Expanding on our blog from last week about what we carry to photograph a wedding we are going to highlight what we bring for lighting!
We have talked a bit in previous blogs that we really try to limit our use of lighting when possible because we really try to be as unobtrusive as possible when photographing a wedding. It would make me very sad to hear that my light stand blocked grandma’s perfect view of the first dance. We really pull out lighting when we go into the evening/reception period. Until then we try to utilize our camera settings (can’t recommend enough a full frame camera so that you have the ability to up your ISO if need be during ceremony etc.) We do this because if at all possible we don’t want to take away from the magic of the ceremony by having a flash go off constantly. Now onto the lighting we use!
Our first lighting option that we go for is always our speed lights. Alan and I both use a TTL speed light and typically add a globe on top to soften and disburse the flash. We try to bounce our flash, if possible, off a ceiling or other bright area because it acts like a big softbox and will give a softer better light than if you had to point the flash right at the subject. We use the TTL because during a wedding you are photographing a lot and are constantly moving around between fluctuating lighting i.e. in and out of a tent (so from shade to sun) which requires changes to your settings or as the night continues from a tent with lighting to very little to no lighting outside of the tent. TTL is beneficial here because it automatically sets how strong of a flash you need by reading the surroundings. 60% of the time we will then make an adjustment to that such as telling the speedlight we want it a little brighter by +1.0 than it is sensing etc. but we love that it’s one less thing to adjust while running around because it helps us make sure we catch that candid moment rather than having to pause to adjust settings as you are running from one area to another.
If these flashes just aren’t cutting it we then go to off camera flash. There are tiers of adjustments you can make with these off camera flashes. We start with just a speed light on a light stand (smallest and quickest to setup) and we look to bounce this off of a white surface like a tent ceiling. If that isn’t working or isn’t an option (such as in a barn with really dark wood) we then fold in something to help disperse the light such as umbrellas or a softbox on light stands. One minor midstep here is there is something you can put on top of a speed light called CTO gel. Prior to going to an umbrella or soft box we try to add the CTO gel because what it does is it adds an orange tent to the flash which in almost a double negative type situation helps mitigate a more orange look that can happen when bouncing off of dark wood. Back to the umbrella or softbox addition, this is great at lighting up a whole dance floor or you could put two up and really change a room from a difficult lighting setup to a beautiful one. We always bring this equipment because we want to make sure we can get good photos for our brides and are prepared for any setting. The reason why we try not to jump to this solution is because it does require setting up light stands and if need be an umbrella which means more “things” that could be in a guests way or that we would have to move around. We like to be very mobile and we really like to capture candid moments. It kind of kills the candid moment if you have to tell everyone to pause in this awesome moment for you to move a light stand to properly light the shot.
A version of off camera flash that we also use but typically only if the above options aren’t working, because it is a more powerful version, is our strobe. A strobe is stronger and can allow you to expose for something like a sunset with your camera which would typically make the bride and groom (or whatever subject you are photographing) pretty dark. We then add in the strobe which will light up the subject. This makes it so you can get the beautiful colors of the sunset and properly expose a bride and groom all in one awesome shot. We typically use the strobe for a quick sunset photo but we could also use it if we were really having issues with the lighting in a room or area.
Alan and I are big planners so we often bring lots of gear (and back ups to that gear-don’t forget batteries GALORE). Even though we bring lots of gear we really try not to use all of it unless it’s necessary because it helps us stay mobile and helps us meet our “blend in with the crowd” style.
If you are a photographer looking for the brands we use send us a message and we are always happy to talk shop with you! Any brides or grooms reading-we recommend you ask your photographer what sorts of lighting options they have/are competent in using to make sure that you will be able to get beautiful pictures all day long!