This was a small, candlelit reception at a
restaurant with other people aside from
the wedding party, so flash was not permitted. How can you use found, ambient
light in a way that still adds dimension
and makes for a beautiful image?
This was actually an important moment, as the couple had eloped in New
York City [a different couple than the one
in scenario #3], and we were their only
two guests—and therefore became the
witnesses as well! This is a truly candid
shot of the bride and groom signing the
marriage license at the dinner where it
all occurred in a split second; there was
no setting them up, and we just had to
see what the light was doing, make that
calculation on our settings and grab the
shot in a matter of a second or two!
SETUP AND EQUIPMENT
In this case, our “equipment” was
the tiny tea light candle on the table!
Lens: 85mm | Shutter speed: 1/60
F-stop: f/1.4 | ISO: 3200
Maximizing that found ambient light of
the tea light candle was key—that’s why
we went with a much higher ISO and a
slower shutter speed of 1/60 to really let
that ambient light burn in on their faces.
The higher ISO on the D700 (this shot is
from a few years ago and that was the
body we were using at the time; we’re
both D4s now) added quite a bit of noise,
but we think it really works for this shot.
If you were in a scenario where you could
use flash, but still wanted it to feel like
candlelight, we would do that same basic
one-light setup with a 42-inch shoot-
through umbrella in the corner. We would
have it coming in from the right at about
a 90- to 120-degree angle. We would gel
the flash to match the candle light (in
case we wanted some of the images in
color) and we would go with a slow
shutter speed (somewhere in the range of
1/60 to 1/125) to let a lot of that
candlelight fill in quite a bit. We would
keep the flash settings low (1/32 or 1/64
power, depending on how far away the
corner was) so that it adds just a wink of
light and keeps the flash really subtle.
Lighting wizards Justin & Mary
Marantz are a Connecticut-based
husband-and-wife team whose wedding
work incorporates an editorial influence
of 1940s Old Hollywood.