Ten Tips for Better Wedding Photographs
When it comes to great photo tips, we find them everywhere. In our daily shooting. In interviews with pros. In our e-mails from you, our readers. On the web. In books. And, of course, on our blog, Pop Photo Flash. Here are some of the best we've come across lately.
1) Above It All.
Pro wedding photographer Matt Adcock goes well beyond the usual reception shots. For instance, he gets a bird's-eye view of the dance floor by mounting his camera on a long painter's pole and firing it with a remote trigger. While Adcock wields the pole and makes sure that his on-camera flash is bouncing off the ceiling, an assistant aims a remote flash covered in a red gel at the dance floor. The result: an amazing overhead shot with rich reds surrounding the well-lit couple in the center of the photo.
2) Shoot in a Flash.
It can take forever for an AF system to find focus with flash photography in low light. To get the shot quicker, switch to manual focus and prefocus as best you can. Then set the aperture to f/8 or f/11 so that the depth of field covers your estimate.
3) Ready to Fill.
When shooting outdoors, if you consistently use fill flash with reduced flash output, set it as your default -- don't wait until you're shooting to fiddle with the controls. Many of the Pop Photo editors set the flash exposure comp control to –1 EV on every DSLR they use.
4) Flash? What Flash?
Got a large outdoor scene with some important parts in shadow? The lighting website www.strobist.com offers an interesting technique. It involves placing small flashes in the darker areas of the scene to fill out the exposure or to balance foreground and background exposure. You then retouch the flashes out in post-production.
Say you're shooting the exterior of a house and its landscaping. Often, the best time to photograph buildings is in the early morning, when the sun is low in the sky. But this can lead to problems with exposure if the front of the house faces away from the sun. Placing portable strobes in the scene and triggering them wirelessly can fill out the exposure, letting you balance the dark face with the bright sky. After a few minutes with image-editing software, all you see are the results, not the flashes.
5) Get More Byte.
If you've shot a number of frames of the same scene or the same subject, and want to choose the sharpest images, you don't have to look at them all in an image editor. Check the file size of the photos -- the bigger the file, the sharper the shot. More detail requires more bytes.
6) Tone Deft.
Simulate the subtle shades of sunrise and sunset by adjusting the preset White Balance on your digital camera. Choose the Tungsten setting (light bulb icon) to add a bluish morning cast, or the Shade setting (cloud icon) to add the warm, brownish tones of dusk. The effect will be mild, but you can exaggerate it by underexposing the shot.
7) Portrait Panache.
You don't need a full studio to make great portraits. In her new book, Portrait and Candid Photography Photo Workshop (Wiley, 2007, $30), Erin Manning offers these three tips to help make your subjects look their best, wherever you are.
1. Makeup, please. Almost everyone will benefit from some pre-portrait powdering to soften the complexion. Bring along a few neutral tones and a soft makeup brush.
2. Fast and 70mm-plus. A long lens at maximum aperture blurs the background and emphasizes the subject.
3. Background check. If the background is distracting, place a 2x2-foot square of fabric behind the subject.
8) Eye Scream.
When shooting portraits, nothing is as important as the subject's eyes. Even if everything else is soft, make sure the eyes are sharp.
9) The Skinny on Portraits.
Don't believe anyone who says the camera adds 10 pounds. It's the photographer who does. But with the right poses, lighting, and angles, you can make your subjects look thinner. Try these three slimming techniques:
1. Twist 'em. If your subjects are standing, have them take a step back with either foot. If seated, have them sit at an angle. This forces them to twist to face the camera -- stretching the torso and smoothing bulges.
2. Get high. Shoot from a little above your subjects' eye level. This elongates the face and makes them lift their face up just a tad -- helping to minimize a double chin.
3. Narrow down. Short or narrow lighting involves illuminating the side of the face that's turned away from the camera. This puts a large part of the face in shadow, making it look quite a bit thinner. You can get this effect by using a window, lamp, or off-camera flash.
10) Reflection on You.
When pro Gunther Deichmann (www.deichmann-photo.com) makes portraits in areas where the subjects might be shy, such as a remote village in Tibet, he doesn't use large, intimidating reflectors. Instead, he wears a white T-shirt.
"If you position yourself correctly in natural light, the T-shirt is a very nice reflector," he says. "No need for anybody to hold a reflector, and your hands are free."