Runway Bride

Today I and my assistant shooter shot some pictures at the Toronto National Bridal Show, and I think it might be useful for me to share a few things about that shoot. As you know, I like to share what I do and how, so that you can learn more quickly than I did. Photography is part art, part trade, part technical skill, and all three swirl around each other like a three-core DNA string.

Today was part portraits, like this of TV wedding organizer Jane Dayus-Hinch:

Those studio-type portraits were the easy ones. All I needed was:

  1. Camera with 24-70 and 70-200 lens (the latter preferred but only if I have space);
  2. Pocket wizard on the camera;
  3. A portable light stand (yeah, we carried it through the exhibition hall);
  4. Bracket for mounting umbrella and flash onto light stand;
  5. Flash;
  6. Shoot-through umbrella;
  7. Another pocketwizard on the flash side;
  8. Cable between flash and pocketwizard.
  9. Flash set to manual, 1/4 power
  10. Camera set to manual, 400-800 ISO, 1/60th sec, f/4 when mixing ambient light with the flash; 1/125th sec at 800 ISO and f/5.6 when not: play with the settings until the right balance between background and flash is obtained.

Those are simple, because you turn the subject to the umbrella, ensure the brim does not catch too much light, and once you have the exposure right, keep the distance the same as in other shots and every subsequent picture is good – guaranteed.

Now you can concentrate on composition, expressions, and so on.

But the rest was different. Some involved only ambient light:

For these, it is important to get a fast enough shutter, and shoot when the right light is on the subject. And use high ISO – I went to 1600. And here I used something I seldom do, namely a combination of:

  • AI Servo (Nikon: “AF-C”) focus;
  • The camera chooses the focus area, not me!

That is anathema to me normally, especially the latter; but here I found the subjects moved just a little too fast for me to set the focus point accurately, since I was shooting at f/2.8 with a long lens, meaning critical depth of field/focus. So I thought quickly and after a couple of shots set the above settings. Razor sharp shots as a result. Dogma should never get in the way of results.

Finally, some pics needed ambient light and a little fill flash:

For that, turn the fill flash level down – I used minus 3 stops flash compensation.

So: many different shooting situations today. A great way to do a Sunday, since photographers need to keep in practice just like airline pilots do. I am happy with my work, and if you learn the basics (do get the e-books:, so will you be with your work!






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