There is an obligatory wedding that I have to do this coming weekend. I have to confess, I haven't shot weddings for quite a long time, actually the last was back in September. And, things have changed a lot, especially my gear.
Back then, my gear was more mobile and small. However, since last August I have been upgrading my lenses from High Grade F2.8-3.5 zooms to Super High Grade F2 zooms. The transition was rather quick, with the dual F2 zooms acquired by October. My rationalization into these lenses was more of need rather than want. I really need F2 aperture to cope with low lightings, and the shallow depth-of-field provided by F2 to F2.8 range is just exquisite for my workflow. I don't really need F1.4 for now, and maybe never.
The major penalty for large aperture is weight and size. But, with F2 aperture, I essentially have multiple prime lenses. And they are really great!! The promise of tele-centric design in the E-system philosophy also guarantees very good performance from wide open aperture to F11; this is just before diffraction kicks in. Well, this is superb because there's a lot aperture range that is highly usable for high quality output.
Around January of 2009, I added the E-30 body to my setup and later the Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0 ultra wide lens. With the already acquired Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 Macro a couple of years ago, my dual-camera setup is complete.
Olympus E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 & FL-50R
This will be the workhorse camera; thus the focus is on lightweight body and high powered flash unit
The wedding in discussion is my sister-in-law's. Yeah, you know what that means! Ultra-high expectations!!
The solemnization will be on Friday night, around 8.30pm, at my in-law's house. This is the most auspicious occasion for a Muslim wedding, all the focus will be on the bride and groom. It is a very closed event, with only family and closest friends and neighbours in attendance.
I will be in a very cramped situation to move around in such a small space; the main hall being about 18 feet wide with 20 feet long. Every other part of the house will be similar or smaller. Now, that's very challenging when you add another scores of people in attendance! It's like stuffed in a sardine can!!
Inevitably, that's the challenge for every wedding photographer in most situations. Unless the couple is from a well-off family, chances are it will be a cramped affair.
Luckily the next day will be a bit relaxed for me as the couple has engaged an official wedding photographer for the reception. This is the full blown event with many guests in attendance from both sides of the family. I will take a back seat approach and shoot a minimalist style. It's not good practice to be in the way of the official photographer. The good thing is the location will be at a community hall that provides seatings up to 300 guests. At least there's a lot of space for me to move around to silently snipe with my 35-100mm lens!!
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED35-100mm F2.0, HLD-4 & FL-36R
This will be the backup camera, with the ZD ED7-14mm providing additional ultra-wide coverage.
My main concern is to optimize the system line-up to ensure my end-to-end workflow is not compromised in any circumstances. Selecting the combination of body, lens and flash is crucial so to ensure the shooting process is as fluid as possible. I did a few shooting scenarios in my house to simulate the scenes, and from the possible combinations I have arrived at the dual camera setup shown in the images above.
The other part of the workflow is definitely on the image parameters and post-processing requirements. In this instance, I have to synchronize all the shooting settings and parameters for both cameras to be identical so that the output will be consistent. For example, I will be shooting in Natural color mode with the Auto ISO setting maximum up to 3200. To combat the noise, I increase the Noise Filter setting from Low to Standard. Bottomline, I don't want to be bogged down with differing outputs and end up in front of the computer screen correcting hundreds of shots. These two activities are important to me. It ensures that my end-to-end workflow to be as smooth as possible.
To further cut a lot of post-processing time, I will be shooting in JPEG Large SuperFine that mimics TIFF-like output. The high accuracy of E-3 and E-30 Auto White Balance and skin tone colors also is the real strength. I do not have to shoot in RAW to be worried of inconsistent readings and outputs. JPEG workflows are much faster, too. This is great!!! Less memory space is used, more pictures can be taken.
Wedding photography is a hectic event, both during and after for the photographer. At the event, the photographer must be alert always for that once-in-a-lifetime moment. Most of the beautiful wedding images are emotionally charged; thus, shooting candid is the best way. Post-processing the images is another hectic event. The final presentation tells a lot about the wedding; and even the most sombre wedding can be presented into a quite happy occasion. The magic is in the hands of the photographer to convey the historic moment in the couple's lives.
The best way to achieve good results is to ensure the workflow works, and be prepared for anything. It's a wedding!! Enjoy!!!!!!