Spent last weekend in Connecticut at my best friend’s wedding, which is why this week’s posts have been off-schedule. Like all great weddings, it took a couple of days to recover from – and a few more days to work through the photos. This wasn’t a straight forward gig for me: I was actually one of the groomsmen during the ceremony and only took over photography at the reception, after the bridal party was presented and took their first dance. (Jess & Allison hired another photog to cover the ceremony and group shots.)
Anytime that you’re doubling as a guest and photog, things get a little interesting. The coverage is different: you’re working to capture the details, the revelry, the important moments, but at the same time you’re under orders to have a good time and join the celebration. It makes for some scrambling, since the moments when you let your guard down are invariable the same moments where something photo-worthy happens.
I think I did a solid job on the photography end of things – and I know that I had a wonderful time in the process. I’ll save the full presentation for my professional bog, but here are a few notes on how it was shot:
Lighting is always the biggest challenge during weddings, and much of it is dictated by the location (especially during the ceremony). Receptions are all too often in dark spaces; there are very few well-lighted reception halls. Being outdoors in a tent, this was somewhat alleviated – there was plenty of spill around the sides, and scatter off the white ceiling (which was, however, too thick for any light to come through). Compared to the outside, however, it was still a dark cave.
Bring in the strobes! I had two Yongnuo 460 IIs with me and had originally planned to put them on the same lightstand, both firing through a shoot-through umbrella. Unfortunately, I had made that plan without any knowledge of what the reception would be like. In a large room that would have worked; I could have stuck the umbrella near a wall, somewhere out of the way, and worked around it. But under a tent, in already close quarters, there was absolutely no room for an umbrella to be hanging around, waiting to be knocked over.
Instead, I setup the stand right next to one of the tent’s center supports, threw a sandbag on the legs, and extended it to its full hight, with the strobes angled slightly to either side and upwards, to bounce off the ceiling. It wasn’t the most efficient setup and, even with two strobes firing, required nearly full power on both. But it put out enough light to give me decent camera settings and capture the shots I needed, while still letting some of the ambient atmosphere show through.
The last shot I did for the night was the one below. I’ve seen this done many times with outdoor receptions and it always looks lovely, the tent filled with warm glowy light, the late evening sky very blue around it. I kind of fell in the middle with this one – the ambient had really dropped a bit too low, where a tripod would have helped, and that warm glowy light was really a bit too cool. Some ½ CTO gels on the flashes would have worked wonders, but I was able to fake it in PS with some layers masking instead.
Photography aside, it was the nicest wedding I’ve yet seen and I’m thrilled to have been able to record it for my best friend. Check out the pro site in the next week or so to see the full batch!