Toughest Gig EVER: Need some guidance

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by bethtphotos, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. I've been shooting weddings for two years now, have worked as a 2nd shooter for the first year...about 20 weddings under my belt. Recently, 3 have been my own... May I ask several questions in one post??
    I know my camera & equipment...granted, knowing it & being able to work it well during the fast pace of a wedding are two different things, I'm finding. Good Gawd, I'm battling with exposure...yes, I know all about changing EV Compensation, and adjusting my ISO (having shot one wedding with a lot of ISO 1600 shots, & being told these were unusable by the primary shooter...I'm sticking around 400...)
    But one second I'm in the dark, then I'm facing in the name of Annie Leibovitz do other photographers do this so calmly & seemlessly & seem to get so many brilliant consistent shots? I should add that I've got a marvelous Pentax setup (K10d, K20d...multiple lenses ranging from the Pentax 50mm 1.4 to the Sigma 17-35mm f/28, to the Pentax 50-135mm f/2.8. Two flash units (Pentax 360 & a Promaster unit I bought to replace my broken Pentax AF FGZ 540 while its out for repair...)
    Usually I mount the wide angle & the 50mm, but I'm in a constant state of fiddling about & I'd say 1/2 of my photos aren't technically what I want to present...
    So Exposure is ALWAYS an issue for me...Is my equipment selection appropriate?
    Also, I've been told by my mentor that I'm not assertive enough...& I've seen her be equally mild, so my question is this: how assertive are you? My last wedding was my own...we planned to begin formals at 1:00...but the bride & bridesmaids weren't ready until 2:00...with a 3:00 wedding (they wanted all formals done prior to the ceremony...with the groom & groomsmen as well)...When it looked like there was no way they'd be ready by 1:30, I spoke with the bride's mom who lit a fire, but it was another 45 mins before they were ready...then I had to rush through formals. Kicking myself now because there were soooo many beautiful pictures I wanted to take that I didn't get to do. Is this common? What techniques work for you?
    I've taken wedding courses at, at a local art school, & have been mentored...but I'll tell you: nothing prepares one for wedding photography like doing your own weddings. War stories welcome.
    Thanks...I can breathe now.
  2. 1. Dealing with very different light in an instant. Get to know your custom settings (don't know if Pentax has them) and/or set up your aperture priority or shutter priority before each session to anticipate rushing blindly outside at a moment's notice. So all you have to do is turn a dial. With a custom setting, that is pretty much all you need to do. With the aperture and shutter priority, you may need to flip the ISO, or in conjunction, set your auto ISO (if Pentax has one). Also, get to know how your camera metering thinks so you can anticipate comping it.
    2. You have to know when to push, when pushing does not produce any good outcomes, and when to go with the flow. In your specific example, I would have said pushing would not produce any good outcome. Girls take what time they take to get ready--no amount of fire setting will actually change that time frame, and on top of that, you get a bad rep as the taskmaster, and can even be blamed later for being too pushy (consequently, the lack of images is your fault). In your situation, I would have smiled, said nothing, and planned how to catch up later. As I've said many times before, bargaining works. I lay out the options for the couple, having brought to their attention the fact that we are missing x pictures. Then I let them figure out what they want to spend the time and effort on, with my input on what I think is most do-able and top priority. I tell them exactly how long I intend to take, and I stick to my word. Sometimes, you just have to let those 'beautiful pictures' in your mind's eye stay there, because there is nothing one can humanly do to get everything.
  3. Beth -
    1. Yes - you may ask as many questions as you wish in one post...however getting answers is a different story ;-)
    2. How do we do it (I assume you're referring to the adjustments on the fly) It's a result of years (in my case 30 plus) of practice and knowing your equipment. Good guitar players insist that the guitar is an extension of their bodies - it's not a piece of wood / metal / strings... The same is true for good photographers. The camera / controls etc are in familar places and you learn to read the meter and even feel the camera. I've said it before on this forum that when you're in the zone - the wedding actually slows're moving in normal speed but the rest of the world slows down around you.
    3. Technically - yes - your equipment seems to be about what I'd expect to see in a pro's bag - except for the lack of backups. Pentax / Canon / Nikon...might as well argue Ford / Chevy / Toyota. 90% of it is the photographer not the equipment. How do people get brillant shots? Practice, patience and understanding. Pentax cameras are capable of delivering brillant photos. The one suggestion I'd make is that ISO 400 is a little high for formals with flash - I never go above 200 for them. Just due to the noise issues and blow up size that people want for formals.
    4. You can be mild and assertive at the same time. There is no correlation between the two. Just like one can be agressive and un-assertive. I assume that when you say the wedding was your own - it was one that you booked and shot on your own... Not your own as in your "own wedding". :) Timing is laid out with the bride and groom at booking time for me. I then check in a month before to ensure that nothing has changed. Final check in is the week before - at this time I find out what time they will be ready and expecting me. I then inform them how long it will take for the formals - allowing extra time for reshoots / family members to get their photos and lead time for the ceremony. Day of - I show up 15 minutes early - get set up and ready. I find the bride / groom and get them (at least one of them) in for the beginning of formals. One or the other is usually ready. If neither are - I firmly (mildly) but assertively, remind them that time is ticking...and that they are paying me if I'm shooting or not during this time. I also inform them that we are on a deadline. That usually gets them moving. Also - If neither Bride nor Groom are ready then I get their party shots...bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc... most typical for me though is that the b / g / wedding party are all ready... but typically one of the parents / grandparents / extended family is late.
  4. Could you post some of your problem pix?
    Sometimes it's just a matter of slowing down and taking a deep breath to think about what you are going into.
    I find Pentax's P-TTL to be problematic. If I want to shoot high-speed sync for fill flash outdoors, it's fine. If I'm shooting a dark reception, I'm always in 'A'. The tiniest reflection off something shiny kills the flash metering in P-TTL. 'A' is WAY more reliable.
    You are not a baby sitter. You tell people what your requirements are up front. If they can't meet it, that's their loss. That said, if I figure we need 45 minutes to shoot, I tell them an hour. If we need to start at 2:00, I tell them 1:30 (or 1:00 if I have doubts about their ability to comply).
    Oh, yeah. As far as ISO 1600 goes, I'd rather have a grainy shot than miss the shot...
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Recently, 3 have been my own . . . nothing prepares one for wedding photography like doing your own weddings

    IMO, this is the crux of your issue. You have moved out of your comfort zone as the Assistant Photographer and you have not been fully prepared for all the tasks of flying solo. This has impacted upon the your control of the basics, which likely you were nailing more efficiently and more regularly, when the People Management, shot arrangement and shot flow etc was essentially being managed by your Mentor.
    So . . .

    1. Recently,
    3 have been my own . . .K10d, K20d . . . Usually I mount the wide angle & the 50mm, but I'm in a constant state of fiddling about & I'd say 1/2 of my photos aren't technically what I want to present. . . Exposure is ALWAYS an issue for me. . . Is my equipment selection appropriate?

    It’s not about your equipment, its about taking a deep breathe and making it a little more simple and re-practicing the basic steps – going back to the taw-line – to calm yourself down.
    What I suggest is firstly, when you arrive at the Bride’s home, you limit the amount of gear with which you have to fiddle. By the description you are carrying two cameras – fine carry two but just use one. My suggestion is one with a lens a little toward the wide. And from that point just take it through the basics - Frame/exposure – Focus (Recompose if you do) – Shoot.
    I’d suggest using the Sigma 17 to 35 and leave it zoomed about 24mm initially
    Just be consistent and dedicated to shooting single shots each with a purpose following the basic: Frame/exposure – Focus – Shoot routine.
    Now you will be slowed down a tad, but that is OK, because that will allow you to see more and once you get into the “groove” you will have more time for other things – like people management.
    My suggestion/warning is: once you feel as though you are getting control do NOT make the mistake of taking on the second camera willy-nilly. For example if you have the 50mm Prime loaded on the other camera and you want to get some AL of the Bride with only Window Light - then purposefully set about that series of shots, and when finished - continue with the main camera.
    Do that for a couple of Weddings - you might have fewer total shots, but you will have better % keepers.

    2. I've been told by my mentor that I'm not assertive enough . . . Is this common [Brides running late getting ready]? What techniques work for you?

    I am assertive but I am reluctant to “hurry the Bride up” when getting dressed.
    In your particular scenario I would not have pressured the girls to hurry up, but when I had them for the Formals I would have worked the Bridal Party hard – in a warm, cuddly and humours manner . . . a lot of this has to do with one’s own personality, like Nadine, I bargain, but I don’t leave much wiggle room for recant. I also (and most importantly) promise that if they work with me I will take only XX minutes and I aim to finish BEFORE that time, so I can say: “Ah, done with time to spare, so I’d love to use these few minutes for a couple more tight shots just of you two – a bonus for working with me so well . . .
    Also in your situation I would be working out what I could do before the Ceremony (most important shots) and what deal I could make to postpone and do directly after.
    The shots you envisage and you didn't get - never were the shots for you in the first place. Dwelling on these takes more time and effort than "fiddling" with gear and is counter productive. IMO, you must get out of that habit.
  6. Practice is the key to consistant exposures and knowing where you are going to shoot helps that. If I am shooting in an unfamilar area, I visit the site ahead of time to ensure I am not going to be surprised by the light and conditions.
    I tell the B/G ahead of time that if they are late from the time we have scheduled to start that they will not get all the photos they might like. I explain that the photos I have in my portfolio are a result of B/G arriving early or on time and that on wedding days they need to plan that everything will run late except the start time of their wedding, so everything in relationship to their photos depends on them being on time. Then if they are late I get the must have shots and move on down the road - they have been for warned and then it's up to them.
    To address you Annie Lebowitz question - she has a staff of about 40 people or more - they spend hours preparing for the lighting conditions... she doesn't work on the fly... to be a great wedding photographer it takes talent, skill, intution, and luck... when you're in the zone you have all of them working for you.... that takes practice.
    Grain in photos can be managed in lightroom, photoshop or with other software... at a wedding it's more important to work with the conditions and get the shot.
    BTW - I don't find up to 800ISO a real issue - if I am shooting in low light I drop the shutter and put it on a tripod and look for the still shots that I can get so there is no blur... I shoot 1600 with off camera flash to get a cool grainy look sometimes depending on the couple... so you have to vision what you want - then go get it... and process to make it into reality.
  7. You have lots of good info so far. The biggest key is knowing your camera and how it meters. Since it seems like your not adjust your camera comfortably (in a timely manner) does Pentax have a P setting? If so, when it gets hectic and the speed of the event is past your speed to adjust, simply switch to P mode and adjust your ISO to maintain your predetermine shutter speed. But this is good if you know how your camera meters. Once the speed slows down, you can take your time to go full manual. This way you won't miss all those shots. Since your also new, I would suggest getting a second shooter/helper. A helper to me is more important when your starting out rather than a seasoned pro. They can help with the formals and do some shooting for you during the reception.
    I jump between the brides and the groom to shoot them while they are getting ready. I keep reminding them about how much time we have before the ceremony. If we start to look like we won't have enough time, rather than speeding me up, I make a deal with them and shoot the formals after the ceremony. One last thing, although I don't want to hijack the discussion, I'm not sure about the Pentax and it's high ISO capability. What brand does your mentor use? Have you compared the 1600 ISO shots with them? Big difference? Good luck v/r Buffdr
  8. One thing to note before thinking too much about the answers given (which are great advice BTW).
    No one I know, or have known, that shoots PJ weddings, gets every exposure correct. In fact most of us, get each exposure pretty close, but will adjust in minor ways for many and major ways for a few. So, don't feel too bad that your exposures are not spot on fist time.
    Having said that, you need to have a ready plan that you know well enough (with any kit) to switch to at the drop of a hat. One thought is that if you get overwhelmed and cannot make your self slow down to think, just pop it in P and shoot as you need to. The results will be less pleasing, or at least not what you could do with a manual, thoughtful approach, but they will likely get you what is needed at that moment.
    As for Pentax; You should be getting decent exposures if you know what to comp for, and how your camera does in a given scenario.
  9. Thank you all, so very much...
    Overall what I'm gleaning is to
    1) Breathe (what?! I have to do that, TOO???) But seriously, I know you're spot on with that...
    2) Not fiddle so much...master one unit, use the other supplementally. Good. I can do that.
    3) Slow down...I could definitely take more time to set up my photos (camera-wise) but take fewer pictures. I just tend to feel the bride becoming impatient, or the groomsmen wanting their next drink...time always seems to be an issue, and brides who tell me during the interviews & site visit (which I do) that they want to spend time for portraits, at the event do an about face, such as with this event...
    4) Pentax does have the "P" mode, & I do utilize it...
    5) I love my Pentax with sufficient light...outdoor shoots never cause me a problem, I love them...but indoors, or dark settings for weddings. I am posting a couple of shots: one good, one bad for you to see my issues.
    6) As for assertiveness: I'm a "fun" photographer so my clients have told me, but I don't like to command or nag...if I get a roll of the eyes or a "Thats enough" from the bride or mother of the bride, I tend to back off right away. Also, in this weekend's case, the bride was ready to slit the throat of a bridesmaid, & I really didn't want to hindsight, I wonder if taking a more forceful role would have created comfort for her...or cost me my life.
    Thanks for the input, every single response gave me something to think on. I want to be great at this.
  10. Beth, when you upload an image to, make sure it is 700 pixels wide or less and always add a caption, or the image will not show up in the thread.
  11. Ok, so looking at this image: Its a stop or so underexposed. Reason: Most likely you shoot with the shutter release button doing your metering too. If that is what you are doing, then you probably pointed the camera at the bride for your pre-focus, the recomposed.That made the exposure go under as she is in white.
    How am I doing so far?
  12. BTW, I hear the the K7 has made some steps forward in noise and metering being better. Not the best, but for the $$$, pretty darned good.
  13. 1. Backlighting
    2. The TTL probably picked up the flash sparkling on her tiara and shut it down too soon. (I can see one HUGE glint off one jewel. That's more than enough to cause your flash to shut down too soon in P-TTL) Based on the size of the glint on that tiara, my personal opinion is, that for this shot, THAT (w/ PTTL) is the problem. I have had the same result due to mirror balls, chrome on drum kits, and even ONE stinking sequin on the bride's dress. I have quite using PTTL, and (SOME) of my metering problems have gone away. The rest smack me when I forget what mode I'm set in (center weight) and assume pointing at the gravel will get me close to where I need (not w/ that bright, overcast sky I'm about to include in the framing!!)
    3. There is a custom menu option to link the metering point to the focus point on the K10 (and I would assume K20, but come over to the Pentax forum to verify that). On the K10, it is "off" by default, so David W's hypothesis may not be correct, unless you turned that particular option on.
    Personally, I'd not think the dress is so overpowering - the arm is really filling the frame, and should come out 18% gray.
  14. I had the flash and camera go bunkers once because of the background, quickly shifted to all manual settings. I don't normally look too often at the screen to see how the photos are coming out but then I did as I had to quickly change setting based on the light changing, it was a dance recital.
  15. Fast lenses and auto settings can overcome situations where you can't manually compensate. Learn the day, It's all the same from wedding to wedding. KNOWING what will happen next prepares you to be ahead of the shot.
    I find that for most of my weddings i know ahead of time what setting i'll be using, when to go auto, when to go manual, what look I want, shallow DOF, lens selection. With experience comes comfort.
    It will come to you. Just keep shooting and learn. Always try something new each wedding. If it works keep it. If not, dump it.
  16. Do you shoot on auto or manual ? You need to shoot on manual. Use a hand held light meter. I walk up to the subject, meter within 2' of them with meter pointed at them. This will reduce the exposure effect that ambient light has on subject. Sure, background exposure is not correct, & possibly the subject may be over exposed due to ambient light if shot outside. That is when I bracket the shot. Hey, it is digital, shoot a million, just delete the bad ones,, kinda like it is cheating,
  17. Good Gawd, I'm battling with exposure...yes, I know all about changing EV Compensation, and adjusting my ISO (having shot one wedding with a lot of ISO 1600 shots, & being told these were unusable by the primary shooter...I'm sticking around 400...) But one second I'm in the dark, then I'm facing in the name of Annie Leibovitz do other photographers do this so calmly & seemlessly & seem to get so many brilliant consistent shots?​
    I think you need to calm down and start thinking, slowly, about what you're doing. After shooting 10 weddings, you should, I think, be more confident about these things than you seem to be. My suspicion is that you've been a bit frantic through your previous weddings and that keeps you from being able to absorb the necessary lessons.
    I should add that I've got a marvelous Pentax setup (K10d, K20d...multiple lenses ranging from the Pentax 50mm 1.4 to the Sigma 17-35mm f/28, to the Pentax 50-135mm f/2.8. Two flash units (Pentax 360 & a Promaster unit I bought to replace my broken Pentax AF FGZ 540 while its out for repair...) Is my equipment selection appropriate?​
    I'm a Pentax shooter, too. Your bodies (the K10D and K20D) are fine - these are the bodies I take to weddings, too.
    The lenses seem okay. You might want to consider getting something faster than f/2.8. (I know you've got the 50 f/1.4 but I'm thinking of other focal lengths.) One of the best reasons to shoot Pentax is that we have so many great primes available: the Pentax 21, 31, 35, 40, 43, 70, 77, etc., as well as some great primes from third-party makers especially Sigma. But honestly, your lenses are okay. Very similar to the lenses I've used for weddings with good results.
    The flash units, on the other hand, are not optimal. The Pentax 360 is an okay flash for home use, but it not as powerful as the 540 FGZ and is not as flexible for bouncing. I use a Metz 58 AF-1 as my primary unit. It's more powerful and better built than the Pentax 540 FGZ. I take a couple Pentax 540s and also a small old Nikon unit with me as extras and for use with radio triggers.
    You said you had despaired of shooting at ISO 1600. Not necessary at all. And if you insist on shooting at ISO 400 when the light is bad, you should count on having badly underexposed shots. ISO 400 may work great if you're using flash effectively. But for the church ceremony where you can't use the flash, you are going to have to boost the ISO. I've taken lots of shots at ISO 1600 with the K20D that are very effective. During the ceremony, most of my shots are taken at 800, 1100 or 1600.
    You said that you know your equipment. Are you really familiar with Pentax's hyperprogram mode and what it can do? Alternatively are you familiar with TAv mode, which can be really useful (lets you set shutter and aperture as required and then adjusts ISO as needed)? Are you shooting flash using P-TTL? If so, have you considered switching to either Auto or Manual flash control? I think Pentax bodies and lenses are tops - but the P-TTL flash exposure system has not worked so well for me and I've had better results since I started using either Auto or M mode on the flash.
    Hang in there, and good luck.
  18. Beth, as many said before: know your equipment. My self, I shoot only in manual where I'm the boss of exposures. Camera isn't allowed to think, it only allowed to capture the images.
    As for being assertive, fake it. Pretend that you know what you're doing and make it seem that everything is OK. Even if you 4got to load the film, its ok, no problems, we'll just reshoot 24images :)
    You mentioned people being late, in my community, nearly 75% of the time if NOT more people are late. Portraits are done before the ceremony while B&G pictures are after. Thus working on short time scale is a MUST for me. I have sequence of poses that I do and I just replicate them over and over and over. It sux because after 2-3 jobs a week, I feel like a broken record but I get 95% of things I want to get that will go into the album. THEN if time permits or if people are ready early, I'll do more stuff (the other 5%) and this is where the fun begins for me.
    Also, working with time constraints, you are stock b/n client's punctuality, caterer and everyone else who want an individual of their 4 infants thus learn to say no and NOT b/c you don't want to but b/c "I don't want to hold the wedding back". Don't feel frustrated when you don't get something b/c "this isn't your wedding". If ppl are late they are taking a risk of not having MORE pictures available to them - this should be explained to them before signing the contract and should also be included in the contract. Another thing that I do is I have a job card with following 411: Bride (name, who is who in the family, #of siblings, marrieds, grandparents) and same for groom. Thus picture of a groom with his ONLY nephew is more important then Aunt Anne and her friend.
    And Again, you are there to capture the event, not run it thus you are just a victim of insanity, go with it and don't fight it. Cater will probably come up to you and ask you to hurry up, at which point you call over both mothers (since they are more commonly running the show) and have a quick talk - all 4 of you and lets them the ORGANIZERS of the even decided when you will be done with your pictures.
    Good Luck
  19. We always tell our B&G a time earlier than we want since they are always late. Also explain to them up front what it takes to get the photos they want, they'll understand.
    Being more assertaive comes with practice in dealing with people, my partner and I had the same problem when we started and as we got more confidence that problem went away. Just don't go the other way nobody likes to be treated like a child.
    Have you ever thought about a partner? My partner and I are equal in our business and our styles work well together. Yes it means less money for us individually but we can cover more ground or help each other out. Our clients like the end product. One of us will be moving people around while the other is shooting or we work different angles, different groups etc. I think it works better than an assistant since we both have an equal stake in our business.
  20. This is great & I appreciate your comments...some of it includes things I did do (such as rallying the mothers of the bride & groom for timing assistance at this last wedding). Some of the best suggestions are to remember that this isn't my wedding...the photos that I dreamed of taking may or may not come to be, & thats ok...if I'm open I'll capture something unexpected.
    I like the idea of a structured list of shots I want to take...I've avoided that in the past because I've seen some pretty cookie cutter wedding albums...but I think balance will be the key here.
    As for knowing my equipment: I shoot a lot in TAV mode & I'm generally happy with that. I'm not so comfortable with Manual mode & could use that more...I didn't actually say that I "despair" of shooting at 1600...I've been instructed by the photographer I've apprenticed (for lack of a better word) under that ISO 1600 are generally unusable...Personally I often like the effect, and have some shots at this ISO (particularly inside a church) that I thought were great...she tossed 'em, but I have them in my portfolio. I also want to be clear that I didn't say I always shoot at ISO 400...I just stick around there...going from 200-800 as I see fit, but not going into that 1600 neighborhood.
    It just seems like an awful lot to manage in one 8 hour or so period... but there's another wedding this Saturday & you've all given me lots to chew on...Thanks!
  21. Beth,
    Re shooting at higher ISOs with the Pentax K20D: You'll just have to practice more. And you also have to face certain basic facts of exposure.
    First, basic facts of exposure. You only control three settings on the camera that affect exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. When I'm shooting in a church, in low light, I start by opening the aperture as wide as possible for the shot - I shoot at f/2.8 a LOT, and wider depending on the lens. I also can only slow down the shutter so much, because even with the K20D's excellent built-in shake reduction, at some point, you have to worry either about camera shake OR subject movement. I shoot a lot at 1/30th sec, but I prefer to use a faster shutter than that if at all possible. If the shutter is too slow, I end up with blurry pictures, and blurry pictures are worse than noisy ones. IN short, I set the aperture and shutter speed and end up with little choice in the matter of ISO. If shooting at ISO 800 means that the shot is going to be badly underexposed, I'd rather shoot at 1100 or 1600 and clean up the noise in post than have to increase the exposure in post and introduce noise that way. Yeah, there's a compromise to be made. I'll underexpose a LITTLE. But just a little.
    And that's where practice comes in. Or perhaps it's experience gained through practice. ISO 1600 isn't absolutely bad - that's a myth. The result you get depends on what you're shooting and what KIND of light you've got to work with. I've taken shots at ISO 800 in which the noise was pretty unattractive - and I've taken shots at ISO 1600 where you don't notice the noise at all, especially in print.
    Shooting with flash is of course a completely different kettle of fish. When I move to artificial lighting, I drop the ISO to 400 and generally leave it there.
    I assume you're shooting raw; can't remember.
    One last point: about camera mode. I used to shoot in M (full manual) exclusively. Did it for decades. When you get used to it, you can become very fast. And your K20D has 2 great features that making shooting in M very easy. First, the green button gives you a nominally "correct" exposure in an instant. And holding down the AE-L button allows you to move either the front e-dial or the rear e-dial and maintain the same exposure ratio between shutter speed and aperture. This is what Pentax calls "hypermanual." It's really a nice feature. You can for example point the camera at the bride, click green button to get a starting exposure, then perhaps open the aperture up one stop to handle the white dress; click AE-L to lock that exposure ratio; then move the shutter speed to where you need it to be. Pretty easy.
    However, I will now confess that, a year ago, after a couple unsuccessful attempts, I finally managed to wean myself from M and start using hyperPROGRAM mode most of the time. Hyperprogram is what Pentax calls P mode on the K10D/K20D and K-7. It is not your normal program mode: rather, it is a way to switch from effective Tv to effective Av mode using a single dial. In hyperprogram, if I move the front e-dial, I'm in Tv (and the EXIF info in the picture will reflect that) and if I move the rear e-dial I'm in Av (ditto). And I don't have to fuss with the other dial at all if I don't want or need to. In hyperprogram I use the EC (+/-) button to bias the meter as necessary, which makes hyperprogram intellectually a little more challenging than shooting M, because the +/- button's effects are somewhat indirect. But the bottom line is (a) fewer button presses to achieve any exposure I wish and (b) fewer wrecked shots. I didn't used to wreck very many shots in M, but it is certainly possible.
    And keep in mind that you can use auto-ISO in hyperprogram/P mode as well, if you like.
    Good luck.
  22. A quick mention here about Photoshop (or whatever you use to tweak your images)... use the levels or curve tool to punch up the image. There's no law saying you have to deliver what came out of the camera... The longest wedding I shot resulted in over 700 exposures. I adjusted each and every one of them so the wedding dress looked pretty well the same. This makes for a very uniform "look and feel" to the wedding album; my customers rave about the quality.
    I also shoot in RAW, which makes for more work, but it has saved my butt more than once because of the wider exposure latitude you have to play with on your PC... you know the shots... first kiss, etc. I hope you don't mind me tweaking your image a bit - I used Photoshop's levels tool and drew the far right slider to the left, then used the shadow/highlight adjustment and set it to about 10%.
    Hope that helps... just so you know, I was often plagued with exposure issues such as you describe. You've received some great advice here; one more thing is to scope the venue out before the wedding (a day or week before, at the same time of day) and take practice shots. I don't need to do this anymore, but it sure helped at the beginning.
  23. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Playing devil's advocate, with all respect to Jim's comment – the sentiment with which I agree.

    But one does not want to become dependent upon Post Production to correct errors.

    "Fiddling Time" is still wasted time. There has to be balance between getting it right in the box and tweaking it later.

    However I do understand the idea of spending hours and hours in post production over 1000's of images - I know of one excellent craftsman who does that - but his business model reflects adequate compensation for all those hours work - behind the screen. And he does about 12 to 15 Weddings per year.

  24. Shoot RAW.
    If you're afraid the camera is going to expose wrong when you're about to make a quick change in illumination/scenery, jump quickly to aperture priority already set to ISO400-800, with about +2/3 exposure compensation, and you will almost definitely get some usable shots. Post process for any adjustments necessary. I do this now when I am leaving a dim area and moving to a spot where there's more light: I normally shoot in manual, but when I know the couple is coming out into the light I will set to aV and similar settings to what I described (with lens fairly wide open for adequate shutter speed) and let the camera do the exposing for the time being. This requires that the scene have fairly predictable illumination within the frame.
  25. Your camera is like a violin. If you are serious, with constant practice you will be able to make that puppy sing in any situation.... quickly too. It is all manipulation of light.
    jack hudkins
  26. Beth, I've got a question no one else has asked yet. How much do you use your camera?
    You see, I occasionally speak to people with similar issues and they're looking for the same kind of advice. And most of the time it becomes apparent quite quickly that they don't actually take many photographs outside of weddings. If that sounds like you then I think that may be a contributory factor. Do you take a camera with you everywhere? If so, do you use it?
    If you don't yet do that, maybe you should try. It's the absolute quickest way to get better and will give you a total understanding of every type of light and shooting condition. If you do it long enough, it will free you from your camera. The problems you're describing come from over-thinking. You don't sound like you're at a point where you trust your instincts, or where you can read the light and react to it before your camera does.
    You have to understand the light first, and your camera second.
    FWIW, I do this myself - outside of weddings I shoot street photography with a mechanical camera without AF or a lightmeter. It keeps me tuned-in to all kinds of shooting conditions, and I've never been faced with any lighting situation in any wedding that I couldn't read and work with easily.
  27. I liked Sean's idea of telling them an earlier time. Get someone on your side--a bridesmaid or mother for example, and ask for their assistance throughout. Make friends and be very sure the bride knows what will happen if they don't get going.

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