Wedding photography to me is about emotional moments

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon SB-900, ISO 400, ƒ/3.5, 1/6

I do not promote myself as a wedding photographer. I have shot many weddings in my career, but today I have been just doing weddings for close friends and family. There was a time I turned down any requests.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, Alienbees B1600, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/60

The reason I am not as fond of shooting weddings is the amount of people posing. I can do an excellent job of getting great moments in posed shots, but my favorite thing to do in all of photography is capturing those moments that are not posed.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, Alienbees B1600, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

I love a moment like this where the mother of the groom is dancing with her son and the grooms friends and family are caught up in the moment as well.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 11400, ƒ/4, 1/200

I love the moments where the Bride and Groom are in a moment where you see the love they have for each other and you can see why they are getting married.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/4.5, 1/50

Sometimes the moments are subtle or they are bold as here.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon SB-900, ISO 400, ƒ/3.5, 1/6

I love capturing the expressions of people where you can see on their faces their emotions. The other thing I notice is at weddings the guests are just as happy for the couple.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/8

The hard part about shooting weddings is you are doing so many styles of photography throughout the day. You are having to do studio lighting fashion shoots and then turn right around and just doing more of event photography as well as getting those moments.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art Lens, ISO 22800, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Capturing the moments is what I work on the most in my photography. I believe it is the expressions that are the most powerful thing in a photograph. I spend a great deal of time trying to be sure the technical parts of photography: Lighting, Composition, Depth-of-field and more are all ready for when the moment will happen.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art Lens, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/100

Sometimes those moments are posed, but you just wait for the moment when they are into it rather than stiff and just posing.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 2800, ƒ/1.8, 1/100

Why I prefer Nikon D5 over Fuji X-E2

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 25600, ƒ/4, 1/100

First of all before you jump to sure a $6,500 camera should be better than a $1,500 camera this is more about the features than the prices. 

I can tell you are not going to hear that I love it because it weighs so much. This is one of the reasons I own the Fuji X-E2 system. Spending a week in London walking everywhere would have been a real pain carrying my Nikon gear.

Now the bride and groom asked me to take a photo with the groom’s grandmother. Now there wasn’t a shot list so I had to be ready for every situation. This is why the Nikon D5 is the go to camera for most all my client jobs. I was able to quickly just get a custom white balance and then click the photo at ISO 25600. The lens was wide open and I was shooting at 1/100. The lens has image stabilization as well.

To do this with the Fuji with available light would have me shooting at ISO 6400 and 1/25. I am not a fan of slow shutter speeds with people when I prefer a sharp photo.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 22800, ƒ/4, 1/100

As a friend of the family I was also at the rehearsal and thank goodness. I was then completely aware of how dark the church was going to be for the wedding.

Now when they mentioned they wanted to have everyone in attendance in a group photo I wanted to be sure you could see everyone clearly, so I just used strobes for that photo.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200–[2] Alienbees B1600 triggered with the Posketwizard TT1, TT5 system.

Now another thing is the flash system of the Nikon is far superior to the Fuji. So I was able to use fill flash for some of the photos of the bride and groom outside due to the overcast.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200–Nikon SB-900 TTL

Today I believe it is difficult to find the one camera system that does it all, but my Nikon D5 is that camera for me and if it was light as my Fuji X-E2 then I would only on it for all my work. However, for those times I need a camera but don’t want to lug my Nikons I use the Fuji.

How to use flash and not get a black background

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/10 – Nikon SB-900

One of the most difficult things to shoot for many beginners in photography involves shooting in a very dark location with a flash.

Cameras will pick the lowest ISO when you use a flash as their default. What happens is then the background is black and the subject is well exposed at best. However in the case of this wedding photo the couple is walking out into the dark being back lit.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/8 – Nikon SB-900

The trick is to set the camera as if you were shooting without a flash which is to use a high ISO. Here I set the camera to ISO 10000. Then the flash was set to fire on TTL slow shutter sync. This means the flash fires immediately at a extremely fast duration and then the shutter stays open longer.

Nikon SB-900 Flash Duration

1/880 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output
1/1100 sec. at M 1/2 output
1/2550 sec. at M 1/4 output
1/5000 sec. at M 1/8 output
1/10000 sec. at M 1/16 output
1/20000 sec. at M 1/32 output
1/35700 sec. at M 1/64 output
1/38500 sec. at M 1/128 output 

With my choice of ISO 10000 the flash on TTL was probably firing at 1/16 power or less. So this is why in the photo above of the couple walking there is a blur around them due to the shutter being open for 1/8 sec yet the flash froze them at about 1/10000.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/5 – Nikon SB-900

 Now notice as they walk from the church where the lights in the background are still impacting the exposure to the car the scene is getting darker. We have moved from 1/10 to 1/8 and then finally shooting at 1/5 to get the background to show up.

If you want to be sure you show where your subject is for reference then use slow shutter speed sync with the ISO set to where you could make photos without the flash. 

When you travel with Super Stars you need off camera flash to make them look good

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/250—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 

I am traveling with the famous Chick-fil-A Cow Mascots this week. They are traveling around promoting Cow Appreciation Day this Friday.

Click here to learn more

Dress head to hoof as they like to say at Chick-fil-A and get a free meal. Wear some Cow Attire and get a free entree.

Now let me tell you how I made the top photo. I had two VALS holding the two hot shoe flashes on either side of me. [VALS stands for Voice Activated Light Stand]

Without the flashes the cows would have been somewhat silhouetted and by adding the off camera flash I was able to keep the color temperature on them daylight and then also keep them bright enough to keep the rich colors in the background.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/4—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 

Very similar lighting setup, just I am have a subject close to me blocking the light to the left. I dragged the shutter to 1/4 to be sure you saw the photo he was making on his phone.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/4—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 

Here you can see one of my VALS holding the hot shoe flash. The other VALS is behind me pointing at the cow. If you look at the Cows eyes you can see the reflections of the two flashes. Notice the shadows on the concrete. This tells you they were all backlighted and the flashes made a huge difference.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/4—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 

Here I am behind the flashes and you can see the other VALS here in the foreground. The other VALS is further to the left in the photo.

I don’t generally use these last two photos where you can see the flashes, but kept them to show to you so you can see how simple this is to do.