How to keep it in focus while the bride is walking

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by william_le, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. I am doing my first Wedding this Sunday and the rehearsal was last
    night. I tested a few shots with the bridal girls walking down the
    hallway. I was using a 10D and a 24 -70 at 5.6.

    All the photos came out not in focus or not very sharp. How do you
    all manage this while with moving people during the ceremony (walking)

    My lens are 50 1.4, 17 -40 and 24 -70. Should I use the 50 mm when
    they walk down, I heard the 24-70 is soft at F4.

    The ETTL results were scary as well.
  2. As a preference, I prefocus to a given point, aperture priority set to f8-f11, iso 400-800 if there is enough light for 1/60th or better, do it without flash.

    If light is too low, go with shutter priority set to 1/125th, flash head (diffused) at 45 degrees (less abrupt that way), and prefocus for the spot. If you have enough distance you may get a second shot in. This means moving your zoom back to the next easy focus point and being ready.

    You can practise with your spouse if they are available.

    Some other thoughts are to rear sync the flash and go program mode. Or not? Again, practise!!
  3. Remeber when using AI Servo, that the first shot is often out of focus. So take 2 or 3 in continuous mode, with focus set to AI Servo.
  4. AI Servo, f8 w/lightening fast fingers. Use flash to get your shutter speed to 1/50. Shoot manual mode, FEL is king!!!

    You've twice the gear I got. I shoot digi wid da dRebel and kit lense + primes. No AI Servo with RAW...yet pics are VERY VERY clean!

    Were you nervouse and shooting low TV? Cam shake?

    Post samples please!

    If the whole pic is OOF then it's shake, was Starbucks involved?

    If only the subject is OOF then TV was the problem.

    Either way it's not the gear! Sorry for sounding like a d!ck.
  5. P.S.

    The 24-70L is the quintesential PJ lense! Your're lucky to own one! f4 is not the strong point for any lense, but for this SUPERB GLASS it's hardly soft! (Word choice intended!)

    Consider f8...wider DOF to allow for movement
  6. Mike 125 of a second? No way! Half that will do for 50mm or less. Gutsy is 1/40. Drag that puppy!
  7. WoW, quick reponses. Thank you

    I don't go lower that F4 for moving objetcs as the DOF is to shallow to get in focus. F4 on the 24 -70 is soft as I have read allot of reviews by other pro's.

    The only thing I could think now is use AI Servo and use my prime 50 mm.
  8. How do you think manual focus photographers cope? The prefered way of doing this is to focus on a point (like a church bench), wait till your subject reaches it, then press the shutter. But even then, f4 may be pushing it.

    CF4-1 is your friend, it moves the autofocus to the * button so you aren't switching AF on/off all the time.

    What was wrong with the flash?
  9. Here's a question for you, I currently shoot my weddings using Leica M's, and
    Canon FD manual focus lenses, for the couple walking down the aisle I
    generally use a 20- 35L and flash, I tend to focus and zoom as they walk, as I
    have found if I focus on one area and wait for them to reach that area, it is not
    uncommon for one, or other to be looking at the floor, I normally taking 4 or 5
    shots, 80% of these will be sharp. My question is I am currently thinking of
    changing my SLR outfit and am unsure whether to go Canon or Nikon, but
    one thing I thought would be a big advantage either way, is autofocus in low
    light situations, is this not the case? What has been everyone else’s
  10. I've experienced the same problem with the procession shots William. Let's analyze what happens during the processional. Each person in the wedding party walks down the aisle one after the other. Sometimes escorted, sometimes not. Most Brides want an image of each person. Then comes the money shot... the Bride and her Dad. Miss this and...well.... Now they're usually walking pretty slow (most of the time), but you really only have one chance to get each shot and then step out of the way. One chance because you have to wait until the subject pretty much fills the frame for a nice shot. Two more steps and the subject is on top of you. IMO, shooting available light is suicidal. That area of most churches is usually fairly dark. Even with a 50/1.4, using f/1.4, 2 or even f/2.8 is risky due to shallow Depth of Field. A shutter speed of 1/50th without flash is also risking subject movement. Result out of focus or blurry images. IMO, use flash. Then there is AF. If you use single shot AF there is a chance the subject will move forward just as the camera locks focus. Unless you're at f/5.6 or 8 there's a chance the image will be soft. NOT acceptable. If you use AI Servo the first shot may not lock focus, and there isn't a second shot because the flash hasn't recycled. Ironically, I NEVER missed a processional shot UNTIL I started to use auto focus. So, I simply went back to what worked every time. Zone focussing. I learned Zone Focussing when I shot the processionals with a Hasselbald. There is no focussing a Hasselblad quickly, so you have to pre-focus or what's called Zone Focussing. Prior to the processional I pick the spot where I'll stand. I have my wife who is 5'11" stand in the aisle at a spot where the composition is nice. I note where she is relative to the pews. Then I pre-focus with the AF turned off, with the lens set to at least f/5.6, and fire a flash shot with the EOS on Manual Mode and the shutter speed set at least the equivalent of the the focal length. This allows me to + or - adjust the flash output to get proper flesh rendition (a little underexposure with digital is preferable so the brides dress doesn't have blown highlights). Also, remember that Depth of Field isn't equal front to back. It is greater behind the focus point. So with Zone focussing, shoot just after the moving subject enters the Zone, and with their movement they will most likely be pretty close to the real focus point when the shutter trips. For example, the Zone of acceptable focus with a 50mm lens set at 5.6 at 15 feet distance from the subject will be approx. 12 feet in front to approx. 21 feet in back. Much more behind the actual focus point then in front. So don't wait until they get to the actual focus point to shoot or they may step forward out of the Zone. So, during the processional, I step out, wait for the subject to enter the pre-focused zone, compose, and shoot. Step back out of the way as they pass, step back out for the next shot. No focussing, no fiddling with exposure, just shoot when they enter the Zone. Sorry for the long post again, but this is a very important subject. Here's an example:
  11. This one was with a digital camera. I got down lower for this shot because dad was wearing glasses and to avoid flash reflections in the windows.
  12. Another with a digital camera. Dad had passed away and Mom gave away the bride.
  13. Michael Wegwart , mar 31, 2004; 12:07 a.m.
    Hi William, I posted an answer, in the canon eos forum, to this question. As a side note you should read the thread in this forum "how slow to shoot". Lots of good pointers there.<p>


    Gerald W. Litynski , mar 31, 2004; 12:27 a.m.
    One way is to focus on a person 'near' the hallway, then turn off the auto-focus, wait for the bride (or flower girl, etc.) to hit that spot and then trip the shutter. The 50mm lens probably will give you the best results (my guess.)

    Bruce Rubenstein , mar 31, 2004; 07:09 a.m.
    Try setting the AF for Tracking/Dynamic (whatever Canon calls it - the camera will continue to focus as long as you keep the shutter depressed half way), and manually select the active AF sensor. This way you know what is being focused on. Prefocus on the area you want the person to be in for the shot. You just can't prefocus and fire though, because the person has to look right. (Not so minor aside here... Technical perfection does not make a good picture. Pushing the button at the right time is at the heart of a great shot. All the auto gee-wizz stuff lets you concentrate on framing and timing the "perfect" shot. Learn how to make good use of it.) If your pictures still aren't sharp, then you probably have too low a shutter speed or camera shake.

    Steve Levine , mar 31, 2004; 08:17 a.m.
    With all due resepects,these issues should be cleared up a year before one's first wedding,not 4 days.The technique normally used here is to pre-focus on a pre-determined spot with manual focus,not AF gear.I zone focus at 10 feet and allow DOF to cover 5-15 feet.When the subject arrives at the 10 feet spot,Im good to go.

    Gerald W. Litynski , mar 31, 2004; 08:20 a.m.
    "Try setting the AF for Tracking/Dynamic (whatever Canon calls it - the camera will continue to focus" and continue and continue. With a white wedding dress in non-sunlight conditions, most autofocus cameras will hunt (unless you are gifted enough to focus on something of contrast, while awaiting the moment to capture on film or media) as the bride and bridal party walk towards the alter.)

    Shourya Ray , mar 31, 2004; 08:28 a.m.
    Focus on a pew and wait for the bride to get there and then trip the shutter. Works every time. If you're shooting at around f/8, the DoF will cover any sloppiness on your part.
    <p>Do not rely on auto-focus. You'll be amazed how often it fails in low light conditions, especially, if the subject is wearing a textureless white gown.
  14. You guys make this forum so enjoyable to read. great info!
  15. Marc, in the picture; Zone focussed Nikon D1-X, 28/1.4 @ f/5.6, ISO 100, Nikon SB28DX diffussed flash on bracket.
    What did you use to diffuse the flash? The picture is excellent!
  16. I've shot 3 weddings, and kept it simple for each. I use 400 speed film, one-shot auto focus mode with a 50mm 1.8 lens set in manual mode to f5.6 at 1/60th or 1/45th, with a bracket-mounted ETTL flash set to flash compensation +1. The results may be a bit flat, but always acceptably sharp and well exposed.
  17. I too use manual focusing with M setting on my camera f8 1/60 flash on a bracket
  18. Here is the one with her dad
  19. I don't often take risks with this shot, but after I had taken these, I managed another couple on SLR with flash. These where taken on a Leica M7, 35mm 50th of a sec @ f2 and are much nicer than the images with flash.
  20. Sorry, I'll try this image smaller
  21. I have aloready made Marc answer this question in the past. But I have to pop in and say GREAT JOB to all who answered. Nice to see a forum question get asked and answered correctly without a bunch of flames or trolls.
  22. Since I still use a Hasselblad for processionals, it's zone focus every time. However, I don't pick out an area for the bride and dad to walk into or focus on a pew or anything. Since I know that for me, with my normal lens, a full length of an average sized person is correctly focused at 11 feet, I just set the distance on my lens and shoot when the bride/dad's image fills my frame. Since I use f8, depth of field covers any small focusing errors. This way, if the bride/dad is not "photogenic" at the moment I want to shoot, I just walk backwards a little, tracking the shot until my subjects look good. Based on where the church allows me to stand for the processional, I do try to select the best looking background for the shot under the circumstances. My shutter speed is based on the ambient light conditions, whether there is bright light pouring through the church doors or windows, and sometimes whether I've set up a rim light off camera flash.

    I would use the 50mm focal length unless you have a very short aisle, then a wider focal length such as 35mm might work better. A full length with 35mm might be a pre-set distance of about 8 feet--you should test it. I wouldn't use anything wider than f5.6 unless you are absolutely sure of your autofocus capabilities.

    Also, if you set your lens on manual focus, the E-TTL flash should use all segments of the metering system in an averaged way instead of the almost spot flash metering that happens with E-TTL when you use autofocus.
  23. "I got down lower for this shot because dad was wearing glasses... "

    That's another tip worth the subscription (along with "Always start at infinity...").

  24. Great thread and great info in all answers.


    I have shot four weddings in past four weeks. For the processional and recessional I shoot in AI servo on my EOS5 - all of my shots have been sharp. As soon as subject is visible I lock a focus point on their face and hold shutter button down half way and don't shoot until subject has moved a minimum of a couple of steps - the more the better. By doing this AI will lock on moving subject and as subject moves camera can calculate movement speed and predict focus when you press shutter. I use to shoot a lot of wild life and air shows and in AI you must give camera time to track movement after locking on.

    I always shoot in Manual 1/30 @ f4 w/flash indoors and Av f4~f5.6 w/fill flash @ -1 ~ -2 outdoors. I am using a Canon 28-80 f2.8-f4L lens.

    Good luck.

  25. I forgot to say that when I suggested using the 50mm focal length, I did not mean use the 50mm lens because with your 1.6 conversion factor with the 10D, that would mean your focal length would be equivalent to an 80mm focal length. Usually, the normal or slightly wide focal lengths are used with aisle shots to help with depth of field in zone focusing (besides good perspective for full length humans and getting some of the guests in the shot). However, since you have the conversion factor, does this not mean that you can use perhaps wider f stops than with non-converted lenses with zone focusing because your depth of field would be greater--for instance to shoot a processional shot at a 50mm or normal focal length for 35mm on a 10D, you'd use a 35mm lens (or focal length on a zoom). So for the same view as a non-converted lens, you'd have greater depth of field...

    Anyway, you didn't mention what mode you were using, and what shutter speed. If you were using autofocus, then E-TTL, which is biased toward the active focus point, would perhaps underexpose if the bridesmaids' dresses were light colored. That plus the fact that Canons (E-TTL) always try to expose the background correctly in relation to the subject flash exposure, could be contributing to your focus or blur problem. Unless you are really confident with AI Servo, I'd use manual mode on the camera, and manual zone focus (which forces E-TTL to an averaged flash metering mode). But practice at home in similar lighting conditions with a model walking toward you, using different shutter speeds. If you use too high a shutter speed, you'll get black backgrounds, which is not very pleasing.
  26. I would only use a manual mode. I would choose a pew that defined a place for my "focus
    point". If the expression on the Bride's face is not optimum at that point, I would start to
    back-up with my feet at the same speed she is to 'wait' for the best expression, or a 'safe'
    expression, like 'looking out at the guests'.

    Use a normal lens for this photograph.

    I use lots of flash power, so I consequently can photograph at f11 or better. I have no
    problems with being in focus.

    I will also focus at a point alittle in front of the Bride to make sure my "focus zone" gives
    the Bride the 2/3rds "rear portion" of the depth of field. Focus zone in front of the Bride
    is very shallow; the rear of the focus point is liberal with focus depth.
  27. I'm not sure if this is "politicly correct" but I ask the bridal party and anyone else wlking down the isle to stop for 1 second look at the camera and smile, then continue walking. Never had a problem using auto focus.

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