Flash at Weddings

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by debbe_scott, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. Hello, I am new to this forum and would like some feed back on what
    kinds of flash you use during a wedding at a church. I am currently
    a film only photographer and have been doing weddings for about 6 or
    7 years now. (One might think after that long, I would not have this
    issue) My pictures looked more flashed instead of ambient light.
    They look good (I would think of course! ha) But I would like more
    existing light. I normally shoot in a church on 30th at a fstop of
    5.6. I use a Mamiya AF with a Sunpak hand held flash. I normally
    take it off the bracket and hold higher with left hand so to chase
    down any shadows that may exist.
    What will it do if I drop my shutter to say a 15th....? Do I adjust
    my fstop....or is it the shutter that will allow more existing light
    in? Can I slow even more since I shoot on a tripod. I have a
    wedding this Friday night and thought I'd make notes and do a couple
    of test shots.
    I also saw another photographer use a round hand held flash with a
    diffuser over it...like a cap dont' know what kind it was, but saw
    his pictures and the lighting was great.
    I guess I'm just not satisfied with my look any longer. Do any of
    you ever experience that?
    Thanks alot. I have used several forums and love being able to get
    input from others.
     
  2. I know you will get lots of different ideas here. Read them all and assess what works best for you. I've been shooting for 14 years and here is what I do. <p>First of all it depends on the church and the existing light. It also depends if there is any natural light coming in through the windows. <p>I meter each church and shoot accordingly. I always have 3200 speed film (Black and White) and have cleared in advance with the couple if they would like me to use it. I always show them samples first. Most of them like the grainy, artsy quality. If the church is particularly dark I will use this film. I've shot it at 800 to 3200 but mostly 1600. The F-stop, again, depends on the ambient light. <p>NO FLASH. I rarely use it. The churches I shoot in are too big to use on camera flash effectively. I've shot at 15th to 125th and I've shot at aperatures from 2.8 to 5.6. A tripod helps for sure but I never use one. If I'm shooting at 15th - either I have an Image Stabalized Lens -- or I'm using a pew or the balcony to stablize the camera. <p>I've also shot lots of Kodak - Color - 800 speed. Don't like the Fuji because it is too magenta. Kodak is more warm orange. Some photographers don't like that but I love it! I ask the lab NOT to correct it. A lab can make it less orange. If you are uncomfortable....My advice is to shoot some the way you have been doing it and some shots at different aperatures and shutter speeds to see what works for you. There is no one answer... Each church will have different lighting situations.
     
  3. Mary, thank you. Yes I hope to get lots of ideas. You may think I'm crazy, but I learned from someone and have used 100 speed, Kodak Portra...I think I'll go down to photo supply and get some high speed to do some testing with this weekend.
    NO FLASH!! Wow...that would scare me to death!! ha....but I'm going to give it a try and see what I come up with, again, on some test shots. Thanks a bunch.
     
  4. Don't let it scare you... Especially the 3200 but do check with clients first as some don't like it. Hopefully you have two cameras.. Just shoot the important things the way you've been doing it. During the ceremony - shoot everything you can with both cameras and see what you think. You may be pleasantly surprised. Let me know how it works out.
     
  5. Bracket or hot shoe,flash will only go so far untill you employ a 2nd light.Single lit with dragged shutter will open up the background,but still looks 2D.A second light on a stand,or held by an assistant fired via slave will bring your pictures to the next level.The 3D effect is startling and images pop off the paper.
     
  6. NO FLASH. I rarely use it. The churches I shoot in are too big to use on camera flash effectively
    Note: many churches forbid the use of flash inside.
     
  7. Actually, almost all churches allow flash inside, just not once the ceremony has started.

    Flash photography of the procession and the recession, plus formals are are usually done with flash.

    A tripod is a nice accessory for avaiable light shots during the ceremony itself. Usually you can shoot fairly slow shutter speeds because the B&G aren't exactly playing basketball up there... they're pretty still.
     
  8. almost all churches allow flash inside, just not once the ceremony has started
    Not church weddings I've been to in NYC (all Catholic churches, now that I think of it), or churches in Connecticut, or two on Cape Cod.
     
  9. If you are 'brave,' and have a very good tripod (using a Nikon F5 may help) but you should be able to use the 'slow' sync with a shutter speed of 1/10th second and a fairly decent f-stop: the results in a gym for team basketball photos were nearly natural looking for a one-flash setup.




    Just a suggestion....
     
  10. Here's a concept on available/flash light: The greater the proportion of the exposure is from the flash, the more important the quality of the light from the flash is. This is why photographers who use as much ambient light as they can, can get away with small shoe mount flashs and still get a nice look. Which Sunpak are you using?

    For ceremonies you can use shutter speeds down around 1/4 sec. with good timing and a tripod. Since you use MF, you don't have much DOF once you open up to f4 -5.6, so you need fast film. The advantage of the large negative from MF is that grain won't be problem. In fact, unless you are doing a wedding outside, in bright sunlight there is no real need for 100 speed film. Most MF photographers use 400 for everything.
     
  11. I've just started shooting second camera at weddings here in Connecticut, and in each instance flash was permitted inside the church (Catholic & other congregational), even during the ceremony...
     
  12. fju

    fju

    i'm not a professional here, i just find this forum interesting. my 2 cents is that whether or not flash is allowed in the church, it is in bad taste to use it. let the couple and their friends and family enjoy the event without the photographer making a spectacle.

    i completely agree with mary's comments. i've used ilford delta 3200 for years and it is a great looking film. fuji npz rated at 1250 and pushed one stop is also highly recommended.
     
  13. •[• Z - I don't know about NYC, CT and Cape Cod... but in Vermont, Maine, DC, VA and MD regardless of the faith - I've always been able to take flash shots for the processional and recessional. There has never been one that didn't allow at least that. Like Marc says, once the ceremony starts it is quite common for churches to ban flash. I'm surprised that your experience has not been the same.. In any case, I always leave it up to the couple and the church. It can be intrusive. The only time I use flash is for outdoor ceremonies...a little fill is needed. Also for weddings under tents unless it is black and white. Surprisingly enough I'm allowed to use flash quite often in Church. I still prefer total ambient light.
     
  14. "i'm not a professional here, i just find this forum interesting. my 2 cents is that whether or not flash is allowed in the church, it is in bad taste to use it. let the couple and their friends and family enjoy the event without the photographer making a spectacle."



    Even in services that the 'no flash' rule is in effect, the minister or priest will allow flash for the kiss. It is (usually) near the end of the service and most couples want the 'original' on film, not a re-take, if you will.




    Families tend to be 'camera-equipped' enough to nearly blind the photographer at most weddings: they do not have 'restrictions' from the pews.....
     
  15. "Families tend to be 'camera-equipped' enough to nearly blind the photographer at most weddings: they do not have 'restrictions' from the pews....."

    Not always true. I shot my neighbors vow renewal ceremony (full wedding ceremony in a church). Before anything started the Priest announced to everyone that no flash pictures were permitted, because his eyes was very sensitive to flash. I knew this would be the case ahead of time and had my tripod and shot from the back with a 180/2.8 lens. No one heard or saw anything when I shot. There will be situations when a long fast lens can invaluable.
     
  16. try using a monopod, use fuji npz asa 800 film,shoot at f4 or if
    you dont like the way your lenses perform at f4, shoot at 5.6 and
    1/8 second more or less. I do like to use flash at about 1 stop
    under ambient if i can to splash a little "daylight" on the skin so
    they dont look pasty. i think no flash is pasty looking skin tones,
    sorry! The best results i get are with my nikon 80-200mm shot at
    f2.8 and 1/30 sec on my monopod with NPZ film, beccause that
    lens looks very good at f2.8, very good. it looks better at f4, but
    surprisingly good at f2.8. no depth of field though, so there are
    no perfect answers to this situation IMHO. The best is a slight
    pop with the flash, great optics and slow shutter to burn in the
    bkgd. skin tones suck with incandescent lighting and daylight
    film. with black and white film, underexposure is not a problem, i
    would think one could push an asa400 ilford delta and get a
    good print out of the effort. I have gotten great prints from this film
    underexposed by abuot 3 stops outdoors, maybe 2 stops under
    would work inside and give decent detail?
     
  17. That "round headed flash" was either a Norman 200b or 200c or 400b or a Lumedyne. I
    own 7, that's right 7 Norman 200b flashes. So you know where my vote is. I own one
    Lumedyne. You can get lots of opinions for Norman 200b by putting "Norman 200b" into
    www.google.com

    FLASH RULES FOR CEREMONY PICTURES

    I would suggest that you not use any trickery with your shutter speeds with flash. You will
    blurr photographs. You need to know when you can set up a tripod and you need to
    know how long the ceremony will be so that you are not caught in the back of the church
    when the couple turns to each other and kisses. Keep it simple for now.

    If you 'miss the kiss', restage it.

    Don't take your flash off of your camera bracket.

    The rules of churches vary. But I simply added up all the rules and came up with a
    procedure:

    Call the church to talk to the officiator or other knowledgeable person. Find out what the
    rules are regarding photographers in the church. These rules are not the last word. The
    rules can be different depending on the officiator.

    Talk to the officiator and ask him what are the rules. Do not go by any rules that the Bride
    has given you. Only use the rules that the officiator tells you. It is possible to have a
    liberal officiator in a strict church. I have seen it may times.

    If you can't talk to the officiator and if you didn't talk to anyone, then assume that:

    1. You can take pictures of the bridal party down the aisle. The moment the father gives
    away the bride, cut off all flashes until the "first kiss" photograph.

    2. Do not follow the lead of any amateurs who flash during the ceremony. Stay in the
    back of the church and wait for the kiss picture.

    3. While you are in the back of the church, do an overall picture of the interior of the
    ceremony/church. You do not have to see the faces of the bride and groom. The
    exposure for this picture will likely be at ASA 100 1/4 sec at f4. Bracket to get a good
    exposure.

    4. Taking the risk of taking ambient pictures, natural light pictures, during the ceremony
    is a risk. You may be called back to the rear of the church by a furious wedding
    coordinator. You are taking a risk here. However, if you don't
    see a wedding coordinator, you could take this risk. Use a telephoto. Stay back from the
    6th pew, not closer. The exposure is likely 1/4sec at f4 on ASA 100. Since you camera
    makes lots of noise, take the picture when the priest is talking. Do not flash. Do not take
    any advice to mix flash with ambient light.

    5. After the ceremony, you can re-stage the kiss to make it look better. You can also re-
    stage the ceremony so that you can see the couple from the sides. This was probably not
    possible during the ceremony.

    Ask someone to find out how long the ceremony is expected to be. In this way, you will
    not be caught with your camera on your tripod, and subsequently 'miss the kiss'.

    Timber Borcherding timberborcherding ceremonyrules
     
  18. Thanks for all the response that is why I love forums!
    I do not ever shoot with flash during ceremony. I inform the B&G up front that I do not use a flash and it will look "candlelit". So I slow the shutter and lower the fstop all the way normally and my pictures turn out great. The B&G always comment on them and love those taken at that time. I just assume that a church does not want you to use flash, although I have shot lots of weddings where guests take pictures and use flash and I think it is disrespectful.
    I do use flash before wedding when taking pictures and also in the reception. I always shoot on a tripod except the reception.
    I think I'll give 400 ASA a try and also this Friday night's wedding I think I'll do some test shots slowing my shutter to allow for more existing light. I have been shooting 30th at 5.6 or even
    60th/5.6 on tripod with 544 Sunpak hand held flash. AND 100 ASA.
    I can not get 400 here in time to use Friday night, but will try in future...my question is....if I show shutter to 15th or lower, do I leave my fstop alone....do I keep at 5.6 or 8. will that give me less flash look and more ambient look.?
     
  19. I've been following this thread and wondering whether your questions were about the ceremony or the processional/recessional or the pre-ceremony photos commonly taken. Because getting more ambient light into your shots require different methods depending on how fast your subject is moving in relation to the background/ambient lighting AND the effect you're after. In the processional/recessional, you can't lower shutter speed too much or your subject will be blurred--especially the recessional, where the B&G are likely to run down the aisle. I have seen some professional photographers showing processional/recessional shots where the subject(s) are deliberately blurred. As long as your clients are prepared for this, it is OK. You can lower the shutter speed a lot if you're on a tripod and doing the group photos (formals) on the altar because your subjects are still (barring fast moving kids). Generally, the aperture is used to control depth of field, and the shutter speed to control the appearance of motion. Just changing to 400 speed from 100 will immediately give you more ambient light if you use the same aperture/shutter speed combo. If you're asking about the pre-ceremony photos, if your subjects are still, you can lower the shutter speed to about 1/8th (sometimes slower) and not have blurring unless you have a twitchy subject. During the processional/recessional, I use f8 for depth of field since I zone focus, and 1/30th with 400 speed film. I also try to use a second light on a stand to help light up the back of the church. But even if I don't use the second light, I still get some detail in the background. Ambient light in churches vary a lot, but generally, churches are fairly dark, so the flash will freeze your subject if the camera exposure and the ambient exposure are not too close (3-4 stops or more difference). At f8 and 1/15th (400 speed) I have gotten some minimal blurring in the more brightly lit churches. If you use a reliable autofocus and aren't relying on depth of field, you can probably use f5.6 or even f4. For formals, I use f8, sometimes f11 if the group is deep, for depth of field, and 1/15th or 1/8th shutter speed, with on camera flash and a second light. While this exposure doesn't match the ambient light, it is enough to record some detail in the background/altar. This is all with medium format, as with 35mm you can often times get away with wider apertures and still have adequate depth of field. As you stated, it is best to experiment, or even set up the situation at home and do a test roll. At receptions, I use the second light on a stand to either provide rim lighting on subjects and/or "open up" backgrounds. Bouncing is good, but you can't always bounce due to ceiling heights and color. I personally don't think putting a white diffuser over the flash creates a huge difference in the quality of the flash when you are using a flash with a fairly large reflector anyway--is your Sunpak a handle mount flash? Some claim round reflector (parabolic) flash is softer, but I don't see any difference when compared to flashes that have large "regular" reflectors. If you want to try diffusing, you can get a Lumiquest bouncer (Midi bouncer if your flash is a handle mount) but you'll be cutting your flash power, which won't be good if you continue to use 100 speed.
     
  20. Debbie, when you start to mix ambient amber light with flash, you are taking a risk of
    failure. The amber light can blur. You could also forget to change the shutter speed of
    your camera to a normal 1/250th or whatever. As a result, all of the photographs of them
    leaving the church would be ruined. Don't give yourself too many variables.

    The "ambient mix light trick" is not used by all photographers. If you really want
    background illumination a 2nd flash on a slave trigger is the safe way to go. If you want
    to color this flash with a straw filter to warm it up, then it is safe to do so.
     
  21. Thanks again, I will take this into consideration....I think I'll mildly experiment tomorrow night and see what happens. I would just like a bit more existing light.
    Also, I am just talking about pre-ceremony pictures. The pictures during the wedding and at the reception are fine and I have that pretty much under control...well as control as you can have at a wedding! ha
    Also my flash is a hand held 544 Sunpak. I do not normally take a second flash (but may consider doing that).
     
  22. Like Marc says, once the ceremony starts it is quite common for churches to ban flash.
    Except ... Marc didn't say that. :)
     
  23. almost all churches allow flash inside... just not once the ceremony has started.

    What else would " ...just NOT once the ceremony has started" mean? It means they forbid
    it, ban it, don't allow it, etc, etc.

    But it well may be different in NY, I wouldn't know as I've never shot there. However, the
    last time I was in St. Patrick's when a wedding was going on, the 2 photographers were
    using indoor flash... prior to the ceremony... and for formals.

    In the states that I have shot in (which include California., Michigan., Florida., Texas.,
    Oklahoma and Ohio) the custom was usually the same... no flash during the actual
    religious ceremony. A few churches require you to stand behind the last pew that is
    occupied by guests to shoot the procession. It often depends on what the Priest, Rabbi,
    or Minister dictate. Their word is the last word on the subject.
     
  24. Debbe, the question of whether flash is or is not allowed in church is not particularly that important. FORGET about flash altogether IT KILLS images not create them. Modern high speed film emulsion is incredibly low grain for the comparative speed. Shoot aperture priority at the widest f.stop on any given lens (watch out if you have a f1.2 though as that can get iffy. Have fun concentrate on subject matter and your clients will love the technique. By the way, those brides who appreciate the artsy style will pay 2-3 times more than the traditional canned flash bang wallop images that sooo many pro's turn out on a week in week out basis. The style is hip, it's in and so... sieze the day! Have fun.
     
  25. Any flash with a guide number above 120 (100iso) is good. I used Sunpak 522 & 544's for years. Bigger flash output gives you more options for bounce light. Learn to use bounce effectively and you will love the look. As for the ambient levels being increased it is fairly simple, but you should use the technique for formals in church only (or any great looking location) , since a tripod is required to get a great shot as opposed to a mediocre one. Two light setups with a radio slave is almost mandatory for this technique, but it's been done with one light (preferably off camera to give some modeling to the subjects). Meter the ambient and use the exposure with the f/stop you use for flash. Let flash expose as normal or maybe 1/2 stop under. You will find the shutter is what will bring the ambient in. You will probably be in the 1/4 to 1/2 second range on shutter to use f/5.6 or f/8. If you Bracket, do it with the shutter. Try it with the couple at the back of the church in the aisle with the background showing the altar. Great look! Monte Zucker did it forever!
     
  26. From what I remember of the handful of weddings I shot as an assistant 25-30 years ago, flash was almost always permitted in Catholic churches before, during and after the ceremonies. Most priests were OK with it as long as the B&G were. When I was married in the 1980s, I squared everything with the church before hand and told the photog and video guy to do and go wherever they wanted before, during and after the ceremony--just do their jobs as they see fit and not to worry about the priest.
     
  27. By the way, those brides who appreciate the artsy style will pay 2-3 times more than the traditional canned flash bang wallop images that sooo many pro's turn out on a week in week out basis. The style is hip, it's in and so... sieze the day! Have fun.
    Ain't that the truth!!!
     
  28. "FORGET about flash altogether IT KILLS images not create them. Modern high speed film emulsion is incredibly low grain for the comparative speed. Shoot aperture priority at the widest f.stop on any given lens (watch out if you have a f1.2 though as that can get iffy. Have fun concentrate on subject matter and your clients will love the technique. By the way, those brides who appreciate the artsy style will pay 2-3 times more than the traditional canned flash bang wallop images that sooo many pro's turn out on a week in week out basis. The style is hip, it's in and so... sieze the day! Have fun."

    I guess you're referring to documentary style? Now exactly how does this fall under the artsy style? I'm thinking some major general assumptions is being stated?

    Light is good, the knowledge of using it is a must. When effectively using flash or flashes (even better) one should be able to mix ambient and flash together. Aperture equals flash and Shutter equals ambient, quite simple really and it gets easier if you can read and understand the dials on the flash unit! Of course a hand held meter can be easily used also, its really not that difficult.

    15th of a second is easily done, just lay off the coffee before hand! Of course a good light monopod is an effective tool to invest in. The use of 400-800 film is also advisable in dark or late evening ceremonies. When using multiple flashes to create dramatic effect the use of assistances is of value if not essential.
     
  29. James -- What I was referring to was not straight "documentary style". I am talking about what I call "artistic photojournalism" not documentary style, "street photography photojournalism". <p>What I see as popular in the high end wedding work is a combination of candid and artistic. Images that are not "contrived" or posed but more natural than the old studio/PPA style. <p>We can't actually call them "photojournalistic" because some of them are semi-posed and semi-staged with a little reality thrown in. I jokingly call some of my "set-up" shots.. "posed-candids". Other than those shots (family and couple shots) the rest is "documentary style". Still, what makes them different and sometimes artsy is the artistic approach combined with the real emotion and lack of the stiffness or contrived quality of the past.
     

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