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Welcome to our blog! We are a husband & wife photography team based in Madison, Wisconsin who document weddings & anniversaries for joyful couples who believe in marriage. This blog is a journal about real love stories, marriage & our own adventures along the way! We are so glad you're here — please stay awhile!

MAISON      CALEB

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All About Flash | Canon 600EX-RT | First Dance Photos.

September 9, 2015

Hey all! Caleb here : ) In this mini-series, All About Flash, we are going to take a look at some of the lighting systems we use during receptions, or during any other situation on a wedding day where we either aren’t able to use natural light, or don’t like how it looks. Today, we are kicking off with dancing photos!! I’ll admit that it took us awhile to develop our style of lighting for first dances/general dancing during a wedding reception, but now that we have a system down that we feel confident about, we figured we would share it in hopes to help others who are currently in the same boat we were in!!

To begin, we set up all of our flashes to communicate with each other via radio. One of the reasons we love + use the Canon 600EX-RT’s is because they are SO easy to use! It’s like they were made to communicate flawlessly with each other! We use one flash on-camera that we bounce off the ceiling or a nearby wall, + two other flashes off-camera on light stands. We set the flash ON-CAMERA to radio Master-GR mode. We prefer to use GR because it gives us complete control of the flashes.

To set the flash as Master-GR (See diagrams or Canon Reference link):

1.     Push Wireless Button until you see the word master pop up

2.     Push Flash Mode Button until you see the letters GR

We then set the other two flashes to SLAVE B + SLAVE C, respectively.

To do this:

1. Push Wireless button until you see either slave b or slave c

*Make sure LINK lights are green!

Green=Good:

Red=Bad:

Now that we have all the flashes turned on, we attach the ‘hot shoes’ that come with the 600EX-RT’s to our light stands + snap/secure the flashes in place. We then set up the flashes similar to the diagram below at about 45 degrees to the front on each side of us. One flash is feathered toward the center of the dance floor to enhance the couple, while the other is feathered on the background of the scene to even out the lighting on the people watching/ambient light. The off-camera flashes are also set at slightly different powers to achieve the look we want. *Note, we always try to stand by the DJ + shoot the couple dancing with their guests in the background since we figure they would rather have dancing pictures with guests in the background instead of the DJ in the background! : )

Once we have the flashes set up + turned on, its time to get the lighting dialed in. *Note: this is 100% situational based, but using this general system allows us to quickly get the lighting we want in ANY situation. We set our shutter speed to 1/160th because we like how the flash + shutter work together to freeze the action at this speed, + our aperture between f/2.0-2.8 to achieve the background blur we like for our images. Next, we start to balance the ambient light + flashes by taking test shots (Maison usually tests on me, which is the great thing about having a second shooter)! We then lock in our ISO (+ like to keep it as low as possible to avoid major grain), but find it’s usually between 640-1600 to get the background looking how we want it. Next, we set our off-camera flashes to Manual mode + adjust the power of each until we have them balanced the way we want.

To adjust flashes:

1.     Push the GR button (Fn Button 3)

2.     Use Select dial to scroll down to the flash you want to adjust

3.     Push SEL/SET

4.     Use Select dial to increase or decrease power

Once we have the off-camera flashes set where we want them to be, we adjust our on-camera flash. The purpose of our on-camera flash is to provide a front light to our subjects. We set our on-camera flash to ETTL Mode instead of Manual mode because we find it gives us the most consistent images with all of the moving around we do. We typically try to find something to bounce our flash off of (a white wall/ceiling) if we can, however if we can’t find anything white or neutral to use, we will flip up our bounce card. If the lighting needs to be turned up or down, we adjust the compensation +/- in 3rd stop increments.

To do this:

1.     Push the Fn Button 2

2.     Use Select dial to increase or decrease power.

Now we are ready to shoot away! We realize that this may seem like a lot of work when you first read it, but once you start to develop your own system (+ PRACTICE!!), it will become second nature + you will be able to set everything up really quickly!! The only thing holding you back then will be the time it takes you to walk across the room! ; ) As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments!! Please leave them below + we will do our best to answer them as quickly + thoroughly as possible!!!

We hope this was able to shed some light (haha!) on jut one of our lighting scenarios.

Gear Used:

Canon 5d mkIII, Canon 50mm f/1.2L, Canon 24-70mm II f/2.8L, Canon 600EX-RT (3x), Light Stands (2x)

Disclaimer: This set up is how WE do things + realize that it isn’t for everyone! We have also found a few situations where we prefer a different setup for dancing photos. There are no hard + fast rules for photography + we aren’t claiming to know everything. We simply want to share what we know + open up the floor for discussion so we can all grow together!

Business

  1. Cinnamon Wolfe

    September 11th, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Great post! Very informative. One question I’ve always had about two people shooting…who is triggering the flashes? Do you both have a flash on camera (master) and are you each controlling one of the lightstands? Or does one person not have any flash going on?

  2. Maison Engel

    September 11th, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Great question! Maison will be controlling both of the off camera flashes with her camera/flash. I will have one on my camera + will occasionally snap photos of guests watching the dances.

  3. Cinnamon Wolfe

    September 11th, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    ok perfect! I always wondered how that worked with two shooters. Thanks!!

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