Monolights for wedding reception

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by epicwelshman, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    Apr 6, 2006
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    Nassau, Bahamas
    #1
    I'm shooting a big wedding on Saturday, the biggest I've done so far.

    The reception is outdoor, but tented. I was thinking of setting up my two monolights in opposite corners of the tent, bouncing into the tent with reflectors. I figured this would save me from using a flash on-camera, and may give some nicer light?

    The other option is flagging/bouncing an on-camera SB-600, depending on the situation, which may make me more mobile?

    Any advice?
     
  2. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #2
    Some people find the overall lights too much.

    It's good to have some smaller flash (I got 2) in your bag for backup.

    You need radio controlled receiver for the lights, as you don't want someone with a point and shoot setting off the lights. I got some pocket wizards for that.
     
  3. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #3
    I have two monolights, two SB-600 flashes, and wireless triggers for the monolights.

    My question really, is what will provide the better light: monolights being able to bathe the whole area with light, or single flashes which can be easier controlled?
     
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #4
    "better" is subjective... I personally would use monolights to raise the light level and give better direction (no raccoon eyes), and use a hotshoe flash for when the subject is being backlit.
     
  5. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I have shot a few weddings with strobes for a different effect. They allow you to get some shots that would otherwise be impossible (group dance shots come to mind), but the glowing ceiling and bright room is a giveaway that they were used. They do give you the power to shoot a rapid series of shots that can be good in moderation though. The shots definitely lose a lot of the atmosphere of the room.

    Try to setup the lights in two corners along the same wall, you need to be able to keep the lights out of the frame or you will have a giant blown out portion of the image. If you set them up in opposite corners, you will almost always have a light in the picture.

    Definitely get wireless transmitters or every other wedding patron will end up with just white pictures. If you use a cable triggered transmitter (ie a pocket wizard hooked up with a pc cable), it is easy to switch between on camera and off camera flash (pull cable & switch on flash). The wireless transmitters I use are hotshoe only (with no power switch), so switching requires pulling off the transmitter and sliding the off-camera cord in.

    It is good to play and I am glad I have some experience with the big lights, but I still prefer local flash on a stroboframe (large, tried a small one and hated it) with a diffuser for the majority of the shots. That maintains the atmosphere in the room but still softens the light some.

    Make sure you get the lights set up plenty early as it will take some fiddling to get reasonably even distribution (and level) and avoid strange shadows. I normally set one light to give me ISO 400,f4,1/125 and the second 400,f4,1/60 (roughly at the center of the action). That gives me some room to adjust exposure by changing shutter speed (or ISO) and some definition to the light. I am still not perfectly happy with the setup, but I have used it a few times and gotten some decent shots. Btw, I set everything up for ISO400 so that when I switch to the on camera flash, it doesn't have to work as hard. Changing ISO back and forth is slow and easy to forget.

    Good luck.
     
  6. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #6
    I can't use the lights in conjunction with my flashes - my transmitter is shoe mounted, and my receivers use PC cords for the strobes and a hotshoe connector for the flash. It's either all flash, or all strobe (though obviously I can switch out the transmitter for the flash at times).
     
  7. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #7
    A single monolight would be a good addition if the room needs an overall boost in lighting. That said, you wouldn't want to overdo it with the monolights, since you'll lose contrast if the whole scene is lighted the same way.

    Is there a possibility of using bounced hotshoe flash? I find that this is often a good strategy for these types of events, since most speedlights are powerful enough to be used like this in moderately-sized venues, and will give you a nice contrast if used properly.

    Neil van Niekerk is the king of on-camera bounced flash wedding photography. Read his tutorials and prepare to learn a LOT:

    http://neilvn.com/tangents/

    If you have a DLSR capable of good high ISO performance, a good setup would be a single monolight in one corner and an on-camera speedlight for fill flash or bouncing. Alternatively, considering putting the monolight more toward the centre of the room and firing it into the ceiling to lift the overall light level, and also using a bounced speedlight.

    You'll definitely need radio triggers; too many point and shoots going off. Optical triggers work only in the studio. If you're using a shoe mount flash in ETTL mode, remember that you have to compensate for the monolight, since it will not be factored in to the ETTL calculations.

    This (and portability) is why I exclusively use speedlights (controled with wireless ETTL) at events; not the most powerful solution (and they eat batteries), but easy to customize and when you're moving around a lot, ETTL is a huge life-safer!
     
  8. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #8
    In that case, I'd go with all flash. For me, fill flash is huge, and that means having something on the hot shoe at all times.

    Being a strobist is nice, but bounced flash can also work very well.
     
  9. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #9
    Alright, so flash it is at the reception. I had a feeling flash would be the general consensus, but I just got the monolights recently and wanted an excuse to use them ;)
     
  10. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #10
    Isn't that always the way? ;)

    Monolights are great for controlled shoots, but you just can't beat flashes for portability and ease of use when you really need it (esp. with wireless ETTL).
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #11
    You might be able to find a PC Sync to HS adapter that would allow you to trigger both at the same time.
     
  12. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #12
    What do you mean?

    My transmitter for my wireless remotes sits in my hotshoe. I can certainly switch between an on-camera strobe and wirelessly triggered monolights, but I'm not sure how to do both simultaneously.
     
  13. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    You run a cable from your pc port to the hs adaptor which provides you a remote hotshoe to attach your wireless transmitter. Tape the whole ordeal on the body and you have both remote and on camera flash simultaneously.
     
  14. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #14
    Sadly, that's not gonna happen. The D90 has no PC port.

    What I'm gonna do is stick with mostly on-camera bounced/flagged flash, while having my monolights up and ready for the occasional experimentation.
     
  15. pprior macrumors 65816

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    Aug 1, 2007
    #15
    I'm sure this goes without saying, but monolights on a stand are a potential source of major liability (here the litiginous USA). Sandbag them, safety strap the top, tape all cords, and keep small children away. Liquid flying into them (nah, that never happens at a wedding reception...) can cause flying glass. At least a million in liability insurance. If you can't do all of those things, I would definitely leave them at home.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
    An adapter with a PC Sync port and hotshoe costs about $7.00.

    Paul
     
  17. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #17
    I know it never hurts to be prepared, but... seriously? I was planning on Strapping the lightstands to the tent poles, weighing the base and taping the cables.

    Now you have me worried... :)

    The problem here is availability. No way to get one in time. I'll pick up a couple for before my next wedding.
     

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