My First Wedding -- questions about flash and more...

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by prabhu_v, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. I'm shooting my first wedding and it's an Indian wedding & reception. I mostly shoot landscapes, but I'm doing this for a friend and want to make sure I do the best for his big day.
    I have a Nikon D600, 16-35 f/4 lens, and a 50mm lens. In addition I am renting:
    70-200 f/2.8
    24-70 f/2.8
    80 f/1.4
    105 f/2.8 macro
    sb 910 flash
    a second body Nikon d600
    a battery grip
    a double strap
    What I wanted to know was--am I renting the correct gear? Am I missing something? I'll have a non-photographer friend assisting me, but I'm not sure exactly how best she can assist. Any suggestions?
    Do I need to get a bag to store all the stuff? Or do I just place them on the table where I'll be seated?
    Also, for flash is it best to keep the flash on the camera or should I have my friend hold the flash remotely?
    Any other advice for a first timer?
     
  2. Seems to me that the 24-70 lens will cover most of your needs. I'd recommend keeping the flash on the camera, possibly on a bracket, with some means of diffusing its light. Your friend can carry the other camera.
     
  3. Oh, dear.
    I have fought the temptation to say this for years, but I'm not going to fight it this time. YOUR ABILITY TO SHOOT THE WEDDING WELL HAS •ALMOST• NOTHING to do with your gear. It's hard to shoot a wedding with an iPhone (although it's been done — and very well done in fact) but generally, if you have a DSLR and almost any f/2.8 lens, you can 'do the job'.
    These questions now sound to me a bit like this: "Hi, I'm about to give my first concert on the piano. I'm actually a part-time guitarist but I fool around with the piano at home and I'm pretty sure I can do it. Now, what's the best piano for me to buy?" That's simply not a question that a beginner needs to worry about much.
    Actually, my background in music haunts me when I hear this question from photographers. Violinists and flautists carry their instruments with them; and when I was performing on the harpsichord, at least half of the time I transported my own instrument with me (my earliest excuse for getting a large vehicle). But a lot of pianists perform on whatever the hall has. Organists invariably do. Wedding photography would be incomparably better if venues started prohibited photographers from bringing their own cameras and lenses on the premises — in other words, if the venues insisted on the photographers using whatever the venue provided. This would throw the emphasis back where it belongs, on photography as skill, rather than ownership of equipment.
    I don't mean to be insulting and harsh, I truly don't. I genuinely am trying to be helpful here. I'm trying to save you and your friend some disappointment. Maybe I'm in a bad mood.

    One of my favorite quotations about photography. "When people ask me what equipment I use, I tell them: My eyes." I thought it was by Walker Evans but Google has failed me and I can't confirm that. (Anybody know?) Here's a good page of quotations from great photographers (including that one, attributed to anonymous).
    http://www.focalpower.com/app/quote/subjects/5/
    Read those quotations in the context of your question.
    • "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." (Ansel Adams)
    • "Never forget that all the great photographs in history were made with more primitive camera equipment than you currently own." (Brooks Jensen)
    • "People are under the illusion that it's easy...Technically, it is complex. You have a million options with equipment to distract you. I tell my students to simplify their equipment." (Brett Weston)
    • "No photographer is as good as the simplest camera." (Edward Steichen)
    *
    Now, I'll try to answer the question you actually asked.
    Take the two D600s, put the 24-70 on one of them, put the 70-200 on the other, and leave the other lenses at home. It's not that they aren't potentially useful. Some wedding photographers carry them and use them. But those two lenses will do everything that's really needed, and especially as a novice you do NOT want to be bothering with changing lenses, or carting stuff around, or worrying about your gear if you stow it somewhere. It will be greatly to your advantage to eliminate every non-essential distraction or decision that can be eliminated. You'll end up with way too much to think about as it is.
    Of course you'll also need the flash. Do you know how to use it?
    You could have your non-photographer assistant carry all this stuff around, but that's a waste of talent. Is your assistant a woman? Even if she's not a photographer, if she's got any kind of eye at all — and most women I know do — have her stick close to you and help you spot shots. During the formals, have her look at the bride's dress, the bouquets, hair, etc. Even after doing this part-time for many years, I still find I do a better job when my wife is there to say "hold on!" to me while she goes and fixes the bride's dress, moves the bridesmaid into a better position, buttons a groomsman's jacket, removes a passed-out guest from the background (well, I usually spot the passed out guests on my own), etc.
    The best advice anybody here can give you is, DON'T DO IT. If you can't back out of the thing now, then KEEP THINGS SIMPLE.
    Good luck.
    Will
     
  4. Prabhu,
    You are going to weigh yourself down with gear.

    I shoot weddings with a D600 and a second body that stays in my bag apart from during the ceremony where I don't have time to change lenses. Otherwise I just use the one body with the D90 on standby just in case.

    I have two lenses Tamron - 28 - 75 f/2.8 and Tamron 70 - 200 f2.8 and a pair of SB600 flash units. One is usually always on my camera set to half power with a diffuser on it and will always try and bounce wherever possible.

    You have to be able to move around easily and carrying a heavy bag is not going to help.
     
  5. I agree with William.

    But in terms of equipment, the 24-70 and 70-200 cover 90 percent of what I shoot at a wedding. The 16-35 could be helpful if you have to shoot some large groups at close range or are trying to do a wide panoramic shot (which can be cropped down from a superwide shot). You don't really need the 85 or 105. You do need a second flash if only for backup. I put my flash on a bracket and use the plastic diffuser that comes with it. Each camera goes on its own strap. I usually only work with one at at time, but generally keep the 24-70 on one and the 70-200 on the other. When I think I need both lenses, one camera is around my neck or in my hand and the other is on my shoulder so I can switch back and forth easily. Never tried a double strap but I would expect it to be cumbersome and that it would make me carry around unnecessary weight at times when I only need one camera.
     
  6. @William: "I still find I do a better job when my wife is there to say "hold on!" to me"
    Truer words were never spoken! I shot my first and last wedding this summer (story elsewhere) and my level of success was in great part due to prompting and advice from my wife, who also carried my camera bag. Well, I did read everything I could find about "how to shoot your first wedding", and made sure I had backup gear, etc. I used a Tamron 24-135/3.5-5.6 -- the wedding was outside, with my D700 and a flash on a bracket. I rigged an external battery pack for the flash with a Quantum insert and a 6V gell-cell. That was in a small nylon pouch for a point-and-shoot hung over my shoulder on its strap. Worked nicely.

    I'm glad to have had the experience, don't feel the need to repeat it, and the family (close friends) were happy with the result. My advice to you is to read up, test your gear (and make sure you know how to use it), and visit the venue beforehand.
    Remember to bring extra batteries and cards, and format & test the cards beforehand. I bought new cards especially for this wedding.
    I second the recommendation to travel light -- I was physically tired after spending 6 hrs on my feet.

    Good luck!
     
  7. I notice you have only rented one SB910. I'd recommend a second (identical) flash and an external powerpack (Quantum or similar). You'll get faster recycle time and longer life than using AAs.
    Also recommend the bracket and a diffuser. The bracket moves the flash away from the lens (helps avoid red-eye), puts no stress on the camera hot shoe (D700s have issues with this) and gives you a way to hold onto the rig.
    This is the bracket I used: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009UTLM/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
     
  8. Do what William Porter says. Read his post over and over. Do what William Porter says.

    All the advice written here is pricelees. Pay attention to it.
     
  9. Mr Porter wrote - Now, what's the best piano for me to buy?" Steinway! joking of course!
     
  10. About your flash. If you use it on every shot, indoors, outdoors, you will be pleasently surprised how well
    your photo's will look. Without flash all sorts of "Thinking," is required. Perhaps set your camera to the
    Program Mode and use the flash all of the time. Bring a lot of batteries. Change the batteries around every
    75 shots so you don't have to wait 30 seconds before the flash has enough juice to fire.

    I told a friend, his first wedding, to do this for his neighbors wedding. Sure there were some rejects however in my opinion he aced his first wedding by using the flash on every shot. He really had a lot of fun and it was a nice experience for him.
     
  11. Oh, I just thought of something. Ansel Adams was a great, a really great classical piano player, but he gave it
    up in lieu for his other passion for photography! I wonder if he liked Steinway pianos too!
     
  12. Bring a lot of batteries. Change the batteries around every 75 shots so you don't have to wait 30 seconds before the flash has enough juice to fire.​
    Set you flash to half power. This will
    A) give your shots a more natural fill flash as opposed to a washed out look.
    B) less harsh flash shadows behind your subject.
    C) Faster recharge times as your flash is only recharging half as much.
    D) Your batteries will last twice as long.
    You will find that half power is all the power you really need, If I am shooting a subject that is close to a wall and I have nothing to bounce the flash off I will reduce the flash to 1/4 power to help eliminate the shadow on the wall. Especially when shooting in Portrait format when the flash is to the side of the camera.
     
  13. Thank you all for your responses and ideas. Yesterday was the first event and it was indoors at a house, and I used many of the tips given by all of you. Since it was in a house, I used only the 24-70 and the 85mm (I used the 50mm for a bit). I had the flash on the 24-70, and I had the 85mm wide open. I also happened to watch this video before I went to the event which is absolutely one of the best talks I have watched on photography: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00K7pBWOInk
    - A few things from my yesterday's experience: lighting was a little boring with the flash on the 24-70. I feel like I could have arranged for an off-camera flash. Is it easy to set that up if I have an assistant?
    - I had to keep a balance between taking artistic shots and capturing moments. The video that I watched (link above) made me pay more attention to capturing the moments vs focusing on the artistic look.
    - The 85mm without the flash was my favorite. I absolutely love the shots that I took with this. Though I'd like to keep things simple as noted by many of you and just have the 24-70 and 70-200, I feel like a third camera with the 85mm on it would be very useful for the main event.
    Some questions:
    1. Is it easy to set up a remote flash and have my assistant just hold it? Would you recommend it?
    2. Joe Buissink in the above video suggests being on P mode for weddings. However, I am not sure why you wouldn't want to be on A mode instead. I would like to learn more about the P mode and why it is easier to use than the A (or S) mode. Could someone share their thoughts on the P mode and how to use it effectively?
    Thanks again for all your help!
     
  14. I am currently editing an engagement shoot and thought this image would explain what I mean about not using your flash in full power.
    This image was shot using flash as a fill in. The shadows and highlights from the sun are not overpowered but their faces are just hightlighted a little bit as a reflector would achieve. Being a single shooter I don't have an assistant to hold a reflector and use my flash on low power instead.
    00cEQ2-544139784.jpg
     
  15. I use two camera bodies, one with the 24-70 f2.8 and the other with the 70-200 f2.8, and a flash attached to both cameras (sb900) and 2 sb800 as backup. Both of these are on D800's. As back up, I also carry one addition body (D700) with lens (either an 85 f 1.4 or 14-24 f2.8). I carry lots of fully charged camera batteries (at least 2 per body) and 8-12 sets of 4 AA batteries (envelope) as well as multiple cards. Fortunately, I have not been required to use the backup bodies, but I have them if I need them.
    You have to remember that weddings are fast moving events and the simpler your gear, the easier it is for you to focus on capturing the emotion of the event.
    I typically carry a few other items if needed (Einstein 640/PowerMC2/MiniTT1/AC3 and FlexTT5 and umbrellas) for post ceremony alter shots.
    I also suggest an assistant and/or second photographer.
    Got to stay focused: This is a once in a life time event for them and it is your job to capture it. Think redundancy (2-3 copies to achieve great results). If you miss it, it is gone forever.
    Just a thought
     
  16. Double AA are eneloop product
     
  17. Good advice has been given. You have no need of the 105 and 85, probably don't need the 16-35 either. Get two flash units - one for each camera. Practice in advance and also hone up your post processing skills. Think about each shot before you take it and keep looking (all the time!), as others have mentioned, for compositions, distracting backgrounds, crinkled dresses, poses, and try to fix them. Also always take a few shots of anything if possible to guard against blinking subjects, scowls etc etc.
    I'd be tempted to say to the couple that you don't want to do it, but you will take some shots off your own back, as it could be a recipe for a major disaster. Suggest they hire a professional. Make it clear that you are not experienced and they may have to accept the consequences. If they are really OK with this then go ahead, but I would steer clear of the responsibility of being the official photographer (given the way you asked your question).
     
  18. Prabhu said:
    1. Is it easy to set up a remote flash and have my assistant just hold it? Would you recommend it?
    Yes! And, yes! You simply need a way to trigger your strobe remotely. I happen to have PocketWizard TT1/TT5 Nikon TTL-capable RF triggers. Phottix also now offers a Nikon-specific TTL system as well. Though somewhat less reliable, Nikon's CLS system also works using either the dedicated Nikon SU-800 commander (preferred), or another commander-capable Nikon Speedlight (or, on-camera flash), set to commander mode. Note that CLS sometimes has difficulty in direct sunlight, or in conditions where there is a high relative humidity.
    But, this is easily, my favorite way to shoot. You're completely mobile, and your assistant is able to light slightly off-axis to create some modeling on your subjects. I have three different-sized set-ups for this purpose. Here's a Nikon SB-800 + PocketWizard TT5 RF transceiver + Quantum Turbo high-voltage battery, mounted to a 3' octa:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Prabhu said:
    2. Joe Buissink in the above video suggests being on P mode for weddings. However, I am not sure why you wouldn't want to be on A mode instead. I would like to learn more about the P mode and why it is easier to use than the A (or S) mode. Could someone share their thoughts on the P mode and how to use it effectively?
    I've never used 'P' mode, so I can't answer your question directly. But, for event coverage, I'll typically have my camera in manual mode, establishing my initial exposure for the prevailing ambient light level (if exposing for the ambient is both appropriate, and desired). I'll have my flash set to TTL, and will adjust TTL exposure to taste by using the exposure compensation adjustment on my camera. (The exception being, if my light-to-camera distance is to remain constant, then I'll set my flash to manual.) I find this a much easier way to work since you only have one primary variable: your flash's TTL-controlled output (plus, any dialed-in flash compensation). My shutter speed is usually set at or near maximum sync-speed (e.g., 1/250th) to freeze subject-motion, but generally no lower than 1/160th, and my aperture is usually set at about f/5.6. The last variable, ISO, is set to accommodate the ambient light level using these settings.
     
  20. I said:
    I've never used 'P' mode, so I can't answer your question directly.
    To put it more succinctly, my objective is to minimize the "thinking" involved (the same objective for which program mode was designed), while still providing a lot of control, by reducing everything down to as few variables as possible--allowing for only the TTL's variations in output to change, and applying an occasional FV-lock depress, or flash-compensation adjustment, when such adjustment is deemed necessary. At least for me, this seems the simplest approach, and therefore, the easiest to manage under pressure.
     
  21. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Joe Buissink in the above video suggests being on P mode for weddings. However, I am not sure why you wouldn't want to be on A mode instead. I would like to learn more about the P mode and why it is easier to use than the A (or S) mode. Could someone share their thoughts on the P mode and how to use it effectively?​
    I think that you should re-listen to the video and especially listen to the reasons why Joe uses P Mode.
    I believe Joe uses Canon Cameras.
    Essentially (and paraphrasing) Joe mentions how the camera is an extension of his arm, his eye and his mind and how (when in P Mode) he and the tool are in synchronization to the extent that he can correct on the fly and without taking his eye away from the scene or his fingers away from the controls and do all that without thinking or missing a beat.
    Also note although having similar functionalities, there are slight differences between the functionality of P Mode on a Canon DSLR and the Nikon DSLR. Also the layout of the function buttons and dials differ between those two manufacturers and also there can a different layout between different camera models or series even with each manufacturer.
    I think what Joe is getting at is: using P Mode allows the quickest and easiest method for HIM to adjust and override the automatic, meter controlled mode to adjust the exposure to best suit any particular shooting scenario he might encounter.
    Undoubtedly, in my opinion, Joe would use P Mode in “Program Shift Mode” to allow him to manipulate any exposure override very quickly – AND- he would be very specific as to what METERING MODE that he would be using and he would know exactly WHY he would be using that metering mode and in what situations that metering mode would fail him.
    With Canon Cameras: P Mode has a very specific functionalities when using Flash – I am not sure if the same applies to Nikon DSLR's.
    You might like to think of P Mode as a combination of A Mode and S Mode on your Nikon Camera.
    *
    The two main reasons I choose to use P Mode (and also Program Shift) with my Canon DSLR's are:
    • when I want to more easily control both the Shutter and Aperture when using on camera Flash in some specific shooting scenarios, usually during the periods of the day when the light is rapidly changing EV
    • when I am shooting with my eye away from the viewfinder
    I usually always use M Mode for Weddings and Social Events as for me that provides the agility and extension of camera, fingers to brain, without thought, that Joe describes.
    Not any method is better, but rather each is a different way of driving the tools.
    *
    I’d strongly encourage you to intimately understand ALL the METERING MODES of your camera so you always make a very accurate and an informed choice as to what METERING MODE yopu should use.
    I suggest that you understand the METERING MODES of your cameras before you even begin to think about making choices about what Camera Mode (M, A , S or P) that you want to use at a Wedding.
    WW
     
  22. Prabhu said:
    I also happened to watch this video before I went to the event which is absolutely one of the best talks I have watched on photography: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00K7pBWOInk
    I finally began watching Joe's video (I still have another 45 minutes to go!), and learned a bit more about his 'P' mode approach to shooting. It makes a lot more sense when described in greater detail, and in context:
    Joe Buissink said (from the OP's previously linked YouTube video):
    00:36:48: I shoot in 'P' mode because . . .
    00:59:29: How do I use 'P' . . .
    01:00:28: This is why we shoot 'M' . . .
    Joe reveals at 01:00:28, that under more challenging lighting, he does in fact revert back to manual mode. He describes how he'll "take a reading" (which he gestures by shooting, and chimping three times), and says, "after about five frames [of chimping], and then I'm there the whole time." Then he continues to explain that he'll quickly switch back to 'P' mode for the unexpected.
    Joe's settings: 'P' mode, matrix-metering, plus AE-lock when necessary. However, he explains that he uses both framing, and the lens' zoom, to isolate an 18%-like reflectance surface within the immediate area, then he depresses AE-lock and re-frames, employing the otherwise "averaging" matrix-metering circuit as a sort of optical "spot meter" (my words). An interesting technique (which both the OP and Joe have now made me aware) which certainly has merit for select applications.
     
  23. As I said, I've never even used 'P' mode on any Nikon camera I've owned, and wasn't even quite sure how it worked.
    William said:
    You might like to think of P Mode as a combination of A Mode and S Mode on your Nikon Camera.
    Oh, I get it. That makes sense.
    William said:
    The two main reasons I choose to use P Mode (and also Program Shift) with my Canon DSLR's are:
    • when I want to more easily control both the Shutter and Aperture when using on camera Flash in some specific shooting scenarios, usually during the periods of the day when the light is rapidly changing EV
    • when I am shooting with my eye away from the viewfinder
    Again, that 'splains it! Thanks, William!
     
  24. William said:
    I think what Joe is getting at is: using P Mode allows the quickest and easiest method for HIM to adjust and override the automatic, meter controlled mode to adjust the exposure to best suit any particular shooting scenario he might encounter.
    I think it's also worth noting that Joe primarily acts as the second shooter, shooting primarily available-light, PJ-style candids, leaving the flash-fired stuff and formals to a primary shooter, which he hires. So, using 'P' mode for fast-moving, available-light applications makes sense in Joe's case, but this method would prove slightly more complicated (and, constrained), when used in conjunction with a flash.
     
  25. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "So, using 'P' mode for fast-moving, available-light applications makes sense in Joe's case, but this method would prove slightly more complicated (and, constrained), when used in conjunction with a flash."​
    It is not fait accompli. It is ALL about the Photographer knowing the controls layout; the functionalities; and the limitations of the camera’s systems (including the Metering System) and then choosing which is the LEAST complicated or constrained for his/her own self.
    That’s the point I was making before – the fact that I choose to use P Mode when using Flash in certain circumstances, means that for me it is indeed the least complicated and the least constraining – BUT – that doesn’t mean that it would be the most suitable for you or for the OP to do the same.
    Also, whilst we are noting the minutia: it is important to note that Joe uses Canon and Canon Flash and the OP is using Nikon: and also that I am commenting in minute detail about CANON DSLRs and CANON on camera E-TTL Flash Units.
    WW
     
  26. I hear you, William. I just wanted to note that when using flash in 'P' mode, this introduces both an additional variable (flash output power), and another constraint (maximum x-sync shutter speed).
     
  27. A few things from my yesterday's experience: lighting was a little boring with the flash on the 24-70. I feel like I could have arranged for an off-camera flash.​
    Primary solution to the boring light is not to use off camera flash but rather to bounce the flash.
    Most people starting to "bounce" do so by buying a omnibounce or similar device to put on the flash head. That IMHO is not the way to get interesting light.
    Try instead to remove any gizmos on the flash head. Zoom it in manually to let's say 85mm. Think of a spot where you would have placed your off-camera flash, for instance to the left of the subject from a position pointing down say 30 degrees or so. Now lock for a spot in the ceiling or on the wall and imagine that you would could have an illuminated spot there that would give you the direction of light you wanted. Point the flash head to that spot and fire away.
    Don't think that the light has to bounce like a ball because it doesn't. Most walls and ceilings have a predominantly matte surface, which means that reflections are mostly diffuse reflections. Diffuse reflection will spread in all directions. So even if you aim the flash head away from your subject you will still throw light forward the subject as well. Give it a spin and see what you think. This technique cannot always be used - for instance when the ceiling is far too high or the walls and ceiling are very, very dark or have a color that will turn out to give too strong a color cast on the subject.
     
  28. 70-200 f/2.8
    24-70 f/2.8
    80 f/1.4
    105 f/2.8 macro
    sb 910 flash
    a second body Nikon d600
    a battery grip
    a double strap
    Yeah, it is enough to shoot a Indian wedding ceremony as it takes lots of effort in the Indian wedding.
     
  29. Prabhu said:
    . . . The video that I watched [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00K7pBWOInk] made me pay more attention to capturing the moments vs focusing on the artistic look . . . The 85mm without the flash was my favorite. I absolutely love the shots that I took with this. Though I'd like to keep things simple as noted by many of you and just have the 24-70 and 70-200, I feel like a third camera with the 85mm on it would be very useful for the main event.
    For those of you who sat through Joe Buissink's entire videotaped lecture, you know that in addition to the incidental snippets about his 'P' mode technique, he also elaborates, in a fair amount of detail, the way he applies PJ-style photography to wedding coverage. Prabhu noticed that with his own available-light photography (taken with his 85mm), he produced some of his most pleasing images, and for good reason. Available-light, shot well, is some of the prettiest stuff there is (however, I have no idea how Joe continues to get so lucky with so much available window light at each of his venues!).
    I have to say, I really enjoyed Joe's insights (thanks, Prabhu!), and learned quite a lot from listening to him. I found it interesting that Joe totes as many as three bodies at a time, so that he never misses a shot due to a lens-change. If I had my way, I would love to just carry two available-light FX bodies: one with a 35mm f/1.4 mounted, and the second, with an 85mm f/1.4 (and, as Joe does, hire a primary to shoot all the flash-fired stuff). But instead, usually my flash-fired 24-120mm is on my primary body, and my 70-200mm is on my second body for events. Interestingly, many of Joe's very best shots were lensed with his 70-200mm, using its reach to capture moments where his subjects were unaware of being photographed. If you haven't watched the entire video (which I know, is quite long), I highly recommend it!
     
  30. Actually, I've heard Joe Buissink lecture on his photography and he said he recommends P mode, because in the great majority of cases the camera does a better job of sorting out exposure than the brain does. and yes, he knows when not to use it.
    I thought besides so much of all the advice above was good, like William Porter's. But, I would just emphasize, that yes, back-up flash and the suggestion for a battery-pack, especially if you are really going to rely on flash. Makes it so much better, faster and even flash. Quantum works great and can be rented.
    For a modifier on the flash, I've been quite pleased with the Rogue flash bender with their diffuser added. Amazingly even light for on camera use.
     

Share This Page