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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Using Flash in Wedding Photography

a good place to use fill flash, the above article I found helpful in an old photo magazine.
bounced flash off ceiling and white table cloth also bounces light back up into subjects
harsh shadows as bounce flash not used
bounced flash off ceiling

bounced flash off ceiling and white dress and bed spread also bounces light back up into subjects,light coloured walls

bounced flash off ceiling
bounced flash off ceiling and white table cloth also bounces light back up into subjects.Ceiling was quite high here but 400iso film still gave good bounced light
It is interesting to me that the most consistent feedback I get from people who have done my wedding training courses over the years is that the simple things I taught about flash were the most helpful things that really stuck and have made a difference.
There were two things that hapenned that set me off on learning fill flash and bounce flash.
With fill flash I had submitted some wedding shots when I was just starting out to a lab I was hoping to use on a regular basis as it was near my home.
It has long since closed.
The owner of the premises when looking at my shots said "you didn't use any fill flash!" "but you got away with it!"
I didn't even know what fill flash was so I played dumb.( I was)
But then I proceeded to read about it and ask questions of photographers with a determination to master it.
The matter of bounce flash came up when I was at a Christmas Party for a studio I was working for as a wedding stringer.
It was great to meet with other photographers.
One of the photographers said "Isn't anyone bouncing flash off the ceiling?"
So I was determined to master this also.

Fill Flash

It wasn't until I switched to a Metz Hammerhead type flash (45ct1) that I discovered I had the control to determine my fill flash output. If for instance I was shooting a scene outdoors and my camera meter reading was f5.6 at 1/125th then if I set my flash output manually to f2.8 then I was effectively giving a subtle fill flash to light up the faces of my subjects, particularly to get rid of the shadows in eyesockets.
I also learnt about flash ratios. If there was a brightly back lit shot at a beach for instance well then I tended to pump more flash in by setting the flash to maybe f8 when the background reading might be f16.
In backlit shots fill flash is just about a must but on overcast days with nice even light you can take a lot of pictures without fill flash.
Don't forget on most slr's these days you have a pop up flash. This is very useful for outdoor fill flash.

Bounce Flash

Walking into a house or venue the first thing  I would look at was the ceiling, checking it's colour and height.
I would usually set my flash manually for 1/60th second and f5.6.
When using flash of course don't ever set your shutter speed higher than your flash sync speed.
The flash sync speed will vary with the camera you are using.
Then the walls of the house to see if they were light coloured.
A dark dingy house was not always good for bounce flash and I used to carry a large rectangular piece of polystyrene foam so I could bring a portable ceiling with me.
The idea of the portable ceiling  was to simply to get my assistant or a bridesmaid or onlooker to hold the "ceiling" at a 45degree angle above my flash. The head pointed upwards.
The higher your ISO of course the more successful bounce flash will be as the flash has to travel from my camera position to the ceiling at an angle and then down to the subject.
By bouncing off the ceiling you are in effect creating a miniature sun from above, so to fill the darkness of the faces, I would have a small white business card attached to my angled hammerhead flash.
Now you can get velcro clip on flash reflectors that do the same thing.
You can get away with just wrapping a white envelope around your flash head and securing it with a rubber band.
This in effect projects some light forward to the faces of my subjects.
Some modern flashes  have an optional small flash below the main head for this very manoevure.
 In a church  ceilings are often that high and walls that dark, that bouncing light off the ceiling is out of the question.
Today with very high iso's available on digital slrs you can often get great shots without flash.
Don't overlook video lights also ,particularly the small portable types.
I have a portable light designed for super 8 movie cameras and I have used it successfully for the first photoshoot I did with my infant granddaughter.
I had it fastened to a light stand and just bounced it off the ceiling.I moved it several times and did not use flash once.
Don't forget also that you can bounce light sideways off of walls and doors.
You do need a flash that you can tilt and swivel the flash head.
Also using a hand held flash meter was always useful when using film to take precise flash measurements inside a house.

Using bounce flash and fill flash for Digital slr's also follows the same principles as using for film.

Master these two techniques and you will find you can create some great images.
There are other things you can do with your "portable ceiling"  that I will post about later.

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