Dear Photographer Friends,
Dark ballrooms, bridal rooms, and outdoor parties with poor ambience-lights are wedding-photographers’ worst nightmare. We have allllll been through it! I’m not a photography guru but I don’t mind sharing what I learned through 6 years of experiences and things that have worked for me.
Here are my personal tips and tricks that help me with low-light situations and I hope these tips work for you as well ❤
- Wide aperture: For me, anything less than F4 is wide aperture. I like using wide apertures for producing bokeh, in bride’s portraits to avoid cluttered rooms, and especially when the rooms or outdoor events don’t have enough light.
I also use external lights (especially for bride’s jewelry details) hence I avoid wide-apertures just so the actual diamonds are sharp in focus.
- External Lights: Ice-lights, soft-box, video light, flash, you name it! I loveeeee using external lights for ballroom details & centerpieces. They add an umph to the photos and differentiate between the main subject and the fore/background. Adding constant external light also helps with focusing hence results in sharper photos.
- Bounce Speedlite/Flash: First off, Invest in a great flash. Second, learn how to use it to its full potential. Third, look for low ceilings and/or white walls because they are amazing to bounce off flash light. I use Canon Speedlite 600 EX RT ii on camera for the ballroom details and then from the time the bride makes her entrance in the ballroom until the end of the night.
In the following photo, the party was outdoors hence no natural reflectors as I couldn’t bounce the light off of the ceiling & ice-lights were not powerful enough to light such a big space. Instead, I used the entire villa to bounce off my flash’s light on the entire dinner-table-setup.
- Flash on manual: Thisssss!!!! As most photographer’s use their flash on ETTL (auto mode), I use my flash on M-A-N-U-A-L. The light is consistent in photos instead of the flash making guesses. It is easier to use flash on manual than on ETTL mode (try it & let me know how it works for you).
- Battery-pack for flash: Using flash on manual mode requires a lot more battery power hence doesn’t recover as fast as it does in ETTL mode. I use Godox’s PB 960 battery pack with a wire connected to the flash. It looks like a flask and one additional thing for me to carry throughout the night but hey, it works for me. Call me old-school but I would rather look silly carrying additional stuff and have my work speak for itself! 😉
I hope these tips help you tackle the low-light situations. If you have tips that you’d like to share and/or questions about points I made above, or this post made you think differently, please free to leave a comment below ❤