Need Help with Budget Set-up

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jamie_smith|3, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. I'm doing my first "official" wedding for a friend. Don't worry, she knows what she'll be getting and we both have a very realistic idea about the situation. I'm confident this will turn out. :) So, I've searched the forums for answers in particular to my situation and can't find any, probably because I have a low budget and don't own all the equipment really needed for professional wedding photography (YET!) so the posts I did find couldn't apply to me.
    Anyway, I'm trying to figure the best way to light the ceremony and reception and formal group shots (so basically everything.) I have ONE SB-600, one 42" round reflector, Nikon D90, 18-105mm with VR and the fast 50mm 1.8G, a tripod and a stand for the reflector (which I've figured a way to attach the speedlight if need be) and one assistant.And that's pretty much it. I don't know whether it would be best to bounce the flash on-camera, or set it up on the stand somewhere. The reception hall is really big, the walls are white, the floor is brown carpet *meh* and there are approx. (6) 8 foot windows. It's in a gym (><) I'll post a sample pic I took of the bride in the gym. It gets worse: the bridal party is a total of 18! (9+B+G+9). We can the formals inside or outside. I'll attach two pictures of two different locations I considered for the formals.
    Ceremony, set up flash or bounce? The ceiling in the chapel is a dome like structure made from dark wood. I'll attach a panoramic of the entire church taken from halfway between the alter and the front row. It was taken by the bride from her iPhone. You can see me near the right taking notes :)
    The church is very open to whatever I need in and want to do, so is the bride. She's having a catholic wedding, however, the weekend before which will probably be a different story. I have yet to see this church. The wedding is in the end of June 2012. Any suggestions would help greatly! You all are so knowledgeable here. I just love this site.
    To recap: One speedlight, one reflector, 18-105mm. What can I do with this? (I'm open to buying anything that costs less than $15.
  2. Panoramic of Church for ceremony ***NOTE*** all pics are without flash because I didn't have it yet. Now I do and plan to go back and take more pics with flash.
  3. Inside Gym for reception (two pics) one of the floor, one of the ceiling. Unedited strait from camera.
  4. Ceiling of gym (unedited)
  5. Possible outdoor location #1
  6. Possible outdoor location #2
  7. I'm open to buying anything that costs less than $15​
    Aspirin maybe. I would be curious why none of the other posts asking these questions don't apply to you? The fundamentals don't change even if you can't afford them.
  8. John,
    aspirin: check. haha. Well, I couldn't find a post about using only one light. Many had 2 or 3. Also, the highest ISO I'd use for a wedding with a D90 is probably 800. I here of a lot of photographers dragging the shutter with ISO 1600 and up, and I don't think I can do that. My 50mm is fast, but I'll be using the 18-105 most of the time for zoom convenience. The general fundamentals that DID apply to me was I could either bounce light from my on-camera speedight, or set it up somewhere. But I don't know if I'll get the same effect from setting it up since I only have one, and the rooms are fairly large.
  9. Rather than reinventing the wheel, two recommendations. 1) on how to get the most out of shoe-mount flashes, even just one. 2) Wedding Photography: Art, Business and Style by Steve Sint, a book that tells you everything you need to know about wedding photography. Read the web site and the book, memorize and digest and try to do what they both tell you.
  10. 1. You are going to need some kind of back up camera, even if it is a point and shoot. If your flash fails, you can use the on camera pop up, although that would not be great re quality of light.
    I suggest you apply the $15 to rental of another external flash that works with the Nikon wireless system. That way, you can use the other flash in conjunction with the on camera flash, perhaps.
    2. Ceremony shots--use your on camera flash for the actual ceremony. You may be able to get by with bouncing with the white walls, but barely. Do not try to tinker with off camera flash during the ceremony. Go to Neil van Niekerk's site and start reading all the tutorials. Read about processionals in the still active thread in the list on this forum (walking the aisle). I would use part white card/part bounce, myself.
    If you can use flash during the ceremony, that might save you from having to deal with the spotlights on the altar. If you don't use flash, you will need a tripod.
    3. You can use your $15 to buy one 42" silver or white umbrella, and use it for the formals if you care to. Do some research as to how. Otherwise, for the after ceremony formal groups, use your on camera flash, tripod, and dragging the shutter.
    4. Even though the reception site is all white, you will have to rely on part white card/part bounce again, if you are limiting yourself to ISO 800. It can work nicely though. If you are going to rent another flash, you can try one off camera flash.
    5. First outdoor spot is OK. I'd bring people forward so the tree branches are in the photo--as long as the sun is on their backs, not their fronts. If you meant to put the people against the brick wall--that is pretty uninteresting, IMHO. The second spot is nice for even shade, but the telephone wires are a problem.
  11. Craig, thank you for the book/website recommendations, I will definitely look in to those. I have stumbled upon Neil van Niekerk's site, I guess I'll take a closer look. I'm considering the umbrella route. Is one umbrella enough to light 18 people? I like the soft light from the shoot through but am worried about losing light. (the wedding starts at 1p and we are doing formals shots before the wedding, so probably sometimes around 11a. That means the sun will most likely be just about at the top of the sky.) The only problem with renting is that the place here requires you put a deposit down of the entire value of the equipment, or up to $1000. They actually hold the funds for 7 days after you return the equipment. That just makes me a little uneasy, and frankly, I don't have a credit card with a limit that high (probably tmi, but o well.)
    Nadine: when you say part white card part bounce, do you mean part index card part bounce card that you buy from a store? How would you arrange this? I've heard of using both, but not together. I'm sure it works, just wondering how... Also, I can photoshop the power lines out, I've done it to these and they look super natural. The bride was up for doing both formal shot locations so that might happen as well. (I'm really lucky because she's really easy to work with and is giving me as much time as I need, which I know will not always be the case, but it's pretty awesome for my first wedding). I'll post pics of the outcome of this wedding to show what I went with and how it turned out.
    Thank you kindly for you responses, as always.
  12. I've been looking at the Neil van Niekerk website since I posted my last reply. omg! SO. MUCH. INFORMATION!!
  13. Jamie,
    Given your limited equipment I would do the large group outdoor and use straight flash for fill without worrying about an umbrella/diffusion in that situation.
    You can use one umbrella for formals of individuals. bride and groom, small groups inside. For ceremony and reception, get a bracket if you can $50 and up, and something like a StoFren Diffuser or LumiQuest Soft Box, both in the $20 range. You can also put the flash on a five-foot cord and holid if off to the side and overhead and arm's length. Be sure to see the Lighting 101 section on the Strobist web site.
  14. I'm sorry Jamie, but you need some work, actually a lot of work. Kindly notice I did not say, "Don't do the wedding." The skin tones in the gym are way off in color. You need to practice using a flash where the lighting is so poor, such as the gym. I could never do a wedding without at least a flash and the knowledge of how do this. I'm often using several flash units when doing weddings, but for now forget about extra strobe units. That can come in perhaps a year from now or less when you have really become a gifted photographer with both natural light and flash. As far as gear does, do you plan on shooting weddings as a new business? If not, try to borrow cameras from friends. These day's just about every family now have 35mm dslr cameras around the house, often collecting dust! If you decide you want to buy a camera at a very low budjet, try to buy a kit camera system form places like Costo or Best Buy, some place like that. Then I would practice pretty much everyday developing your skills. Some fellow readers will most likely disagree with this advice, but I'd probably try to practice using flash all of the time, because using a flash scares most new wedding photographers, yet I feel if you use it all of the time when practicing everyday you will find the flash to be your BEST FRIEND! It will get you out of all sorts of uncomfortable situations. I've been shooting for many years perhaps longer than some of the new wedding pro's have been alive. So heres my opinion. Once you learn the limits of using flash photography then you will develop a keen understanding of when to use flash and when not to. For example using a flash in a church is probably only good in automatic for about 8 feet. Then you need to go manual. Same thing outside; if the eyes and the sockets are dark, well you need to hit them with a flash to get rid of the dark eyes. As others have said you also need to feel when bouncing your flash is needed. I've seen people bounce the flash all of the time. Well thats OK, but often not needed. Hope this helps and maybe you can share more photo's before the wedding and some of these really great shooters here on this sight will give you a lot of excellent advice and your wedding will turn out very good. I'm always excited to find readers such as yourself, just starting out asking great questions, even if you think the questions are silly. Myself and my photo partner Craig usually make some sort of mistake at every wedding. The key is to cover your mistakes and reshoot the subject. When I mess up I usually say something like someone blinked so lets redo the shot and at the same time you adjust your camera. I never use the word Opps I screwed up! It may take 2 or 3 shots to get your camera setting correct, but this adds to your ability that the people really trust you and you "See," such details as blinks or someone looking the wrong way. If you don't wish to share your photos to the world feel free in emailing me or ask Nadine to setup a different name when you submit an image. We all started somewhere, so lets get you off to a great start, better than most beginning shooters.
  15. 1. If you get an umbrella, do not use it outside unless there is NO wind. You will also not be able to use it outside in brighter light because your flash will not be powerful enough. You will need to use the umbrella in reflected (NOT shoot through) mode, for the same reason--flash power. You 'could' light up eighteen people if you are smart about how you position them. Three rows, but you need to be careful about cast shadows.
    2. If you cannot rent or get another flash, I'd forget an umbrella and go with on camera flash only. Neil van Niekerk's site is excellent, however, be aware that your flash may not be able to recycle fast enough at certain parts of the day, if bouncing your flash, such as during the processional. This is why I recommend using part white card bounce, which is easier on your flash.
    You may read the following:
    Also of interest:
    By part white card/part bounce, I mean using a positionable white card, such as a Demb Diffuser, or a 'foamie' card you can make yourself, in such a way (usually, the card is straight up from the side of the flash) that some of the light from the flash gets bounced, and some is redirected off the white card.
    In the links above, nestled inside, is a link to a thread where I show my homemade foamie white card. You can certainly make it for less than $15.
    3. Probably one of the most important things to remember is that weddings happen really fast--you do not have time to redo anything. You must be prepared. And if you get rattled, use Program Mode.
  16. First, thank you all so much for you encouraging words. Yes, I do have plans of making wedding photography my career. Currently I am a stay-at-home mom of two little ones, so time is limited for me. When they get older and I get more time to myself, I will commit more of my time to it. (My husband eventually wants to quite his current job and be apart of the business as my manager/marketer, location assistant :) so it will be a very huge commitment when the time comes. But for now, I am studying and learning in all the free time I can get. I wake up thinking about what I'm going to research, I go to bed thinking about what I just learned. Every. single. day. I am happy to know that there are professionals here who are willing to help so generously. :)
    Anyway, I've checked out some books: The Complete Guide to Light & Lighting in Digital Photography by Michael Freeman, Mastering Digital Wedding Photography by James Karney, and Portrait Lighting for Digital Photographers the Basics by Stehen Dantzig. That should get me somewhere. Bob & Nadine: I aspire to create results as the ones I've seen from you both. Any tips and advice are always welcomed. Bob, you're right, I do need a lot of work and that is exactly what I am doing, working :) I am blessed to have so much lenience on my first wedding and will no doubt learn a lot. The pictures above of the bride in the gym were not corrected for WB and I am aware of the ugly green tint in her skin. The shots were simply tests to see what it would look like with no flash.
    I'm looking into the black foamie thing (making a trip to Michaels tomorrow) and will most likely get a large reflective umbrella, since I will eventually need it anyway. I am allowed flash for this ceremony, but probably not for the first ceremony (one methodist, one catholic). I'm considering using flash with my 50mm 1.8 for the processional since it is fast and I can get away with higher shutter speeds handheld, then during the vows I will go to the back of the aisle and set up my tripod with the 18-105 with no flash. ?? Nadine: nice DIY! I will look into this. I will take my assistant and take some tests with the flash within the next few weeks and post some results so that I can get some feedback.
  17. 1. While books are great, if you can learn from reading, realize that lighting for a wedding is way different from lighting for portraits or other kinds of photography, particularly kinds that allow time and control. At weddings you have very little time and even less control, to work with lighting. Sometimes none, on both counts. So you have to work with the hand you are given. Learn all you can about lighting and lighting concepts, but don't expect to be able to control much of anything at a wedding.
    Those books are for long term study and knowledge. The umbrella too if you don't expect to get your hands on another flash that can work in the Nikon wireless system. You will need to concentrate now on what you can reasonably do with an on camera flash.
    2. I realize you didn't color correction for the gym shots, but more importantly, they are underexposed.
    3. I do not use the black foamie thing that Neil van Niekerk uses. Hopefully you have read the threads I linked to. IMHO, you cannot reasonably use bounce only in your church and in the gym, with your SB-600, at ISO 800. Bounce only is what Neil van Niekerk teaches. Your flash will have recycling issues and probably will not be enough.
    The foamie thing I use has a white side that is used to redirect the light. It can be used in the partial bounce/redirect I talked about above, or to redirect most of the light forward. You can push the top downward to 'catch' the light or open it up to let some upward, to the bounce surface.
    4. Please read the processional thread again. A 50mm on a cropped sensor camera is like using an 80mm lens on a full frame. As I talked about in the thread, IMHO, that is too long to take advantage of any DOF error or margin. The fact that it is a fast lens does not really help in any way here, unless you are relying on AI Servo (which means no focus assist). I really think, with semi pro cameras, that you need focus assist. Also, using f1.8 for processionals (or any really wide aperture) is not a good idea, again, unless you are 100% sure you AND your camera can actually successfully accomplish focus this way. Remember--you cannot do the processional over again. You can restage it, but you will not have all the guests sitting in the pews etc.
    Flash freezes subject motion, if the ambient light is a stop or two, or more, underexposed, so being able to use a fast enough shutter speed to stop motion by itself (with flash) is not as important. If you aren't using flash, then yes--it becomes important.
    5. If for the Methodist ceremony, you cannot use flash, you will need that tripod. Check to make sure you can use flash for the processional. Some Presbyterian churches don't even allow flash for the processional or recessional.
  18. So what I gather from your response is:
    1. Weddings are a whole other ball game and you won't always have the leisure of experimenting with different lighting techniques. They are fast-paced and sometimes "go-with-the-flow".
    2. Gym shots are underexposed.
    3. With the equipment I have, I will not yield the results Neil van N. did because his/her (?) equipment is more capable than mine. ? (i.e. camera that performs better at high ISO, flash that has a stronger output)??
    4. Using the foamie thing to redirect light to subject AND bounce is a more efficient use of light than just using ALL bounced light.
    5. To be better safe than sorry, use a wider aperture to avoid OOF images, and slower shutter speeds aren't a problem when using flash. If I can't use flash, most definitely us a tripod. Is this correct? phew....I think I'll learn and understand better once I go to a church and practice.
  19. Well there is sort of a trick thats been around for many years. Longer than I've been shooting. Back in the days of film the better photographers had huge flash units and used something like an index card with a rubber band to bounce the light. I made something a bit more saver in case the rubber bands broke- velcro -but that is another story. Anyway, use the index card's the larger ones with a rubber band. Use these for more of close up work dealing with a few people or less. For larger groups of 20 or more set the flash for full power and direct flash. People love these huge family shots for several reasons, such as looking at these shots 20 or 30 years from now. Also alot of times people come from all over, even overseas so again using the full power setting on your strobe to make sure you light up everyones eyes. By the way, unless you are over 6 feet bring a somewhat small ladder so you can see everyones faces. I have a 3 step ladder found at Home Depot..

    I only use white bounce cards and I don't mess with pretty much anything black. At weddings stay simple. Speaking of simple, stick with one lens. Some people don't like zooms. However I use them all of the time at weddings although I have a large assortment of non-zoom lenses ranging from a fish eye to a 400mm. At weddings on a full framed camera I use the 24-105 Canon L lens. This lens usually never comes off the camera for aroung 90 percent of the wedding, because I can zoom all over the place. I do have another lens thats a wide angle lens from 16-35mm. It helps if the bride and groom want you to take photos at each table, also bar mitzvah celebrations the parents here in California and probably everywhere else you MUST take table shots of the adults and a large group shot of the kids, which just about every DJ will help you set this up.

    For the table shots, you pretty much have to bounce the flash with those index cards. The actual flash unit does not have to be straight up; actually works better if you have it somewhat pointed forward.

    Anyway, for me, zooms work great because they are pretty fast and you will surely get more shots because you won't be changing lenses all day long.

    I think Nadine also uses zooms a lot and I'm pretty sure she likes Tamrons from around 18-55.. or so. Sorry Nadine if I'm off about the zoom range.

    There are several people here that shoot weddings with 2000 or more images per wedding. I've heard as much as 6000 to 8000 pics per wedding. Changing lenses would not happen if they wanted this many images.

    There really isn't a max of shots needed. I'm most happy shooting less then 1000. Most of the jobs I take are around 800 images or less. My feeling is you need to take a break and so with the bride and groom. Taking 40 to 50 shots of them eating will surely drive them and you nuts.

    For your first wedding, keep on your toes all of the time, yet be respectful to how many shots they want. If you aren't sure, ask. For example sometimes there is a money dance in which a lot of guests dance with the couples and throw a few bucks their way. Well you could photograph all 500 guests or you could tell the B@G to give you a look if they want a photo. Other then the wedding party and the families I simply wait for them to motion to me that they want a photo.

    As far as shooting receptions almost all of the time my settings are 60'th of a second at f 5.6. Again, I don't want to be screwing around trying to find the right settings during the first dance and the father daughter dance.

    Hope this helps you a bit by understanding to keep your gear as simple as possible and try not to make a lot of changes and adjustments.
  20. Jaimie, yes on all except for 5. Use a smaller aperture, not wider, for margin of error, along with focus assist (which you cannot get with AI Servo, only Single). Slower shutter speeds with flash aren't a problem as long as the ambient light that you 'let into' the exposure is under by about 1-2 stops or more. Yes, you need a tripod, perhaps even if you use flash. If the church is dark, and you can't up the ISO, and you don't have wide aperture lenses, you pretty much have to use the tripod.
  21. Thanks Bob!! Simple. got it.
    Nadine, yeah I understood you, I just used to wrong words. Small opening, larger number. So when I meter the lighting, I should underexpose the ambient light (the brightest part of the ambient light?) by at least 2 stops, then use bounced flash to fill in the subjects. I have to do some more research, because I'm still a little uneducated about how aperture affects flash and ambient light. What I think I know, is that the amount of ambient light is dependent of the shutter speed (slower=more ambient) but how does aperture affect ambient when flash is used? ALSO: what is a quick way to adjust for the levels of the flash? Sometimes I'll shoot with bounced flash and the flash overexposes the peoples faces (my flash is on manual so this happens either when I get closer to a subject or when people are moving around and the distance between me and them are always changing), other than turning down the output power, can I adjust the shutter or aperture to relieve this? ( I ask this because I am quicker at using my right hand to adjust the shutter/aperture dials than I am at bringing my left hand up to dial down/up the power from the flash body.) After I adjust the flash, I always "chimp" to make sure I turned it down/up enough or sometimes too much. Is this just something I have to gauge and get used to with experience?
  22. From about 3 feet up to 8 to 10 feet or so, I think most of the name brand flash units such as Nikon and Canon are really good an TTL or even on automatic. You just need to get the hang of flash. Often if you buy 2 of the same flash units, like 2, 580 Canon flash units, they may not react the same, thus the reason why we all need to practice with new products, even the long time pros.

    Anyway, keep the flash around TTL and then have the manual settings setup for 1/2, 3/4, and full power, without having to think when you are practicing. I promise you that once you've learned how to use flash your weddings will be better then some people that have been shooting for a period of time, but they really don't know how to use the camera and the flash and or the camera.

    Not long ago someone asked me to repair their compact flash card, saying nothing was on it. Well she was right, nothing was on it. I then took a look at her camera and it was set to fire without a CF card. This is why we all need to practice with new gear and understand what we are doing. As Nadine said - things move fast. You need to know your gear so you don't miss anything important.

    Memorizing settings is a good thing and practice is the best way to do it.
  23. Bob, so you're saying if I shoot with flash on TTL that it will recognize how far my subject is away from me and adjust accordingly? Why, then, do photographers use manual? Also, what do you mean by "have the manual settings setup for 1/2, 3/4, and full power" ? I didn't know there was a way to "set" different power outputs for quick access. How do you do this?
  24. 1. When using flash, the old guideline is--aperture controls flash exposure, shutter speed controls ambient. That is because flash exposure is NOT affected by shutter speed. So when mixing flash and ambient, as one does with dragging the shutter, you pick an aperture based on what kind of DOF you need (within reason--using small apertures in dim light is not really feasible for dragging the shutter/event shooting where you want some background detail), set your flash so you get correct exposure for that aperture (usually using TTL--i-TTL in your case), and set your shutter speed to 'let in' some ambient light (underexposed) so your backgrounds don't go black.
    2. When using TTL (i-TTL), you adjust your flash exposure by using the compensation control. In fact, when shooting events, you will be adjusting compensation a lot--it is just a fact. So get to know how your camera's flash metering works--how it reacts to various scenes. Subject value is something that affects flash metering a lot, but other things also affect it, based on the i-TTL programming. Know how to predict how your flash exposure will 'come out'. Then compensate your flash accordingly.
    Manual flash exposure is difficult to work with in the digital age. I've used manual flash exposure before, with film, and it is easy to control once you understand how. Today, with the ability to change ISO, use high ISO, and fine tune one's mix of flash and ambient, it is less easy to control flash manually with precision. I'd do the above.
    By the way, there is no way to set up manual, partial power control for quick access, besides knowing exactly what setting to use (you have to have a computer brain these days, and being quick with the fingers, to do that). Film's latitude allowed for grosser, workable control.
  25. Jamie - Nadine did a good job answering your question to me! Thanks Nadine! Sorry I didn't answer, I was shooting a wedding.
  26. Okay, I just ordered a 60" Impact satin white umbrella with removable black back. I have a stand and I plan to rent the SB-900 from my local rental store. I'm going to do some test shots with the 900 in the umbrella, with and without the combination of the Sb-600 on-camera for bounce. I haven't yet decided whether I want shoot through or bounce; which is fine because this umbrella can do both! (awesome!!) For the formals, I've decided to use both flashes in the umbrella and place it mostly in the front of group, just behind me, off to the right a little and above my head for even lighting. What do you think of this? After doing extensive research this was the best I could come up with from what I've learned.
    Bob, how did your wedding go?
    Nadine, thank you for such informative answers! For formals, I think I will use manual flash only because there will be no sudden variation of distances and ambient lighting. Then I will switch to TTL during reception. Sound good? I've been practicing my flash whenever I can. But because I don't have a group of 18 people to use as models before the wedding, I'll just have to make my best judgement call. I like how NvanN uses this one light setup here for bride shots and medium size formals. I'm hoping to get similar results. I have found that my SB 600 does take awhile to refresh and the power isn't as strong, so I will definitely be renting the SB 900.
    Just to get it straight, I need a low shutter speed to have pleasing ambient light levels, (pleasing to me meaning natural-looking) and a medium closed aperture to include the background detail and avoid OOF images. With these settings I need to have a high ISO to have the work for proper exposure. ?? High ISO also gets me the most out of the output power from my flash. If my flash is too strong and I don't want to underexpose the background anymore, than I close the aperture further? or lower the flash output? Or do you only use aperture to control flash output after you've reached the end (either high or low) of the power output? sorry for so many questions, but I just want to get it right. And asking someone directly about my specific questions rather than searching for an answer is the best way to learn, for me.
  27. Here is the umbrella I chose. The reviews pretty much sold it for me.
  28. 1. First of all, read the following:
    A 60" umbrella can be very nice for formals. I personally have 3 60" umbrellas, one white, one PLM white, and one PLM soft silver. I would recommend that you not put the 2 shoemounts into the 60" umbrella. You normally have very little time to begin formals and everyone is usually just foaming at the mouth to get to the reception. Neil van Niekerk has assistants versed on putting together and taking down technically complex gear. While you might be able to set up the SB-900 prior to the formals session, you would have to then take the SB-600 off your camera and set it up in umbrella, and then test. You will be surprised how 2 minutes under the steely eyed pressure of 20 people waiting for you will wilt your confidence. You might also need the SB-600 for fill.
    In addition, I know that sometimes, particularly with umbrellas, the Nikon wireless system can fail, due to line of sight issues. While using the umbrella shoot through may help with line of sight (or not, if the umbrella is behind you), shoot through takes more flash power. In addition, if shooting in very large spaces and NOT at high ISO, the help you get from the bounce back isn't very significant.
    I know that a single 580EX II into a 60" umbrella, at ISO 640, and with the wide angle diffuser down or the flash zoomed manually to 24mm, full power (manual flash for formals is good), at about 10 feet from the group, will allow you to shoot with f5.6, which, with a cropped sensor camera, is plenty for DOF using a 35mm angle of view (full frame--about 24mm with a cropped sensor camera). The SB-900 should be about the same. You should also research the SB-900. I have heard of issues--can't remember what now--but one should always know about these things, if renting. Be sure to adjust the flash distance to umbrella so the flash fills the umbrella
    The umbrella should be about 15 degrees to your right, with the bride on the left side as you are facing the group. The bride always gets the good light. With a reflected umbrella, you should feather the light across the front of the group. To check for shadows falling from one person to the other, stand under the umbrella and look at the group. Where you see faces obscured, is where the shadows will fall. Usually, if you point the umbrella slightly past the middle of the group, that is good feathering.
    A group of 18 should be in 3 rows, possibly 4, closely packed, both in depth and in width. Put the focus point 1/3 of the way into the depth of the group
    By the way, convertible umbrellas have one annoying trait. That is, once you take the black cover off, it is very difficult to fold it when you put the cover back on--it is never the same. I ended up having one white umbrella which I keep folded together, and one just for shoot through. PLMs also are about 2/3 stop more efficient.
    2. For dragging the shutter look at the following post. I can point to my 6:18pm post to describe how I do it. Re the background--depends what you mean by pleasing looking. It will need to be underexposed for the concept to work. Re the aperture--depends on how much DOF you like. Some people are always using f2.8. Don't know what wide open is on your lens, but I don't think you have much choice? Aren't the widest apertures f3.5 or 4.5? You should be OK at ISO 800 for the reception. You may not have the most 'open' backgrounds but what is important is the people.
    If your flash is too strong, compensate it lower. Closing down the aperture will get you darker backgrounds, if you don't make the shutter speed correspondingly slower. I would say that you use ISO rather than aperture when running into flash output limitations, realizing what your camera is capable of when getting up into the extremely high ISOs.
  29. Thank you for all the wonderful advice. I think I finally understand the jist of it. I will respond later when I have some test shots to discuss...Much appreciation,
  30. Results of all your excellent tips! The wedding went decently smooth. Here are some shots from formals. I used one 60" shoot through umbrella with two speedlights (SB-600&SB-900) Let me know what you think! Kindly :)
  31. Look a bit underexposed (are you using a calibrated monitor) but otherwise lighting is fine. Also a bit warm in white balance, but not too bad (could also be related to calibrated monitor).

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