The Photo.net community as a whole doesn't help to keep this sort of thing in check as it once did. I don't like making purposely discourteous (rude) posts, but sometimes I think one has to step up and make them. Likewise, I hope that if my ego or arrogance gets out of hand, someone will (gently) let me know about it. (I'll probably argue about it if they do, though.)
  33. Well Jessica, you're spending plenty of time talking about your problems. I think that time would be better spent working at mastering your camera, but one step at a time.
    I think you're letting the vastness of your challenge overwhelm you and you're frozen into inaction. The two or three things that I suggested that you master are not rocket science and become repeatable and part of your basic MO quickly, if you'll just concentrate on them and repeat them physcially.
    I'm sorry if you have disabilities, but you need to learn how you learn and start doing it. Reading a bunch of suggestions here isn't going to help you until you start applying the advice physically by doing the actions required to competently operate your camera. Apparently you'll have to work twice as hard as the rest of us, but if you want this, then get started. I said master one thing a day. You may need three days to master one thing, but you'll master nothing until you get started.
    I don't mean to offend. I'm just saying that no progress will be made until you start working on mastery. Buying a new lens is not the answer... at least not yet.
  34. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    It appears to me that there are technical / technique matters to address and buying the 16 to 85 lens will not necessarily be the answer to those issues.
    Technical comments on the image of the Bride:
    If that is a full frame crop, then the Photographer was about 8ft away from the Subject.
    The DoF is about 10inches.
    The shot appears to be made under available light and pulled at: F/2.8 @ 1/250s @ ISO200 using a 50mm lens on an APS-C Camera.
    Under close scrutiny:
    • the point of sharpest focus appears on the Subject’s mouth
    • the Subject’s head appears to be moving downwards and to camera right: (evidenced by the movement seen at the ear-rings and a shadow trail on the eyes
    • there appears to be a slight camera movement, to camera right: (evidenced by other trailing blurs seen at arm creases and bangle)
    In consideration of these elements it is plausible that the shot is in fact in focus, but is soft because of either Camera or Subject Movement or both.
    My best guess is that the Photographer moved the camera and lens, following the movement of the Subject’s Head: I have seen this error before.
    Typically, shooting in available light, a shutter speed 1/250s would be close to safe for a Stationary Adult Subject, seated: although I am more comfortable with 1/320s as my slower limit, for “safe”.
    Technical comments on the image of the woman, man and child:
    On my monitor the image appears to be over saturated and incorrectly colour balanced biased toward yellow/orange - rendering the skin tones incorrect.
    It also appears to be considerably over sharpened.
    The crop of the hands at the bottom is not the best.
    In respect of lenses and lens choice, etc:
    For Weddings, Events and Portraiture it would be best to buy a standard range, fast zoom.
    For APS-C that’s about 17mm to 55mm. “Fast” also means non-varying maximum aperture – and that is F/2.8.
    With Nikon, also, one should choose lenses which best fit the Auto Focus System of the cameras being used.
    It is a poor business choice to shoot a Wedding, with only one camera.
  35. Bill- I didnt miss the Jacket, I just didtnt make it the main focus of the portrait shoot. I think she wants to sell her clothing but I did not know this at the time. I just thought it was a cute prop she made for that specific shoot. I guess I was wrong. She wanted more shots of the whole jacket, centered and crystal clear. I focused on her son.
    David- I've been practicing using aperture priority and been reading my user manual. The focus seems 10 times better in aperture priority. I still need to learn all the setting's on my flash. but, right now I'm more concerned with understanding my camera and what it does. I took some pictures of my hand and they came out pretty sharp.
    William- What you said is exactly what a photography teacher told me. My shutter speed is usually off and I need to learn to adjust it when needed. Thats what I need to learn. I am taking quite a few classes over the next few weeks to get me more familiar with shutter speed in different environments. I will have a second camera too. A D90. I might even hire an assistant to help me out for one of the weddings.
    Thank you guys for your input I truly appreciate all the help and guidance. Understanding what I am doing wrong and repeating it to me lets me know I need to take charge and get this taken care. I am excited to learn new things about my camera and lenses.
  36. William, although I partially agree with you, I think you've missed on the reason regarding lack of sharpness (the Bride photo).
    Have a look near bottom of the shot, just left of center, and see if you don't change your mind. Fine detail is visible in the fabric at that point. (My evaluation is on the first page, two thirds of the way down.)
  37. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Bill C,
    I read all the responses, including yours, after I scrutinized the images but before I posted my response.
    I do not disagree with any passion with any of the advice given: nor do I have any 'beyond doubt' evidence to disagree with any of the analysis given.
    I think there is a misunderstanding of the precise meaning of my post.
    I expect that the misunderstanding has been caused because of my inaccurate words:
    "Under close scrutiny: the point of sharpest focus appears on the Subject’s mouth"
    By those words I meant: "Under close scrutiny: the point at which the Photographer made sharpest focus appears on the Subject’s mouth.
    In my first post, I did not go into detailed analysis, but as you raise this point here is a more detailed analysis:
    Given that (assuming that) the area around the nose/mouth is where the Photographer (attempted) to make focus (more logical than attempting to make focus on the folds in the dress), then, as the CAMERA ELEVATION is ABOVE the SUBJECT; and the SUBJECT is appears to be SITTING: I expect that the folds in the dress (the area you mention) is IN the SAME PLANE, as the mouth and nose area.
    However those folds in the dress (when I enhanced them), did not appear "as sharp" as "I would have expected" from a 50/1.8 - but yes I agree with you that these folds in the dress are indeed "the sharpest area of the image".
    When considering all observations: Head movement; Shallow DoF; The Area of the Dress you mentioned; the Camera Elevation; the inclined angle of the Subject's PLANE to the Camera; the (apparent) 'softness' of that are of the dress which is 'sharp'; the (expectation) the Photographer would make focus on the face area and an assumption that it is likely that the error is Photographer and not a lens fault -
    I conclude that:
    • the Subject's HEAD Movement plays a major contributing role to the image being soft
    • the Lens is very likely A-OK
    • it is plausible to suggest that the camera was also moving (as mentioned flowing the Subject's head movement)
    • if the camera WERE moving then it is likely that, that camera movement contributed to the softness of the image.
    • it is also likely that the camera was not moving (meaning = the shutter speed was adequate to relieve any Camera Movement Blur) in which case - the blur of the face is totally due to Subject Movement and the dress fold (you mention) are indeed at the sharpest which that particular lens will perform: however, the movement blur which I perceive in the bangle (close to the plane where the folds in the dress are located) does not accord with any logical SUBJECT MOVEMENT, so I do suspect there was actually CAMERA Movement, happening.
    All of these observations can exist happily with the observation that the area of the dress (where you mentioned) is the area of the image, which is the sharpest.
    It would be incorrect for Jessica to read into my comment that, simply watching the shutter speed, will address the issues of the Bride Shot: I am not suggesting she has done that, I am just emphasizing that improving her technical knowledge and technique (generally) are the best avenues for her at this point in time.
    For a Bride Shot like that (to be "safe"):
    • using APS-C;
    • shooting in Available Light;
    • an half shot;
    • with the subject at an inclined plane to the camera;
    • with the Subject likely to have HEAD movement:
    I would like to be at: F/5.6 and 1/320s - at the least.
  38. Thanks William for your very detailed post. I think I was moving too much. The bride was moving slightly while I was taking the shots but no that much. I do tend to shake sometimes if I hold the camera up for awhile. I dont know if anyone else has issues holding the camera up? My fingers and wrists sometimes want to give up. The D5100 is pretty small, light but I think its almost uncomfortable to carry on long days. I just bought a FS-Slim Strap system to wear on the next event. I hope this will help. I didnt think slight shaking/movement would turn my pictures soft/blurry. From reading everyone's posts I think it was a large combination of things that went wrong in those shots. But, your so right William, my main issue is technical knowledge and technique. Two very important things I need to learn fast.
  39. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "From reading everyone's posts I think it was a large combination of things that went wrong in those shots,"​
    Yes. That's good you think that. It is my opinion that you should not focus on any one point as the ONLY issue.
    I think that (for shooting Weddings) you might have to address your nervous energy: perhaps you might practice shooting fewer shots and practice more of anticipating 'THE SHOT'.
    More Weddings, as a Second Shooter, would be good.
    Apropos the hand and wrist being sore; many Photographers strangle the camera and far too many Wedding Photographers run around in a 'ready' position.
    There is an old thread in the Wedding Forum with good advice about W&P Photographers’ wrists. If I can find it in the not too distant future - I will post a link.
    Not medical advice but many a sore wrist and forearm comes from posture and tense shoulder and neck - as I mentioned, many Photographers don’t hold the camera correctly or have correct shooting posture - speak to your teacher about these points.
  40. I am really nervous at weddings. I need to control that. You are so right William, I tend to grip the camera really hard for hours and I think that makes my fingers and wrists hurt. I think I just need to relax. I have been told that I have bad posture when holding my camera. I guess your supposed to hold your arms close to your body? I just hold them out. I will talk to my teacher about it for sure. Thanks for your posts I really am thankful for everyone here! I learned a lot about myself and reassurance of what I need to change to be better.
  41. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, for SLR / DSLR / Rangefinder style cameras, we could argue that best practice would require the arms being tucked into the body at the elbows when shooting Landscape Orientation; Shooting Portrait Orientation the right arm is (usually) raised.
    But I tend to stress more the relaxed shoulders and arms and wrist.
    I believe that it is important to ensure each arm and each hand has a distinct function: the left is (generally) the base and support and it takes most of the load; the right is the action hand – it cannot be in tension, as the fingers are required to play the buttons, quickly and efficiently.
    Also I am very conscious of feet: the centre of gravity of the body nicely positioned, like with tennis for example, the coach will start out training very precise feet position for a fore-hand stroke and will play the ball to the student such that the student does not need to move . . . and then, when those feet remember where they must be at the time of execution, the coach moves forward allowing the student to move about – ensuring when each stroke is made the feet are in the correct position.
    All of this is muscle memory and training – for example, no one ever continuously looks for where the accelerator pedal or the brake pedal (or clutch pedal) are positioned in a car: drivers just get in and . . . drive.
    The problem is that people, if not taught how to do some physical action correctly, they will continue to make poor physical actions because that is what their muscles learned: for example generally, my society, where I am, will encourage parents to seek instruction for their child to swim correctly; there are also “stroke correction” classes for adults; but there are not many “Running Teachers” . . . and I see many people ‘going for a jog’ each morning and evening and many have very poor running technique – it is generally the same with many people, using a camera.
    At this point in the discussion, the thread has been moved from the “New User Introductions Forum” to the “Wedding and Social Events Forum”.​
  42. "My biggest issue is not remembering everything my camera does, technically."
    "I am really nervous at weddings."
    "I didnt think slight shaking/movement would turn my pictures soft/blurry."​
    Jessica, I have read through the myriad posts in this thread, but I could not get the above statements. You have received some excellent advice, but my main concerns are:
    1. Will you remember the advice?
    2. Given that you get that nervous, will you apply that advice?
    3. Remember that apart from this being a once-in-a-lifetime event, whether from Craigslist bargain hunter couples of from royalty, a wedding photographer does a whole lot more...
    Your statements above don't disqualify you from shooting a wedding per se, but they do raise fundamental questions about your preparedness.
    You must be able to understand the flow of the day; you must be able to do some crowd control; you must be able to take charge and pose people when required; you must be able to handle a varied range of personalities (your current refund client is just one possible personality type you will have to handle). All these while knowing exactly what settings will work in what lighting environment.
    I appreciate that you have assisted before, but as an assistant were you shooting also, or schlepping gear? And if you indeed were shooting, were your images also given to the client along with the main photographer's?
    Bottom line, I would not have put myself out there in the first place, given your confidence level. Being able to manipulate images in Photoshop does not equal good photography. Having had a look at your work on PN and G+, there is certainly an eye for composition, but these were all in posed or stationary situations. Weddings are constantly moving, constantly changing. The weather could change on you in an instant and throw off all the settings you had planned to use.
    If you absolutely cannot get out of them, or work with a more experiences photographer, then I would spend the next several weeks really polishing up on my basics, understanding my D5100 and internalising the various settings. Figuring out what focal lengths you prefer. Maybe assist at a few more weddings if possible.
    Trust me, the clients may say NOW that they understand your experience level and still want to work with you, but there have been umpteen posts on PN about horror stories involving brides, grooms, Mothers of Brides, et al giving the photographer a hard time and asking for refunds, sometimes not without reason. Don't become one of those statistics...you'd rather bide your time, gain experience and then put yourself out there when you are confident enough to do so. We all have to start somewhere, but in this case, I don;t think you are ready yet. but I think with focus and practice, you will be.
    Finally, regarding the 16-85mm lens, $630 is a lot to pay for that glass. You would be better off, from a wedding standpoint, with say Sigma's 17-50mm f/2.8 OS lens ($570 on Adorama). It is not spoken of much but has great reviews (www.photozone.de).
  43. Fellow phtogs, does this look like a bit of camera movement at a slow speed? My monitor is good, but not good enough to decipher movement or a focus issue.
  44. Now that I've looked at all of her images there isn't camera movement. I don't know without seeing the actual camera settings. As of now it is simply out of focus, however the color saturation is also pretty bad.

    I'm in agreement that it could be the lens or the sensor. Some cameras have a diaptor to set the camera for your eyes. For example my eyes are perfect so I set the camera for my eyes.

    Do you wear glasses?
  45. As to why the images are soft, I would bet money that you have a filter (UV) and probably a relatively cheap filter on the front of the lens. And then you shot a relatively wide aperture. That's a deadly combination (and I have seen it hundreds of times). A good filter ($$) helps quite quite a bit but I personally don't like shooting wide apertures with any kind of filter.
  46. Jessica, I haven't read the entire thread, so excuse any duplicate advice. I'm taking the liberty to assume I have your permission to re-post your previously linked image here. Shown below is your image (cropped) with the AF points revealed in Aperture. Since no single AF point is illuminated, I would've guessed that you were using "dynamic" area mode (though your EXIF data shows "manual"):
    I don't know if you've already stated the AF mode you were using (or, if in fact you were focusing manually), but it's important to know that the D5100 has two different controls/menu items for focus which significantly affect the way your camera focuses: 1.) focus mode: AF-A, AF-S, AF-C, M, and 2.) AF area mode: auto-area, single-point, dynamic area, 3D-tracking.
    Firstly, if choosing AF-A (auto-focus automatic) as your focus mode, the camera automatically determines whether to use AF-S (single), or AF-C (continuous).
    Secondly, if using the AF area mode, "dynamic area," the camera automatically selects the focus point, and does not show you which point is active. Using dynamic area mode can often lead to the camera choosing a higher-contrast part of the frame on which to focus, which isn't necessarily your desired focus point. If using AF area mode, "3D," the camera automatically tracks its selected focus point, and unlike when in "dynamic," will also display the selected AF point in red.
    Here is what I would suggest for more control over your auto-focus:
    1. Set your focus mode to either AF-S or AF-C (I prefer AF-C).
    2. Set your AF area mode to single-point, and choose your focus points manually using the multi-selector button.
    3. Turn off 3D tracking.
    Additional notes:
    Try to shoot a 1/320th or above--for many subjects, 1/250th is too slow. I shot a mother-and-baby portraiture session once, and even at 1/500th, I got subject motion-blur on his eyelids. Remember, that on a DX body, a 50mm lens is a 75mm full-frame equivalent--basically a short telephoto, which requires a relatively steady hand. When using an 85mm lens on a full-frame body, I try to shoot at 1/320th or above when shooting handheld candids.
    Depth-of-field: Shooting at f/2.8 on a 50mm DX lens leaves little room for error. Even at f/4.0, I often find I'm struggling to keep both eyes in focus. If shooting two people, I try to shoot at f/5.6 or f/8, and I still need to keep their eyes in about the same plane. Arithmatically derived depth-of-field charts are notoriously liberal in their calculations, even when the circle of confusion is set to what seems like an infinitesimally small, 0.03mm--real world depth-of-field always seems skinnier than you'd like.
    Personally, when shooting "money shots" of people--you know, shots that absolutely have to be in focus, I typically hover an AF point directly over the subject's eye (compromising composition a bit), and use AF-C mode (single-point). I also use the rear AF button to focus ("AF-ON" on pro bodies), instead of a half-depressed shutter (your camera may or may not have the ability to assign a rear AF button). For some, this technique increases focus accuracy (operationally, not literally).
  47. Also, note that the AF points displayed in the re-posted image above happened to land on very low-contrast parts of the frame. These particular areas are very challenging to AF sensors. The trick is to hover one of your single-point selected AF points over a particular area of the frame which is both, a desired location of focus, and also fairly contrasty (eyes are typically contrasty enough for this purpose).
  48. As for your heightened anxiety, Jessica, rest assured that this feeling recedes with time. Rock-solid technical mastery of your tools, plus added experience accelerates this process. In preparation for my first wedding gig (which I've yet to land), I've essentially attempted to simulate each shooting situation likely to be encountered on a "typical" wedding gig: low-light, processional/recessional, group daylight exteriors, etc. Of course, no matter how much testing you do, nothing can accurately simulate the pressure of a real event with a paying client.
    What makes me qualified to dole out advice, when I haven't shot a single paid wedding gig myself? In my day job (I'm a broadcast field-camera operator), I shoot very fast-paced events, many with a plethora of unpredictable variables, most of which are one-time opportunities--if I miss the shot of an 'A'-list celebrity, I may never have that 1.5-second window again. With dozens of other TV outlets, and dozens more still photographers on any given major-event arrival line, there's no time for any "do overs." I have to act quickly, with precision, and I can only do this because I've been doing this same job for over 20 years.
    As others have probably already suggested, try to shoot as many wedding-like events as possible (for free, if necessary), prior to your first paying gig as a primary. Since setting my own goal of someday becoming a professional wedding photographer, I've been shooting every event I possibly could for friends and family, using the exact same tools and techniques I would use on an actual wedding. With each event, I learned something new. And with each successive event, I gained more confidence.
    This is the main reason why your skills need to be so well-honed--so much so, that they become almost automatic. You already may know from your experience as an assistant that there'll be a lot going on, often at a rapid and unpredictable pace--you likely won't have the presence of mind to think through any problems on the spot. It's best if you're prepared to accommodate any likely situation with a known likely solution--one which has already been well thought-out, and previously tested. So, definitely continue to try hone your skills (which will help you to relax more on future gigs), try to do more "test" events, keep shooting, and good luck!
  49. Jessica, I've just been reviewing your equipment list:
    Nikon D5100, SB-910 Flash, Sigma 10-20mm, Nikon 50mm 1.8, Nikon 18-55mm, Tamron 70-300mm, and a Speedlite YN460 . . . I was also wondering if I should add the Nikon 16-85mm 3.5f to my list of lenses?
    I've also been building up my equipment inventory for my eventual entry into wedding photography. I basically have at least two of everything, plus additional, alternative back-ups. I presume you're on a tight budget, so your list will probably be a bit smaller than mine, but still, you should think about some redundancy (I know, equipment is expensive enough, without having to worry about buying two of everything, but you do need back-ups!).
    My partial equipment list:
    x3 Nikon FX bodies
    x3 Nikon SB-800s
    x3 TTL cables
    x2 Quantum Turbo batteries (looking to buy more)
    x2 Quantum cables (still need to buy spares)
    (I also own several AC monolights, plus a pile of AC inverter/battery systems to power them when I'm away from house power.)
    As for lenses, my main "everything" lens is an AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4.0 VR. It's one of the slowest lenses I own, and too slow for most available-light situations, but it's great for quick-and-dirty, flash-fired event coverage. My favored low-light prime is my new Sigma 35mm f/1.4. It's great for shooting full-length shots and small groups in ultra-low light. My favorite mid-tele prime for low-light is my pricey AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 (just FYI, I basically never shoot with my 50mm f/1.4; but remember, you're shooting DX, so your mileage may vary). For DX shooters, Sigma just announced a new 18-35mm f/1.8 short zoom--if I were starting out in DX, this would be my first choice--it's basically the fastest short-zoom on the planet.
    For general available-light shooting, a full range of f/1.4 or f/1.8 primes, or f/2.8 zooms is kinda necessary. I think I read that you've already purchased the 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR. That's okay for flash-fired photography, but will be virtually useless for any available-light photography.
    The typical set-up for DX shooters is either the Sigma, Tokina, or Tamron "baby" Holy Trinity f/2.8 zooms. They "match" the FX-sized "Holy Trinity" zoom range equivalents for DX bodies. They're all fairly fast, at f/2.8, and buying just two of these will allow you to cover wide-to-normal (e.g., Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8), and mid- to telephoto (e.g., Tokina 50-135 or Sigma 50-150mm). If you can still return the 16-85mm, you may want to re-consider your lens line-up now, before you invest in more glass which may not serve you best overall. But, again, Sigma's recently announced 18-35mm f/1.8 lens changes the game a bit--this short zoom is just too fast to resist. Pair this lens with Sigma's 50-150mm f/2.8 OS, and you'd be ready to shoot nearly anything.
    If I were starting out with a DX system today, I would opt for the following:
    1. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM ($799)
    2. Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM APO ($949)
    A bit pricey, I know, but a very high-performance set-up, in only a two-lens kit. Buy a second D5100, and you would have a very slick, two-body DX wedding set-up. Sexy, even. I now own two Sigma FX lenses (Sigma 35mm f/1.4, Sigma 150mm f/2.8), and I believe their optical quality actually surpasses some of my pricey Nikkor glass.
  50. Thanks so much Ralph!!! I have been practicing all day... I will attach some photos. I made myself a little setup at home of nick nacks to photograph. I just realized that my WB was never set to Flash when I took a lot of my weddings photos!!! It made such a difference today shooting with WB on Flash mode. Everything seemed warmer.
  51. Here is another Image from today. I was using my 50mm on Aperture Priority.
  52. Ralph- I am really short on cash so I have to make due with what I have. I do borrow my mom's D90 for weddings as a back-up since I cant afford another backup for myself. My "mentor" told me to never buy anything but Nikon lenses because they are the "best".
    But, I did buy the sigma because I really needed a wide angle lens for the real estate photography I do every blue moon and the Tamron was given to me by my grandfather. It has a little crack in it but doesnt show up in any images. I actually love that lens, I dont care what people say about buying Nikon only, that Old Tamron is great. I did go ahead and buy the 16-85, its seriously all I can afford right now. And I really need something that I can zoom in and out of without having to change a lens for. I just hope I didnt waste my money....
  53. Jessica, from the previous bride image and more recent wood box photo you posted, it appears that your camera or lens may be front focusing.
    This means that while you place the focus point directly on the subject and use AF, the focus point ends up slightly in front ... if you focused squarely on the box, note that the cloth with lettering in front is what ended up in focus, (see your photo attached below).
    If this IS the problem, it can unnerve anyone, let alone a newbie : -)
    This is less of an issue when shooting far subjects using a smaller aperture such as f/4 or f/5.6. However as you get closer, and use a wider aperture like f/1.4, the depth-of-field becomes very shallow and any mis-calibration will become more evident and result in soft looking main subjects.
    Please read your D5100 manual to determine if that Nikon model allows you to calibrate your lens to the camera. Most modern DSLR bodies have this feature, but I don't know if the D5100 does (I would think yes). While this may sound daunting to do it is actually not that hard.
    I've owned Canon, Nikon and Sony systems, and all of them required some lenses to be calibrated to the camera. Some lenses I've bought were quite out of calibration, a few so much that I sent the lens back. Once you calibrate a lens to a body, the camera's CPU remembers that lens and uses the calibration stored in its memory.
    The reason the camera companies have added this lens calibration feature is because modern digital cameras have increased the resolution to the point that any mis-calibrated lens will show up more readily than in past. For example, the Nikon D800 with full frame 36 meg sensor is really critical in this regard.
    A few notes on shooting technique: as mentioned, you have to be steady when shooting wide aperture lenses like at f/1.4 ... any slight sway front to back after the AF locks on will result in a soft main subject. I use one of the fastest lenses in the world with almost no Depth-Of-Field to count on when shooting wide open (Leica M 50/0.95 Noctilux) ... I have to stop breathing when I take a shot at those settings : -)
    Contrary to other advice, I suggest you stick with the center focus point using AF-S. Read your manual on how to set this, set it, and leave it there. This is the most accurate and sensitive AF setting as long as you use good shooting techniques. You can branch out into other settings later if you wish. (BTW, I've never used any other setting).
    IF you cannot seem to master solid shooting techniques due to nerves, consider getting a monopod until you are more confident and steady. I often use a monopod because my cameras are so high resolution that ANY jitters show up. I'm always one cup of coffee away from a soft image ... LOL!
    A few other notes: The appearance of sharpness isn't just a function of accurate edge focus. Contrast is the other main element. Most fast aperture lenses lose contrast at their widest aperture ... plus, as you increase the ISO, the image contrast begins diminishing. Camera companies have worked hard to increase the contrast of their lenses ... in Nikon's case they have developed their Nano-coating to increase light transmission and over-all contrast on their latest lens offerings. I suggest NOT using ISO 800 or above unless you need to in order to maintain a decent shutter speed.
    The other element of contrast is color contrast. When you do not have the correct White Balance set (or something close to it), the results can lack the appearance of contrast ... overly yellow images look flatter without any contrasting POP! Contrary to popular belief that you can adjust ANY "as shot" white balance in post production, there is a penalty for doing so with shots that are way off the correct white balance. Overly yellow images will look properly exposed until the WB is corrected and then look under-exposed requiring an increase in exposure in post ... the equivalent of increasing the ISO ... which in turn diminishes contrast.
    Feel free to ask questions about any of the above ... there is no shame in questions no matter how elementary they may seem. We ALL had to learn some way ...
    - Marc
  54. Jessica, see my comment above regarding your lens purchase:
    Finally, regarding the 16-85mm lens, $630 is a lot to pay for that glass. You would be better off, from a wedding standpoint, with say Sigma's 17-50mm f/2.8 OS lens ($570 on Adorama). It is not spoken of much but has great reviews (www.photozone.de).​
    A constant max aperture lens is an essential tool and will save you a LOT of headache when shooting a wedding, where lighting situations can vary so widely and suddenly. Since money is tight, I would return the 16-85mm and get this instead.
  55. I have been practicing all day... I will attach some photos. I made myself a little setup at home of nick nacks to photograph. I just realized that my WB was never set to Flash when I took a lot of my weddings photos!!! It made such a difference today shooting with WB on Flash mode. Everything seemed warmer.​
    Jessica, when you shoot at ISO 800 and f/1.8 in reasonably decent light like your "Pearls" photo ... the flash has very little to do with the final image because not much additional light is needed. TTL flash is not a constant ... the flash meter reads the scene and only allows the needed amount of additional light to get the right exposure ... in this case very little.
    The fact that you set the WB to flash and the image was so warm (yellow-red) tells me that the ambient light was dominate. Flash color temperature is much cooler (blue) like daylight at noon.
    Auto WB can be tricky when mixing two different light sources like tungsten room light and daylight balanced flash ... one is 2500K and the other is 5500K or so. Eventually, you will learn how to use custom WB when faced with extremely diverse lighting scenarios.
    - Marc
  56. I am confused why or how this person is booking weddings without having adequate equipment or knowing the technical aspects of photography. Weddings are one-time-only events and you cannot be unfamiliar with your camera's focusing system, tracking system, exposure concepts, shutter speed, motion blur, camera shake blur, flash exposure, aperture and its functions, ISO, general lighting methods, etc...
  57. In addition to whatever you do, Jessica, try to get lenses that are all f/2.8 or faster. Weddings are low light events, and flashes cannot be used during every part. Which Nikon zoom do you have? This DX zoom one is the one you need: 17-55 f/2.8 G AF-S DX. Get rid of the cheap zooms. You need the best zoom lenses that you can get, and that will be pricey. (Try KEH for some good used lenses--all EXC+ or better.) Zooms are almost a necessity during low-light event photography, since changing lenses often is not an option.
    Above all, work on the focus points. That is probably the main problem, but do get lenses that will get you the light you need to work with so that you can shoot with a faster shutter. Using lenses with VR can also be very helpful, since there is no time to set up a tripod at most events.
    I do not do weddings, but I do other low-light events from time to time. I like fast cameras and fast lenses for such occasions--but none of that is going to take the place of getting the focus right--and knowing your equipment inside and out.
    Think about getting a competent assistant with good equipment and a lot of experience for backup. If you do that, you will get it done--and you will survive this and keep learning.
    The problem is not likely to be your camera. The D5100 can do the job--with the right lenses.
    Listen to Marc Williams, and visit his page and his website http://www.fotografz.com/:
    Contrary to other advice, I suggest you stick with the center focus point using AF-S. Read your manual on how to set this, set it, and leave it there. This is the most accurate and sensitive AF setting as long as you use good shooting techniques. You can branch out into other settings later if you wish. (BTW, I've never used any other setting).​
    Please note: "BTW, I've never used any other setting."
  58. I agree with Joey. There have been several posts like the first one by Matt -" You really don't want to be booking weddings while you're wrestling with fundamental technique issues." Her portfolio has some nice shots - but the portraits seem to be soft which can be a nice effect but she needs to be able to take sharp photos, as well. Her lack of knowledge of her camera and lenses is stunning for one who wants to be paid for her work. I take some nice portrait shots and I have been taking pictures for a long time. Would I ask for money for a session? Not until I was more consistent than I am.
    This is a disaster waiting to happen - her Craig's List customers are happy with the price now - but when they see pictures that are not color balanced and OOF or blurry, they will not be happy and may not pay her. which, in this case might be fair, depending on the results.
    She says the customers told her they are happy with her level of competency (probably because they are ignorant of what is required and what they will want for results), why is Jessica satisfied with it? She has an inkling that she doesn't know enough, and doesn't have the requisite skills, that's why she's panicked.
    Maybe she should look at a standard contract to see what will be legally required of her. I assume she does not have one with the customers (it hasn't been mentioned). At this point that might be a good thing so she can reconsider accepting this offer.
    Jessica - It has taken six pages to scratch the surface of what you do not know. Malcolm Gladwell postulates that it takes 10,000 hours to become really proficient at something. You may want to do this job, but YOU will be responsible for how it turns out. There will be no excuses. This is a delicate subject but is your condition brought on or exacerbated by stress? If you're freaking out now, imagine the wedding. Be fair to yourself and the couple.
  59. First of all, thank you Marc Willams your advice is really helping! I have my little mini studio set up and will be practicing some more today. I do have some classes coming up and I hope to gain some good info on focusing techniques there.
    Howard & Joey: I do have a contract. I really dont understand why some people on here are very harsh? Can you remember your first wedding? Your first portrait session? I've been working for newspapers in natural light and never really learned much about anything else. I never had anyone to talk to about photography until now. I never understood what I was doing because no one wanted to help me unless I paid them the big bucks. I am reading all my manuals again to better understand what I need to know. The people who hire me understand my background and are fully aware of my experience. I need to start somewhere. Being an unpaid wedding assistant forever isnt helping me. I am not being taught, compensated for my pictures or time, and I always have to stand on the side while the main photographer does the good shots.
    I will have a PAID assistant at the weddings that I shoot. Just in case I need help or something goes wrong or I need an extra angles. I am taking money out of what the clients are giving me to pay for an assistant. Something nobody did for me.
    I get very nervous before any shoot. I have a heart condition that makes my heart rate abnormally fast, so if I'm nervous its really really fast. That can make me shake a little. It goes away once I get into the shoot. Right now, I am just stressed out. Between this, college math (My worst subject), health issues and bills, and personal issues I honestly have not been this stressed in years.
    That in no means makes me unable to shoot a wedding, take beautiful pictures, and learn learn learn. I am learning everyday!
  60. Jessica, this should be instructional for you. http://www.photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/00bnPG. It's a few threads down from yours.
    As for remembering my first portrait session (unpaid), of course I was nervous. And when things went wrong, I was able to figure out why because I knew the technical stuff. My best picture was out of focus (pleasingly blurred HAH!) because the AF point was behind her. Best in terms of expression and pose but a lost shot. As for being harsh, I don't think we are. Harsh is being sued by the customer. When was the last time you went to a professional anything and wanted them to say "OOOPS!". None of your difficulties that you mentioned will matter to the clients if they don't like their pictures. Excellent pictures will get you referrals, difficulties or not.
    You've received a lot of good advice above, reread it several times. The Bryan Peterson book is a good idea. Lantern Guides for your camera models are also very helpful - they're written in English, not jargon. Understand Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO and how they relate to each other Use both cameras from now until then, as much as possible, take notes on their quirks. You might want to use a tripod at the wedding for steadiness (a monopod doesn't work for me) It will mark you as the professional. There'll be lots of other Nikons and Canons there. How many shots does it take to drain your battery? Do you have spares? Make checklists of the things you need to know and go through them methodically. (Do the same for your math course! - I used to teach study skills). Picking up a camera to shoot should be reflex and not anxiety provoking. Practice picking up the camera and slowing your breathing so that you get used to being calm with a camera in your hand and that's your initial reflex. (I also used to teach anxiety reduction.) Mastery of the technicals and skills will also allow you to be calmer and in control.
  61. There are a number of good points both pro and con about this subject in general.
    At one time the general public was totally mystified by the technical aspects of photography and relied on professionals with a lot of experience to do weddings and events. Back then, a newbie couldn't just grab the family camera and competently or responsibly shoot a wedding. There was no LCD review, no in-camera white balance, and the stalwart Hasselblad/Bronica wedding cameras were manual focus only.
    The digital revolution and the proliferation of all types of decent AF cameras made it "seem" easier ... so respect for what it takes to do a competent job has diminished over-all ... and continues to diminish. The buying public at large doesn't have a clue about what it takes to do this type of work and do it well. Even when a photographer is less experienced, they don't think it'll make all that much difference ... "after all, look at what I can do with my cell phone, so how hard can it be?"

    There is a growing gap between perception and reality that impacts both the consumer's idea of wedding photography, and the emerging photographer's notions of actually being able to do wedding photography. It is just the way it is today.
    One by-product of all this is that the whole learning structure for emerging photographers has crumbled. It is genuinely difficult to get a learning position where you can actually learn something ... at least it seems more difficult than in past.
    @ Jessica: If you are prone to pre-shoot nervousness, get used to it because it'll probably never go away. Look at it this way, it keeps you from getting over-confident : -) I had a total knee replaced in January, so went almost a whole year between wedding shoots. I was very nervous for my first wedding of 2013 in June, especially because it was a former fashion model who really knew good photography. The first thing I grabbed was my trusty mono-pod even though some of my lenses are Image Stabilized.
    BTW, when you are speaking about a focus issue and keep saying that you shot this picture or that picture using Aperture Priority, it is confusing terms. Aperture Priority has nothing to do with AF. It is an exposure mode. Selecting an f-stop can affect the appearance of sharpness because as you stop down from f/1.8 to f/5.6 more of the image will appear sharp looking. However, whatever was the main point of focus will always be the sharpest area of the photo.
    I use a few different assistant/second shooters, and I keep telling them to stop shooting everything so close at f/1.4 or f/1.8 ... I have to trash so many images because the focus is off that I could just strangle them. Do not be afraid to stop down a bit when shooting close up. See the attached Bridal portrait (the previously mentioned "former fashion model") ... I shot a bit away from her and stopped down just enough to get the eyes, nose and mouth in reasonably sharp focus.
    What seems most new to you is the use of speed-lights. This is very important because, in general, so many situations at a wedding require the use of additional light. This is because wedding photographers do not always have control as to when or where they have to shoot. Flash can act as fill to avoid things like "raccoon eye" from downward overhead lighting, or as the main source of light in really dark situations like at an indoor reception.
    Using flash can seem daunting and frequently freaks out those ambient shooters who are not familiar with using it, but in reality isn't all that hard to get the fundamentals down pat enough to feel more comfortable using it. However, mastering it so it looks like no flash was used does take some considerable time and effort. Take a look at this little collection of mine ... about half were shot using just ambient, and the other half using flash ... it's even hard for me to tell which is which ... LOL!
    Just keep chipping away at it, no one is born knowing any of this stuff : -)
    Best of luck,
    - Marc
  62. Thanks for that link Howard! I will use that info to my advantage! I get a little confused with all the photography terminology here. I need like a photography dictionary I can reread over and over to remember everything. It is a lot to remember and my memory aint too great! If you were in front of me with my camera I could point things out and tell you what they are, but actually remembering the terminology of each thing and explaining it to you on here is very difficult for me. Its too difficult to explain in writing since I dont know the actual terms. Its a problem. I bought my D5100 in November last year. Before that I owned a Kodak easy share camera. I still own a Minolta Film camera that I like to play with. I dont own a smart phone so no worries...lol
    My newspaper just asked me to work fulltime as a staff photographer. That really makes me nervous to add that on to all the other bookings I have. But, photojournalism is my passion.
    Marc, your photo is absolutely amazing! That was used without a flash?
  63. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I have been of the view that for the ‘bride photo’, the focussing was made manually.

    I cannot note Jessica's answer to Wouter Willemse’s specific question about what lens she was using: and also understanding that metadata can be manipulated - I just reconfirmed my interrogation and although it is unclear which model Nikon 50mm lens was used, it appears that focussing, was indeed manual:

    Extract of metadata summary is below FYI -
    File name: C:\Download\Temporary\JESSICA Info.jpg
    File type: JPEG
    File size: 4,069.8 KB
    Creation date: 22/06/2013 18:29
    Last modification: 18/07/2013 10:48
    Make: NIKON CORPORATION (http://www.nikon.com)
    Camera: NIKON D5100
    Lens: Unknown model (50mm F1.8 D, G; ID: B0 4C 50 50 14 14 B2 06)
    Software: Ver.1.01
    Dimension: 3264 x 4928 px (16.1 MP, 2:3)
    Focal length: 50 mm (equiv. 75 mm)
    Aperture: F2.8
    Exposure time: 1/250"
    ISO speed rating: 200/24°
    Program: Manual
    Metering Mode: Spot
    White Balance: Flash
    Focus Mode: Manual
    Image Stabilizer: Off
    Noise Reduction: Off
    Flash: Flash did not fire
  64. Marc, your photo is absolutely amazing! That was used without a flash?​

    Thanks. Yes, that specific shot was done outdoors in shade where the natural lighting was even and not very contrasty, so no fill flash was needed. In this case, I post processed the image for a bit of what is called "cross processing" ... favoring a pink and chartreuse color tint scheme because those were her wedding colors ... not to mention her eyes are green.

    When I got serious about photography, I was also baffled by the plethora of terminology ... it is all so left brained : -) I just couldn't look at the parts and make a whole sense of it all. What really helped me a lot was the old Time-Life series of books on photography.

    For example, they explained lens aperture like it was a water faucet with pictures and everything ... Bingo! I got it. Open it up and more light goes through, close it down and less flows into the camera. Shutter Speed is just like a door ... open it up for just a second and not much light can walk through, or leave it open longer and more light can walk through. They explained each separate function in simplistic terms rather than assuming you were some engineer with a degree from MIT.

    All cameras are basically the same. Three exposure controls: Lens Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO. All three are directly linked and work in concert with each other.

    For a proper exposure, each adjustment step for each of the three controls equals one stop of light. If you stop down from f/1.4 to f/2.8 it is one stop less of light flowing through the "faucet". So you then have to adjust one of the remaining two controls to allow one stop more of light sensitivity to compensate for less light coming through the lens aperture "faucet" ... like using one stop slower 1/125 of a second shutter speed instead of 1/250 so the "door" stays open longer to let more light walk through. ISO just is the index so the meter knows how sensitive the digital sensor is in order to make a good exposure ... ISO 200 is one stop less sensitive than ISO 400, and so on.

    Once you grasp this symbiotic relationship of the controls, the trick becomes learning what pictorial effect each has. Larger open Aperture = less depth-of-field (less depth-of-focus) ... Slower shutter speed = possible subject movement/blur in the image.

    Flash can be your friend because it can even out exposure issues in certain lighting ... for example, if you are shooting on location and the light is direct and harsh, you turn the subjects back to the bright light and use flash to fill in the shaded front of them ... like this attached shot where the light was quite harsh behind them and I used an on-camera speed-light to light them and even out the "light balance".

    - Marc

  65. Thats such a great shot. I started practicing some more after dinner. I'm having trouble with the difference between 3D tracking and Dynamic area modes...I just never see a difference when I switch them...
    I have been searching for some good books to snatch for deal. There was a great book at Cardinal camera but it was really expensive. I will probably look over ebay and craiglist for used books.
  66. My grandfather shot weddings and portraits. I always wondered why he was stressed and cranky a lot of the time. It might have been trying to shoot weddings with a 10x8. Imagine! I would never consider myself to be a capable wedding photographer.

    My decision was reinforced when I attended a wedding and there were three photographers and the fee was $10,000. It looked like they had brought everything Nikon ever sold. It was ridiculous. But for $10k get you that.
    Jessica, all the above advice is good, but it must be overwhelming. You don't have to answer every post. Read them over your cornflakes.
    You really only need three lenses: on DX (as you are: 17-55 2.8, 35 1.8, 80-200 2.8) all of these lenses can be had used for very reasonable prices. Its all most professionals ever use if they have to carry it all around. You have the range of 17-200, or in FX terms, 25-300 and all 2.8. The 35 (50) 1.8 gets you out of trouble if it gets really dark. Put the 17-55 on one body and the 28-200 on another. Carry the 35 in your pocket. The only way you can get better than what these lenses produce is to use primes only, not recommended if you are learning.
    With exposure using flash, iTTL will do it all for you. With no flash, use f4 and aperture priority, the camera will figure out the speed, or set at 500th and f4 minimum. Or do what lost of us won't admit, use P which couples the settings. (Good enough for hasselblad).
    I started photography in the armed forces after I finished school and also worked for a newspaper for 15 years. Now I just want to do impressionist landscapes and portraits. On these two I consider that I am a beginner. Weddings are just too hard.
  67. Jessica said:
    Ralph- I am really short on cash so I have to make [do] with what I have . . . I did go ahead and buy the 16-85, its seriously all I can afford right now. And I really need something that I can zoom in and out of without having to change a lens for. I just hope I didnt waste my money . . .
    I would still strongly recommend the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS (optically stabilized), constant-aperture zoom over your much slower, variable-aperture Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR. Though 16-85mm is a great focal range, at f/5.6, realize that you're going to need four times the light an f/2.8 lens requires. If you don't have the light, that means high ISOs, and slower shutter speeds, increasing chroma noise to unpleasant levels, and incurring more motion-blur.
    The Sigma isn't quite as wide as the Nikkor, but you'll find the faster lens far more useful, especially for wedding and general photojournalism work (congrats on the new job!). And, under Sigma's current $100-off promotion, the Sigma's $569 price tag is actually $60 less than the Nikkor's $629 "sale price."
    Think of it this way . . . isn't $629 a lot of money to spend on a lens that can only be used for daylight exteriors, or when used with a flash? A lens which is so ill-suited for low-light photography, that it really can't shoot available-light interiors unless using a tripod (restricted to photographing static subjects only), or flash?
  68. I wish I knew before I purchased the 16-85.... I just got it in today :(
    Not sure if I can return it since it was purchased with American Express points my mom had. Half was paid with the points. I dont know how that all works, if she can get her points back. I can always get the 17-55 later though after I gain more experience and clients. Thanks so much for the congrats Ralph!!!! I have to admit I am very nervous taking on a full time position with the paper and working the weddings....
    A family friend also just asked me to be her wedding photographer for her May 2014 wedding. But, I am very happy to say a wonderful photographer on photo.net is meeting me on Saturday to help me with my troubles!!!! Thanks so much Ray! I cant wait to learn more and gain some valuable knowledge in person!
  69. Okay, well I cant figure out how to post multiple images up for your review so I will just attach one.... I took this image with my new 16-85mm.
  70. Here is the image attached...
  71. Jessica said:
    Thanks so much for the congrats Ralph!!!!
    You're welcome!
    Call the bank that the Amex is drawn on--they may refer you to a separate site for information on the card's specific rewards points program (it often has some oddly generic-sounding name, and is typically handled by a separate "fulfillment" company, though it may still appear as an Amex-branded site). There should be a customer service number, or a returns policy published online. I'm sure everything will probably work out somehow. Good luck!
  72. This is VERY late(!), but I had a D5100 and a 35mm f1.8 which back focused quite badly. I sold both separately. The D7000 has AF fine tuning which the D5100 does not have. On my D7000, I have to dial in -6 for my 18-70mm lens (a much underrated lens - sharp, no VR so you are forced to think more about shutter speed which has a knock-on effect of reducing subject movement due to using higher shutter speeds).
  73. This advice is late coming, I didn't see this post until just now.
    First, learn your equipment to the point where using it becomes second nature. Don't even think about taking money for your services until you are at this point. Time is money: if you are wasting time fumbling with your equipment you are wasting your time and your client's money.
    Second, study composition. Not just for wedding photos and not just photographs, study paintings and whatever other art you can find and learn about composition.
    Thirdly, practice, practice and then practice some more. Photograph anything and everything under all kinds of conditions until you master exposure.
    Fourthly, when you are ready to shoot an event like a wedding have backup equipment and backup everything. You only get one chance.
  74. Zombie thread alert!

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