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Dark church...what to do?

Tim Haut - Orlando, FL , Jun 11, 2006; 11:56 a.m.

A wedding that I will be shooting in the future has extremely high ceilings and is a particularly dark church (some stained glass windows....). I have fast lenses but I don't think it will be enough. I definitely won't be able to bounce the flash off the ceiling. Any suggestions? Maybe a bounce card or something? Should I just shoot the flash straight on?


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Anne Ruthmann , Jun 11, 2006; 12:22 p.m.

No flash. Tripod.

Edward Horn , Jun 11, 2006; 12:34 p.m.

Not sure about the tripod. You may get too much motion blur. If you have a portable softbox that might help soften things straight on, but don't quote me on that.

Anne Ruthmann , Jun 11, 2006; 12:47 p.m.

Perhaps it would help to know more details. Does the church allow flash during the ceremony? In which case flash is not an option. Are you concerned about candids during the ceremony? In which case, there usually isn't a whole lot of motion and a tripod would be just fine. Are you concerned about formal portraits? In which case, flash on a bracket, diffused, or off camera would be a solution. Head on can also be fine with the right technique. Are you concerned about processional and recessional? What issues are you specifically concerned about?

Yves Jalbert , Jun 11, 2006; 02:12 p.m.

Ceremonies always involve many people and no matter how much a tripod makes you stable, if you shoot under the minimum amount of light, you will see movement from the people present.

Maybe a bounce card or something?

Not a bad idea - soft box as well, and having the flash to the side and off camera too

Long story short, if you don't have enough natural light you need to carry it with you at the risk of having unpleasant surprises on your photographs

If you can't crank up the ISO anymore, can't use faster lenses (in those f1 stops) - maybe rent one for the day if too expensive, if you don't have IS on your lenses (Canon) or VR (Nikon) which might help a little bit, then go for the first choice which is the best one in my opinion. Flash

That counts double if you use a zoom (even a fast one). You shoot at 1/60, 50mm and then you move up to 85mm still at 1/60 and you run into problems. With a flash you'll be able to zoom in and out without any problems. The flash will provide enough light.

Your challenge is now to produce great results with flash. The secret is to diffuse the light and the best way to know for sure how it will look, is to go there to do a few test shots before the event. I would never shoot such an important day without being comfortable about the conditions and know exactly how the photographs will come out. Go test it out on location before the wedding. Good luck.

Anthony Oresteen , Jun 11, 2006; 02:52 p.m.

If you are shoot film try an 800 speed film or 1600. I've used both recenlty (Fuji) and was amazed at the results. If possible take a hand held metering reading (incedent) before the ceremony.

If you can use flash, raise it up 12 inches above the lens if possible.

Can you runs a teat shooting? If you can get access to the chruch a week before, shoot some test shots to see what works.

Steffi Smith - Georgia , Jun 11, 2006; 05:58 p.m.

Go to garyfong.com and buy his lightsphere and all your problems will be puuuuuuuuuuf gone ;)

Iskandar Azaman - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia , Jun 11, 2006; 10:52 p.m.

Just any diffuser on your flash will improve the quality of light. I use a LightSphere2 PJ and if you leave the dome off you can get bounce from pretty high ceilings.

If there's no other choice and you are using digital i'd use at least iso800. Using a 20d i can get clean files for at least 8x10 no problems. But also you'd have to shoot RAW for this to work.

If you are adventurous you can try nikon or canon's wireless flash. Just pop a couple on tripods around the area and put an Omnibounce on them and point upwards. Then shoot. Of course i only use this lighting for formals but it isn't really that difficult to set up.

David Schilling - Chicago, Illinois , Jun 11, 2006; 11:52 p.m.

It's hard to say from your info. Is this a large cathedral or a much smaller, tall, boxy old time kinda church. An omnibounce that is fethered 45 degrees may do the job if there isn't too much distance involved....but with the longer distances even straight on the omnibounce may not be enuff and you'll need direct flash. A tripod for the available light ceremony images is a must have...take one with you absolutely. There generally isn't a whole lot of dancing and moving during the ceremony. Do a search on flash and read up on the old threads, this topic comes up all the time. Try to get in the church prior for some test shots and ask them to bring the lights up to where they will be set the day od the ceremony. Some old church lights may also need to on awhile before they come up to their maximum output level.

Bob Bernardo - LA area disabled , Jun 12, 2006; 03:06 a.m.

Some churches don't allow flash during the ceremony. So no tripod you might be in trouble. Just about every church allows you to use a flash when the bride walks down the isle. A few churches will not let you photograph anywhere except the last few back rows. Even if the church is dark sometimes the altar is lit up pretty well, so using a tripod you can pop off a mess of shots at 15th to a 30th of a sec at 2.8 and at ASA 800. I always carry a handheld meter, just to get an altar reading of the exact place that the bride and groom will be at. (A few minutes before the wedding of course!) Hope this helps.

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