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01-06-2015, 12:14 PM   #1
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Wedding at Night in a Solarium. Advice on lighting it.

Hello all,

Here's the scoop. I got a contract to shoot a wedding in that will take place in a solarium (with all glass walls and ceiling). Problem is, the ceremony takes place at 7pm and thus it'll be pitch black outside at that time. Call me crazy, but I don't think I'll have much luck with bouncing light off of the ceiling of a glass house!
I checked out the location ahead of time and, unfortunately, interior lighting is also quite dim; so, I'll be lighting it with a set of strobes on light-stands. Since the wedding is not in a church nor is it performed by a priest, I don't have any lighting restrictions placed on me. I was hoping that someone out there has shot in a similar condition and could offer some tips.

Here are my concerns:
1) Reflections on glass walls.
2) Blocking the view of guests with my softboxes.
3) Light output of my gear

What I've got in my kit to use:

2x 19ft/6m) lightstands
4x 12ft/4m lightstands
1x Boom & arm
5 manual flashes
Radio triggers
1 soft box
3 shoot through umbrellas of various sizes
1 white inside reflector umbrella that can be converted into a shoot through.

Here's a diagram of what I was thinking
Name:  Diagram.jpg
Views: 760
Size:  46.6 KB

Essentially, I'll have two flashes set up on my tallest lightstands with a softbox or a reflector umbrella cross lighting the bride and groom at 45. These two flashes will be on radio triggers in group A. When the bride and groom walk down the aisle I'll use an umbrella on a stand located at the end of the aisle set up on a different frequency (Group B). Thoughts?

01-06-2015, 12:25 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Unless they allow you (and you are willing to) cover all the ceilings in white paper, you have no choice but to setup a studio at the location.

Try and find a specific corner where you can setup your studio so is not in the way.
You might need a backdrop as well in order to get rid of the background reflections when doing group shots. As another idea, maybe in the area where you setup your studio, on the ceiling, you can cover the windows with some white paper and use it for bouncing to give a more natural light.

If you need to take pictures outside this corner studio, try and have your subjects away from the glass as much as possible so the reflections in the windows will be more of a blur. In the same time, you might be able to use the reflections in your shots and get some unique pictures... don't be afraid to experiment.

Worst thing that you will have to avoid is flashlight flares in the windows and hot spots.

Lights set on the isle... might be annoying for the guests since it might block some people's view... depends a lot on the setup and where the chairs are located.

Do you have some pictures of the actual location to have an idea of the inside?
Might help with suggestions on what to do if people have an idea how the location is set.
01-06-2015, 12:34 PM   #3
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Location: Seattle
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Difficult conditions for sure. Some wedding photos, especially of just the bride and groom, are also done at another time and place besides the ceremony. Perhaps try to arrange that for some of your shots.
01-06-2015, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Wow, that's a brutal scenario. I hope you charged them accordingly.

I think one thing I would do is stop by the location in advance of the wedding day, maybe just before dusk, and take some pictures with no flash, exposing so that the world outside is perhaps dim, but not completely in shadow. That way, if you get a great shot during the ceremony, but there is a reflection from a strobe in the windows, you can clone it out using the non flash version. Do not use auto white balance, set it and leave it! You'll need to have the camera in very nearly the same position for both shots, but it will give you something of a safety net. Sorry to say, this will create some work for you in post processing.

You'll probably have to put the strobes up high to be out of the line of sight of the guests, but too high and you'll end up creating dark shadows under the eyes on the participants. I think two bounce umbrellas are going to be your best bet, shoot-through umbrellas will be too distracting (you'll blind the audience), and softboxes will probably be too restrictive of the light.

Set up ahead of time, shoot in manual, pre-meter the lights, and double check your exposure by using a stand-in. You will do yourself a favor by moving the lights back as far as possible to minimize the fall-off you get due to the inverse square law. I know, I know, they won't be quite as soft, but contrasty light looks out of place in a wedding ceremony. Good luck.

01-07-2015, 01:02 AM   #5
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Thank you for the great replies.

mrNewt, your idea for the paper is a great one. I do have a roll of seamless white tucked in the closet that I could cannibalize for this project. I wouldn't have thought of using it in that way. Sadly, the ceiling looks like this: so I'm thinking that papering the ceiling wouldn't really be feasible on the day of. (The venue is a restaurant on other days) .
I'll definitely keep that trick in my back pocket though!

I'll be there before the setup to get my gear in place and primed before the main event begins. There's a 45 minute gap between the ceremony and the portrait shoot that I'll be doing earlier in the day, so I'll try to keep the altar several steps from the windows as you suggested.

maxfield_photo, I'll probably end up going with the bounce umbrellas in that case. I'll move them just off the aisles and bump the ISO up a bit (800-1600ish) I'll gel my strobes to match the tungsten ambient and drag the shutter a bit to get a decent fill. Hopefully that will highlight the clients without causing too much of a spotlight effect. Man, I'm glad to be shooting digital in times like these!

Again, thank you all for your input. I really appreciate you guys taking the time.
01-07-2015, 06:34 AM   #6
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I can see why they choose that location... it looks rather nice.

Now that I see how the place looks like, I'm not sure how you will put the paper on the ceiling since it seems to be rather high. That place looks like a strobist's nightmare .
Plan your angles. To avoid flash reflections in the camera, make sure that your camera doesn't end up in direct direction of the flash or is small bouncing path.

It sounds like a nice challenge but I have a feeling you will pull trough.
Come back and show us some pics of the aftermath . One thing is for sure, you have a lot of things to prepare before hand.
Good luck!
01-07-2015, 06:46 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gerbermiester Quote
Hello all,

Here's the scoop. I got a contract to shoot a wedding in that will take place in a solarium (with all glass walls and ceiling). Problem is, the ceremony takes place at 7pm and thus it'll be pitch black outside at that time. Call me crazy, but I don't think I'll have much luck with bouncing light off of the ceiling of a glass house!
I checked out the location ahead of time and, unfortunately, interior lighting is also quite dim; so, I'll be lighting it with a set of strobes on light-stands. Since the wedding is not in a church nor is it performed by a priest, I don't have any lighting restrictions placed on me. I was hoping that someone out there has shot in a similar condition and could offer some tips.

Here are my concerns:
1) Reflections on glass walls.
2) Blocking the view of guests with my softboxes.
3) Light output of my gear

What I've got in my kit to use:

2x 19ft/6m) lightstands
4x 12ft/4m lightstands
1x Boom & arm
5 manual flashes
Radio triggers
1 soft box
3 shoot through umbrellas of various sizes
1 white inside reflector umbrella that can be converted into a shoot through.

Here's a diagram of what I was thinking
Attachment 253084

Essentially, I'll have two flashes set up on my tallest lightstands with a softbox or a reflector umbrella cross lighting the bride and groom at 45. These two flashes will be on radio triggers in group A. When the bride and groom walk down the aisle I'll use an umbrella on a stand located at the end of the aisle set up on a different frequency (Group B). Thoughts?
I wouldn't use shoot through or reflecting brollies as the extraniuos light will reflect from the glass causing hot spots and nasty reflections.

I see 1 of two methods working
1 closely control the light using full reflectors/snoots and barn doors this will be inflexible but give a set area of good light with minimal light scatter
2 use diffusing soft boxes , these will bring all light forward and allow placement to light but not obscure the solarium

Something like



or reflectors
01-07-2015, 07:50 PM   #8
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I think those softboxes are just going to be too big, not to mention heavy. Having all that weight as high as it will need to be to avoid obscuring anyone's view will make the light stand extremely top heavy. Obviously you'll need to sand bag any light stand where someone might trip over it, but what happens when a softbox come crashing down on a wedding guest? Don't get me wrong, I use softboxes almost exclusively in the studio, but there is a time and place for umbrellas. And barndoors or snoots give relatively harsh lighting, and very little freedom of movement.

If Gerbermiester positions the lights high enough, the angle of incidence to the windows should direct any reflections down and away from the lens. Actually I had another thought: instead of showing up a day before the ceremony to get some "safety net" shots, in case he needs to photoshop out some reflections, he could just turn off his flash trigger for a moment and slow the shutter a bit, capture a shot of the world outside, and go back to shooting with flash with a normal shutter speed. That way, the "safety net" shots would be taken from exactly the same position as the actual shots, and it's one less trip out to the venue.

01-08-2015, 12:18 AM   #9
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: British Columbia
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Original Poster
Interesting ideas on both parts.

I think I'll end up working with a black backed reflector umbrella and a medium brollybox. That way I can light the groom with flattering, though slightly harsher light while getting softer light on the bride. If it's too harsh, I can always set up a white interior in the reflector umbrella and add the second baffle in the brolly box. Barn doored strobes would do the trick too, but my style of photography tends to stay away from that style of lighting. Just a preference thing, good ideas on both sides.

My 9-5 day job is that of a studio portrait photographer (university and high school, it pays the bills but ain't exactly stimulating) so I have a really strong grasp on controlling artificial light sources. That being said, this solarium location was a bit more than I was used to! I think that a high angle of attack with an extra handbag or two for good measure is the way to go.

Also, I'm thinking that composting with and without flash would yield some interesting results. Thanks for the tips!

Thank you to everyone for your input
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