Patty and I were invited to attend the wedding ceremony for the daughter of some friends of ours. The event was to take place at 3:00 pm on November 5, 2017 at Shadow Creek, a wedding venue in Purcellville, VA. The ceremony was to be followed by a cocktail hour (while photos were taken of the wedding party), and then a reception that would go well into the night. In addition to the great time we had at this event, it provided the opportunity to watch some professional photographer/videographers at work, and also to take a few photos myself.
For the photos that I took, I wanted to make sure that I stayed out of the way of the hired photographers. But the bride’s family was interested in having some photos available sooner than most wedding photographers would be delivering final prints, so they ask me if I would help to fill that void. So my goal was to take a few photos and try to get them from my DSLR to my iPhone, and posted on Instagram as soon as possible.
The morning of the wedding was overcast with a light drizzle that ended in the early afternoon. Temperatures were in the low 60’s, and sunset would be at 5:04 pm. As it turns out, the area where the cocktail hour took place was on a covered porch that extended the length of the building, so it was fairly tight with guests.
I really limited the amount of time that I spent with a camera in my hand (Ok, its hard to dance and take pictures at the same time.). Here are the photos I kept:
1. Equipment & Settings
With the way the weather was shaping up on the day of the wedding, it appeared as though most of the activities would be held inside. If the wedding itself, and in particular, the wedding party photos were shot inside, then the wedding photographers probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I was shooting flash photography of the other guests in the same room at the same time. So in order to limit my need to use flash, I made sure to bring all of my largest aperture (f/1.4) prime lenses with me. I set up my Nikon D500 cropped-sensor DSLR with a NIKKOR 28 mm f/1.4 prime lens as my default, because it would provide close to the perspective of someone who was in the scene being photographed (The 28 mm lens on a cropped-sensor DSLR provides the equivalent field of view of a 42 mm focal length lens on a full-frame camera.). I also brought the 50 mm, 85 mm, and 105 mm f/1.4 primes with me so that I would be ready for situations where it was more appropriate to be standing off at a distance, and also for close-ups. And I also packed my NIKKOR 70-200 mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens, just in case.
From looking at the photo galleries for other events that took place at Shadow Creek, the lighting appeared to be pretty reasonable, such that I might be able to use f/1.4 lenses with no flash, as long as I was close to the subject, I kept the aperture wide open, and I used a slow shutter speed (1/125 second minimum to prevent blurring). But what I noticed was that most of the photos that did not use flash were missing striking catchlights in the subjects’ eyes. Also, since there were lots of tiny lights wrapped around the pillars in the Great Room, there was quite a bit of backlighting that would have to be overcome to make the faces stand out against that backlighting. So, it seemed like I should plan to use flash whenever I could, but in order to keep as low a profile as possible, I decided that I would limit myself to on-camera flash only (‘Not my favorite.).
I expected that I would be taking photos of groups of 2 to about 8 people, and for the smaller groups, there would probably be cases where I would want to capture some of the surrounding context. In order to quickly switch between these situations, I decided to pre-configure my two Nikon SB-5000 speedlights with the appropriate settings and light modifiers for two different scenarios.
For the case of taking group shots, where I still wanted to generate catchlights, I configured one SB-5000 pointed upward and zoomed to 28 mm with a Rogue Large FlashBender (curved forward). I set the flash to Manual control at 1/128 power. I tested this ahead of time, and it seemed to be about right for the range that I would probably be shooting with the 28 mm f/1.4 prime.
For taking shots of individuals or couples in context, I configured the other SB-5000 pointed forward and with a Rogue Grid with the 25-degree (TBR) insert. I set the flash zoom to 135 mm, and the control mode to Through The Lens (TTL) control with flash exposure compensation set to -2.0 EV.
|Flash ID||Model||Articulation||Modifier||Zoom||Control Mode|
|A||Nikon SB-5000||0 degrees||Rogue Grid, with 45 degree grid insert||135 mm||TTL, -2.0 EV|
|B||Nikon SB-5000||90 degrees||Rogue Large FlashBender, cupped to point forward||28 mm||Manual, 1/128 power|
I only ended up using Flash A, and it seemed to work pretty well for what I was doing.
I’m not sure why I had the exposure compensation to -1.0 EV.
I probably should have used a Color Temperature Orange (CTO) gel on the flash, so I could set the camera to Tungsten white balance to compensate the entire scene for the orange hue.
But I wasn’t thrilled with how imprecise the attachment of the Rogue Grid was to the flash unit. It seemed like there was a lot of inaccuracy in how the grid was pointing relative to the flash bezel. I think a better solution would be the MagMod line of light modifiers. They mount to the flash using a snug-fitting silicone band, which has embedded magnets in it. This can be mounted precisely so that the magnets are aligned with the bezel of the flash. Then grids and gels can be magnetically attached to provide precise alignment to the flash unit.
2. Don’t use TTL flash control if there is backlighting
The options for controlling the intensity of the Nikon SB-5000 flash are either by: 1) manual control, where TBD, 2) TBD, or 3) Through The Lens (TTL) control, where TBD. Of these, Manual control will be insensitive to backlighting, but you have to know ahead of time exactly what flash power setting you’ll need.
For the shots above, I used TTL control. Unfortunately, it appears that the camera sensor was detecting the lights on the wall behind the subjects, and therefore reduced the flash power, in some cases such that you can’t even tell if it was triggered.
I need to figure out how this happened.
3. Transferring Files from Camera to iPhone
Due to the number of times when I’ve thought that I was taking decent photos only to discover after I got home that I hadn’t used the best camera settings, I had been looking for an easy way to get photos off my camera to allow me to review them for quality on a larger monitor in near real time.
At one point, I had tried using an HDMI cable to connect the HDMI output signal from the camera to a TV monitor. It looked like this solution was going to work pretty well, but what I found was that the TV was very poorly calibrated to the camera signal, such photos that looked pretty good on the monitor were actually unusable.
Then about 4 months before this wedding, I ran across this device called CamRanger. CamRanger connects to your camera’s USB interface, so that as you take photos, your camera delivers them to that interface, the CamRanger receives them, and then broadcasts them to an app on your iPad or iPhone via a wi-fi hot-spot connection. I did a good amount of research on the device and found that it was well regarded, if not the leading solution for wirelessly tethering your camera to other devices.
Seeing that it had been around for a couple of years, I delayed purchasing it until a few weeks before the wedding, just in case a later, more capable model was released.
I found the CamRanger to be a little tricky to set up. First, you have to register the serial number with the CamRanger app.
The CamRanger app is a little tricky to set up. The typical setup is as follows:
- Turn on your camera.
- Turn on the CamRanger router, and wait for the device to boot up (indicated by the transmitter light going solid green).
- On your iPad or iPhone, open the iOS Settings app, and set the Wi-Fi connection to “CamRanger-APK”.
- On your iPad or iPhone, start the CamRanger app.
Luckily, your iPhone or iPad can be used to connect to the cellular network at the same time that it is connected, via Wi-fi, to the CamRanger. This rather tricky setup is what allows you to switch your iPhone’s connection from wi-fi to the CamRanger to the cellular network so you can post the photos to Instagram, Facebook, etc. Unfortunately, every time you switch this connection Instagram, Facebook, etc. in order to upload photos, the wi-fi connection to the CamRanger is lost. It will re-establish the link automatically, but it takes about TBD seconds. In other words, its better to upload photos in batches.
To get the cellular link to work …
So, one might ask, “If I’m going to upload photos in batches anyway, why don’t I just load them on my phone directly from the camera’s SD card?”.
The USB cable is too short. Its long enough such that I could have put the CamRanger in the breast pocket of my shirt, but it was not long enough to attach it to a belt. Personally, I don’t like having radio frequency transmitters, of unknown power, up against my body. So, I just used the small carabiner on the case to attach it to the cable, which I looped around a bracket that is usually used to extend a speedlight farther away from the camera to avoid red-eye.
I appears that Apple no longer sells the SD Card reader.
I tested all three of these solutions, and they all worked with both my iPhone 5e and iPad Pro 9.7.
I tried posting photos to Instagram directly from the CamRanger app, but I found it to be a bit of a kludge. Instead, I set up the CamRanger app to download photos directly to my iPhone photo library, and then I would just upload the photos to the @maggieswedding2017 Instagram account using the Instagram app directly.
CamRanger for real time photo sessions.
As it turns out, I really didn’t need to post photos in near real time, and I would convince myself that I didn’t need a larger monitor (iPad) to assess them in real time either.
4. Posting Files from iPhone to Internet
I figured that the quickest way to share photos with the attendees and interested non-attendees would be to use Instagram and/or Facebook. The CamRanger iPhone app not only allows you to transfer files from your camera, but it also allows you to post photos on Instagram, Facebook, DropBox and other options as well. Since I wasn’t planning on having a laptop with me, and because I didn’t think people would want a whole bunch of Facebook posts streaming in (The CamRanger app also provides the option to post photos to a Facebook album, but I don’t think the followers would be notified.), I figured that Instagram would be the simplest to implement.
So, then the question was how to handle this on Instagram. One option would be to post photos to one of my existing Instagram accounts (@richfinkfamilyphotography would be the most appropriate.), and then apply a common hashtag so that others could post their photos on Instagram and be able to pull up all of the photos where anyone used that hashtag. But I probably wouldn’t want to keep them there forever, since I would not have had a chance to edit them appropriately. So, that meant that I needed to set up a separate Instagram account. Doing so also requires a different email address, so I created firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hashtag ‘#maggieswedding’ was already in use on Instagram, so I checked and verified that #maggieswedding2017 was available.
I set up the account using a photo from Maggie and Daniel’s Shadow Creek wedding announcement. I titled it using their names, and I linked the account back to my richfinkphotography.com website.
I ended up posting 36 photos to this Instagram account. All of this turned out to be simple enough to do, so I could do it again in a pinch.