Wedding receptions can be very challenging for the photographer with subdued, even dark, lighting thus creating three problems for the photographer:
- How can I shoot using light sources and obtain a nice, natural, light balance?
- How can I get my camera to focus on the dark?
- How can I freeze the action with folks dancing and having fun?
I chose this image because the subject is in the middle of the dance floor just having a great time.
The lighting set-up comprised two Canon 580EX II strobes with one (off camera) located on a tripod beside the DJ’s speakers so that they were well out of the way of the revelers. For additional security, I added three sandbags to the base of the tripod to ensure that in the event that someone may bump the tripod, and the sandbags would prevent the tripod from tipping over. Pointing the strobe at the roof of the tent for flash-bounce, the 580EX II was set to manual-mode at full power and to high-speed sync…
- With high-speed sync., the shutter speed can operate at 1/500th second, which is enough to freeze the dance action.
- The second strobe, another Canon 580EX II, was camera mounted.
- It set to high-speed sync., and to manual mode. The on-camera strobe had its power set to 1/4 and was fitted with a Gary Fong light modifier.
As needed I would make an aperture adjustment to correct the exposure for the varying light conditions due to my ever changing positions. With a fixed off-camera strobe often your subject is in the ‘wrong position’ (backlit) but you can use that to your advantage. For the best shots, you need the off-camera strobe to be behind you.
For wireless triggers, I was using a Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and a Pocket Wizard Flex TT5. The prime advantages of these radio triggers over my old Pocket Wizards in this set-up, which I still used but only in the studio, is that the operate at high shutters speeds while synching multiple strobes.
So, that’s the setup and we are now ready to shoot? Not so fast. It can be almost impossible for a camera’s autofocus to work in a dark environment, and manual focus can be problematic with moving subjects. The solution, use a 3rd light source to paint light on your subject to allow the camera to focus. For this, I used a small continuous video light and had my assistant point it at my subject. With my focus set to a single point was able to pick out the joyous faces of the wedding guests having a great time on the dance floor.