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FEEDBACK FRIDAY – Spotty Lighting

FRIDAY FEEDBACK – Jana Ash Miller
How do you handle shooting a wedding in the middle of a sunny day, where you can’t change the location, and the bride is in the sun and the groom is in a partial shadow…..

This is my take on spotty lighting:
Photography is a give and take relationship. Sometimes you can’t have both shadow and highlight detail in the same shot without using additional lighting to fill in the shadows, especially when its the brides white dress in the sunlight. If it were the groom in the light and bride in the shadows it would be more forgiving and lessen the overall contrast of the shot. You could strategically place a strobe in the front row to hit the groom in the shadows, but that presents other issues you’d need to work through, such as maintaining a slow enough shutter speed to sync with, while having enough power coming from the strobe to balance with the daylight, at or around f16. And of course you’d need wireless triggering with Pocket Wizards. Not ideal either.

Me, I would certainly shoot this in RAW. Expose for the bride and adjust for the groom in post processing. I would shoot only a few shots with this “spotty” light, knowing it doesn’t work well. I would change my angle a shoot shots of the bride, maybe with a glimpse of the groom in the foreground in shadow, even if it were the back of his head and ear. Then I would do the same for the groom, probably without the bride at all because being in full sun she would be way blown out while exposing for the groom. After the ceremony I would avoid that area like the plague and find some shadows and shoot in full sun, mixing it up with front light and backlight (like this photo). This image has been one of my favorite wedding photos of all time. It has been in a few magazines and this single image has gotten me additional work.

Ceremony shots are important, however, you’ll never set yourself apart from others with a ceremony shot, in my opinion. Every ceremony is nearly exactly the same… over and over and over again. I like it when I’m able to be in control and do something different. Those are the images I’m after.