Lighting Equipment - Church Posed Portraits

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by grace_cheung, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. I want to try to shoot weddings on my own w/o an assistant, so what
    would be the least lighting equipment I would need that's easy to set
    up and use for the Church posed pictures?

    The rest of the day I would use on camera flash like Nikon SB-800 or
    the new one SB-600.

  2. Lights are a tool. Before you can decide what tool you need for a job, you have to know what you are trying to do. In this case, that means what do you want your pictures to look like (ratio of ambient to flash), and how light sensitive your recording media is.

    Without knowing these things I wouldn't rely too heavily on any bit of advice unless it was coming from the Amazing Kreskin.
  3. Not sure what current offerings there are for Nikon, however, Marc Williams gave me the idea to use canons st-e2 for flash/storbe remote. I am using it and loving the flexibility. I hold the 550ex high with my left hand (diffused) and have a small stand w/300ws head (w/battery if needed) and umberella. I like to set this to bring light in from the same direction as the windows/sun lights main concentration when daytime hours are available. This seems to me easy and just enough for an alter shoot. I like to use a remote release, as my preference is to balance with natural/ambient light.
    The 550ex is used as a fill and in E-TTL, straight on, it seem to balance the shadows and provide nice contrast and retains that detail. I like to try new idea though and you may not feel free to 'play' as I do. Hope you find some substantive answers. I found this is a great forum for that.
  4. Having a flash slave such as a Norman 200b, which is 200ws, would be adequate. With
    your camera mounted flash, this would give you about a f5.6 at ASA 100/setting for a
    group of 12 people on the altar, spread across. You would be using a slight wide angle
    lens such as a 35mm, but not a 28mm or wider.

    You can find these on the auctions for about $175 used. You can place it on a stand. A
    one step down solution is to use a vivitar 285, this is 100ws. You will have a f4.8 at the
    altar for a group of 12, spread across in single file. This is enough depth of field, barely.

    You can get a vivitar 285 used for about $45. Put dependable, rechargable alkalines in it.
    Put a Wein slave eye on it. And if possible, buy one that has a "Flash Foot One" metal flash
    foot on it. This allows you to use a 2-pronged HC connection to the flash, and you can
    mount it directly to a stand with its 1/4" hole. This is one hotshoe replacement that will
    not break.

    I would get another Vivitar 285 or 2 to illuminate the background, too. 2 of them do a
    better job of this than 1. I have 6 Vivitar 285/283s. I have 7 Norman 200b's.

    Place the 2 flashes pointed at the group only about 4 apart in the beginning. Don't take
    greater risks with your ability to visualize the flash coverage by placing them a greater
    distance apart at this time. Eventually, buy a Minolta III flashmeter ( Not the auto meter
  5. There are several ways to light the formals in a church. Some photographers use just the on-camera flash, some use one off-camera and one on-camera, some use two off-camera, some add umbrellas and/or softboxes and use corded powerpacks. Which one(s) do you want to do? Like Bruce said, depends on how you envision these photos. The least lighting and setup is to use just the on-camera flash (no additional equipment or setup other than a tripod), combined with dragging the shutter.
  6. Allow me to interject another, nontrivial factor: time. At a wedding you will almost always be working against the clock. The best time to do the formal and family group shots is before the ceremony starts. If the bride and groom are willing to see each other before the ceremony you can get them all done at a reasonable pace. At any other point in the day everyone would rather be somewhere else, doing something else, and you won't have much time to work with.

    You really need to know ahead of time about how many groups there are, who will be in the groups and how much time you have. It helps if you can get someone in the wedding party to help form up the groups. Anyway, what does all this have to do with lighting? Well, setting up lights take time. You have to put things together. If you're using more than one light, or in manual mode, you have to do meter checks and you have to break everything down to get to the next location. There are reasons why photographers use assistants. It's also whey when photographers work out their lighting they stick with it; sometimes forever after. If you are working by yourself, and not very experienced keep things very simple or you'll fall behind, start to rush and make mistakes.
  7. Grace,
    If you have a couple of Vivitar 285s, you have enough power to do the job so long as you do not use 6x7 cameras. Your
    Nikon will get plenty of depth of field for 2 Vivitars. You could use your camera flash to
    trigger the 2 Vivitars. This is a total of 200ws plus maybe 50 ws for your camera mounted
    flash. That is enough power. I have used Vivitars for decades. They do the job. They will
    do the job for you.

    I don't use an assistant. I have to be more organized and "ready, set, go".<p>

    Later, when you get more money or decide to use studio lights at the altar, you can use
    the Vivitars to illuminate the background: background duty. You can use the vivitars for
    quickie portraits, and my Portfolio has at least one of those, look for it.
    You can also place these units in a Photographer's vest for temporary duty at the cake
    cutting as a slave flash. Let a guest hold it for you for 20 seconds. They will. They
    always do! They like to help! Don't be shy about asking!
    You can always dial them down to a lower power. And they dial down 4 f stops.
    These units are well respected and proven. If you ever break one, just buy another used
    Vivitar. There are thousands of them out there.
    New they are about $90 as I recall, used about $25-45. You can afford to buy 3!
  8. Anything that you've done over and over, the same way for 30 years is easy. The first time or two you've got a dozen different shots to take, 20 people milling around and you've 45 minutes to setup, shoot and tear down, things can get interesting.
  9. Grace, the least is what I've been using for years and it works fine. I use a Sunpak 622 Super on a flip bracket. That's all. If the background of the church is dark, set the shutter speed at 1/30 or even slower if you are using a tripod. The longer shutter speed will lighten the background while the flash will properly expose the foreground. By using only a camera mounted flash, there is no setup involved and you can move around and have people move around with no need to move the lighting equipment around. In short, you'll be a whole lot more flexible. Remember that you can still take exising light pictures whenever you choose. You'd be surprised how nice the pictures look with this technique.
    If you are working alone, or even when you have an assistant, it really helps to simplify.
  10. It's interesting to hear all the different approaches wedding photographers use, and the different times recommended for shooting formals. Flash use for formals: I tend to favor simplicity. Slower shutter speeds with the camera on a tripod to capture some of the ambient background. Formals are the most static shots you'll take at a wedding, so it works even at f/5.6 or 8. Two Canon 550EXs triggered by an ST-E2 transmitter does the job for me... one on the camera bracket with a diffuser slightly angled toward the left, and the second diffused one on a "Magic Arm" pointed slightly to the right (at the groomsmen). It all sets up in seconds, with the Magic Arm clamp residing in the tripod bag at all times. I've shot wedding parties of 24 with this set up. Plenty of power when you use two 550EXs in tandem along with longer shutter speeds. I believe Nikon now makes a transmitter for the newer SB flashes. At the very least I know they make a TTL slave unit because I use to use them to do the same thing when I shot with a D1-X.
  11. Grace,
    You should experiment with different techniques, and select one that works well with your photography style. Although I shoot primarily documentary style wedding photography, I still get the formal family and wedding party shots. I use a Metz 60CT4 (which could also double as a weapon!)with a Nikon F-5 for this purpose. Sometimes I'll bounce it into a Lumiquest bounce to soften it a little, other times I'll shoot it straight, but with the built in wide angle attachment in place. It definitely gets the job done without having to set up lights/umbrellas (and worrying about someone tripping over something).
    By the way, Marc, I really like your Canon set-up. It looks great, and I'm sure it gives you beautiful light.
    Best of luck, Grace.
  12. Wow everything is so complicated when it comes to flash. The simplest way for me is a diffused flash on camera, but with a dragged shutter to get in the ambient light. Set the camera to the aperture that you're using and use 1/15th sec shutter speed to get the background sorted. For groups, light patterns are really not that critical as long as everyone is evenly lit. For close ups you can use the same flash but just bounced off a reflector to soften the light. I was trying to look for an example but I don't do groups in church, so I found a b&g shot in a hotel bedroom at night. The main light is flash bounced off a reflector, and the ambient is just from dragging the shutter.

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