Alvin & Lucia – their wedding in Central Park, New York
A groom holding up the softbox for me … as you may well guess, there’s a story here. Alvin and Lucia are from the UK, but decided to get married in Central Park. Of course, there’s a story here too.
From Lucia’s email to me :
So this is how they ended up getting married in New York, even though they are from the UK.
Alvin is an avid follower of the Tangents blog, and decided he’d like to have me photograph their wedding ceremony at Wagners Cove in Central Park. Since it would be a very intimate little ceremony with just the two of them, they asked me if I’d like to sign the wedding documents as the witness. Of course! I was hugely flattered already that they’d chosen me to be their photographer, and being the witness would be an honor indeed.
I knew that for the portrait session in the Park afterwards, my life would be much easier (and the photographs look better), if I had off-camera lighting with me. But I didn’t want to invite an assistant along that would be a stranger in such a small group. So I asked my daughter, Janine, to assist me. Good idea, because Alvin already knew who she was from my posts here. His first words to her when we met at the hotel before-hand, was, “How was your trip to Amsterdam?”
The photo at the top is when Janine was asked to sign as second witness, and Alvin offered to hold the softbox up! The rest of the photos here is a selection of my favorite images on the day. In the spirit of the Tangents blog being more techie-oriented, there’s mention of the camera settings and such, as well as the lighting.
The ceremony at the edge of the pond was under this gazebo. That would place Alvin and Lucia in deep shade against the brighter lit background. Trouble. Therefore I quickly assembled the Lastolite softbox. I wanted consistent flash exposure, so I set the flash (via the PocketWizard TT5 units), to be manual flash. I asked Janine to keep to a specific distance from them, even when I indicated she had to move to another point. So even when I had the light come from my left or right side, it would be the same exposure.
Here is the comparison photo without the additional lighting.
So you may well think it is odd to have an off-camera softbox at this event, but the lighting looks good!
It also meant we were set up for the portraits there directly after the short ceremony ended.
Afterwards we roamed through the adjacent areas in the park. Even for the photos where they are strolling towards the camera, I had Janine walk with the softbox. Since my settings would change now as we moved, and because the distance would also change, it was easier for me to switch to TTL flash.
As we were about to leave the Park, Lucia changed from the heels into more comfortable shoes. It made for a cute moment.
I knew that security at the Rockefeller Plaza would be on top of us immediately if I used the softbox. So it was folded away, and I just used on-camera bounce flash for light here. I bounced my flash off the building facade directly behind me. (Sorry, no pull-back shot since it was raining at this point.)
Here is the comparison image without flash.
By the time we got to Times Square, the rain wasn’t a drizzle anymore. I set Alvin and Lucia up under a building overhang. Working with such a tight space, and with that many people scurrying around, a softbox would’ve been impractical. So I simply bounced my flash off the metallic pillar behind me. (Here’s an iPhone shot of where I had positioned myself.)
And a comparison image without flash. The bounce flash definitely had an effect here.
On the way to the ceremony, I was in the horse-drawn carriage with Alvin and Lucia. I have to explain this photograph – Alvin was showing Lucia their wedding rings that he kept safely in his wallet.
With this article, I wanted to show how the on-location lighting technique should be flexible, and not be focused on only one way of doing things.
Finally … Alvin and Lucia, it was a real pleasure meeting you, and a great honor indeed that you’d have me as your photographer on this day.
video tutorials to help you with your photography
If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.
equipment used during this Central Park wedding
Even though I have a full range of lenses, including fast primes, my workhorse lenses are those two zooms. They are razor-sharp and with those two lenses, I have the entire range of focal lengths I’d need.
- Nikon SB-910 Speedlight controlled by PocketWizard FlexTT5 & AC3 Controller
or alternately, the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite controlled by Canon ST-E3 Transmitter
I didn’t rely exclusively on off-camera flash with the softbox. There were times when the available light was great, and there were times when on-camera bounce flash was a better solution. Direct on-camera flash as fill-flash was the practical option at some point.