lighting at a wedding

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by MikeJillphotography, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. Hi all . .
    We are just wondering what lighting other photographers use at a wedding. We have flash and we are considering using continuous led lights.
    We are wondering about the time factor involved with setting up and using lights, we have good results with umbrella and flash on our model shoots and were wondering if this combination would be adequate on a real wedding
    We have decent glass and good cameras recently we shot a baptism event indoors and did not use any lights we relied on the ISO around a 1000 and they were very noisy. I did some test shots outside with my canon 5dmk2 in the street in London and I was using ISO of up to 2500 and the shots were really good with hardly any noise at all.Tthe lights inside the venue were in the ceiling I think they were tungsten and when you zoomed in to the shot at 50-100 % they looked really bad.
    My point here is we have made this mistake before about not using a light source when we know we should have relying on a wider aperture and then finding the shots have turned out very soft and not sharp at all

    In summary why is it that pushing the ISO indoors introduces noise when outdoors at the same ISO and higher does not ?
    and at a wedding is it feasible to use lighting rigs such as profoto B1 or a continuous light or should we just rely on flash and umbrella
    what are other photographers using
  2. I have no experience bringing lights beyond on camera or at least handheld flash to social events. But maybe break things down:
    • High ISO softness: A not that sharp indoors shot is usually taken at a not really handholdable shutter speed, with a wide open lens that would be sharper stopped down further and focusing did not work as successfully as expected. On top of that: the photographer maybe had no chance at all to do something meaningful with the given absence of DOF.
    1. Did you walk the city with an IS zoom and bring out conventional primes for the baptism? What shutter speed will you handhold how successfully behind a conventional 85mm? - I suppose anything below 1/500sec is a tad daring if ultimate sharpeness is your goal. 1/(focal length in mm) sec as minimum shutter speed was a rule of thumb for bearable 4x6" prints on a good day.
    2. DOF & focusing issues? - AFAIK a fast Canon prime needs AF fine tuning to sing on an EOS? If your f2.8 zooms are as vintage as the 5D Mk II, why should they still be in specs?
    3. Focus & recompose are a no-no in low light. With no DOF to start with wide open it is way too likely that either the subject or you move OOF. And if your AF locked upon the right spot to start with is usually questionable.
    • Assuming you have a home and a partner; why don't you take out your camera and find out what is possible at all in which light / darkness level? Knowing your gear helps. - checking and fine tuning it helps too.
    • Setting up lights takes as long as it takes, no matter what kind of light you bring to mount on your stands. The only differences might be made by modifiers; i.e. a softbox takes more time to rig up than an umbrella and the time needed to figure exposure out. TTL flash is almost instant, flash meters and manual flashes or monolights take a while longer but should be faster than histogram chimping, especially if you are a team of two the output adjustment shouldn't take ages. But I do suggest trying a lighting kit out, before you bring it to a wedding.
    • A kit on stands should make sense for indoors formals. - The rest is a question of taste(lessness) You can maybe light a room with strobes bounced into each corner. LED lights ruin the original mood of the venue just in a different way. Considering that you need f8 and a 1/500 to get more than one person into focus for sure handheld without IS the amount of light needed at moderately high ISO setting is just insane. - Dragging your shutter with flash is maybe a more bearable approach. By freezing your subjects with flash you can tollerate a bit of camera shake blurring your background.
    I haven't looked closely at Profoto B1, since they aren't offered with TTL support for any camera system I own. I guess they should be sufficient to light formals if you aren't shooting them at f16 & base ISO. But I believe if you want to shoot the entire event with them, you might need one assistant per light, having them on monopods, carried around like flags.
    • YMMV. - I guessed the amount of nice to have light based upon peeping my own pixels (that look "falling apart" beyond 4x6" prints) and admit having no clue about Canon's AF but no DOF at f4 or f2 should look the same, no matter which brands were used.
  3. i am a pro and I use strobes as do the rest of the pros I know. We also use some form of an LED light but for limited creative shots. We would never shoot a job solely with a continuous light.
    William Michael likes this.
  4. I'd guess it's a result of the different color balance of the light sources. If the indoor light was tungsten, as you thought, be aware that the "bluish light" output of these is only about 10% (relatively) compared to daylight. If your camera's native sensitivity is similar to daylight (it probably is), this means that your blue channel essentially gets about three stops less exposure than the red channel. <br><br>

    You can check this in Photoshop by looking at the color channels (red, green, and blue) separately; if you find that all the noise is in the blue channel then this is probably the issue. I think you can figure it out from there; you seem to be asking the right questions. Best of luck. (I'd personally rely on flash to boost the light, or whatever you need.)
    William Michael likes this.
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    There are too may variables to assume that your results of your test shots are dependent solely upon one set being indoors and the other being outdoors. Also it seems the test was not comprehensive in so far as the test sample was small. One major variable is nailing the correct exposure; even though a 5D MkII has very good High ISO performance, if the exposure is under by 1 Stop in the area of the image that you are testing for noise, there will be an appreciable increase in the noise compared to another image where the exposure is exact in the tested area of the image.

    I think from a theoretical/technical aspect, Bill C's comments regarding the Colour Temperature of the Light Source (and implied the response of the Sensor to different Colour Temperatures) has merit; agian this is another of the many variables contained in an ad hoc testing proceedure.


    All the professionals in my area use Flash - sometimes they will pull a few 'mood' shots using the Videographer's light(s) or the Dance Floor Lights, but then, often for those shots, they still might use Flash Fill to arrest Subject Motion, especially the Head(s); and Drag the Shutter for the 'mood' element of the shot.

    None I know use Continuous Light: None have a Continuous Light Rig. I never used Continuous Light, only Flash (and obviously the Ambient Light).

  6. Just to see the practical significance of this, I shot a couple tests with a run-of-the-mill digital camera: one shot under a low wattage tungsten and one under flash. Basically, I matched exposure and white balance between them, using a somewhat arbitrary ISO speed that is getting near to the highest I would normally want to use. <br><br>

    The result is basically like what I suggested above - comparing the two, side by side on a monitor at "100%" size, it's pretty clear which one has more noise. But the difference is not what I'd call drastic unless perhaps you only look at the blue channel. I've used 5D Mk IIs before (not now) and I'd not expect this to be too objectionable under the OP's conditions.

    I think only the OP can judge if this explains their observations. As a note, if one photographs a mostly blue object then the blue channel will predominate in the view. And if a dark blue object is lifted up from near-black in processing then this will really exaggerate the noise.
    William Michael likes this.
  7. I use strobes...some LED 'IceLight' and i have a light person who's job it is to move with the OCF. I used to use stands...but had one topple over years ago and that was that...i have a really cool monopole that the light person great.
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, from practical experience/observation I further concur with the results of your tests.

    There is an old thread in this Forum where the topic of low-level (indoor) available light shooting at weddings is discussed in technical detail.

    One approach I suggested (and I have used) is to use a Colour Correction Filter to adjust the CT of the ambient incandescent / tungsten light upward, toward 5000°K.

    Obviously using a CC Filter comes at a cost of accommodating the Filter Factor.

    There is at least one Canon technical paper outlining the differences in the blue channel’s ‘responsiveness’ (incorrect technical term) compared to the red channel and this paper is mentioned in an even older thread in the EOS Forum where the topic was the usefulness of CC Filters on Digital cameras.

    That EOS Forum conversation led me to try using CC Filters for Indoor Available Light shots at Wedding Receptions, especially where there were chandeliers hanging in the Reception Hall (a good chandelier as a prop makes for a great shot) - the aim was to attain a better quality image files, specifically less noise when using High ISO.

    At that time I was using a 5D and a 20D and a 50D and the CC filters did indeed assist for those shots I have described; especially for example, in the detail of the Groom’s Tux/Dinner Suit or if the B.Maid, MoH, MoB, MoG were wearing Green~Purple toned Gowns.

    I see no reason to doubt the same theory and results would apply for a 5D MkII, (or a Nikon DSLR for that matter) but I have not tested my 5DMkII.

  9. I think wedding photography depends on the camera as well as the lighting but most full frame cameras will produce very clean images at high ISO
  10. I use several Quantum strobes with various attachments and radio. LED lights constantly on would be annoying to guests and have to constantly be moved around. Video is another story. Choose lighting that is comfortable to use and realizable. Your mobility matters. It also depends if your working alone or have an assistant.

    I don't get the use of CC filters, they went out with film. If your shooting RAW and know how to use Photoshop there is no need.

    Keep it Simple.
  11. Hi rick_jack, I think that the simple answer is that CT filters can be very useful on a camera that has a relatively limited dynamic range. But I read your bio here, and think that you are deserving of a more detailed explanation. So...

    On the surface my test seems to confirm that a "color temperature" filter on the camera would have improved image quality. But... the real issue is that the bluish light content from a tungsten light source is roughly 10x lower, compared to reddish light, than the situation with either daylight or electronic flash.

    On the assumption that digital camera sensors have color sensitivity roughly matched to daylight, this means that the camera's blue channel is relatively underexposed by a factor of about 10x (roughly 3 f-stops equivalent). That channel therefore needs a similar boost in "amplification," implying that "noise" is also increased. In my test, this is what I found, that the blue channel noise was (relatively) objectionable, whereas red and green channels were not.
    William Michael likes this.
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Please note that the Opening Post asked two questions - one is seeking an explanation as to why the indoor shots might render more noise; and the second asked what other Wedding Photographers use for Lighting.

    The topic of (my use of) CC Filters was only brought up within a limited scope, specifically as corroboration of Bill C's analysis as to why there would be more noise from the indoor shots.

    The usefulness/value of using CC Filters is very restricted.

    The use of CC Filters is not a general suggestion for Wedding Photography, but it is not overly complicated if one sees the worth for those few selected shots.

    Three basic premises would exist for one to consider using a CC Filter:

    1. You would want to capture using only Available Light and that light would typically indoor incandescent
    2. The Filter Factor of the CC would allow for an acceptable Shutter Speed to be used
    3. The use of a CC Filter would exhibit far less noise in the otherwise underexposed Blue Channel than what would be apparent if no CC Filter were used and this is something that one has to test for each camera

    In the above circumstances, the use of a CC Filter did render less noise, than not using one, for those type of shots described and I am very proficient with Lightroom and Photoshop: - as mentioned though, I was using 20D, 50D and 5D cameras.

    Also note, Bill C's reply mentioning cameras with limited DR - I'll add "cameras with limited High ISO performance".

    Regarding the first question asked in the OP, there is sufficient information to conduct such an A/B test on a 5DMkII.

  13. Whoops, I had not intended to post this yet, as I had more to say... I guess I accidentally hit the send button. So here is the rest...

    What I had wanted to include was that the exposure factor of a CT filter has the effect of boosting the blue channel exposure; it is the same result as using a lower ISO speed for that channel, and consequently needing to increase camera exposure by about three f-stops. So if, in my test, I would have simply increased the camera exposure, and IF I COULD DO THIS WITHOUT CLIPPING THE RED AND GREEN CHANNELS, then there would not be much QUALITY benefit to using the filter.

    In more concrete terms, if the scene had a dynamic range of, say, 9 f-stops, and I boosted the camera exposure by 3 stops to get the blue-channel exposure into "the ideal minimum range", then the camera would have needed at least 12 f-stops (9+3) of dynamic range to avoid clipping in the red channel. In this situation, note that the camera exposure would have needed to be right on the money, but proper use of a CT camera filter would have allowed an exposure latitude (meaning an allowable exposure error) of about 3 f-stops.

    I've not actually verified this with tests, but I would probably put a lot of money on it in a barroom bet.

    I concur, but I tend to see this as similar to a larger dynamic range - almost like two sides of the same coin.
    William Michael likes this.
  14. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    You might be interested in my “concretes” -

    I had to dig into my old files to confirm: I used an 80A Filter.

    Typically an incandescent chandelier (or similar) would be at about 2400K or a bit lower and the 80A would bump that CT to around 3500K with a Filter Factor of 4 (i.e. 2 Stops attenuation).

    The three cameras I previously mentioned performed MUCH better when capturing a scene ‘illuminated at 3500K’, than if it were ‘illuminated at 2400K’. This effect was exacerbated when using the Cameras at the higher ISO settings.

    Accommodating 2 Stops in Shutter Speed was doable using fast Primes – typically I used a wide fast Prime to leverage a larger DoF for the shot.

    I maintained consistent results for easier/quicker Post Processing setting the cameras’ Colour Temperature manually, to K = 3500 (actually I think I set it to K=3600): but I usually shot in lighting batches anyway and would often manually set the cameras’ Colour Temperature.

    Note that the 5D (and 20D 50D) do not allow the CT to be set at 2400 anyway: my ‘back of the envelope theory’ is that scene which is illuminated by a CT near or lower than the coolest manually available CT setting on an EOS Digital Camera will (in terms of noise) benefit by using a CC Filter to raise the CT of the scene to anywhere near the K= 3500 temperature.

    Based on this (untested) theory, and considering the 5DMkII lowest manual CT setting is 2500K, I’d reckon there would be a good chance that in cases of the very limited shooting scenarios I have outlined, then there would be a reduction in noise if one were to use a CC Filter as I have described.

    Although the typical indoor SCENE might have a DR of 9 or more stops – the nitty gritty parts necessary for the final image would be more in the range of 6 Stops, perhaps less in some instances of a typical indoor incandescent lit scene.

    As a side note: the previous mention of specific colours of the key Women's Gowns was purposeful. One quality service our Studio prided itself on was continuity of Colour throughout the Clients Final Wedding Album. Obviously the issue is that during the course of the Wedding Coverage we shoot under different Lighting Scenarios - any adverse noise which is accumulated in low level available light shooting does make attaining good colour continuity more difficult - and this is especially so if the (key) Women are wearing Green~Purple Gowns.

  15. Thanks for the description of your experience, William. It's interesting to see someone use a 2-stage approach - part of the correction done via a filter and part done via the camera.

    As a revision to my earlier comments, saying that (typical) tungsten only has about 10% bluish light relative to reddish light, the practical difference to a camera is closer to 20%. This is closer to a 2 f-stop color correction than to 3 stops.

    If one looks near the limits of the colors, wavelengths of about 400 nm for blue, and 700 nm for red, then the correction WOULD be closer to 3 f-stops. But it would be an unusual situation for these to predominate in a real world situation.

    It would still be interesting if the OP could confirm if the noise problem actually was due to tungsten (ie, blue channel noise), and in a return-to-the-scene test, using an exposure increase of two or three f-stops (with ISO speed that much lower) would take care of the noise. Of course, a working shooter may not have the time to dig into such details - a simple boost of light via electronic flash takes care of the problem right away.
    William Michael likes this.
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, well articulated: I think that it is important to note that the responses which addressed that question for the OP, were unanimous in recommending the use of Flash.


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