Make the Shot

January 11, 2010

Photo Tips, Wedding

DPE 1st article

Great shots don’t just happen, they’re made. For this wedding in Arizona, the bride and groom already had a specific park selected to shoot their environmental portraits. The morning before the wedding my assistant and I scouted the park and found several key locations. Then, at the same time of day we were going to shoot during the wedding we walked the selected path and stopped at each location, as if we were taking the pictures. This allowed me to see exactly how the light was going to look the following day (or at least give me a really good idea). Scouting the area you are going to shoot is essential to getting the best images possible, especially if you are shooting a new location that you have never visited.

I used a Westcott Spiderlite TD5 with Strobes and a Lithium ion battery pack. The TD5 had a 24”x32” soft box which was located just over my camera and slightly off the right. The light was about 8 foot of the ground. I used a Canon 5D with a 16-35mm f2.8L lens set at f7.2 @ 1/125th ISO 100.

I first set my exposure for the sunset then I added my TD5 for the subject. I had to vary the distance to get the right amount of fall off that I wanted. I used all four strobes in the Spiderlite TD5 which gave me a total of 200 W/S.

This is how I primarily shoot my environmental portraits. Set my exposure for the background (often times underexposing by 3/4 of a stop) then adding my main light to expose my subject. This creates a separation of your subject from the background (without loosing the background to DoF).


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This post was written by:

- who has written 3 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Specializing in wedding and portrait photography John serves the NW Ohio area via a loft studio in downtown Toledo’s Historic Warehouse District. In 2008 John partnered with the F.J. Westcott Company as their Technical Representative. John still operates Optical Exposure Photography along with his downtown studio although he is now primarily shooting destination weddings all around the world. John also travels with Westcott teaching Lighting Seminars and speaking at photography events throughout the year. You can check out F.J. Westcott’s website at http://www.fjwestcott.com


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9 Responses to “Make the Shot”

  1. Lou Says:

    As a complete strobist nOOb – I only own a small 5-1 reflector and 1 external flash – this was well-written and informative (read: easy to understand) article. Thanks!

    Reply

  2. Darrin Says:

    Thanks for the great information. I am excited to go out in the next couple of days and shoot my daughters engagement photos.

    Reply

  3. Nancy Says:

    Hi John, just found this through Twitter, Thank you! Can you give advise how to get something similar if you only have extra speedlights, stands and lightsphere? This is what I have to work with currently. I also have radio poppers.

    Thank you!

    Nancy

    Reply

    • John D. Williamson Says:

      Nancy,

      When shooting at this time of day try using a direct light with just the bare bulb on your speedlite. The Lightsphere is great but it throws light everywhere.
      So take off your modifier, and zoom your flash in a bit, this will create a spotlit effect; then put it on a stand position it higher than your camera (aimed right at your subject). The Radio Poppers work really well and are a great way to get your flash off your camera.

      I hope this helps! If you ahve any other questions please let me know.

      John

      Reply

  4. Gary Christy Says:

    Dear John @ DPExperience,

    My approach to On Location Wedding and Portrait Photography is using natural light when available then directing light to my subject with a diffuser/reflector, then giving a pop of fill flash to create specular highlights. A sample of my technique can be seen on my Flickr page at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lifethroughlensesphotography/4276751587/

    Thanks for sharing your image and technique!

    Sincerely,

    Gary Christy
    Life Through Lenses Photography

    Focusing On You

    http://www.lifethroughlenses.com

    Reply

    • John D. Williamson Says:

      Gary,

      Great images, thanks for sharing! One thing I like to do is set my exposure so that the background is 3/4 to a full stop underexposed. then add my flash to bring up my subjects to the correct exposure. This is a great way to get some killer detail in the sky as well as create separation from your subjects and your background.

      John

      Reply

      Reply

      • Gary Christy Says:

        John,

        Thanks for the compliment on my images. I appreciate all the tips and content the DPExperience Team is sharing.

        The instructions on how to “make the shot” with images to illustrate your techniques greatly help photographers at all levels.

        Keep up the great contributions your making to the photographic community.

        Best Regards and Take Care,

        Sincerely,

        Gary Christy
        Life Through Lenses Photography

        Reply

  5. John D. Williamson Says:

    Nancy,

    When shooting at this time of day try using a direct light with just the bare bulb on your speedlite. The Lightsphere is great but it throws light everywhere.
    So take off your modifier, and zoom your flash in a bit, this will create a spotlit effect; then put it on a stand position it higher than your camera (aimed right at your subject). The Radio Poppers work really well and are a great way to get your flash off your camera.

    I hope this helps! If you ahve any other questions please let me know.

    John

    Reply

  6. John D. Williamson Says:

    Gary,

    Great images, thanks for sharing! One thing I like to do is set my exposure so that the background is 3/4 to a full stop underexposed. then add my flash to bring up my subjects to the correct exposure. This is a great way to get some killer detail in the sky as well as create separation from your subjects and your background.

    John

    Reply


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