photography questions & answers
Continuing with the monthly theme where I look at search engine queries,
and answer a selection of 10 questions more directly…
01) flash outdoors without looking like flash
This is a tough one to give one definitive answer for. It really depends on what the light is like, and how you position your subjects in relation to the light.
The simplest scenario is where you position your subject so that their faces are in open shade, and then you just add a touch of fill-flash. The easiest way of doing this is to use TTL flash, and dial your flash exposure compensation down to around -3EV.
Where you have more uneven light, then using off-camera flash with a large diffuser (eg, softbox or umbrella), will give you the best looking results. The light from your flash will look really good, but I can’t say that it will be imperceptible as flash. Meaning, if you look at the image, then a logical conclusion about the light is that additional light like flash must’ve been used. But, it does look good!
Next question …
I do feel strongly that f2.8 zooms or fast primes are essential with wedding photography … especially if you want to deliver images that have a natural look to them. You need fast lenses to allow the ambient light in, and retain the sense of place and the feel of the time.
I use two full-frame digital SLRs – currently, the Nikon D3 is my choice. I mainly use two zooms. The 24-70mm f2.8 and the 70-200mm f2.8 … with these two lenses, I cover an incredible range of focal lengths. I can happily cover an entire wedding using only these two lenses. The 70-200mm especially, is a focal range that makes most sense on a full-frame body when you shoot portraits and weddings.
I do bring along a 105mm f2.8 macro lens. Very useful for detail shots. I also bring the 14-24mm f2.8 along, since this super-wide lens allows for beautiful scene-setting photos. The 85mm f1.4 is also useful for available light portraits with wafer-thin depth of field.
For Canon, my choice of lens range would be very similar … coupled with two full-frame bodies.
When I previously use Canon though, I had the 1D mk III. This is a 1.3x crop camera, and it shifted the effective range of my lenses so that I was compelled to rely on three lenses to cover a great focal range. I used the 16-35mm f2.8 and the 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 and similar prime lenses as I use now. A 100mm f2.8 macro and the 85mm f1.2
Your choice of lenses in photographing a wedding is of course a highly individual choice, depending on our specific style and approach. Do make sure though that your choice of equipment is a specific decision, and not mere rationalizing about the equipment you do have. (eg: “I could shoot an entire wedding just with my 50mm lens.”)
03) 70-200mm upgrade worth it?
should I upgrade to the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS ii
To both those questions, yes, I do think the upgrade is worth it. I actually did a quick comparison between the new Canon and the new Nikon, thinking the Nikon will again smoke the Canon lens … and I was surprised at just how sharp the new Canon was wide open. Canon has really pulled out all stops to make this one. It is superb, and in my opinion, an obvious upgrade.
04) how to blur the background
Perhaps this might be a topic for a more comprehensive article, but the simple steps you take to blur the background:
- position your subject as far as possible from the background,
- use a fast / wide aperture,
- use a longer focal length.
This last one is more contentious though, since it can be shown that DoF remains the same for the same aperture, regardless of the focal length. The practical matter though, is that the background is perceived as being more blurred when you use a longer lens.
05) the best mode for flash photography
I wouldn’t say that there is one specific mode that is best.
- Manual Flash for consistency and accuracy,
- TTL flash for working fast and getting results fast,
- Auto mode for automatic flash that is quite often more consistent than TTL.
In the end, I easily alternate between using TTL and Manual flash, depending on the situation.
how to intentionally under-expose with fill-flash.
is flash compensation the same as lowering your flash power?
Two questions with the same answer:
By adjusting your flash exposure compensation down, you are telling your camera and flash to tell you that you need less flash than the camera figured you do.
However, if you are using Manual Flash, then Flash Exposure Compensation doesn’t come into the picture. You need to manually lower your flash power, by dialing it down.
For example to change from 1/4 power to 1/8 power, you go through third of a step settings:
1/4 of full power,
1/4 of full power (minus) 1/3rd stop = 1/8 of full power (plus) 2/3rd stop,
1/4 of full power (minus) 2/3rd stop = 1/8 of full power (plus) 1/3rd stop,
1/8 of full power.
This is something you dial down on the back of your flashgun though, or on the power-pack of your flash if you are using the larger studio lights.
07) wedding photographs are noisy when photographing in dark church
Photos will especially appear noisy when you under-expose your photos. The best way to reduce the appearance of noise in your photos, is by exposing correctly.
A high ISO will also make the noise appear more visible. To counter this;
- use faster lenses;
- use slower shutter speeds … and this will mean stabilized / vibration reduction lenses.
- use more flash. Sometimes you can’t effectively bounce your flash though, and you might have to use direct flash. Unfortunately. But I’d still prefer to go the ‘faster lens’ and ‘higher ISO’ route before using direct flash.
I wouldn’t dissuade someone from using a flash bracket. They do make sense at times. I just don’t use one much anymore, since I don’t feel the need for it. A flash bracket will help with bouncing flash, by keeping the direction of your light the same, regardless of whether you are holding your camera horizontally or vertically. (Without the need to continually rotate and swivel the flash head as you change camera orientation.)
09) does shutter speed have to match the focal length to get correct exposure?
This question might seem particularly odd, but let’s help this poor guy - While shutter speed affects your available light exposure (along with aperture and ISO), your focal length has nothing to do with exposure. So those are two entirely separate considerations – focal length, and exposure metering.
I do see the one fallacy here that I always kick against – the idea that:
the inverse of the focal length = handhold-able shutter speed.
It just doesn’t quite work that way. There is no specific shutter speed at which the images will be crisp .. yet one click lower on the shutter speed, and you will end up with camera shake. There just isn’t that clear a distinction. It really is a gradual progression of higher shutter speeds = sharper photos.
the final one for today, is an oddity again:
“yes and no” camera exposure van
Yes, somehow Google points to my site on the first page if you search for that particular phrase. I hope the person who queried that, feels enlightened now. I guess camera exposure van said yes. And no. But probably just yes.
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