Initially we started in the Bridal Suite, where there was a large South facing window with white translucent curtains that provided for perfect light diffusion. The room was large and brightly lit, most of the time.
The day, however, was riddled with thunderstorms along with typical, ominous black clouds, which required the use of a flash from time to time, or increasing ISO to 200, 400, and even sometimes 800. I am starting to become more and more amenable to higher ISO, as the other alternatives are too costly to the photo (i.e. underexposed background, etc.).
The bridal suite was bustling with activity most of the time, so there was little absence of photo ops. Of course, during this time, photographs are judiciously taken as moments of privacy are required; nonetheless, I snapped away nearly the entire time
The ceremony was definitely the most challenging of the day, but probably the most rewarding as I was able to overcome many issues with the space available and surfaces surrounding the ceremony itself.
Because of the inclement weather, it was decided to have the ceremony on the balcony overlooking the gardens. This was a beautiful spot and had a unique aesthetic characteristic that made for a very nice ceremony. Because of the dimensions of the balcony however, it was a photographic challenge to encompass the ceremony in a story telling manner as well as get adequate close-ups of the wedding party and their families.
For the shots where I wanted to present context and story, I used my Tokina 12-24mm which provides a very wide angle and allows a slow enough shutter speed to deal with the lack of sunlight (remember it’s raining at this point). It’s also worth mentioning that the wood was a dark stain and reflected very little light, so most light had to come directly from the flash and ambient light shining directly on the subjects. In short, the balcony was just plain dark, so much so that the overhead antique hanging lights were already turned on even though it was only 4:30 in the afternoon.
For the close up shots, I used the Canon 24-105L, mostly near the 24mm end. One thing to note, the groom is very, very tall and the bride is on the petite side, so this differential made for both interesting shots and very challenging ones where I had to squat down or get higher up, in order to capture both of them in a single frame. For some shots I took the “artistic” route and cut one or the other slightly out of the frame. Usually it worked out nicely.
Another challenge, which initially I was bothered by, was the red brick wall that the balcony is attached to. One of the golden rules of photography is if you’re going to use a flash, get the subject away from a wall. Well for this situation that was not feasible. As such, I had to rely on two things: shooting mostly landscape orientation because the flash is above the lens so shadows are back and below the subjects (in general) and when shooting in portrait, use a slow shutter speed so the ambient light eventually fills in the shadow to the right or left of the subject. Next time I will have my flash bracket available so I don’t run into this problem.
As I was developing the proofs, I often use a preset in Adobe Lightroom called Wedding Boost where the saturation, vibrancy, and exposure are all increased. This gave the red brick an awesome pop as a background to the majority of the ceremony shots and wound up adding a very edgy artistic quality to these photos. This was definitely a pleasant surprise.
More to come…