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Backlit wedding venue - lighting options

markrellisonmarkrellison Member
edited August 2013 in flash & lighting
Hi all,

I'm photographing a wedding at a country house in Scotland for a couple of friends in a few weeks time. Their first preference is for the ceremony to be outside, but given this is Scotland in September, their backup plan is an upstairs lounge.

It's a big white room, so bounce flash should be OK, but I suspect they'll want to conduct the service with them stood in front of big bay windows at the end of the room:


Which leaves me the dilemma of balancing backlight from the windows with flash light from inside. I have a few ideas but I was wondering if anyone had any bright (pun intended) suggestions on what you would do in similar circumstances?

Thanks in advance,


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi Mark, welcome to the forum.

    Before anyone could give suggestions, what sort of lighting gear do you have?
    Are you anticipating using on camera flash or off-cam flash?

    If off-cam flash, what sort and triggers?

    This may help to give suggestions.

    That room looks very nice, I take it the furniture would be removed, but it looks good for bouncing off of dead easy.

    In the description link you say 'white-room', but the walls look a very pale blue, which would not present any problem, just need to take that into account when bouncing and getting your White Balance right.
  • Thanks Trev,

    I'll be using Canon kit. I've got a 5D Mk III, 5D and 7D, and Canon 600EX-RT (hired), 430 and Sigma EF-530 flashes available. I've got a lightstand and a shoot-through/reflective umbrella.

    My thinking at the moment is to use the 5D Mk III with the 600EX on camera and flagged, for bounce and use that as a master to control the 430 on the lightstand. 5D III will probably have 70-200 2.8 on and my 5D a 24-105, with the 7D kept in reserve.

    Thanks a lot,
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited September 2013
    That sounds like a plan as you will need a bit of juice to get some details from the outside showing up in the window.

    Depends on how bright you are on the day outside, but if I do it I have camera ISO 200; 200th [sync speed] and around f8-10, just to get that bit of outside showing. If you have external packs to power the flashes I would certainly use them.

    Also, I would make sure to put the stand on camera right, as you face the windows, and have the flash on camera flagged and bounced camera left.

    The reason being is that if you have the off-cam flash on stand to camera left, when you to into 'portrait' orientation, the flash on camera will be automatically wanting to bounce from camera left, thereby having 2 light sources coming from camera left.

    This way, off-cam on camera right, on-cam flash bounced to left will lift light across the room.

    It's then up to you how much you want to have flashes in ratio of light output if you wanted some modelling.

    The other thing, is if you are wanting to have that ratio, you would want to have the light stronger on the side the bride is 'not' standing, so the light will light her up just that bit more, after all it's all about the bride. :)

    So if bride standing on camera left, have the light on stand that little bit more and flash on cam a little less, and vice-versa if bride standing on camera right. Obviously this is subtle and you need to be able to change it up quickly during ceremony. The one good thing is they would be in the one place so once you've nailed the light, it will then be consistent.
  • The Bride should be on the left.
  • I imagine scots being scots it will almost certainly be outside unless its chucking it down.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Mark, first and foremost, if you're trying to balance bright light with flash, then maximum flash sync speed is where you want to be.

    my sequence to get to appropriate camera settings, would be:
    1. max flash sync speed
    2. lowest useful ISO (probably 100 ISO, but I do kick it up.)
    3. find the appropriate aperture.
    4. bounce your flash.


    Also check out this link. Even though it is for off-camera flash outside, it is the same thought-process:
  • That's great, many thanks Neil (and Trev!)

    So, I would guess that following that sequence, let's say for argument's sake I get correct ambient exposure at 1/200, ISO100 at f/8, then I can play around with letting more or less ambient in by either closing or opening the aperture or increasing/decreasing the ISO. And obviously going up/down on the flash exposure to tweak any flash light.

    If correct ambient is ISO100 at f/2.8, then if I wanted more ambient (but keep flash power constant), I'd have to just up my ISO. Is that right?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Yes, if you are in TTL mode.
    With manual flash, bumping up your ISO will affect flash exposure.

    Back to the idea of exposing for the ambient light ... keep in mind there are broadly speaking, 3 areas there
    - the sky (which you will most likely not be able to expose for correctly)
    - the garden, which is probably what you want correctly exposed for detail in the photo.
    - the interior of the room (which is actually what you're going to light up with flash.)

    So you need to be specific about what you want to expose for when you set your camera settings.
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