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Evening Bridal Shot

April 19, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Hi and welcome to another blog entry.  Usually I try to provide further details on the location and tip and tricks but this one is going to focus on a recent wedding shoot I did for some friends.  The shoot took up most of the day but i want to outline how the main picture of the Bride & Groom was shot, and include some of what I learned along the way.

Experience has taught me that getting the lighting correct during low light conditions can be quite tricky.  Using an ND filter could pose problems with the brides dress and as many of you may know, getting everything to balance out is the real trick here.  So let me tell you how I went about it.


I shot this with my Canon 600D (not the newest or highest pixel camera, but it’s about the shot not the kit) and I also used the following:

  • 2 x Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT
  • 1 x Canon  Speedlite ST-E3-RT Radio Trigger
  • 2 x Stands
  • A Sturdy Tripod
  • 1 x 60x60 Softbox
  • An assistant – to move the lighting – Thanks Lorna!

Without the lighting, I would have had a real test on my hands, probably requiring 2 shots and a lot of Photoshop blending during post production (not my idea of fun!) – so this was definitely a one shot deal!  You can see an example of what it looked like without the lighting below.

You can see that the sky is washed out and the remaining light is harsh on the subject, alternatively had I metered for the sky I would have got 2 silhouettes but a lovely sunset sky – not a look I wanted for a shot as important as this! So I knew I had to figure out how to balance them both out.

The Speedlite system was a no brainer!  As it has an on-board radio transmitter, using it in conjunction with the ST-E3, I was able to position my flashes without too much fuss and without wires or line of sight.  Time here was a real pressure as the Bride & Groom only had a few minutes.  The Softbox provided softened light from the left and I used the other flash unit on a stand as a low power fill.  Both were positioned at 45 degrees to the subjects (left & right).  The diagram below shows how I set it up.

The Softbox was set to Group A at full power and the other was set to Group B on ½ power setting.  The beauty if the ST-E3 is that I can control all of the groups from the camera – what a time saver!  As for my camera, I metered for the sky and then took the exposure down by 2 stops.  This allowed me to balance the ambient light and darken the sky enough to get those rich colours but consequently meant the subjects were really under exposed.  No fear!  The Speedlites would take care of that, resulting in a well-balanced shot.  So let’s take a look at the finished article!  I got some beautiful evening light with a lovely saturated sky without passing that saturation on to the subjects.

Learning points

  1. Location – I spent an hour or so looking at alternative locations.  The Hotel where the reception was quite close to the beach and Bride & Groom were really interested in a beach sunset shot (as was I!).  Unfortunately we ran out of time – so those alternatives came in really handy.  Without that hour looking around the previous day I would have been stumped!
  2. Be flexible – I was there to get shots of a couples special day.  Weddings are fraught with unknowns and your plans can change (like the weather) so flexibility with a smile is key.
  3. Know your equipment – all of it!  For me the Speedlite's were a new edition to my equipment, but I spent much of the week prior to the event practicing with them.  I am soo glad I did.  Throughout the day I got some great shots which needed very little post processing – a real time saver when you have over 1000 shots to pare down.
  4. Get to know your subjects – if you know them a little they will be more relaxed around you.  Not everyone likes having a camera thrust into their faces, if they are comfortable with you hanging around, you will get some better shots.  Keep talking to them while you shoot, sometimes you will get the very best expressions when you are having a conversation, rather than a posed (but wooden) shot.
  5. Organisation – Know what you want to achieve and when. Write it down if you need to and refer to your notes.  Understand the itinerary of the day and organise your equipment accordingly.  I spent 5 minutes at the end of each part of the day checking my kit, replacing batteries (even if they were at half power) and getting the kit ready which I would use next.  This will enable you to be ready to shoot, reducing the risk of losing great shots because you were still fiddling with your kit.

Phew! – there you go a quick insight into the shot and some tips on how to get it.  I hope it has been helpful to you.  I certainly learned a great deal during this shoot but practice made it a lot easier.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave comments in the guestbook.  Thanks for visiting 10 photography.



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