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Seeking Advice...(AGAIN!)

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Again, I am looking for some advice. You guys have been so great in the past, I hope I am not outdoing my welcome!

I have an upcoming wedding to photograph. Is there a place online to research or can anyone suggest what type of filter to use on; sunny days vs cloudy days when photographing portraits outdoors? They are not expecting me to be a pro, that is up to you guys, smile but I WOULD like to do a good job and take some memorable pics for the couple on their big day!

Any suggestions are welcome and thanked in advance! You guys are the best!!


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I don't use filters for any of my outdoor weddings, even on sunny days. If it's sunny, I do the posed work in the shade and fill with flash, and if the ceremony itself is under high bright sun, I'll use fill flash then, too, to get some light into shadows such as eye sockets.

Assuming the dress is white, I'll let it blow out a little bit, because I can recover those highlights using the exposure slider on the preview screen in photoshop. This ensures the faces are not dark and full of noise, which happens if you expose for the white dress. After darkening the image using the exposure slider, the faces and darker clothes probably will be too dark, and I use shadow/highlight to brighten the darks. Make sure your highlight alert (blinkies) is enabled so you can see the blown highlights blinking when you check the histogram.

I use my Canon flash set to high-speed synch mode, and use flash exposure compensation, usually set at -1 or somewhere in that neighborhood, depending on how much sun there is to cast shadows. The thing about using flash to fill is that you don't want it to look garish, and flash exposure compensation is easily adjustable for any conditions.

I'm also continually checking my histograms and using the camera's exposure compensation liberally to keep it dialed in under changing light conditions.

If the light is consistent, either sunny or cloudy, you can get consistent exposures by overriding the meter and using manual settings, checking the histogram to make sure you've got it just right. And if you set the white balance yourself, either manually or by using one of your camera's pre-set white balance modes (like sunny or cloudy), all your images will be not only exposed identically, but with the same color temperatures.

That's not necessarily a big deal when you've got 30 photographs to process, but when I've got 1,500 to sort through and 300 to process, identical exposures and white balances mean I've got far less work to do in post processing.

Of course, in changing light conditions the manual exposure and white balance settings are a nightmare and should be avoided.

If you haven't used these techniques before, I'd recommend practicing on some family or friends in advance of the wedding day. They know you're not a pro, but it's always better for things to go smoothly on a stressed day than roughly.

Hope this helps, and good luck! smilesmile

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I just started playing with the different white balance modes on the camera and it is amazing the different degree's of exposure you get from the same photo situation using different modes. How the camera can turn a grey cloudy day into a warm and fuzzy picture with the right setting. The more you play with things the more you find out the capabilities of the equipment. Like Steve said, practice with different settings to get to know how each setting affects the picture in different conditions. I had left mine on auto when i got it not knowing what it can do, but now i'm always changing it.

Disclaimer: I've had my camera for about 2 months and am just learning also.

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All I have to say is I AM EXTREMELY NERVOUS! AND, I really don't know what I am doing compared to you guys, that is for sure. The best part about the wedding is that they are on a budget and they know that I am by no means a pro or even an amature for that matter! They have expressed that if they only have one somewhat decent pic of the two of them they are happy. BUT, we always put extreme pressure on ourselves and since there is no pressure from them I WANT TO LEARN A TON from this experience! The worst part about the wedding, after reading Steve's advice, is that it is THIS WEEKEND!! I REALLY am scared after reading your advice Steve. I think my ignorance was bliss!!

I am going to copy and paste your advice, print it read it, re-read it and study some of my books. The sad part is that I do not have (not even close to adequate) equipment...flashes, etc,, I have only taken wildlife and scenic pics in the past...not a whole group of people!! YIKES...

I did build a list, in order, of the shots that I "want" to take, but hopefully my clone will show up that day and read the list to me as I shoot!! :-)

I will let you guys know how it goes. No news from me means it was a flop, posted pics means I was somewhat happy...

Any additional advice before Saturday, besides BAIL, would be great!! THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE!!

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PS Steve, this is how ROOKIE I am, what does, "I'll let it blow out a little bit....." mean?? When you were talking about the dress??

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It certainly wouldn't hurt to set you camera to auto bracket in 2/3 or 1 stop increments. It could be a shot saver.

Good luck.

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chick, very good that you have a shot list. That helps in case things get a little scattered and you don't want to miss some poses.

"Blowing out the highlights" means the image is overexposed enough that there was no data captured in the whites. If you look in your manual you can learn how to enable the highlight alert so those areas will blink when you look at your histogram. And then exposure compensation (also in your manual) will show you how to underexpose a bit to compensate for that.

I don't know what gear you have. Will you list it here? Not knowing your experience level also made it hard for me to judge where you are along your photographic learning journey, and so how to tailor the advice to your level of understanding.

Here are just a few important things to remember if you feel overwhelmed by all this new technical stuff coming at you. Since it's outdoors and no flash is technically necessary to provide enough light for good exposures, there's not a darn thing wrong with setting the iso at 400, the exposure dial on "P" for program and just letting the camera figure things out. The DSLR and compact digital cams these days are very sophisticated. Things usually come out just fine that way.

Don't put too much pressure on yourself, and I'm sorry if I added pressure by telling you too much stuff. Have a good time, trust your camera's automated settings and your own eye for composition, relax and enjoy the day. If you are enjoying yourself, others will see that and will also relax and have fun. And I bet you'll come away with some excellent photographs as well as a solid learning experience. smilesmile

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