wedding photos: mediocre vs "wow"...

Started Apr 19, 2007 | Discussions
Code Monkey Contributing Member • Posts: 876
wedding photos: mediocre vs "wow"...

i'm trying to study pictures from different wedding photographers... i came across these two photographers that are pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum... technically, both are good... composition, exposure, white balance, sharpness, they're both have it correct, but the pictures from one of them seems to just be a little bit above the average photos while the other is really good... i can't point exactly at what the difference is but i can see that it's there... i think one aspect is how they utilized flash (which is why i posted here)... but can someone give me better ideas on what separates the pro pics from the mediocre...? and what on camera flash techniques to use... like brackets, diffusers and such...

right now, i am using a white card behind the flash... and although it works pretty good, i wanna know of something better without going to full studio setups...

gonzalu
gonzalu Forum Pro • Posts: 10,412
can you post samples or a link?
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AperturePro Veteran Member • Posts: 4,221
Re: wedding photos: mediocre vs "wow"...

i think one

aspect is how they utilized flash (which is why i posted here)...
but can someone give me better ideas on what separates the pro pics
from the mediocre...?

An amateur see the subject. The pro sees the light around the subject.

and what on camera flash techniques to

use... like brackets, diffusers and such...

Yup, all of that. (See above to know why).

right now, i am using a white card behind the flash... and
although it works pretty good, i wanna know of something better
without going to full studio setups...

A pro can use natural light or introduce (paint) in his own. This is where
equipment counts. Although you can see the painting, it does take good
equipment do finish the picture as you see it. So, yes, lights and your
'setup' do count for something. More features lets you have the best
brush with which to paint. Some brushes are crude and stiff and some are
sable and produce lay down the best stroke.

Your white cards is like painting with an old rag. Better equipment is
like painting with a sable brush.

Richard Crowe Veteran Member • Posts: 3,318
Both technical and artistic skills...

Photography is a combination of technical skills and artistic ability. Of the two, the technical side is by far the easier element to master. Some photographers who make a living from photography have good technical skills but, are somewhat lacking in the artistic area.

There are however very few commercial photographers making a living in photography who have artistic ability but do not have technical skills. If you cannot provide a well exposed, well focused image to your client - it doesn't really matter how artistic you are.

At the top-of-the-heap are those photographers who combine technical expertise with artistic ability. These are the guys and gals whose images snap your head back and make you think - "Gosh! I wish I had done that!"

Many elements of basic composition can be learned. We have all looked at millions of images in the flood of media that assails our senses every day. But, although most persons have looked at these images, only a small number of persons have really seen those images and benefitted from the skills of other photographers and artists.
--

Retired Navy Master Chief Photographer's Mate - 30 years service. Combat Cameraman, Motion Picture Director and Naval Aircrewman. I have done considerable comercial photography including advertising, weddings and portraiture.

Chuck Gardner Forum Pro • Posts: 10,381
Re: wedding photos: mediocre vs

Having worked with and learned from the best in the wedding business I would venture to say that caputuring people in flattering natural looking poses in flattering light and isolating what is most important from the background clutter are the main qualities which separate the "wow" from the rest.

Single flash, no matter how it is sliced, diced or bounced is flat booring mediocre light. Using more than one flash, if only to park it behind the action for some rim lighting, adds the illusion of depth and will help a flat lit situation come alive. I was fortunate to learn this 35 years ago and have used two flashes every since whenever possible. When one is on a camera bracket and a second is on portable wheeled stand (I use a modified medical IV stand) shooting with two flashes is as easy as using one and makes candid shots like these possible, even at crowded parties and receptions:

Those same basic tools were also used for the shots in these slideshows:
http://bossa.nova.org/slideshow101/
http://bossa.nova.org/slideshow102/

But light alone is not the solution. One needs to know how to use it effectively to flatter the people being photographed. That first requires the abilty to quickly recognize which facial angles are the most flattering, then knowing how to position the light to draw attention to the front of the face, not to the ear on the side of the head or some bright distraction.

For example, in the second shot above it is not just a happy accident that the subject in the photo - a transferring pastor from our church at his goodbye party - is captured in a flattering short-lit pose. I wanted to capture him framed by the people he was talking to. The direction he was facing when talking to the guy with the back to the camera was predictable, which allowed me to roll the off camera light over to the left so it was 45 degrees off his nose when looking at him. I dialed back the ETTL ratio to avoid blowing out the foreground. It took just seconds to set up. That type of shot would be impossible with a single flash.

The above examples utilize flash, but the same thing applies to natural lighting or ambient artificial light. First you need to identify the dominant ambient light source, determine its direction, decide how best to use it (key light, back light, fill for flash, etc.) then find camera positions where the action can be captured using that lighting strategy effectively.

In a nutshell, you simply need to make people in the photos look good and like they are having fun there. That requires mastering the craft part of photography to the point it is second nature, which frees one to focus on the more important part; making the people look both confortable and good in the photos...

CG

OP Code Monkey Contributing Member • Posts: 876
Re: wedding photos: mediocre vs "wow"...

so what is better than my "old rag" for single on-camera/bracket lighting...? one of the reason why i'm still using the index card diffuser is because there really is no magic bullet when it comes single, on-camera flash... all the commercially available flash modifiers all have their pros and cons but none seems to be significantly better than the index card method... if i can use multiple flash on every event, i would... or better yet, full studio lighting... but most of the time, that's not really practical nor efficient...

AperturePro Veteran Member • Posts: 4,221
Re: wedding photos: mediocre vs "wow"...

Code Monkey wrote:

so what is better than my "old rag" for single on-camera/bracket
lighting...? one of the reason why i'm still using the index card
diffuser is because there really is no magic bullet when it comes
single, on-camera flash...

Lighing is the one area where quality and equipment do make better
photographers. You see wedding pro upgrade to Qflash or Lumedyne
for that very reason. Qflash has various small modifiers that change the
lighting and diffuse the spread of the flash. It is the best magic bullet
we have. Same with Lumedyne which can use the old Normal reflectors.
Lumedyne signature series is expensive and almost approaches others
like Hensel Porty in cost. I would rather carry a Porty if I did need the
w/s over 800. Lumedyne can connect ettl to Qflash or Metz which is
nice.

all the commercially available flash

modifiers all have their pros and cons but none seems to be
significantly better than the index card method... if i can use
multiple flash on every event, i would... or better yet, full
studio lighting... but most of the time, that's not really
practical nor efficient...

Yes and no. Can you handle up to 30 lbs in an extra bag or box? That
is where things like Hensel Porty make tons of sense. Sometimes you only
need one studio power light and possible Qflash on the camera as fill.

These are the 'big brushes' akin to sable that will improve your work
many times over on-camera flashes.

It is about money, but its also about your tools that make your work
the best it can be. How many times do you see examples of that right
on this forum? People trying to get pro level work with tools that are
not near pro level or just not enough lighting to make the jump.

good luck...... keep investing in your equipment.

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