Black Bride/Hispanic Groom - What Do I Need To Know About Exposure?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by chris m., central florida, Sep 10, 2002.

  1. I've photographed several weddings, and I guess you could say I
    deliver images my clients are happy with. But most of my clients
    have been white/caucasion with the darkest skin tones being a deep
    tan from too much sun. It was easy to meter for skin tones.

    I have a wedding in three weeks where the bride is black with a
    medium dark complexion, wearing a white dress. The groom is hispanic
    with a medium complexion wearing a black tux. Nice looking couple,
    but talk about contrast!

    I'll be using a Maxxum 7 bodies with D lenses and 5600HS-D flash
    units. Film is Fuji NPH @ 325, NPS @ 125, or NPZ for the darker
    reception hall stuff. I've got an hour of outdoor shooting time,
    then the reception is indoors. The exposure system is pretty hard to
    fool on this camera, but I'm a little worried. Regardless if I use a
    Maxxum 7, an F5 or an older Canon AE-1, what would you do about
    ensuring correct exposure? Would you bring along a gray card? Meter
    off the back of your hand first then compare that reading to metering
    the groom's skin tone? Spot meter the groom's face?

    I've never photographed a dark complexioned black woman in a formal
    white wedding gown. I'd greatly appreciate any comments from
    experienced wedding shooters/portrait shooters out there. I'm trying
    to avoid loss of detail in the dress at the expense of proper
    exposure for dark skin tones. Thanks in advance!
  2. Don't bring a grey card. Bring an incident meter and you won't have to worry. You can probably rent a Minolta for about $5-$10.
  3. If you use a flash bracket, the F5, and a SB-28, overexpose a little for the bride (+.3 or +.7) and let the groom be in the photo.
    This way the bride will have detail in her face -- if you try to keep detail in the dress, her facial detail may not be exactly what you want.

    Good luck.
  4. Fear not, your gear will do better than you think. As suggested, add a touch of compensation to the flash. I've been faced with worse contrast than what you are about to shoot, like the bride being the color of milk and the groom quite ebony with a touch of red to his skin tone. One tip I can share based on experience: don't place them in front of a darkish background or the darker of the two's shadow side will blend into the background. That holds true for shooting them in an open area where there is no lighting on the background (i.e.; the wall of black in many flash pictures). When I've had a really expressive image give me fits in color, I've converted it to a B&W image. Not the best solution, but better than losing a nice photo altogether.
  5. God I hate web images. The real shot has a bit more snap to it than the previous posted image. But you get the idea. Here's another of the same couple.
  6. I have shot dozens of this type of wedding.Often the bridal party is wearing white,and have dark skin color!The trick is to open up a stop.I do this by firing the flash a stop brighter,rather than changing my lens opening.I use Portra 400NC metered at 320,I fire the flash at F11,set my lens to F8.I get great detail and skin colors this way!The white clothes might sometimes lose detail with this technique,but the faces never do!
  7. I usually spotmeter faces with my EOS3. But as pointed out, if you expose for dark skin, you are in danger of losing detail in the dresses. Digital postprocessing is the only real answer.

    I'd do some tests to make sure that whatever exposure you use, you keep detail on the negative in both light and dark areas. That way you can recover it digitally for important shots.
  8. The question of photographing Dark skin people seems to come up frequently on Photo.Net. As an African American I’m surprised that people think that they have to change their techniques. I recently did a wedding similar to the one you will be shooting. The Bride was dark skinned and the Groom a blond hair blue eyed Swede. I used NPZ for available light shots and NPH with fill flash for outdoor photos and the reception. My equipment consisted of N70, SB28, Stroboframe, 20mm, 35mm, 85mm, and 180mm primes. When using flash try to have the darker skinned person up front. No special exposure compensation was used on these pictures; the flash compensation was set at my normal -.7, aperture priority, 3D-matrix metering and +.7 exposure for the Fuji film. I will post more shots in my wedding folder over the next few days.
  9. Ronald has it right! The color neg films favored by wedding photographers manage to show detail in the tuxedos and hold detail in the bridal gowns. That's black on black and white on white. The terms "black" and "hispanic" are applied to folks of many skin tones and hues. An incident meter would be the most accurate way to go, but film latitude will cover your butt 99% of the time. Same goes for auto-exposure flash. Somehow the film latitude and printing corrections allow us to shoot on auto a bride along with her pastel costumed attendants in one photo and the groom with his attendants clothed in solid black in the next photo.

    If you're going to use manual flash and manually set your cameras for non flash pictures incident readings are the only way to go. All those movie studios and top advertising photographers couldn't have been wrong all these years!
  10. Thanks to all of you for your help. You've certainly given me some ideas to think about and use. Once I get the negs back (the wedding is this Saturday) I will post comparison shots.

  11. For very dark skin, you want to use diffused light. You also want to use more than one
    light source if possible, such as a 2nd flash. Use bounced light as much as you can.

    Do not rely upon overexposure as the solution. However, I always over expose 1/3 - 1/2
    f stop any color negative film at any wedding.

    You want to do natural lighting as much as possible.

    If you use direct flash, using only one flash source, dark skinned people lose detail around
    the sides of their head, around their ears due to increased contrast/saturation effect of the
    one flash unit.

    I use a 2 headed flash bracket. I don't have problems anywhere. I can bounce light, and I
    have white cards on my reflectors for even more fill and diffusion than pure bounce.

    I think that using auto exposure mode would be risky. I use manual. If I HAD TO USE
    AUTO MODE, I would over expose the whole wedding 1 full stop without hesitation. I
    would reset the auto mode to fool the flash. Therefore, if you use ASA 400 film, I would
    set it for 200 or even 160 ASA. Don't take risks. What you lose in exposure is the groom's
    face, not just some detail in his shoes!

    You really need an incident meter. The white dress and the dark skin will fool any
    reflected meter a % of the time. You cannot afford to be wrong a % of the time.

    You should really use a flash meter to find out what your working distances and
    subsequent f stops are for a 1/2 body shot and a full length shot.

    Probably, using ASA 100 film, you will have a f8 full length and a f11 1/2 body shot. This
    is for a flash rated at Guide Number 80 . Probably this is your flash. Maybe it is too late
    for you to learn manual mode photography. But you should bracket any really important
    picture while the flash is on manual mode: like at the altar.

    Again, over expose everything 1 full stop, and use bounce light and natural light as much
    as possible.

Share This Page