Posts Tagged ‘Scenarios’

How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

21 Apr

A wedding photographer has to be prepared for pretty much anything. Big belly laughs, impromptu outbursts of song and bear hugs can happen at any moment. Not to mention that the light is constantly changing and you’ve got yourself a schedule to keep. Let’s just say weddings keep you on your toes.

That’s why it’s always worth planning ahead and being prepared. Weddings rarely take place in just one location and moving from indoors to outside, or from sunshine to shade can cause a huge change in exposure. When not competing with the sun, indoor lighting poses new problems. Tungsten bulbs mixed with daylight causes all sorts of white balance issues. But this is why we love weddings, they keep us sharp.

Being prepared and practice is key to achieving consistent results. Here are three top tips on how to make the most of difficult lighting situations.

Couple portraits – How to find good light on a dull day

Believe it or not, it is raining at the point of capture in the image below. This photograph was taken in July in Surrey, UK. The British weather was doing all it could to play up to the stereotype it would seem.

Couple portrait weddings

Not every wedding takes place on a gorgeous sunny day and it’s not always feasible to shoot at sunset to capture the golden hour of light. What can you do to create images that your clients will love and to which you’re proud to put your name? Especially when the heavens decide to play against you. Here is the process I use when assessing lighting conditions and how this photograph was taken.

Understanding the principles of lighting is fundamental in any photographer’s quest to a beautifully lit photograph. Fortunately, these principles are consistent regardless of where you are located in the world or how expensive your equipment is. Whether you’re using the latest Canon or a generation old Smartphone, light can be manipulated to your advantage.

Approaching every scenario with the same set of questions can radically change how you see light and ultimately how you take pictures. Where is the light coming from, where is the even light and where are the greatest differences in the light?

Place the subjects in shade

Shade weddings

Here you can see the scene exposed to what the human eye sees. The background is correctly exposed which throws the foreground into darkness. What we want is to do is correctly expose the foreground to create a clean canvas with an overexposed background. In this scenario, there is about three stops difference in exposure, which is perfect.

Shade overexposed weddings

By placing the couple under the branches of the tree they are instantly evenly lit. There are no stray light rays coming through branches or dappled light on faces, and the pebbles on the driveway aid in reflecting light back onto the subjects. By exposing for the skin tones the background will be overexposed, providing a clean canvas.

A few tweaks in Lightroom to warm the skin and recover some of the highlights and voila! An evenly lit portrait on a rainy day. The added benefit of the tree branches is that they, of course, provide shelter from the wind and rain. This technique of using trees as shelter can also be employed on dry days that are windy. Even if the sun is shining, a venue on a hill can increase the risk of a veil blowing away!


Why is this difficult? Depending on the location of the venue or church, you may be competing with changing light that the couple will walk through as they process down the confetti line. This is problematic as you are going to be walking backward, trying to capture the action, as well as tracking the changing light.

It is quite common in the UK for churches to have tree lined pathways, this creates a lighting issue as a break in the trees will cause the couple to walk from light to shade to light, etc. This can mean a dramatic jump in exposure.

Confetti lighting weddings

Take pictures of your hand

This is probably the easiest method to test the exposure of skin tones which can and should be used to test all of the techniques in this article. Take a photograph of your hand, inspect the screen and adjust accordingly. The wedding guests may look at you in an odd way, but when you’re working at a fast pace this can be a life saver.

Take images of your hand in both the light and the shade and note the difference in exposure before the bride and groom appear. Depending on how you shoot, it makes sense to only change one setting as you will be multi-tasking. The control for shutter speed on Canon cameras is located where the index finger naturally rests, and logically is the easiest of the settings to change.

Pay attention as the couple moves from light to shade, remembering the readings of your hand. The camera settings are displayed in the viewfinder and alternate between the two as the light changes. Where possible, pre-plan your shots, performing a mental run through of where people are likely to be and what lighting difficulties you may encounter.

Confetti lighting 2 weddings

First dance

Who knows what kind of lighting setup the DJ will have. Will they make a beautiful white spotlight for the first dance, or will they bust out some crazy laser snowflakes? Anything could happen. One method to overcome this is to shoot into the DJ’s lights and use them as compositional features rather than compete with them.

This isn’t the only option, sometimes shooting with the lights are beneficial as it gives you scope to capture the guest’s reactions. To create this shot, one flashgun at both corners of the stage (pointing at the center of the dance floor), elevated on tripods, and attached to Yongnuo wireless triggers were used.

First dance weddings

This setup offers two things. Firstly, by backlighting the subject even exposure on the skin can be achieved with no unwanted shadows. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about what the DJ is doing with their lighting setup.

It pays to ask the DJ before any dancing commences, what they plan to do and work with them. You would certainly be unlucky should you encounter anyone who wasn’t amiable in having a discussion. However, the point remains that they have a job to do. If they feel the song warrants a change in lighting then they will adapt it for the benefit of the wedding, not for your advantage. This is completely understandable, however, lighting surprises aren’t often welcome. This is why it makes sense to pre-plan and take control of the lighting.

Lens chimping technique

A caveat to shooting in this way is that it is possible to end up with equipment or the DJ themselves in the background. For this reason, an interesting tactic to employ is Sam Hurd’s lens chimping technique. By placing a convex lens element in front of your lens it creates cool flares and throws the background out of focus.

First dance 2 lens chimping technique

Practice is certainly recommended as an incorrect application of this technique can result in the lens element focussing all lights onto your sensor and completely blowing out the shot. The first dance is often a tricky one to shoot, it would be interesting to hear about your ideas and innovations below. Happy shooting!


Hopefully, these quick tips will help you deal with challenging lighting situations at weddings or any other photography opportunities. Do you have any others you want to share? Please do so in the comments below.

The post How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings by Liam Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Prevent Photo Horror Stories — 6 Scary Photo Scenarios & How to Get Through Them

25 Oct

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

As photographers, we plan and plan for big shoots.

But, we all have those days. The ones where that black cat that crossed our path, or we accidentally walked under a ladder.

Despite our best efforts, things can go wrong from time to time.

We’ll show you how to ward off those photoshoot nightmares. Our tips will prevent scary photo scenarios like garlic chases vampires away!

How to Prevent Photo Horror Stories

p.s. Take a peek at our Pinterest today for a chance to win a set of Tattly Temporary Camera Tattoos!

No Memory Cards, No Problem

paint-smDear Photojojo,

I booked a photoshoot, and when I got there, I realized I had forgotten ALL of my memory cards! I apologized to the client and rescheduled, but I felt like such a dummy. How do I prevent this in the future?

Forgetful in Florida

Dear Forgetful,

This happens to the best of us. Here are some simple ways to keep track of your memory!

  • Make a checklist of all necessary equipment. Leave it by your keys the night before a shoot. Check it off in the morning before you leave.
  • Stash extra memory cards in common places. Leave one in your car, a hidden pocket in your camera bag, or in your wallet. That way you’ll always have a backup!
  • Shoot tethered to your laptop! By connecting the USB cable that comes with your camera to your laptop, images will be saved onto the computer instead of a memory card. This may limit mobility, but it will prevent you from disappointing your client.


Grain, Grain, Go Away!:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

I got home from a shoot only to realize I shot everything at 6400 ISO. The grain and noise is insane! What do I do?

Grim and Grainy

Dear Grim and Grainy,
Here are a few ways to enhance those grainy images.

  • You can use CameraRaw, Photoshop’s built in file converter for RAW files, to reduce noise in the image. The “filter” menu in Photoshop also has a noise reduction feature.
  • Other editing programs, such as iPhoto, Aperture, and Picassa have similar features or plug-ins you can install.
  • Only sharpen the parts of your photo that really need it. When you sharpen an image, it increases the contrast between the light and dark areas. Sharpening the whole image will increase the appearance of those noisy pixels all over. By selectively sharpening certain areas, you can minimize the grainy look.
  • You can also turn noisy color images into black and white. The grain gives it that good-old-fashioned-film feeling, and black and white takes away the distraction of colored pixels.

Keep your chin up!

White Balance Woes:

paint-smDear Photojojo,

All of my photos have a strange color cast. My indoor photos look orange, and outdoor ones look blue.

I’m guessing I have the wrong white balance settings? What is white balance anyway?

Is there anything I can do?
Blue in Longview

Dear Blue,

White Balance can be tricky, even for the most experienced photogs.

  • Your camera has settings to adjust for the temperature/color of light you are shooting in. Set your camera to the correct white balance while shooting, like daylight outside, and tungsten settings for indoors, to keep the color cast minimal.
  • Keep a gray card or a white balance lens cap in your camera bag for setting your white balance on location. A gray card is a neutral, 18% gray. Place the card in your scene for one shot, and remove it for your the next.
  • By doing this, you can set a custom white balance for each particular scene. Or use it when editing images on the computer later.
  • You can also correct white balance settings after the fact. With editing software like Photoshop, GIMP, or Adobe Lightroom, you can correct for a color cast.
  • If your image looks too blue, adding in yellow can help neutralize the tones. If it is too orange, adding a bit of cyan, green, and blue will make it look normal.

Yours truly,

Eyes Wide Shut:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

I photograph weddings. It never fails that during group photos, someone will blink or make a face.

Are there any tricks for getting people to keep their eyes open?

Eyes Closed in Minnesota

Dear Eyes Closed,

It’s definitely hard to get everyone to look perfect at the same moment.
Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your group shot is in a nice shady place facing away from the sun. It’s even harder for people to keep their eyes open when the sun is shining in them (obvi).
  • Here’s another trick. Use a tripod, and take A LOT of photos of the same group. Numbers can work in your favor. For groups smaller than 20, divide the number of people by three if there’s good light and two if the light’s bad. That’s how many shots you need to take. Then use editing software to swap heads if someone is blinking or making a funny face in the group photo.

Happy Shooting,

Constant Callers:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

I recently did a photoshoot for a friend, and now she’s calling me everyday to check on her photos. I want to stay friends with her, but her constant calls are driving me crazy!

How do I tell her that editing takes time?

Aggravated in Arizona

Dear Aggravated,

You are not alone in this situation. Try to stay positive, and remember she is just anxious to see your amazing work.

  • Remind your friend that you want to give her the best product you can, and in order to do so, you need at least a week or two.
  • If you plan to work with clients more frequently, put a section in your contract that explains the turnaround time. Let them know up front when they can expect to see the finished images.
  • Make a mini blog post on your site to give her a preview of those rad photos!
  • Email her or Instagram one pic a day until you get them all finished. She’ll be excited and check her email more than her texts.

Keep calm,

Cry Babies:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

With the Holidays coming up, I’ve started booking more sessions with kids and families.

How do I deal with children that won’t quit crying?

Cranky in Connecticut

Dear Cranky,

  • How bout penciling a sweet ‘stache on that lil cutie?! Keep one of these in your camera bag and everyone will be laughing.
  • Attach a PEZ dispenser to your camera’s hot shoe to get portraits of kids with a little curiosity on their face.
  • Turn the music up, and use the ioShutter release to dance around with the little one and snap away at candid moments.
  • Another secret weapon… BUBBLES! Who can resist?

Dry those eyes,

Still Puzzled?:

  • Have other photo problems? Send us an email.
  • Share your photo horror story or your advice by tagging us @photojojo on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Send us a link to your favorite photo problem-solving forum!

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