Friday, October 22, 2010

Wedding lighting with off-camera light

I recently posted this picture on Facebook and I know that some of my photographer friends might be interested in the lighting so here's complete breakdown of the shot:

First, the settings
f2.8 - 1/160 - iso1600

This was the first wedding where I used the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5.  I've already talked about the advantages of having TTL control with off-camera lighting but this is the first time that I've also used zone control.

I set up my off-camera strobe (Canon 580EX) at the corner of the dance floor.  In this shot, it's to my left.  I pointed it at the ceiling with about a 45 degree angle.

On-camera is my 580EXII pointed straight up with a bounce card pointed forward.

Now, this is where the TTL part can add some extra control.  I have the flashes set to zone control.  This is set up the same way that you would set up the flashes if you were using Canon's built in IR remote system.  With two flashes, you can set the ratio of light from the back of the on-camera light.  So, for this shot I set the flash to 1/2.  Both flashes will fire to get the correct exposure but the off-camera light will always be twice as bright as the on-camera flash.  This is a standard portrait ratio for main light and fill except now I am doing it on the fly... basically creating a studio lighting pattern. 

Looking at the picture you can see that the off-camera light is brighter... and the on-camera light is providing fill.  The off-camera light also bounces to the far wall and lights the background for me.

The great thing about this system is the ability to change the ratio as I move around the floor.  When the father/daughter dance was taking place, I pointed the off-camera flash straight at the center of the floor and moved to the opposite side.  Then I changed the ratio to 1/4 so that the back light was two stops brighter than the fill from my camera.  I wanted the shot to be backlit but still have some definition in the face.  My bad luck that the photobooth flash in the back of the room fired at the same time as my shutter.  That's the big white spot you see at the top of the frame.

Like many, I had some firing issues with the PW MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 because of interference from the electronics in the Canon 580EX flash.  However, since I started using the "sock" that PW provides I haven't had a single mis-fire.

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