Wedding White Gown and Black Tux

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by tomp, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. I have been asked to photograph a wedding for a friends daughter in
    june. I will be using my F100 and SB80DX with Fuji NPH 400. Both
    ceremony and reception are in the same building, a one story hall with
    basicly tungston and florescent lighting so everything will be with flash.

    I have had the camera and flash for over two yrs now and used it a lot
    for wildlife photos but very little flash shooting other than holiday
    get-togethers with family. At these occasions I have put the camera in
    program matrix metering and set flash to multi sensor matrix ttl, and
    been very pleased with outcome of photos, but my concern at a wedding
    with high contrast white gown and black tux is will matrix in camera
    and multi sensor ttl in flash be able to handle these either together
    or singley in
    close ups or should I figure on compensating for white when it is
    filling the frame or the same with black. Also if compensating should
    I use the exposure compensation on the camera to compensate both
    ambient and flash which I believe is the default, or just compensate
    the flash itself when one color is dominant in the frame.

    I normally would not consider shooting someones wedding pictures
    without knowing exactly what I am doing, but this is a small informal
    wedding for a close friends daughter and I have shot a lot of get
    togethers with this family and they understand I am not a pro and will
    only be doing candids which is fine with them. I just want to try to
    get the best shots I can and am not sure if I can depend on the camera
    and flash or if I should be compensating the same as I would for
    ambient exposures outside. Any advice would be apprieciated.

    Tomp
     
  2. I would use manual mode on these important pictures, and bracket your exposures in
    addition up to 2 f stops. This is quite alot, but weddngs cannot be redone. The white/
    black combination will positively create a headache for you. Don't risk the wedding
    photos. I would use manual, and calibrate for a distance of a full length person.
    Naturally, you will be farther away from them because of her dress length. Use manual
    mode. If you have an incident flash meter, use it.
     
  3. I used the N80 and SB80DX with NPH400 and i got excellent results from underexposing flash by 1 stop and overexposing the film by 1 to 1 1/3 stops... I actually usually focus on and expose for the eyes/face, and the pictures turn out just fine. There is some exposure latitude in the color negative films that you can adjust afterwards in Photoshop. I would focus on using your SB80DX as a fill flash, not overpowering existing light, and overexposing your film by at least 1 stop to 1 1/3 stops. The attached image is my result when using this approach.
    007zF1-17577984.jpg
     
  4. I tend to set ISO 320 for 400 speed film because neg. film has greater latitude for over
    exposure than it does for underexposure.

    The Nikon F-100 is a terrific camera, and the SB flashes some of the best in the business.
    Carefully read your SB80DX manual concerning fill flash work. Each camera system is
    slightly different in how the TTL flash works in concert with the AF points and meter
    patterns. When I use to shoot with a F-100 and SB TTL flash, few adjustments were needed
    if I recall correctly.

    If the Black/White dominated scene has you worried, burn a roll testing the camera/flash
    set up you are comfortable with. That'll answer you question as to whether the Matrix
    Metering and Program Mode will work. It may surprise you.
     
  5. Timber, Thank you for the response, however I do not feel like learning manual flash just to shoot this wedding, especially when I have a camera and flash that is capable of doing the job with possibly a little help from me. I do have a flash meter Sekonic L-558 which I mainly use outdoors, how would it help me in this situation using auto modes for camera and flash?

    Steven, When you say you expose for the face, what metering mode are you in on the camera, and how do you expose the flash for the face? also can you explain your reason for overexposing the film and underexposing the flash and how you went about that, I assume you used flash output compensation on the flash, but on the camera did you use the exposure compensation to overexpose?

    Mark, When you said you used the SB flash ttl, did you mean Matrix Multi Sensor Balanced fill flash, or stright ttl set on the flash? I keep reading different opinions about which to use, one balances flash with ambient light and other lets the backgrounds go dark but exposes for the subject, I have never shot just plain TTL I have always used the multi sensor both outside for fill and inside for main light, however I have thought the inside shots came out ok, here is a link to a online gallery of mine with some shots taken like this using the flash set to multi sensor fill with camera in program with the fuji NPH, maybe you could tell me if using stright TTL would give better exposed shots. A couple of the darker ones were from a yr before with stofen difuser and NPZ 800 and are just a little too dark, could also have been the processing, but all the rest were NPH 400, camera on program, which gave 60th@F5.6 and flash set to matrix fill.

    Tomp http://www.nikonians-images.com/galleries/showgallery.php?cat=3125&ppuser=1336
     
  6. Answer:

    Using a professional incident meter with auto mode flash is not effective. If there was a
    way for the flash to confirm what light output it just sent out in the LCD of the flash, well,
    that would be nice. But
    it doesn't. Taking a reading off of the face is something of value, but you have to be very
    careful about the effects of the white veil, and all of this may underexpose your film 1 f
    stop anyway. It is a reasonable answer though.

    I would rather give you advice that can give you control, with an expected result. I don't
    particularly like any "work arounds" auto mode. If you are going to go to this trouble, you
    may as well use manual mode.

    Why not find what f stop your flash will give you at, oh, 15 feet. Then allow for a 1/2 f
    stop overexposure for color negative film as you punch in the ASA number to your
    incident meter. Duplicate this 15 foot distance at the wedding and use manual mode with
    your known f stop. Re-check yourself with your incident meter. The groom will hold it.

    In this way, you have the most important photos under your control.

    But what are you going to do at the cake? Most everything is white there.

    If I were using auto mode, if I were chained and gagged and forced to use auto mode, I
    would use color negative film and I would overexpose everything 2 f stops. That is, i
    would use a 400 ASA film and rate it at 100. In this way, I could relax and know that if it
    does pick up the white dress and underexpose the camera, I am reasonably safe because I
    am already compensating by rating the film at 100. The only
    danger time is when I am pointed at a row of black tuxedos. At this time, I would set the
    ASA to 400 normal. This will probably overexpose them 1.5 stops, but I am again safe.
     
  7. You have a couple of months before you have to shoot the wedding, so the best thing to do is run a sanity check with your gear and a few rolls of film. NPH is designed for what you are shooting, and shouldn't have any problem with the white dress/black tux.

    The way to check things is to see if your gear gives the proper exposure when checked with your meter. To get an accurate flash reading (with your Nikon) you have to do two things: have film in the camera and disable the pre-flash. The camera measures the light being reflected off the film. If, there is no film in the camera it will measure the light reflected off the pressure plate and be off about two stops. If the pre-flash is not disabled, the Sekonic will measure the light from the pre-flash instead of the main flash. The way I disable the pre-flash is to set the camera to rear curtain sync.

    The most important test is when the flash is the primary source of light. Run the test in an average/dim room. Put the camera in manual mode and pick a shutter speed/aperture combination that the camera's meter inticates is at least 2 stops under exposed. Set the flash to Matrix mode and take a shot. With the meter set to the same shutter speed as the camera the flash meter should read the same aperture that the camera is set to. It probably won't. (Matrix TTL works best for fill flash.) Set the flash to plain TTL mode, and take another shot. The meter will probably indicate .3 -.7 stops under exposure. (This is what I get with my F100, any of my TTL capable flashes and a Sekonic L358.) What ever the under exposure is, as indicated by the meter, set that as the inverse of the flash compensation on the flash. (I set mine to +.7) When the Sekonic indicates proper exposure, you have proper exposure. If you want to be really sure, use slide film to see what things really look like.

    The reason for not doing the exposure compensation by adjusting the film speed rating on the body is that for ambient light no compensation is really needed. Setting an extra 1/3rd stop won't hurt anything, if you feel better doing it. For fill flash, I set the flash compensation to -.7. Once you determine what the compensation setting for the flash as primary and fill lights, you are good to go and don't have to worry about the white and black: the camera's metering will do fine. Setting a Nikon to 2 stops over exposure will just give you an overexposed, dense, hard to print negative with funny color crossovers. But, you don't have to believe me; try it out with your gear so you know how it behaves. This is why photographers run test rolls when every they are trying something new.
     
  8. First let me describe my approach to taking candids, which is slightly less scientific than Timbers reccommendations. I shoot in aperature mode pretty much the entire wedding day; shooting in aperature priority mode allows me to have as much control as I need, while allowing the camera to set the appropriate shutter speed. If I'm shooting candids at say 5.6, I will constantly check my cameras meter for evaluating the correct exposure by pointing at something that is close the 17% gray. Once the "correct" shutter speed has been decided by the camera, I then use the EV compensation settings on my camera to over or under expose based on the subject I am shooting, and the lighting conditions. When shooting the bride, I meter off of the white dress, and use the EV compensation by anywhere from +1.3 to +2.0 because the white dress is 2 stops brighter than 17% gray. I will then use single-focus to hold the focus area on the bride or the grooms eyes. Using the EV compensation +2.0 stops is the same thing as "overexposing the film" by 2 stops, which is basicaly done to expose the white dress correctly.

    For the picture above, I used the TTL metering mode on the flash, and used the flash adjustment to underexpose by 1 stop. I do this mainly because I don't want the flash to overpower ambient lighting, which would create noticable shadows in your print. Setting the Speedlight to -1.0 will tell the TTL flash meter to keep the fill light (from the flash) at a 1:2 ratio. (that is the fill light will be no brighter than 2 stops under the main light for the photograph.)

    I only use full manual mode for formal portraits; I know that I am going to use f/8 or f/11 -- and I use a Sekonic L-358 light meter to meter the darkest part of the scene, and then set my shutter speeds accordingly. I never use Program mode on my camera. By at least using aperature priority mode (and spot or matrix metering), I have greater control over final result that I am trying to achieve. If one never deviates from the Program mode on the camera, how can you ever expect to produce a unique, compelling image? Experience and reading PN forums should give you enough confidence to at least stop using Program mode, and begin to use Aperature or Shutter priority modes to help you achieve the vision you have for your next shot.

    For a more detailed, text-book like discussion on lighting, Timber provides much more information at the following discussion that I started. I realize that Timber is a ALL MANUAL fan, but he probably has quite a few years of experience, and a couple of degrees, on us that we don't have at our disposal. I'm slowing working in that direction, but at least I haven't used Program mode for over a year! :) Here is that thread:
    http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=007TH9
    So now you have a perspective from an entirely manual approach and a semi-automatic approach. Hope that helps.

    BTW I love the F100! You have a fine piece of equipment. I just bought a Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 for my N80, and I felt that I needed it more than the F100, although that's next on my list. I do rent the F100 for the weddings that I shoot, along with a nice 200mm zoom and extra lighting equipment. You should have no problems making wonderful photos with your equipment at your friends wedding! Best of luck to you!
     
  9. Steven, Thanks for responding, however now I am really confused, let me do this step at a time so that maybe it will sink in to my thick head,

    1. Lets start with my original question what metering mode do you have the camera set in, matrix, center or spot? and remember I am shooting flash inside for everything not outside fill. The whole wedding and reception are inside.

    2. "If I'm shooting candids at say 5.6, I will constantly check my cameras meter for evaluating the correct exposure by pointing at something that is close the 17% gray."

    Is the flash turned on at this time? normally with AP and 400 film and 5.6 won't the shutter read between 60 and 250 with 60 as minimum, and only higher if pointed at a bright light. The exposure scale on the LCD shows under or over exposure from 18% is that what you are talking about? the shutter speed is not going to change on the camera in aperture priority, only the amount of under or over on the analog scale on the LCD.
    3. You say you meter off the dress and use the ev compensation on the camera, are you still in AP and 5.6, when you do this, when you point the camera at the white dress what changes? when you dial in + 1.3-2 stops what changes on the camera that you are looking at, I don't doubt what you are saying, its just that you lost me somewhere along the way and I can't figure what you are doing, could you back up and take it one step at a time starting with what metering mode you have set on the camera, also I don't understand how if you add plus 1.3 to 2 on the exposure compensation on the camera which is adjusting the ambient exposure by 1.3 to 2 stops isn't that adjusting the flash by exactly the same amount of + exposure, is that why you are then going minus 1 stop on the flash? I don't mean to be so dense, but I am having trouble understanding what you are doing.

    Tomp
     
  10. If it's any reassurance, I've had no trouble keeping detail in black tuxes and white gowns when using NPH at EI 250 with a Pentax 645 and AF400T flash (TTL metering, but far-less sophisticated than your F100). The negative had details throughout the contrast range. Preserving those details on the prints generally required printing by a pro lab that used lower-contrast "portrait" paper--the high-contrast stuff that minilabs use to make vacation snaps pop can result in blown-out highlights or detail-less suits.
     
  11. what metering mode do you have the camera set in, matrix, center or spot?

    I use spot meter, so I can meter the specific spot that I want. In this case, the bride's white dress.

    Is the flash turned on at this time?

    Yes

    won't the shutter read between 60 and 250 with 60 as minimum, and only higher if pointed at a bright light.

    Typicaly, yes. Now I am assuming you are shooting candids, not portraits, so it is possible that your cameras shutter will be 30 or 45 in low light. (Usually low light at the reception or dance hall.)

    The exposure scale on the LCD shows under or over exposure from 18% is that what you are talking about?

    Yes.

    the shutter speed is not going to change on the camera in aperture priority, only the amount of under or over on the analog scale on the LCD.

    In aperature priority, the shutter speed is automatically adjusted, just as in Program mode. In aperature priority mode, you set the aperature manually.

    You say you meter off the dress and use the ev compensation on the camera, are you still in AP and 5.6, when you do this, when you point the camera at the white dress what changes? Okay, lets say we use 5.6 in this example. When I first point the camera at the white dress in AP, the camera meter may indicate that I am between one and two stops under exposed. At this point, I would consider shooting at 4.0, or even 2.8 to let more light into the scene. If the subject is far away, or there is more than one person in the scene, I would probably want to stay at 5.6, so I would change my camera angle until more light could enter the scene, and I could get the exposure meter as close to the "correct" exposure as possible. My first goal after selecting the desired aperature for my scene is to choose an angle that give off enough light for correct exposure (It's nice if the light in the new angle is inspiring and flattering, but living in Washington state, that's not always possible.)

    when you dial in + 1.3-2 stops what changes on the camera that you are looking at?

    The exposure meter in the camera's view finder will move either from under exposure to correct exposure, or from correct exposure to over exposure. After metering the bride's white dress, I try to make sure that my camera meter is at least + 1.0 stops above "correct" exposure.

    isn't that adjusting the flash by exactly the same amount of + exposure?

    No, the flash has a separate EV compensation button on the camera, which controls flash exposure and does not affect ambient exposure. (see photo below.)

    is that why you are then going minus 1 stop on the flash?

    I control my flash exposure by the +/- dial on the flash itself, not on the camera body.

    With that being said, I by no means have the final say on this subject. I have been using this technique, which has been effective for me so far. I constantly try to find ways to improve, and am always experimenting on low risk projects. I am shooting 2 weddings this spring/summer which I will be paid for, and I am fairly comfortable that this technique is going to work for me. However, as Bruce and others have suggested, take some time to shoot a few practice rolls to see just for yourself what kind of results you might expect using various techniques. The following book may be very useful for you for further reading on the subject.
    Professional Techniques for the Wedding Photographer by George Schaub
    You have probably heard about previsualizing your images before you release the shutter. This is very important. You can use your flash and exposure control to allow your background go frosty with longer exposures (See Timber's portfolio and the thread I posted above for examples) or your can keep the background closer to your 18% gray with faster shutter speeds, and stay away from high key portrait style. Each have their own merits, and is particularly a decision about style and preference. Go with what you like best. Most images I see more often than not are bad because they are underexposed, or lack contrast and depth. So at least in my opinion, it's better to error on the side of overexposure than under exposure by using slower shutter speeds. You might even consider trying rear curtain sync with your setup at the reception, which creates interesting effects and enables you to take away some nice images from low lighting situations.

    So I hope that helps. I hope you will post some of your wedding pics here and share with Photo.Netters! :)
     
  12. Tom, I went through your linked images. Two observations related exclusively to exposure: 1) Most, if not all are a BIT underexposed looking. The telltale signs are the slightly muddy skin tones and whites, plus a bluish cast in the blacks (caused by the lab trying to bring up the image). It could be your lab, or scans, but when I tried lifting one in PS it got grainier, another tell tale sign of underexposure. 2) Cast shadows in SOME of the shots indicating to much flash in the light balance ratio. But you are not far off, so it's easy to fix. In fact, as I mentioned, and Mike Dixon confirmed, rating the film at a slower speed will probably do it. As I said, I regularly rate ISO 400 films at 320. Film has a huge exposure latitude, but a majority of that latitude favors overexposure while being pretty intolerant of underexposure. I learned that long ago from a lab guy, and from doing my own darkroom work for 25 years. (BTW, digital is the exact opposite). Flash work indoors with dim ambient light: While using the Aperture Preferred Mode with flash outdoors is perfectly fine, some cameras in dark conditions will cause to slow of a shutter as the AE tries to set the proper speed to expose for the ambient light. I can't recall if the F-100 was one of those cameras, but the Canons do that. Set f/5.6 in a dark room and the shutter will drop down to a 1 second shutter speed AND fire the flash. Read your F-100 manual to check this as some cameras default to 1/60th or 1/125th or 1/250th depending on light conditions. If you set Shutter Priority @ say 1/125th, the aperture will often default to f/5.6 or something and the flash makes up for the rest. The result is darker backgrounds and often harsh cast shadows. Program Mode is similar to the above. You'll get the shot, but it'll look like a flash shot. That leaves Manual Mode with Multi-Sensor Matrix metering, which IMO, is the best choice when indoors using flash. I've mentioned this before, but repeating it can't hurt. Set the Aperture/Shutter Speed for the ambient light levels with-in reason. While you often can't set exactly the proper exposure for the ambient light, you can get it to the maximum reasonable aperture while still getting the DOF needed (depending on the focal length and distance to subject), and the shutter can be set lower than seems reasonable for the lens being used because THE FLASH DURATION FREEZES THE FOREGROUND SUBJECT not the camera's shutter speed. NOTE: you do not want to spot meter the bride's dress or the image will be underexposed!!! If you meter a white wall the result will be a gray wall in the print. If you meter a black wall, the result will be a gray wall in the print. Meters are calibrated to produce a middle tone... that's why gray cards are used to meter against. If faced with a scene dominated by white (brides dress) the Multi Sensor Matrix Meter will recognize that, but only up to a point, Flash compensation may need to be set to the + side (very easy to do on the SB flashes). But I urge you to go try a test by shooting a white wall and a dark/black one in dim light: to directly see how well the Multi-Sensor Matrix TTL metering handles it. When doing that, set the camera on a tripod, set manual, set f/4 @ 1/50th and shoot normal, then plus the FLASH a stop, then 2 stops, then - a stop and - 2 stops. The results will tell you exactly how much you will need to compensate the flash if the subject is all white (bride's dress) or all black (the groom's tux). It's better to directly know your camera's metering ability in extreme conditions than to guess at it. Here's one of your shots that I took the liberty of quickly adjusting to simulate a more correct exposure. Your lab may be doing you a disservice, or your scans are off, or more likely you are underexposing a bit.
    007zUq-17585084.jpg
     
  13. In Av Mode the F100 will not set a shutter speed below 1/60 sec., unless the flash mode is set to Slow Sync (and I think Rear Curtain sync...I always use manual indoors).
     
  14. Thanks, I couldn't remember how the F-100 worked in default. For a 20 or 35mm focal
    length 1/60 is to fast and would result in the use of to much flash for the ambient lighting
    feel when in a indoor situation.
     
  15. Marc: You said, "NOTE: you do not want to spot meter the bride's dress or the image will be underexposed!!! "

    How do you ever take pictures in the snow during the day? Same problem as metering off of a bride's white dress. Of course if you meter the white snow or white dress without compensating for the exposure, it will be gray. But as I have reccommended, and you can probably read elsewhere, if you meter the brides white dress, it is absolutely neccessary to adjust your exposure by anywhere from +1.3 to 2 full stops, depending on the light that is falling on the dress. There are pleanty of other ways to meter a correct exposure, this is just one approach that has worked for me successfuly.

    Thanks for posting! I think your post has probably answered most if not all of Tom's questions and concerns! That was an excellent post!
     
  16. Steven, I just didn't want some beginner to think spot metering would provide good
    results without compensation... which you did indicate was necessary, and I should have
    noted that you did.

    What the test I suggested will do is indicate how much the Multi-Sensor Matrix Meter will
    compensate IF there is a programed response for massive whites already there. That
    frankly, is something I do not know. Maybe it doesn't at all, but it would be nice to know
    for sure before compensating the flash.

    Interesting thread. Makes you think.
     
  17. I was shooting a school trip a few months ago with snow cover, on a bright sunny day. With loose framing (lots of snow in the frame) there was a 1/2 stop difference between what my F100 (matrix metering) indicated and my hand held L-358. With tighter framing there was no difference. In other words, I could have, and did, get good prints without any compensation for the snow. The "rules of thumb" developed years ago don't always hold true for modern metering systems. This is why I keep advocating checking your gear against a good incident meter and shoot some test rolls of slide film. Once you characterize your gear, you'll know hat you do and do not have to watch out for.
     
  18. Regarding compensating matrix metering; I had an N80 for almost 2 years, and I played around a lot with compensations for matrix metering. In the end, it just wasn't worth it. If something looked tricky, I'd check the matrix's decision with some spot metering and some brain power. The only time that I had to over-ride the matrix was in cases of severe back lighting. So, as many have said before run some tests. Get one friend to dress in white, get another to dress in black. Shoot a couple of rolls with various compensation settings and in various lighting conditions. Document the whole thing in a notebook. It's well worth the $20 and time to know exactly how well the matrix metering works.
     
  19. If Tom takes away anything from this thread, it's that there are no hard and fast rules. As he can see from the dialogue of various experienced photographers, the most important thing is to know your gear. Secondly, treat each scene by first thinking about the lighting conditions, your vision for how you want your image to appear, and then apply some technique (hopefully not Program mode) to achieve your vision! The fact that you cannot prescribe an exact script for successful results is what makes photography an art, and frankly why I enjoy it so damn much! <grin>
     
  20. I would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to contribute to answering my question about Flash Compensation for wedding photography. As usual when asking questions on on-line forums the responses are all over the place in terms of the best way to solve the problem, however I think this is normal due to different levels of experience and different brands of equipment used by the responders. However there was a lot of useful information volunteered and I thank all of you for your help.

    One thing I might be able to contribute back that might be of some help to some of you is a experience I had recently concering hand held exposure meters and a comment made by Bruce about recently comparing his matrix reading on a snow scene with his Sekonic L358 meter and there being a 1/2 stop difference.

    This is something I have recently learned as I had a L358 and now a L558 and they are great meters, however Aprils issue of Shutterbug mag, I happened to see a review of the L558 meter and the reviewer stated that he liked the meter very much however it consistantly read a 1/2 stop under his Nikon Cameras, so he called Sekonic to discuss this with them and was told that there is no international standard for calibrating meters! they would recalibrate it for him but to their standards, and would not say what exactly that was, even though they said they calilbrated to Nikon meters. Well I just had to test my sekonic against my F100 to see what I would get and I found the same thing, the sekonic in incident and spot was .4 tenths stop underexposed from my F100, then I went back through a lot of photos I had taken in manual using the incident readings and I believe I can start to see slight underexposure also. The way I checked the Sekonic was on a clear blue day at about 10 am with the meter set on aperture priority F16 and default film speed setting of ISO 100, when taking a incident reading with the difuser pointed at the sun my incident readings were .4 tenths under basic daylight. Then I mounted the camera on a tripod indoors under room lighting and took spot meter readings off a gray card with the camera and then the sekonic and there was also a .4 tenths difference, and to double check my camera I shoot a gray card taped up on a pole outside in basic daylight using provia 100 and compensating up and down by 1/3 stops, and on a light table the slides shot with no compensation matched the gray card in color, so I know the camera meter is right on. The good side of this is that the Sekonic meters are very easy to calibrate yourself so I just recalibrated the meter and now I know they both match. Just thought I would pass this along so that maybe someone else might be able to use it. Thanks again for all the input.

    TomP
     
  21. Just some clarification:

    "I've mentioned this before, but repeating it can't hurt. Set the Aperture/Shutter Speed for the ambient light levels with-in reason. While you often can't set exactly the proper exposure for the ambient light, you can get it to the maximum reasonable aperture while still getting the DOF needed..."

    If the aperture/shutter speed combination results in ambient "underexposure" by, say 1.5 - 2 stops, would this not make the flash as the main light source? Wouldn't using it as fill results in "underexposure" since fill, by definition, means lower flash output than ambient? I suppose this is where the custom lab (if film) or PS (if digital) come in and do their magic.

    Am trying to understand flash fill in dark situations and right now am confused. Comments appreciated.
     
  22. This answer is Nikon specific... If the ambient light is 1.5-2 stops under the camera settings in manual, the flash is the main light and the flash should be set to plain TTL.

    Getting exposure (all the other technical stuff also) right in camera makes getting a high quality print faster and easier. When important parts of the image are not on the linear portion of the response curve you wind up compression (blocking up or blowing out), noise and color shifts. I don't think that it's a good idea to slip into a "fix it in Photoshop" mind set. It's a big waste of time, and the results would have been better if things were right in camera to begin with.
     
  23. "Fill" probably is what is misleading you. Since we usually use the term in reference to adding a bit of light to daylight scenes to "fill" in the shadows. So, in essence, you are correct. The more correct term would probably be "light balance". You are exposing the background more by means of a slower shutter speed and wider aperture to bring it closer in balance with the foreground subject that is lit primarily by the flash. (Remember, things in the background can't be lit by the flash because they are to far away. If the flash DID light up the background, the foreground subject would then be badly overexposed because it is closer to the source of light). However, the foreground subject also benefits from the slow shutter and wider aperture of the camera, so the TTL flash doesn't have to do as much work to light the subject (often acting just as sort of a "fill" depending on how dark it really is when shooting. The result of "balanced" lighting is a more natural look to the whole image. "Light balance" is an important concept to grasp in photography. It's value isn't just for dark situations. For example, take a shot in a lit church with a big stained glass window as a backdrop. To photograph a couple in front of the window you have to bring the strong window light into "balance" with the subjects who have less light reflectance. So if you expose for the window light using the proper shutter and aperture settings, the flash has to add enough light to the couple to bring them into "balance". If you didn't use flash, the couple would be backlit by a properly exposed window, but they would be to dark, even just a silhouette. Conversely, if you exposed for the couple without regard to the window, the window would be blown out. Here's an example of light balance in use. The cake was in a very dark room but the windows behind it were quite brightly illuminated by outdoor sun out in the yard. I balanced it by exposing for the widows while using a fairly open aperture to throw them out of focus. I then reduced the TTL flash by - 1.5 stops so the candles would still show up. That resulted in a more natural look to the whole scene. Again, use the camera & lens settings to expose for the background, use the flash to expose the for the foreground subject. The trick is to bring them more closely into balance.
    00803R-17598184.jpg
     
  24. Marc,

    You are right - the term "fill" got me confused. And as always, you've got great clarity in explaining these concepts with excellent examples.

    Best.
     
  25. Find out what a reading for 15 feet is, let's say it is f5.6 using ASA 400 film. Now simply shoot all your shots using f5.6. . . . What will happen is that the bride will be at about 13 feet at the altar with her dress pulled out, and she will be overexposed therefore 1/2 f stop: perfect, this is recommended by pro photographers anyway. All full length shots of 1-2 people will be taken at 11 feet (average distance with a slight wide angle). These shots will then be overexposed 1 f stop, fine. Then, all those close up shots at 6 feet where you have a 1/2 body shot or a picture of the bride looking in the mirror, etc., these will be overexposed 2 f stops.
    This information is incorrect. According to the inverse-square law, when the distance to the subject doubles, four times the amount of light output is required to provide the same level of illumination (and, conversely, when subject distance is halved, one quarter the output is needed). If the flash is set to correctly expose the subject at 15 ft, subjects at 6 ft will be overexposed by about 2.5 stops, and those at 5 feet will be overexposed by more than 3 stops.
    Judging from the density numbers on the back of prints made from negs exposed using an auto flash with center-weighted TTL, exposures made with that method varied by less than half a stop. Marc's digital shots probably have an even tighter exposure tolerance than that. To acheive that kind of consistency with the method Timber recommends, you'd need to limit the subject distance in all your shots to 13 to 15 feet.
     
  26. Marc- Thanks for your clear explanation of "light balancing". I wanted to know what "HSS mode" means on the 550.

    Thanks, Mary
     
  27. Mary, HSS stands for High Speed Sync. When set to HHS, the flash will sync with the camera shutter speeds beyond the normal 1/ 250th top setting. In some lighting circumstances, if you set a fast lens aperture the shutter speed required for proper exposure will exceed the normal sync speed of 1/ 250th. Normally, this would force you to stop the lens aperture back down to a setting that requires a shutter speed of 1/250th or less. However, if you WANT the wider aperture, HSS can be engaged to allow flash use with shutter speeds exceeding 1/250th. The primary use and value of this feature is when you're shooting in bright conditions, want a wide aperture to limit depth of field to isolate a subject, but want some fill flash. Here's an example where I used an 85/1.2 @ 1.2 outside. To use f/1.2 with the camera set to AV Mode here required a shutter speed of 1/1500th which is well beyond the normal 1/ 250th normal sync speed. HSS allowed the flash to be used to fill the groom's coat and balance the light with the background. If I had NOT used flash and metered to retain detail in the coat, the background would have been much lighter or blown out. Just another example of using the camera's shutter/aperture combination to expose for the background, and the flash to expose the foreground subject to bring them more in balance. Mike is correct that digital benefits even more from this "light balance" technique than film does because digital has less exposure latitude.
    0080YS-17611284.jpg
     
  28. On a Canon 550EX flash, here's how you set the High Speed Sync. #1, you press both buttons marked "flash symbol & H" with the link below the two buttons, and hold them until... #2, the " flash symbol & H appear in the LCD window. Even though it is said to draw more power, I leave the flash set to High Speed Sync at all times. You can still use slower shutter speeds if you wish, but are ready to move from the dim church interior to the bright outdoor exit scene without fiddling with the flash.
    0080aS-17612784.jpg
     
  29. Subject: Wedding White Gown and Black Tux
    (SNIP)
    At these occasions I have put the camera in program matrix metering and set flash to multi sensor matrix ttl, and been very pleased with outcome of photos, but my concern at a wedding with high contrast white gown and black tux is will matrix in camera and multi sensor ttl in flash be able to handle these either together or singley in close ups or should I figure on compensating for white when it is filling the frame or the same with black.

    Your Nikon SB flash should work very similar to my EOS gear. Remember, just plain TTL worked for years. But for your question: yes your gear wil do just fine, with litlle if any adjustments needed.
    Remember to, there is only one meter reading that really counts in weddings and that is properly exposing the Bride. So walk up to the Bride and make an ambient reading of her face (which in the end, is the only reading that counts.)
    Tom, remember, hundreds of thousands of weddings were shot with the old medium format wedding formula of (f/5.6 @ 1/60th sec.) years before TTL metering and "fast" film.
    Unless her dress is terribly detailed/textured, you will find that only you and not the Bride is concerned in that The Groom's Tux, unless it too is highly detailed, (usually not), is superfluous..
    *In the one shot of the Groom beside the Bride coming down the stairs, we see no details in the Groom's Tux, like 99% of most such shots.
    "Also if compensating should I use the exposure compensation on the camera to compensate both ambient and flash which I believe is the default, or just compensate the flash itself when one color is dominant in the frame".
    No compensation at all
    . Someone who shoots Nikon can correct me here, but I am certain your Nikon system works similar to my EOS gear when using flash. EOS gear always exposes for the ambient expousre meter reading, using the flash for automatic fill. That is, if you shot that old MF format formula of f/5.6 @ i/60th sec. your gear too should use only as much flash as as you have dialed in. On EOS gear, you can dial in plus/minus two, on some EOS flashes up to three whole stops in 1/3rd stop increments. Probably the same or very similar for your Nikon gear.
    Remeber too that just plain old TTL flash took care of weddings. Today, we have (A-TTL & E-TTL flash in EOS) and whatever TTL systems Nikon uses. today, both systems nail simple portraiture nearly 100% of the time.
    "I normally would not consider shooting someones wedding pictures without knowing exactly what I am doing, but this is a small informal wedding for a close friends daughter and I have shot a lot of getogethers with this family and they understand I am not a pro and will only be doing candids which is fine with them".
    "Umm", will there be a "Pro" shooting the wedding while you concentrate on candids? I ask because my curiosity is raised: who will shoot the formals if yours will only be candids? And why worry about "balancing" since only the lucky photographer ever has enough light to do accomplish ?
    "I just want to try to get the best shots I can and am not sure if I can depend on the camera and flash or if I should be compensating the same as I would for ambient exposures outside. Any advice would be apprieciated".
    No exposure compensation at all.
    Trust your gear, since you already know how it functions outdoors. It is the same gear you successfully use to make those very good outdoor shots.
    If all you will be shooting is the candids then, and with your gear with which you are familiar, you have nothing to worry about.
    I don't shoot weddings anymore, just special events since retiring. But my long time PJ experience (37 years) taught me a few things: since 1995, I only shoot ISO 640 (Kodak Ektapress unitl discontinued) or Kodak Supra or Portra ISO 800 film (both medium contrast print emulsions) in events/weddings.
    Today's modern (since 1999-2000) print emulsions make grainless 4 x 6 prints (assuming proper exposure and processing.) You have to take them up past 11 x 14 to see "objectionable" grain, if then.
    I am suggesting you shoot Kodak Portra (short for Portraits)or Fuji ISO 800 film throughout.
    I shoot ISO 800 Kodak Portra indoors for events, usually setting my camera body(s) on Tv (shutter priority) at 1/60th sec. (1/45th sec. if a really dark venue), letting the EOS exposure program handle the rest.
    Your Nikon system probably does nearly the same as my EOS system, exposing for the ambient (background) reading when using flash, utilizing the camera's computer program to apply proper (automatic fill for EOS) for proper foreground exposure. That's for ordinary shots.
    For this wedding, meter the Brides face, set that shutter speed in TV mode, turn on your flash, set maybe -1/3rd to -2/3rds stop FEC and and shoot. Ought to be just fine.
    **In every Bride/Groom shot submitted in this thread, including the one with the Groom's back is towards us as they dance, note there is no details in their Tux; none, nada.
    Ed Greene, author, "Manual Fill Flash For Dummies, 1997"
     
  30. "**In every Bride/Groom shot submitted in this thread, including the one with the Groom's back is towards us as they dance, note there is no details in their Tux; none, nada." Sorry Ed, if you are referring to my shot of the groom with his back to the camera,( ** ) there most certainly is detail in the Tux, ( not that I disagree that the groom is secondary to the bride). Perhaps differences in monitor calibration?
    00814e-17629284.jpg
     
  31. All readers should take into consideration that they are using different equipment from others, may have different taste in
    results and there is no subsitute for testing "methods" in different light situations to find what works best for you. <p> One
    way to judge the varied answers on the forum is to check out the
    work of other photographers giving advice. Either click on the
    names to check the portfolios - or go to the list of wedding photographers with work on Photo.net. There is a thread in the wedding forum that will lead you to all the wedding photographers on Photo.net that have work posted here.
     
  32. There are a number of really good photographers, who are not very good technicians. They have arrived at technical solutions that work for them and their style of photography. It's based on rules of thumb and lots of experience; just the way the great catherdrals in Europe were built. Since what really counts is getting a great image, it's a case of what ever works.
     

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