Crystal Lee 

photography

FAQ’s | Cameras, Lenses & Lighting

Jan 25, 2011

Welcome to the first edition of FAQ’s! I’d like to do these posts every few weeks, answering questions from both photographers and brides. I firmly believe that with education and awareness, we can raise the bar on this industry as a whole. Keep in mind that every photographer has their own way of doing things, so what you see here may not work for everyone. I’m simply putting in my 2 cents on how I do things in my own business.

The questions in today’s post came from photographers on my Facebook fanpage. If you’d like to ask questions of your own, please stop by the page and drop me a comment! 🙂

*drumroll please*

What’s your favorite lens?

It’s so hard to choose just one… it depends on the situation, really! I’m a Canon girl, and I absolutely adore the 85mm 1.2 for closeup portraits. The 100mm 2.8 Macro is my go-to lens for ring shots and newborn details. The 70-200mm is a fantastic lens to have during a wedding ceremony or a First Look, and the 28-70mm 2.8 is really wonderful for full length formal portraits on the beach. But if I absolutely had to choose one lens, it would be the 50mm 1.2. This baby very rarely leaves my camera body! It’s the perfect focal length for shooting wedding details, and I adore shooting wide open. My comfort zone falls around f/1.6-2.0, and the image quality from this lens at that aperture just can’t be beat.

What camera do you use?

I am the proud owner of a Canon 1D Mark III. 🙂 I upgraded about a year and a half ago from the 40D, and wow, what a difference! For starters, going from 9 focus points to 45 was ah-ma-zing. I shoot just about everything with the 1D, and I keep my 40D around as a backup. On the topic of backup gear, the best advice I can give to new photographers is this: Do not photograph a wedding on your own without a backup camera. Ever. You can’t do a reshoot on a wedding, and at some point your camera will stop working for one reason or another. I can think of at least 2 different occasions off of the top of my head that my main camera started acting up during the ceremony and I had to quickly switch to my backup. So be professional and get a backup. It will save you one day… I promise!

How did you learn to use your external flash?

Practice, practice, practice. The best way to learn is with experience! Strobist is an amazing resource when you’re first learning about light. When I first started using multiple flashes at wedding receptions, I had 2 Canon 580EX II Speedlights… one on my camera body set as the master, and one off camera set as the slave. This is a great system, as long your flashes stay in the same line of sight. When I wanted to move forward and be more creative, I purchased a set of PocketWizards. The MiniTT1 is fabulous because it’s very small, and attaches right to the hot shoe on my camera body. It also has it’s very own hot shoe built into it, so that I can plug in a flash on-camera without the use of messy cords or velcro. The FlexTT5 attaches to my 2nd flash on a lightstand. Understanding how your flashes and your camera work together is very important. Read your manual, read a few books on lighting if you need to… definitely stop by the Strobist blog and read through Lighting 101 and 102.

Here is an example of an image taken using this 2 light setup:

The flash is on a lightstand at camera left, right next to the DJ. My on-camera flash exposed for the subjects faces, while the off-camera flash added some beautiful backlight. Here is another image from the same wedding:

You can even achieve beautiful results using just one off-camera flash. This image was shot with one 580EX II on a lightstand, triggered by the PockerWizards:

And that wraps up the first official FAQ’s post! I hope I made some sense amid my rambling. 😉

Until next time… keep shooting, and stay fabulous!

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