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Thread: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

  1. #1

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    Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Hola Everyone,
    I have been asked to step in and shoot a wedding, (very sadly the original photographer has died) and it's all quite short notice. I have a Canon 5D II, a 24-105 mm 1:4 L IS lens, and a 70-200 mm 1:2.8 L IS II lens, I have a tripod, no experience with weddings but a fair degree of confidence/ luck !
    However what I do NOT have is any kind of Flash.
    The couple have told me they don't want any kind of formal shots, nothing set-up and posed just 'candid' type shots of themselves and their friends, which is why I mentioned the long lens above as it may be useful.
    The event will have both exterior moments and interior parts and will definatly be throughout the day into the night so I imagine a flash will be needed.
    Question 1; am I right?
    Question 2; can anyone recommend a flash unit?
    I don't tend to shoot people-type events but will obviously be keeping the flash after the wedding, my normal subject matters are wildlife, landscapes etc though I have a macro flash, if there's something that I could use especially well for capturing animals at night I might get more use from it.
    Finally, budget. I think mid-range is where i'm looking though the couple have offered to pay/donate, I am pretty sure they have little idea how much these things cost and would not be able to cough up the cash !!
    Thanks in advance,
    mat

  2. #2
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    First - check the venue/minister/priest. Flash may not be allowed in certain parts of the ceremony
    Second - consider hiring a prime or two - 35/50/85 - in case flash is not allowed
    Third - research, do plenty of it, and find the style that the couple would like for their images
    Fourth - write a check list. A list of all the formal shots you need to take during and after the ceremony. Husband and wife + their parents, Husband and wife + extended family, wife and bridesmaids, husband and best man/ushers. Make sure you're checking off the list as you go.
    Fifth - research, do plenty of it
    Sixth - if you're using a flash, then bounce bounce bounce. Again, look at the venue, possible light levels, where you can bounce, try some test shots, anything to make your shooting during the ceremony and day less of a lottery
    Seventh - if you are getting a flash, then practice practice practice with it
    Eighth - consider borrowing a friend's camera as a backup if they have Canon too. Then you're not swapping lenses and potentially missing moments
    Ninth - research, do plenty of it
    Tenth - shoot RAW+jpg

    That's a 'starter for ten'

  3. #3

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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Question 1: you're right plus needed for fill-flash work to soften those harsh shadows.
    Question 2: A Canon 580 or 430EX if possible. Not cheap but I have found reliable against third-party.

    Owning a flash of course is only perhaps one tenth of the battle with flash work. Nine tenths is second-guessing what your camera might want to do with it. Fill flash is variable with different auto settings and I like to bounce off the wall behind me most of the time giving soft outlines to the B&G.

    Indoors it's much better to gel the flash and switch to tungsten setting on your camera so both flash and ambient match. A 1/2 CTO does a fairly good job in this respect. Also saves an enormous amount of work later in PP. I tend to have one flash gelled for indoors and a second without gel for outdoors each having it's own camera body set for that situation but that's drawing from a cupboard full of Canon bodies which I haven't traded in since 2003.

    Your biggest problem will be subject movement as I find at weddings the heads are snapping around looking at what others are wearing/talking about/looking for toilets/looking for the bar etc.

    You could possibly get away without flash altogether if you have some decent software and are conversant with pulling images from well under-exposed files in raw or whack the ISO up and apply noise ninja or something like it. Use reflectors outdoors for fill.

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    First off, a flash is a darn good idea if you are able to practice using it. I would suggest getting a Canon unit. Since you want to use this flash for wildlife in the future, I would suggest getting a powerful flash. A new Canon 580EXii or a used 580EX or even an older 550EX. The oldie but goodie, 550EX is still a very viable unit even though it has been out of production for several years. The new Canon 600EX RT is also a great, but, expensive choice. The 430EX and 430EXii are also quite good flashes but, have slightly less power than the first group I mentioned. Although the older 420EX is a decent flash, I would not recommend it, neither would I recommend either the 270EX or 270EXii units...

    Some photographers swear by third party flashes but, I have not used any of these...

    Bouncing flash and using a difffuser reflector is a good technique. I personally like the Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro

    www.dembflashproducts.com

    However, here are plans to fabricate a workable diffuser/reflector out of cardboard or foamboard:

    http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/

    I personally like using a Stroboframe Camera Flip Bracket but, that is not absolutely necessity. The camera flip bracket will keep your flash above the axis of your lens and can produce better lighting...

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/STROBOFRAME-...item1e7633beb7

    Fill flash is a great addition for outdoor shots...

    If you decide against using a flash, don't be afraid of boosting the ISO. Your 5Dii has quite good high ISO capability and it is far better to have a sharp image with a bit of noise than a noise free image that is fuzzy.

    Here are some shots that I would recommend:

    Pre-Ceremony and Ceremony

    These are just some of the necessary shots. There are sure to be others. However if you get all of these shots, you should not be lacking coverage. I am most familiar with traditional American Christian weddings and receptions; although I have shot two Jewish weddings and receptions. Other ethnic weddings or receptions have their own particular ambiance and required shots.

    Pre Wedding Day Photos:

    Informal portraits of the bride and groom.

    Location is often outdoors in a scenic location

    Formal portraits of bride in wedding dress. Specific shots dependant on type of dress. Ensure that the background is not busy and distracting...

    Full length showing wedding dress
    Front
    Rear with Bride looking back – showing train
    Each side
    Three quarter length
    Head and shoulders
    Bride sitting on floor with dress swirled around her

    Wedding Day – Pre-Ceremony

    Bride:
    General shot of bride’s maids helping bride dress
    Shot of each bridesmaid helping
    Bride interacting with Maid / Matron of Honor
    Bride in dress looking in mirror alone
    Bride in dress before mirror with bride’s maids
    Mother adjusting veil
    Putting garter on
    Humorous cut-up shots
    Bride’s maids and bride making one last toast
    Bride and father interacting
    Bride interacting with anyone else – especially kids
    Bride in environmental portraits if there are photogenic areas available
    Bride’s maids applying their own make up or adjusting their hairdo’s
    Bride with multigenerational group (mother, grandmother, g-grandmother if applicable.

    Groom:
    Groom’s father pinning boutonnière on groom
    Groom with each attendant
    Interaction between groom and his mother
    Interaction between groom and best man

    Attendants:

    Shots of attendants escorting ladies to their seats
    Shots of soloist and organist if applicable
    Groom, Best man and ushers waiting at altar

    Ceremony shots – depending if flash photography is allowed during ceremony

    Processional:

    At least one shot of each member of the wedding party
    Especially rig-bearer and flower-girl
    More than one shot of bride and father (or person escorting Bride)
    (I like to ask Bride and father to pause momentarily at a predesignated point and look at me – don’t be surprised if they forget to do it)

    Actual Ceremony: (If flash is allowed)

    Father lifting veil and kissing Bride at altar
    Groom and Bride’s father acknowledging each other – hugging or shaking hands
    Official from behind couple framed with couples backs
    Overall view of ceremony
    Use assistant or remote camera
    Choir loft is great otherwise low angle from back of church
    Available light is often best
    Couple facing each other holding hands
    Placing rings on fingers
    Lighting of candles
    If possible – a shot from the choir loft. (assistant or remote camera on tripod)
    Official blessing couple if applicable
    The first kiss
    Any special event in ceremony – drinking sip of wine, receiving communion, breaking of glass in Jewish ceremony
    Couple and official sanding at altar and facing guests

    Recessional

    Bride and Groom leaving altar
    Others coming down aisle (Bride and Groom are the most important – if you get them and no one else leaving, you should be O.K.)

    Ceremony Reenactment

    Whether or not flash has been allowed – this is the time to shoot mock ups of the ceremony. You can get any or all of the above shots as a repeat or as initial shots if shooting during ceremony was not allowed. You can also get reverse angle shots from the altar side of the bride and groom.

    Stained glass windows – get a shot of one or two of these if they are photogenic.

    Post Ceremony Coverage

    Altar or Church Step Portraits (These can be shot in another place like a garden if desired)

    Bride (You cannot have too many shots of the bride ever)
    Bride and Groom
    Bride and mother
    Bride and father
    Bride and other family members – siblings, grandparents, etc.
    Groom (as above)
    Bride and Groom with their parents
    Bride and bride’s maids
    Bride and maid / matron of honor
    Groom and attendants
    Groom and best man
    Entire wedding party
    Bride and Groom with any other significant person such as priest or minister

    Leaving Church

    Bride and Groom exiting
    There may be some ceremony involved with this such as throwing rice or exiting under crossed swords for military weddings – be sure you know about and get shots of this. If rice is thrown – often using a slower shutter speed will show it better.

    Romantic shots

    Shots of the Bride and Groom interacting. Often outdoors in scenic settings.
    The above are often difficult to arrange what with the stress of trying to get to the reception. It is great for the photographer if there is sufficient time between end of ceremony and start of reception to allow this.

    BTW: here is an example of a non-flash wedding done by a member of my Doodle Website. Camila (Darwin is her doodle) is not a professional photographer and I "think" has very little wedding experiemce. However she did (IMO) quite a good job.

    But, my gosh! The bride is dressed in a formal wedding gown and the groom is wearing sneakers

    http://www.doodlekisses.com/group/Ph...t-tell-a-story
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 6th March 2013 at 04:57 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Quote Originally Posted by moopy goops
    The couple have told me they don't want any kind of formal shots, nothing set-up and posed just 'candid' type shots of themselves and their friends, which is why I mentioned the long lens above as it may be useful.
    Be wary when you hear stuff like this. The couple may be saying "we want great photos, but don't want to devote any time or effort to them." A long lens may be helpful, but does introduce the problem of seeing through the whole crowd to capture a moment. Depending on the wedding's size and the crowd's density, it may be impossible to rely on a long lens. I would recommend sticking with the couple and relying mainly on your 24-105mm f4L, but the 70-200mm f2.8L's wider aperture will probably be better for individual or couple portraits.

    Richard's exhaustive and excellent list shows you why lots of wedding photographers work as a team of two or even more. If you'll be working along, get familiar with the schedule, the venue, and any regulations before the big day - extensive preparation and scouting will reduce stress and enable shots that you might otherwise miss.

    I've only shot two weddings, on extremely short notice, and without extensive equipment. So the other photogs here can probably give more complete advice. But I can tell you that fill flash, even shoe-mounted, is your friend. I've worked with both Canon-made and third-party TTL flashes, and the Canon units tend to be significantly more consistent, accurate, and durable. At medium-to-close range, a 580EXII at -1EV, gelled to match the light with a large bounce panel will do wonders. At longer range, the 580EXII's manual-zoom head becomes very handy. But make sure you get lots of practice with whichever flash you choose, because it's very easy to overcook your shots. The closer you get, the more critical it becomes to watch the natural light and get the flash off-camera, so again, an assistant or second photographer may be a boon.
    Last edited by RustBeltRaw; 6th March 2013 at 07:18 PM.

  6. #6
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Quote Originally Posted by moopy goops View Post
    . . . shoot a wedding . . . quite short notice. I have a Canon 5D II, a 24-105 mm 1:4 L IS lens, and a 70-200 mm 1:2.8 L IS II lens, I have a tripod, no experience with weddings but a fair degree of confidence/ luck !
    However what I do NOT have is any kind of Flash.
    The couple have told me they don't want any kind of formal shots, nothing set-up and posed just 'candid' type shots of themselves and their friends, which is why I mentioned the long lens above as it may be useful.
    The event will have both exterior moments and interior parts and will definatly be throughout the day into the night so I imagine a flash will be needed.
    Question 1; am I right?
    Question 2; can anyone recommend a flash unit?
    Answer 1 . Yes
    Answer 2. Either a 430MkII or 580mkII will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by moopy goops View Post
    I don't tend to shoot people-type events but will obviously be keeping the flash after the wedding . . .
    Finally, budget. I think mid-range is where i'm looking though the couple have offered to pay/donate, I am pretty sure they have little idea how much these things cost and would not be able to cough up the cash !!
    Can you rent a Flash? They could pay for that. You’ll need it for at least a week, to practice.

    Other comments:

    I suggest you attempt NOT to use the 70 to 200 except perhaps the Church and ONLY IF YOU HAVE TO:

    > because you are not allowed to get close enough with the 105mm.
    > because you NEED F/2.8 as you cannot use Flash



    I’d argue strongly that your expectation is flawed that you should use the flash ONLY AFTER the wedding.

    As you are not experienced in Flash, then I suggest you use P Mode on the camera and ETTL II (auto) on the flash.

    Buy or make a REFLECTOR / BOUNCE card for the flash and shoot in mainly Landscape Orientation.

    Read my comments on this thread, (specifically Comment #8) for more detailed information as to my technical / operational advice for you – the situation is identical to yours in this regard:

    EXCEPT for the fact that at this Wedding, you might be (you will be) interpreted as the 'official photographer' in which case you will need to speak to the Priest, Rabbi, etc, to find out if Flash is permitted during the Service and also where you are allowed to be and also if you are allowed to roam.


    WW

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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Step ladder, so you can see above those other guests who are so inconsiderately in the way .

    BTW, if the couple are wanting candid shots, you still need to be in position to get the shot. E.g first kiss, exchanging rings and so on. Everyone wants to get those shots themselves and so may very well be in the way.
    Have the couple give you permission to move around as necessary. You WILL be in the way of some guests some of the time, as long as you don't stay in one position for too long, it's acceptable.
    If the couple DO NOT want to see you, then tell them to expect very poor results. You are not a miracle worker.
    Manage THEIR expectations of you. Tell them what you need and how you intend to gt the shots that they want.
    Most people don't realise how much access you need. Of course, standing behind the official (vicar, priest, rabbi, other) means you are very visible - don't let it bother you (but check with official before the ceremony).

    If the official does NOT want you moving around, make sure the B&G are aware of this, again managing their expectations.
    (Although many officials are incredibly helpful, some are of a totally other mindset - THEY are the most important person and don't want others moving in on THEIR limelight).
    Graham

  8. #8
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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Um. Guys. You forgot to mention backup gear.

    If something happens to a memory card/lens/battery/camera, you still need to be able to carry on. With events, you don't get a second chance. If the 24-105's zoom jams or your 5Dii ERR99s or your card gets corrupted, what are you going to do? It's not like they're gonna walk down the aisle next week so you can have a second shot. Have a contingency plan. Renting is good for this. At minimum, you should have at least one other camera body and lens (and flash if you're relying on flash). Yes, you may not need them. But if you need them and don't have them, you're really in trouble. And this also goes for whatever backup scheme you have for the files after the wedding. Plan ahead.

    I'd also recommend considering at least one fast wide/normal prime to supplement your two zooms. The 24-105 is a terrific lens, but IS does squat against subject motion in low light, and you're liable to already be pushing into the 1600-6400 iso territory. Even a cheap 50/1.8 II or EF 40mm f/2.8 STM could be useful (and could count as a backup lens).

    Just me, but I'd also recommend renting a 600EX-RT if you can over buying a 580EXII--unless you actually wanted to own a flash for other reasons--it'll cost less, and the dot-matrix LCD screen and soft menus makes for a more intuitive GUI than the icon-laden older EXs. Unless you're a gadget freak who learns hardware controls quickly, it could make the learning process a bit easier. Also, if you're using a 70-200, it can zoom to 200mm, rather than stopping at 105. Slight advantage, not huge, but if it's only $2 more for a rental, why the hell not?

    Secondly, the place to go to learn on-camera bounce techniques with flash (and probably E-TTL) is probably the Tangents site on neilvn.com and/or his "dead tree" book version of the basic on-camera flash material.

  9. #9
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Um. Guys. You forgot to mention backup gear.
    I didn't 'forget', as such.
    And YES! I agree with your advice, 100% (both about the second camera and also a fast Prime Lens (anything from 35 to 50 for the 5D).
    Also a second flash.

    ***

    So for my input in this regard –
    The absolute no excuses least, smallest and Bare Bones minimal Wedding Kit based on the OP’s existing gear:

    2 x 5D Bodies
    1 x 24 to 105/4 zoom
    1 x fast 35 or 50 Prime - but very seriously would prefer one fast 35 AND fast 85 (35/2 and 85/1.8 will do)
    2 x 430MkII
    4 x 8 gb cards
    Battery power for 1000 Full Power Flash.
    Camera batteries for 2000 shots.

    ***

    To mat -

    If I am to step out of the “technical advice ONLY area” and specifically answering only the questions you asked:

    Then there is one layer of advice, which comes before suggesting “back up gear” and that is:
    Take the money the couple would give you for this and add to it your wedding present (and others’ wedding presents also) and hire a professional who is experienced.

    ***

    But, I often get the impression that generally the OP’s of these types of questions might not want to read such advice and I don’t really wish to engage in a debate about it as I expect mat is doing what he thinks is the best and as he only asked specific questions (and there are many threads just like this to which I have responded before) and as he has thanked in advance and as he has mentioned the couple is on a very tight budget and also have no idea about how much Photography cost (and why it costs) . . . well . . . it is easier for one to assume that these style of questions don’t often want really direct and blunt answers, but rather require answers to just about what is asked.

    But anyway I’ve stated it now.

    WW

  10. #10

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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post

    To mat -

    If I am to step out of the “technical advice ONLY area” and specifically answering only the questions you asked:

    Then there is one layer of advice, which comes before suggesting “back up gear” and that is:
    Take the money the couple would give you for this and add to it your wedding present (and others’ wedding presents also) and hire a professional who is experienced.

    ***

    But, I often get the impression that generally the OP’s of these types of questions might not want to read such advice and I don’t really wish to engage in a debate about it as I expect mat is doing what he thinks is the best and as he only asked specific questions (and there are many threads just like this to which I have responded before) and as he has thanked in advance and as he has mentioned the couple is on a very tight budget and also have no idea about how much Photography cost (and why it costs) . . . well . . . it is easier for one to assume that these style of questions don’t often want really direct and blunt answers, but rather require answers to just about what is asked.

    But anyway I’ve stated it now.

    WW
    I was also going to ask about a contract...... are you being paid? what do the B&G expect? what do they know about your skills? how did you get the gig? do you know them?

    if you are being paid they will have expectations...... and lets be honest everyone thinks photography is easy in the digital age......

  11. #11
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    As someone who's never shot a wedding and is only a hobbyist photographer, I tend to put forth the following three links to posts that pretty much gave me a glimpse into the world of pro wedding photographers:



    The Fred Miranda post has the most practical advice in it--even down to handling Uncle Bobs.

  12. #12

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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    I see the candid shooting that seems to dominate wedding photography today as having a very low proportion of takers to dumpers unless you work as apparently one top line wedding photographer does and this is to spot the candid moments and then get the subjects to pose them so he has a chance to take a good photo of the situation.

    I thought I had kept a link to the article but sorry I have not but above is the essence of his approach.

    Today's cameras are very good and unless you have time to practice and learn how to use a separate flash gun I think one would be wise to rely on the on-board flash. Flash are not something one can just pick up and use these days. It is most unwise to use 'new' gear on an important job and a wedding is a very important once in a lifetime, we hope for the party, job.

    When I read of photographers shooting upward from 1000 shots at a wedding I wonder really how on earth they can make any of them worth keeping ... in my day, years ago, it would be a large wedding which had me shoot 200 or so. Candid had a different meaning back then I think.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 7th March 2013 at 07:36 PM.

  13. #13

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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Check list. Found on the web but don't remember where now.

    Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

  14. #14

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    Re: Suddenly shooting a wedding. Equiptment questions

    Thanks everybody.
    Looks like I'll be doing some shopping and hiring, followed by some serious practice and research. . .
    Great advice, though some of it a little daunting, and good tips.
    Seems like it's time to leave the comfort zone again ! " If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room "

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