Capturing the ceremony

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Of all the photographic opportunities on the wedding day, the wedding ceremony is the absolute time where if you miss a shot, it's gone forever. The remarkable features of the 5D Mark II allow you to shoot still and HD video clips with the ability to control aperture and ISO in Video mode for never-before-seen results from a dSLR.

Before the ceremony, always ask the officiate if flash is allowed and plan your lighting J and shooting techniques accordingly.

I usually try to get a pleasing combination of the mixed lighting to retain some of the feeling of the original lighting. The soaring ISO range of the 5D Mark II almost makes worrying about low-light-shooting camera shake a thing of the past. This approach can be a bit more time-consuming to tweak the color to your liking during RAW conversion, but if you're shooting RAW and JPEG for on-site slideshows, it's best to set a custom white balance whenever you can.

If we're allowed to use flash during the ceremony, I set up Speedlites or Alien Bees on discreet light stands at the ten and four o'clock positions, depending on the size of the venue. Having these auxiliary flashes synced by a PocketWizard MultiMAX gives me the ability to fire one, the other, or both, according to my subject's frequently moving position, by simply pushing a button. This is on-the-fly lighting control at its finest.

At the ceremony, I often shoot in the new Live View mode for its incredible Silent mode shutter. Barely any shutter sound emanates from my cameras as I shoot image after image, so I don't disrupt the delicate intimacy of the affair. More often than not, I shoot in Aperture Priority (Av) mode with my lens aperture set wide open, giving me the least depth of field but the most pleasing bokeh, or out-of-focus, shapes in the background. Quick, Live, and Live Face Detection modes also come in handy when your shooting positions are limited and the light is low.

Good storytelling begins by establishing the scene, so you should take several overall shots of the venue for indoor ceremonies or before the wedding begins for outdoor ceremonies. If there's a balcony, my assistant shoots from there or we set up a remote camera with a wide-angle lens to take images. Remember the details, look for interesting compositions and juxtapositions, and keep your peripheral vision active. This is also a good time to get images of parents and guests as they arrive as well as introducing yourself to the bridal party and other family members.

13.5 Two Speedlites set the lighting for this tender moment during the ceremony: one diffused camera on the right and one undiffused behind the couple at camera left. ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/30 sec., with an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens.
13.6 The bride's ring is shot through the groom's on a nearby end table. For macro shots like these, look for small surfaces with interesting textures or reflections. ISO 1000, f8.0, 1/125 sec., with an EF 100mm f2.8 USM Macro lens.

It helps to peruse the program to see when and who might be speaking, singing, or playing an instrument as part of the affair. Family members and friends often perform these duties, and you want to be sure to capture them looking their best.

During the ceremony, I always have both wide-angle and telephoto lenses on individual 5D Mark II camera bodies, giving me a full range of compositional choices. My top priorities are to take meaningful images and be respectful of the event and not disrupt the ceremony. I move around slowly, anticipating the rites and rituals and getting to the right vantage point early to take great lasting images.

13.7 Amy's uncle plays a tune during the ceremony. ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., with an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens.

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