The more reading I do, the more confused I get

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by cyn14060, Mar 21, 2004.

  1. I have a Canon EOS Rebel X with the 2 lenses it came with new, one
    of which is 35-80 telephoto (I think). It has AF and MF though I
    have never learned how to use MF. I've taken some good pictures
    with this camera over the 7 years that I've owned it- all by trial
    and error (lots of error). Now the problem- my neice is getting
    married next month and her parents cannot afford $1500 for a
    professional wedding photographer. Plain and simple- they can't.
    And, you guessed it, they have asked me to do the pictures. I want
    another lens for this project and I have been searching e-bay. I
    cannot afford an expensive lens. I have seen quite a few that I
    hoped might be appropriate so could someone please advise me? The
    ones I am looking at include the following: 78-215 Zoom lens- Canon
    EOS Rebel, Canon EOS m+70-300 macro zoom lens, Sigma 100-300mm f/4.5-
    6.7 DL lens-Canon SLR, and a Canon EF Ultrasonic 75-300 lens for
    EOS, Rebel. It seems the more I read, the more confused I get with
    all the technical information, so- could someone please help me out
    here? And, please don't bother telling me that I am in way over my
    head with this project- I already know that but I am stuck with it
    and therefore I will do the best job I possibly can.
  2. A 35-80 zoom will do a fine job if you equip yourself with a flash,flash bracket and some good "people" film (NPH or NC 400 Portra).I would suggest shooting a test roll or two with the set up you intend to use prior to the event.Next issue would be to get a book or two on the subject,or try to tag along with an experienced wedding shooter and watch what they do.
  3. << $1500 for a professional wedding photographer >>

    Where does this number come from? Did they shop around at all?

    Why not get a group of friends to chip in together and get them a professional photographer as a wedding gift?
  4. Steve's response is right on. For shooting people you are
    probably fine with the lens you have. A good flash and a bracket
    to hold the flash up above the camera are going to make more
    difference. Saunders makes a whole slew of brackets in a
    pretty wide price range; get one of the cheaper ones an play
    around with it. If you live near a decent camera store, go there
    and try one out, but you might want to support by
    clicking on one of the merchant links when you are ready to buy.

    If you really want a new lens, why not get a 50mm F1.8 so that
    you can do some natural light shots? For less than $100, it's a
    great lens that will probably allow you to shoot some shots with
    out flash, particularly if you get some rolls of Fuji NPZ 800. This
    would be a good combo for the reception.

    Go to the library or one of those big book stores and look at
    some of the wedding books. Some of them are going to have
    complicated lighting diagrams that are going to be utterly
    bewildering. Ignore them. Other's will have stuff about
    photojournalistic wedding coverage. Take a look at those.

    Good luck.
  5. You will probably do better by offering to take a few photos during the wedding day activities. You have no backup equipment or the experience to do an entire wedding
  6. Cynthia,
    Your family has put you in a precarious position. Take the great advice you've been given, and purchase (or check out at your local library) a couple of books on wedding photography. Remember to keep it simple. Try a roll of Kodak Portra 400NC and Fuji NPH. Take it to a good lab, and check out your results. Scope out the church/location before the wedding, and look for good locations for your photographs. Definitely buy a flash bracket and an off camera cord. This will enable you to keep your flash centered over your lens, thereby eliminating shadows. Take plenty of extra batteries...plenty! And be sure to explain to the bride and her family that you've never photographed a wedding before and that you can't guarantee ANYTHING! I think we all have stories to tell about this situation you're in. And last, just remember to do your best and have a good time! A great sense of humor goes a long way to relax your clients (family).
    Good luck!
  7. Hey Cynth; I just wanted to say that I know photographers that will do
    weddings for half that figure of $1500 and their good. You might not get a
    super hugh picture package but you'll get a very nice one including a CD rom.
    They should have shopped it.

    Second, your plight is one that crops up often and I always wonder if any
    other of the guest have been asked the same thing as you? I mean really, no
    one else owns a camera as well? You can't find a accomplice? The reason I
    bring this up is that I think in these situation where the photographer is a
    supposedly considered a minor expense (hey want an unexperienced
    wedding shooter to do it) why not just give out one time use cameras and let
    everyone take reception pictures and you and a partner conspire to shoot the
    church. That way at least you'll have a backup and one of the two will get
    something decent. Now, this is not a slam on your abilites, and this
    experience for you reminds me short of like being thrown in the river to learn
    to swim. I'd find something else with a SLR, and form a little shooting group,
    and look at it as a opportunity to shoot a wedding and learn.

    First make sure you have the flash situation thing under control and you can
    get properly exposed indoor pictures and know how to use fill flash for
    outdoor shots. With the camera you have it should be actually quite easy.
    Second, what's the other lens you have? If they are not the top pro models it
    really doesn't matter if you can't take a good exposed shot. You might stick
    with what you have and maybe just maybe buy a 35mm prime if your 35-80 is
    good at the 50mm setting. Over all I'd be looking at a new more powerful flash
    since you don't mention what you have, which I guess is just an on camera
    flash. Forget the long lenses. dof is too restricted in low light and more than
    likely your flash won't cover it anyways. Read your manuals section on flash
    over and over and over. Practice as much as possible beforehand. Use
    400NC or NPH for film indoors. Carry spare batteries, new one's in the
    camera at the start, have your lens changes down pat with a waist belt or
    shoulder bag. Research the church before hand and talk to the pastor. What
    time is the wedding? What's the lighting like in the church. What are your
    angles? List the important shots and get them; In fact get two each except for
    the walk get alot of everyone. At the reception get the entrance shots, table
    shots, cake shots, first dance etc. You should know then all by now.
  8. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Make sure you use good film. It is important. None of that supermarket junk.
    Use Kodak Portra 160NC or 400NC or Fuji 400NPH. Have one camera or film back loaded with each speed so you can use the faster film inside if flash is not allowed during the ceremony and the slower film outdoors for the fill flash that is needed or maybe ND filters. Have the processing done at a pro lab, for Kodak films one that uses Kodak processing (typically a Noritsu) and uses Royal paper (not Edge), for Fuji films one that uses Fuji processors (typically a Frontier) and Chrystal Archive paper.
    I would suggest that you tell the bride that you are not a portrait photographer but will shoot in a documentary style. She should have some formal portraits done in a studio. While going from the church to the reception, the bride and groom could stop off at the mall in one of the photo studios there, "Can we get our pitcher took, mister?" At least they are assured of one or two good formal shots and your documentary style will fill in the rest. Here is Jeff´s great site showing a documentary style:
    Bring at least six rolls of film and plan to shoot it all. Bring lots of spare batteries and change them frequently. You will need an off camera flash with flash bracket and a bounce card or diffuser would be good. Learn to use fill flash outdoors.
    Look at a lot of on line wedding sites and get a feel for the photos taken at the wedding. Arrange the bride´s train before taking a shot. For closeups she holds the bouquet above the waist, for full length shots she holds the bouquet below the waist. That sort of thing. I think the current issue of Popular Photography and Imaging has an article which offers advice on shooting a first wedding..
    Take a photo of a sunset or landscape and the 4x6 snapshot looks nice. Blow it up to 11x14 and it really looks good. Most people would think a large picture has to be good otherwise no one would have bothered to enlarge it. People hang these on walls. Portraits are a whole different thing. Take a picture of your kid. The snapshot looks nice because of the emotional attachment. What a cute child! Blow that up to 11x14 and it looks lousey. People are used to seeing professional portraits of that size and this will not measure up, dark shadows, grain, poor composition. Now the faults of the image will outweight the emotional value.
    I second the idea of getting a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. It is one of the sharpest lenses made, far better than the kit 35-80mm lens, and very inexpensive. Use the 35-80 for snapshots but for critical work, go with the 50mm lens. And forget about enjoying yourself at the wedding. You are being unpaid to go there and work, same as if they wanted you to do the cooking in the kitchen. Since most of this is new to you, your efforts are going to have to be concentrated on what you are doing and when and how to do it.
  9. I rarely use 35mm for weddings. With 35mm I rarely shoot with anything longer than 100mm. Instead of a new long lens, maybe consider a "cheap" second rebel body and a 50mm f1.8 lens (approx $70).

    I don't know your budget, but I find that the reliability of my equipment is inversly proportional to the importance of the task at hand. I dont ever shoot weddings without a backup camera and off camera flash, extra sync cords, and extra film 4 times as much as I think I'll need. Extra bateries for flashes and camera bodies.

    My off camera flash is a sunpak 622, but I have used an old vivitar manual flash I've had since the 70's x-synced and the results are just fine with my beaten up vivitar. The important thing is to get the flash off the camera and have a (cheap) backup.

    With the rest of the equipment, I think the KISS philosophy is in order here. The two bodies will allow you to not have to change lenses. Just keep both bodies on program.

    Pretty crappy thing to have this task thrown on your lap.

    Oh, one more thing. Don't have all the rolls processed at the same time. I had one experience where a new person at the lab (that I no longer use) ran a batch of film through e6 chemistry. I was lucky I only had one roll in that batch and it wasn't anything important. Imagine if all the rolls from your wedding were in the messed up batch.

    Good luck
  10. James' reference finally crystallized something that's been nagging at me through a lot of these threads lately - if you look at Jeff Ascough's work, one of the things which makes it really excellent is that he GETS CLOSE. Lots of documentary-style wedding shots I see fail through inclusion of too much extraneous context.

    Maybe in addition to a 50/1.8, you should consider an 85/1.8 or even a 100/2 to make you frame tight.

    The other thing about Jeff's pictures is a very sophisticated use of light - you shouldn't expect to get to this level quickly, but you SHOULD practice with your flash (off-camera and with a diffuser) before you shoot the ceremony.

    To amplify some advice you already got above:

    I agree with the film recommendations - you're really taking a chance if you use anything but Portra. I like the NC much better than the VC, but you won't go wrong with either. This is ESPECIALLY important if the bridesmaids' dresses are light shades of pink or purple, which Portra handles better than any other print film. You've been told to bring at least six rolls of film and plan to shoot it all. I think that's conservative - I'd double it. My usual "hit rate" for people shots at events is something like 5% - if you have 10 rolls that's 360 pictures - only about 20 winners if you're like me.

    Carry LOTS of batteries - you should have fresh batteries in everything, and TWO sets of spares for each body and each flash.

    Consider an incident lightmeter if you know how to use one - if you can measure light levels inside the church before the ceremony begins you won't have to think about how much to correct for incident readings off pure black and pure white clothing.

    If you try to shoot wide open most of the time, you'll minimize the number of pictures which are spoiled by distracting backgrounds.

    Finally - don't be afraid of the dark. If you can get people in situations where they're lit (through a window or door, or by standing close to a lamp or something) but surrounded by darkness - take the shot! If you're using 400-speed film, 1/30 at f/2 will often expose this kind of thing well; your in-camera meter will be useless.
  11. I like Bob's suggestion of a short fast tele; an 85/1.8 or 100/2 is an 'intuitive' lens to use as you're trying to grow. It opens up some available light opportunities and nice 'isolation' shots through narrow depth of field. I don't shoot a lot of weddings, but these short fast teles are valuable during a ceremony where often no flash is allowed.

    I didn't see anyone mention rentals? If you live in a major metro area, you can rent Canon cameras and lenses pretty easily. This sounds like a one-time event for Cynthia, perhaps renting a second body and fast lens will cover her needs. Be careful what you rent, familiarity with your equipment under stress is probably your best asset. A wedding isn't a good time to have to learn some piece of equipment that's completely foreign to you.
  12. "...please don't bother telling me that I am in way over my head with this project- I already
    know that but I am stuck with it and therefore I will do the best job I possibly can."

    Okay, we'll take you at your word.

    Forget the new lenses you were looking at. IMO, you don't need a long zoom so it's a
    waste of money. Buy or borrow a back-up body (or rent one if possible). If you have used
    your Rebel for 7 years it could possibly fail on you under heavy use at a wedding ... and
    then what? The Rebel is not a professional camera designed for such work. It could be
    fine, but...

    You didn't say what your second lens was ... or if you have a flash (NOT one built into the

    The suggestion of a 50/1.8 is a good one. You could shoot 90% of the wedding with that
    lens by using your feet to "zoom". Use the 80mm end of your current zoom for portraits.
  13. Read the archives here. (Click on 'search' at the top of this page.)

    Look into renting equipment.
  14. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Bob Blakley has made some good points in reference to Jeff¨s documantary style. Fill the frame. The 35-80mm lens may be of more use here. You won´t have to get quite as close, not in people´s faces. You still should not be more than two paces away for most shots of two people. Verticals would work better for that also. And Jeff´s lighting technique is such that you don´t notice it. That is as it should be. You can bet that he used fill flash for most of his outdoor shots. 6 rolls of film is a bit conservative. 10 would be better and with film, processing and batteries (lots of batteries)the whole thing shouldn´t set you back more than $150 or so.
  15. Awesome work by Jeff Ascough...thanks much for the link.
  16. "And Jeff´s lighting technique is such that you don´t notice it."

    There's a reason you don't notice it.

    "That is as it should be. You can bet that he used fill flash for most of his outdoor shots."

    I'll take that bet.

    (read Jeff's answer to Kevin's question in the above thread)
  17. All you need is a normal 50mm lens. A 35mm lens would be useful for group pictures. I
    shot hundreds of weddings with only one normal lens.
  18. I too was in your shoes. I shot my sisters wedding a few years ago and i was a nervous wreck. She loves the pictures (ive even been approached by some of her friends to shoot thier weddings) but sadly i dont. i couldnt have asked for better subjects, but my skills (and nerves) were not up to par at that time. my advice is to learn as much info as you can on where the wedding will take place.try to visit the church or hall and check the lighting. look for places that will provide a good back drop or a window that will provide some natrual light. look at your library or book store for books on wedding photography to get an idea of shots and poses. i also give a thumbs up on the 50mm 1.8. for $70 u.s. i dont think you can get a better new lense. i hope this helps.
  19. Thanks to all of you for your advice and suggestions, I am getting a second Rebel camera that is quite similar to the one I have (which does not, by the way, have built in flash) so I will have a back up camera. I also have a Kodak 3.3MP 16MB digital which I will have someone else who's handy with a camera use for me. I

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