Camera Choices For Photography

In any discussion of IDEAL equipment, one of the most important points to consider, particularly for wedding photography, is weather or not the system you choose has a Focal Plane or Between the Lens shutter.

The most versatile is the Between the Lens shutter, as this system allows flash synchronization at ALL shutter speeds. Consider when you are taking photos outside in the gardens, or after the ceremony in front of the church. To ensure good photographs, virtually every shot you take should be with the flash as a fill light. This will help to eliminate shadows, overcome bright backgrounds (where the subject is normally underexposed, and therefore the brides face cannot be seen clearly), and ensures good tonal range throughout the image. Most digital and 35mm SLR cameras today are all Focal Plane shutters, some travelling vertically, most travelling horizontally. However, many of the more expensive models now have a higher flash synchronization speed up to 250th of a second. Olympus is unique in that its OM4 will sync at ALL shutter speeds, providing their specially developed flash is used.

Ideally, you should meter for the background light, and then balance the light on your subject with the flash. In other words, if the background light indicates an exposure of 1Dif the available light is f8 at 250th sec, then you need to expose for the subject about one stop lower at f4.6 It is usually better to have the flash illumination at about one or two ? stops less than the available light, for the most pleasing results. This prevents the flash from putting too much light on the subject, making it look unnatural, or from burning out any detail in the brides face or dress.

An interesting effect can be to deliberately underexpose the background. Lets say for the same lighting as above, you set the camera to ?11 or ?16, underexposing the background by one or two ? stops, and set the flash to provide enough light to correctly expose the subject. Experimenting in this way, can provide you with some interesting, saleable effects.

You can achieve different effects by trying several variations. Assume a background exposure of ?8, shutter speed remains constant at the metered value i.e. ?8 @ 1D60 for example.

So in effect what we are doing is under or over exposing the background by varying the aperture, and compensating the amount of light reaching the subject, by varying the amount of light from the flash.

The advantages of the 'between the lens' shutter, makes wedding photography quite straight forward. You meter for the available light, and set the flash to expose the subject about one or two stops less. If you are outside and moving around, and don't have time to set the camera on a tripod, you can use the higher shutter speeds, and larger apertures. The larger the aperture opening, is in fact, a smaller number, because it is the inverse of the fraction. If you have ever been confused by this, just remember that all values are given as a fraction, however, there is not enough room to print this on the camera or lens. So, an aperture of ?2.8, a small number, but a large aperture, is really ?1D2.8 . Conversely, a shutter speed of '500' is really '1D500'. By convention, the '1/' gets left off.

At the church, reception or hall, where there is little or no available light, you can also use the higher shutter speeds to eliminate any camera shake, while maintaining the correct aperture for the flash. The background, of course, will be underexposed (black), but in these situations, it is usually not of any concern. With a typical cameras however, you will be limited to 1D60 th of a second. This means you will need to take extra care when hand holding the camera to minimize camera shake.

The second situation to consider, is when using medium speed ISOs in the 200-400 range in bright daylight. You may be forced into exposures of 1D250 to 1D500 at ?8-?16. If we take the high side as an example, 1D500 at ?16, and our flash sync is only 1D60, we need to adjust the exposure by three stops, (500th-125th-60th), to maintain flash sync. So we need three stops of exposure compensation from f16 to f32. This is not possible on most cameras today. Further, we need more light from our flash.

Copyright (c) 2008 Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson has been photographing brides around the world for more than 30 years. If you are interested in making money with photography, then the course Tom has created can get you off to a great start. Please visit my website to learn all about starting your own studio.

No comments:

[m a s h e d]