Dynamic off-camera flash – New York elopement wedding
This photo is my favorite taken during Ruth & Philip’s New York elopement wedding in Central Park. The genuine affection between them as the couple hugged their children closer during the ceremony in the park.
The essential element in photographing weddings is to capture the revealing moments and all the important points of the event. As a photographer, you can’t skip a beat. That’s a given. What you add to that in terms of composition and choice of lenses, and how you use light, (as well as post-processing), will define your style.
About the light and lighting – this day was overcast and cold, and being mid-winter in New York, grey and dreary. I can’t have my clients’ photos look like that – there needs to be a spark and life to the photographs! This is why I love using off-camera flash – it allows me a great measure of control over any scenario on location. More than just giving me nice light and cleaning up shadows under eyebrows, the off-camera lighting allows me dynamic lighting.
Dynamic lighting – in short, here it means that during the ceremony, I had my assistant stand on the “other side” of where I was shooting – think in terms of short lighting. With this photo, I was standing to the right of the officiant … and therefore I had my assistant stand to the right (and back) of the officiant. It is important that my assistant isn’t intrusive, so they will stand further back. The photo below shows the distance of the light. But I do try to keep the movement of the light as non-intrusive as possible.
Working regularly with certain assistants, they know what I want, and can follow my instruction as I briefly point to a specific position.
That’s essentially it – for most of the time with the portraits, my assistant would be about 30′ off to my side, usually favoring the bride with good light. For the ceremony here, I wanted that specific lighting that is shown in that photo – short lighting. So when I am on the left of the officiant, the light would come from the right of the officiant; and when I’m on the right of the officiant, the light will come from the left.
Photo gear used during this photo session
My main camera and lens were the Nikon D5 with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR (affiliate), and the second camera was a Nikon D4 with the longer Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II (affiliate). I dislike swapping lenses – mainly for the inevitable dirt on the sensor that will happen. So I tend to keep specific lenses on specific bodies when out on a shoot.
About the lighting gear – with photo sessions in New York, including elopement weddings, I nearly always have an assistant with me to hold an off-camera flash, and help with the small roller case with gear.
- Profoto B1 TTL flash (B&H / Amazon)
- Profoto OCF (2′) Octa Softbox (B&H / Amazon)
- 75″ tall Gitzo monopod to hold up the light
I try to bring as little gear as possible without risking everything falling apart with equipment failure. But this still means a second Profoto B1 in the roller case. Off-camera lighting is that essential to the look I get. It’s part of the style that my clients can expect.
For more photos, check out the post on my wedding and portrait blog:
- New York elopement wedding in Central Park – Ruth & Philip
- People skills for portrait & wedding photographers – Ianina & Connie
- Becoming more confident in posing people – Kelly & Joe
- Adapting your photographic style during a photo session – Rebecca & Max
- A wedding in Central Park, New York – Alvin & Lucia