Speedliter's Blog is thrilled to feature elegant wedding photos by Philadelphia based photographer Matt Gruber. In this post Matt shares some of his tips for capturing gorgeous wedding photos including his off camera flash strategy for dark reception halls.
What gear did you bring to this shoot?
LENSES: I’m a minimalist when it comes to gear. I bring what I need, and don’t weigh down my bag with lenses that do nothing except take up space. I carry a Nikon 105mm f1.4, which is my favorite lens of all-time. It is so perfect for portraits. My Nikon 58 f1.4 is a wonderfully quirky lens. If you’ve ever used it, you know how… unpredictable it can be. It’s not the sharpest lens, but the character it produces is unmatched. My go-to wide-angle is my Sigma 24-35mm f2 Art. It is a work horse lens that I use more than any other lens throughout a wedding day. I also keep a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 in my bag in case I really need it, but I don’t think I’ve touched it in at least 2 years. I have a Nikon 60mm f2.8 Macro that I also bring in case I need it for a certain ring shot, but that’s another lens that usually goes months without being used.
MODIFIERS: MagMod is my favorite modifier company (disclaimer: I’m an ambassador, but it’s the truth). It is incredibly easy to use them and swap between modifiers. I bring a bunch of MagGrids, MagMod colored gels, MagSpheres, and MagBox softboxes with me to a wedding. Throughout the day I’ll use different modifiers depending on the situation.
STANDS: I bring 2 Manfrotto 1004BAC Air-Cushioned Stands with me. They are heavy, but work really well. Don’t forget weights or sandbags to keep them secure during receptions!
Why do you use the camera and lighting brands/systems that you use?
I’ve just always used Nikon since switching over to digital from film. For me it’s easier to stick with a brand and upgrade a body or lens every few years rather than swap out for a new system. For my lighting gear, I’m not married to any particular flash brand. Whatever gets the job done. For modifiers, I’ve replaced all of my old, difficult to assemble softboxes and grids for MagMod products. They work and are easy.
SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/500 | f4 | ISO 80
This was taken in the middle of the afternoon on a very bright and sunny day. Their venue was a science museum in Philly with a stunning view of the skyline. We had a short window of time to get photos on the roof before the ceremony started, so we had to work quickly. I exposed for the ambient light, and I already knew I was going to have to fire my AD200 at full power. I threw on a MagSphere to diffuse the light just enough, and from there adjusted the distance of my flash until it was perfect. Poses like this work well when you need to make adjustments, since the couple doesn’t move too much in between shots.
SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/100 | f6.3 | ISO 3200
For first dances and parent dances, I always make sure to get the safe shots first, or have my second shooter get them so I can get some different angles or compositions. Since this museum had really high ceilings, bouncing flash was not an option, and off-camera light placement was critical. I had 2 AD200’s off-camera, cross-lit on opposite sides of the dance floor. From there, I positioned myself in a spot that gave me optimal light coverage on the couple. You won’t be able to nail every shot, but when you do, it’s perfect.
SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/200 | f4 | ISO 4000
LIGHTS/MODIFIERS/ETC: Nikon D850, Sigma 24-35 F2.0 Art DG HSM, 2 Godox AD200s + MagMod MagGrids, Godox V860II-N on camera pointed up with bounce card
For cake cutting it’s always hit or miss in regards to how great or awful the location of the cake is. Sometimes the venue moves the cake to the center of the dance floor and you have more options for lighting, and other times they keep the cake in some tight corner and crowd it with people. Luckily for us, they moved it to the center of the room. Since this was the center of the room, my lighting was already setup from the formal dances, so I didn’t have to change anything. When I’m within a few feet of whatever I’m photographing during a reception, I like to use bounce flash to help fill in some of the shadows that can occur with strictly off-camera flash. While I couldn’t bounce my on-camera flash off of the ceiling, I was able to point my flash up and use the white bounce card. This doesn’t give off a huge amount of light, but it’s just enough to fill in some shadows and add a little bit more depth to the image.
What software or processes did you use for post-production & retouching?
I use Lightroom for most of my work and only use Photoshop if I need to remove any light stands or fix something stupid I did.
What do you like most about the final images? Is there anything you would do differently next time? I think the photos capture the setting of the wedding really well. I have no complaints about them, but every time I revisit a venue, I’ll try to do something a little different.