In the dark
July 17, 2007 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Bad Weather Photography-Filter: I'm photographing a wedding this Saturday at a beautiful estate in the country, the main venue being an ancient Tythe Barn. Lovely, but for one problem - according to the long-range forecast, we might be expecting torrential rain during the day so all the formals may need to be relocated inside a very dark building. Please, hive-mind, help a natural light photographer with some tips on shooting groups in a semi-studio set-up?

The barn has very little natural light (a few small windows at eye-level) and a high timber roof, so bounce-flash is out of the question. I guess there are other (electrical) light sources but I won't be able to evaluate them until Friday, when I get there.

I've taken the precaution of hiring a couple of 500w strobes, but studio photography really isn't my thing. I've done a few single portrait shoots with one light and a reflector but nothing involving groups and multiple light sources. Do you have any tips? I'm guessing that a triangle layout (me in between the two lights) will be the rough idea, but I'd really like to try and get some contextual background in the pictures, without a criss-cross shadow behind.

Any ideas would be incredibly welcome (including "scrap the lights, go to 1600 ISO and use a tripod").
posted by dogsbody to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For formal shots:

Key light. Especially the bride and bridesmaids. Back light, or hairdos won't "pop," and people will look fatter/flatter than they think they should. Your 500w strobes (off umbrellas?) may be enough fill, if you have light backgrounds, but if you have large party shots, dark or no backgrounds, you may need a 3rd and even a 4th unit. Don't go to fast film (or equivalent digital settings) unless you're shooting medium format.
posted by paulsc at 5:26 PM on July 17, 2007

Best answer: Start reading Strobist. As (I'm assuming) a fairly experienced photographer, you should be able to pick up a lot in a very short period of time. His emphasis is on the practical, and between the archives of the site and the flickr discussion page, you should be able to pick up a ton of seriously useful tips.
posted by god hates math at 6:35 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

thank you for the strobist link. just, wow.
posted by andihazelwood at 1:43 AM on July 18, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you both for the very useful advice.

paulsc: Thanks for the reminder on 3-light set-up. I'm sure I was taught this at some point, but not nearly as sensibly or concisely as you put it! I'll have an assistant (with a reflector to fill) so the small groups should be covered as you suggest. Medium format is an option, but not one I'm extra keen to use if I don't have to (hassle & speed of film changing being the main issues). I'll take it along though, just in case.

god hates math: Strobist looks like a fantastic resource, which I'll be sure to go back to and read in more detail when I have the luxury of some time to spare, but a speed-read has helped fill in a few blanks - I like the look of the 'bare tube' technique, which might work for the larger groups... ???

I'll be on-site on Friday afternoon for a chance to experiment, so any more suggestions before then, would be deeply appreciated!
posted by dogsbody at 4:48 AM on July 18, 2007

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