Wedding Photography Off Camera Lighting…without Photoshop

On Saturday, Niki and I photographed Laurel and Jason’s wedding at the always incredible Cincinnati Museum Center. At the end of the night, we wanted to do some group shots outside with the fountain and Cincinnati skyline in the background. The big problem was that the existing available lighting was less than desirable. The lighting was almost fluorescent resulting in a terrible greenish color cast. Also, the fountains were lit with some white lights which didn’t readily translate into the “Pop” which I sought. Lastly, I always want to separate the subject from background. During daylight hours this is usually accomplished by having the sun provide some rim lighting to the subjects. This of course was not an option at 10PM.

After about 5 minutes of envisioning various corrective alternatives, I settled on my “not so usual” 4 Off Camera flash gelled setup. Here are the before and after images. What I am most happy with after these shots were completed was that I was able to accomplish all the transformations without relying on additional post production work in Photoshop. Getting the setup right in the camera allows me to deliver my images to clients quicker which results in higher client satisfaction.

As you can see the before image is very green and rather ordinary. The after image is the kind of image by which I want my Studio to be represented because it has that vivid WOW factor. So how did I “fix” the problem areas? The fast “layman” answer is that I balanced the light from flash to match the ambient light and introduced some blue gels into the equation. If you are technically inclined, here are some additional steps which I performed:

1. I added a Full CTS gel to my 580EXII Off-Camera Flash which I held about 5 feet above the camera and pointed at the subjects. This flash was set at 1/2 -.3 power and zoomed @50mm. This CTS gel corrected the greenish hue on all lighted areas.

2. I added a Full CTS gel to my 580EXII Flash behind the subjects and powered it at 1/16 and zoomed @ 28mm. I placed the flash about four feet back and aimed it at the Laurel and Jason’s lower back area. You can see the distinctive shadow radiating to the front. This acts as a subject to background separator.

3. The third and forth flashes (Both 580EXIIs) were positioned on either side of the fountain and set to 1/4 power @ 35mm zoom. They were approximately 15 feet from the fountain center. I added Full CTB gels to both flashes to make the fountain radiate the blue hue.

4. I used 5 MultiMax Transceivers to communicate between flashes and camera.

So that is the not so typical setup. We bring more photography gear and “gizmos” to every wedding than we need, but I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

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