Seeing Is Believing...Or Is It?
Monte Zucker• Posted Oct 1, 1999
At a recent wedding I found myself in a magnificent setting. The only problem was that I was losing the light so fast, I couldn't take advantage of where we were. Did I let that dampen my spirits? Not on your life. The timing and the circumstances forced me to use my own ingenuity.
My first problem was that although the wedding was going to take place at an incredibly beautiful museum, we were not allowed inside until after the building was closed to the public. By that time it would be too late.
As a result, all the portrait and group photos had to be made outdoors. I began by working under the cover of a tent where the floral arrangements were being assembled. Among all that commotion, I posed the bride just outside the tented area (Photo 1). I was under cover with my camera. From her viewpoint she was looking into a shaded area, so there were no squinting eyes.
I found a great background for the full-length bridal portraits in a small enclosed garden setting adjacent to the main house (Photo 2, not available). I exposed for the ambient light and added two flashes. I used a bare-bulb Quantum flash as a main light, two f/stops weaker than the ambient light. There was another direct flash behind the bride lighting her veil. That one was the same as my f/stop. I kept the bride and groom as far away from the background as possible, making them stand out from their surroundings in the photograph.br/>
Photographing the bride and her attendants in the courtyard was a problem, because the open areas were so confined. A 60mm wide angle lens on my Hasselblad did the trick (Photo 5, below). But when I wanted to photograph the entire bridal party I had to put them on the steps behind the bride and groom (Photo 6). The wide angle lens kept everything nice and sharp. The depth of field worked beautifully for me, even though I was just stopped down to f/8.
The outdoor ceremony was magnificent. I found that by positioning myself under cover of the bridal canopy, I could photograph with my 40mm lens out toward the light (as I regularly do for portraiture) and capture Photo 8 at a moment that was just too good to pass up. The background of the flowers and trees was the perfect setting for this tender moment.
I loved the resulting image, but was not thrilled with the background when I saw the photo. Yes, it was the natural background, but I remembered that I had photographed the wall outside of the courtyard just before the ceremony had begun. The lighting on the wall was so beautiful, I just had to take the picture even though there was no one around to pose in front of it (Photo 10). The center arch, by the way, was the area where I had just posed the bride for her full-length profile.
Photos 12 and 13 were actually shot just as they happened. I saw the background when everyone was going back to the main building for the reception. It was just too good to pass up. I stopped the people momentarily and had them wave at me. Truly, a great setting for these people, wouldn't you say?
During the reception, the groom asked me if I could make a picture of them with the island, lit up so beautifully, for the background. The final picture in this article (Photo 15) was not a "paste-up." I sat the bride and groom at a table which Doug and I had positioned, so that the island would be behind them. Doug held a single flash behind the couple as a backlight. The exposure was for about 2 sec, allowing me to pick up the night scene behind them. We used this image to finish their bridal albums.