PHOTOGRAPHY: Available light, Fujifilm Rescues the Day

A small but perfectly formed wedding where I was also actually a guest, a challenge in itself. Do I relax and enjoy myself and risk producing rubbish pictures or do I don the professional hat and thus not be part of the festivities?

A balance too far?

Possibly, but the issue was with the location, Ladywood Estate, Knossington, a beautiful country manor house and wedding venue, a truly wonderful place, unless of course, you are stuck inside because of the weather, like we were.

Don’t get me wrong, the place is just perfect as a wedding venue both inside and out, and the guests were pampered beyond any pampering they’d ever experience, I’d expect, but with the weather closing in, the cosy, comfortable location became very dark for the likes of us photographers.

The wedding, between Nicki and Paul, my in-laws (kind of), was of the very relaxed type. We’d stayed over and had a room upstairs which was handy as my flashes would be heavily used during the group stage, not something I usually do, I’m a prime lens, available light kinda chap, which reminds me of the David Bailey quote.

‘I always use available light, that’s any f*&king light that’s available’.

Well this was one of those days, only more so. When I say that I did not take a shot under 6400 iso, what I mean is that most were taken at 12800 iso, really it was as black as the proverbial pitch, as dark as night, as black as black can possibly be.

Thankfully, my cameras are able to cope, they are Fuji’s you see, the wonderful XT1 and the old but great X Pro1, both are superb in low light, both handle the grain exceptionally well, and both are as light as f*&k, as Mr Bailey would say.

Let’s get this straight, I don’t really like using flash, the answer to this particular problem. I prefer the rounded light that high contrast gives you, the ability to circumnavigate a subject to see how the lighting changes, to see if light streaming through a window can give a contre jour, or illuminate the side of a face to give it depth.

Flash, for me, kills this and I spend most of my time trying to soften the harsh light using various methods, so it’s available light 95% of the time for me. This, of course, is helped by my natural style of shooting pretty much wide open, often you’ll find me tutting to myself when a subject has depth, like a group, depth that forces me to stop down to f8, a no-go area where if I were ever to go beyond, I’d get a nose bleed.

But here today, beautiful fun filled wedding, beautiful location aside, f1.4 to f2 at around 60th of a second at 12800 iso means it was dark.

Then again, Fuji, you beauty, you gave me two cameras I really love, and that were made for this type of work. The X Pro 1, years ago I promised myself that should anyone produce a digital Contax G2 I’d buy one, also, if the classic Nikon FM2 was made digital I’d buy one, the XT1 appears. You have done just that, and they are superb once the minimal noise they produce has been tweaked in Lightroom.

There are some flash shots here, the groups were a couple of Speedlight 900’s with brollies and a three pocketwizards to trigger them, but other than those, everything else is available light.

And here is my point.

We wedding photographers have to make the circumstances we face work. We can’t say it was too dark, or too windy, or too noisy or too anything because we will be judged days later when the sun comes up again and the wind dies down or the noise subsides.

There are no excuses in wedding photography, all photography really. We are trained to get it right time and again, that is what we are employed to do.

This was a case in point, it was a struggle and a worry…

…but we got there.

Now, Fuji…about my other favorite camera, the Rollei 2.8f….


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