On any given wedding day we will find ourselves in a situation where we have very low lighting, typically during the reception. However, if a sunset wedding runs behind schedule for some unforscene reason (like the guest shuttle breaking down or a scattered 15min rain storm) then we have to be prepared to shoot the wedding with very little light. And yes on occasion we have a “Cray Cray” moment where we have to do what ever it takes to get the light. Here are a few things that help us capture a beautiful shot in low light.
*The Details – Only a few times have we walked into the reception venue, 20mins before the guest are invited in, and found it basically pitch black. Obviously our first go to is asking the venue staff to turn up the lights a bit for us. However, if this is not something they can do we simply pull out a Sunpak VL-LED-96 Compact Video Light. Its battery operated and comes in handy to light up the details.
*The Ceremony – Sunset wedding runs behind, what to do??!! Yes, this has happened to us. We have experienced a sunset wedding running behind because of a rain storm and due to the guest shuttle breaking down on the way to the wedding. Little things can happen, but we always remember to stay calm. The good news here is we had some time. With “time on our side” sort of speak, we quickly set up our external flashes on both sides of the wedding ceremony site so we could document the entire wedding beautifully. We have also invested in L-series fixed lenses so our f-stop can be dropped down to 2.0 or lower to capture some beautiful ambient light even after sunset.
*The Grand Entrance + Garter – Oh that moment when your lighting is all adjusted and the DJ is about to introduce the wedding party, then all of a sudden and already dimly lit vaulted ceiling reception room becomes pitch black… “Cray Cray” Moment! This same thing tends to happen during the garter. Again staying calm is the best bet. We have used three options at this moment:
1.) Run to the DJ and see if he has a spotlight that he can shine on each wedding party member as they walk in. Most DJs have lighting as well. Not only does this give us the light we need, but it also highlights the bridal party for all the guest to see. A win win for everyone.
2.) We pull our Sunpak back out and use it to give us enough light to focus + use our external flashes.
3.) We switch to manual focus. This takes practice, but once your comfortable with manual focus this can be a lifesaver.
*Dancing – If the lights get turned down super low during the dancing you can usually count on some source of spot lighting to be used by the venue or DJ. Most DJ’s and venues like to pull out strobes, disco balls and spots lights during the reception. We always leverage this light. For example: if I see a strobe its typically flashing to a pattern, I then use the beat of the strobe to time my shot. We always have our external flashes set up during all receptions and use the ceiling and walls to bounce our flash off.