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Old November 9th, 2009, 03:48 AM   #1
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wedding speeches: massive windows behind head table

i am using an FX1. i don't use a light at the reception for speeches. what is the preferred method of trying to control the lighting when the couple, or speaker, is sitting/standing in front of a massive window letting in the brightest sun you've seen?

i guess a light on the camera would reduce that, but in the situation i was in the other weekend, my only position would have been reflecting the light right back into my camera...i had to strategiacally place myself so my reflection would not been in the shot (which would have only been noiceable once the sunlight started to dim near the end of the speeches.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 05:10 AM   #2
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zoom in tight, use backlight compensation feature (don't remember if FX1 has that or not), ride the manual exposure while trying not to get too much blowout... You'd need a mighty zippy light to beat strong daylight backlighting!
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Old November 9th, 2009, 06:43 AM   #3
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Don't stand straight on to the windows.
I get this in about 50% of receptions I do and unless you're pumping out at least 100W with a daylight filter on the light it has very little effect on the backlight so stand off to the side at an angle to the window and while it may not be the most flattering shot going, it is far better than shooting dead on into large areas of glass and strong backlighting.

FIRST thought do try to set an exposure as described by Dave but if you see that's not going to work which in many cases it won't then move to an angle. Not a profile but something 25 to 45 degrees off axis, then get in tight. You'll still have to compensate some but it won't be as big a swing in exposure.
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Old November 11th, 2009, 08:16 PM   #4
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thanks guys, those sound like great suggestions
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Old November 12th, 2009, 09:00 AM   #5
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I had a similar situation recently - the reception room had huge windows all around, and there was bright afternoon sunlight coming in from all over the place. The overhead lights helped a little... BUT most of the audience was of extremely dark complexion - native Africans living here in Atlanta, some travelled from Africa for the event. It was a very difficult shot, as the reception speakers moved around constantly.

I tried all of the above, but there was no way to do it right... corrected some more in post... I received no complaints about it...

[I was shooting with a Z1 - and yes, both the Z1 and the FX1 have back light, you need to assign it to one of the F buttons].
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Old November 12th, 2009, 09:46 AM   #6
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Would it be possible to place large neutral density gels (filters) on the windows ahead of time? Even a big roll of Home Depot grey "window tinting" would be better than fighting direct sun backlight, I'd think.
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Old November 12th, 2009, 12:04 PM   #7
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I have never worked in a venue where they would allow me to gel the windows at a wedding reception. Hell, some won't even let you close the drapes. Not to mention from a time standpoint there just isn't time to do something like that, although there have been many times I wish I could.
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Old November 12th, 2009, 02:08 PM   #8
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As Don says, if you've got time to fiddle with filtering the windows on a wedding shoot, you're not paying attention.

The FX1 does indeed have a backlight button but don't be tempted to use it - it's useless (unlike, funnily enough, the intelligent spotlight button).

Best thing to do in these circumstances is to accept that the windows will be blown out exposure-wise. Brace yourself for a galloping zebra onslaught and lock the exposure down by aiming the camera so that no window is visible in the v'finder, lock in that reading and re-frame the speakers.

Don't film too wide or the over-exposed windows will be too strong for the framing, though much better that than having silhouetted speakers and beautifully exposed lawns with strangers walking about on them.

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Old November 12th, 2009, 06:17 PM   #9
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Hi All

I try to insist (nicely!!) that the people doing a speech come up to a lectern at the reception and also try to have them put a fixed mic on the lectern so I can clip my radio mic to it. That way YOU can control where the speeches are done from with the best background. Also it stops the more animate speakers from running around with a handheld mic making them difficult to follow and light!!

I had one where they wanted to do the speeches at the bridal table and the wall behind was totally mirrored!!! Bad news for lighting!!! and the chance to easily get yourself in the shot!!!

Chris
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Old November 12th, 2009, 06:26 PM   #10
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Yep, mirrors and backlight. I don't know which is worse. However my advice for mirrors is the same as backlighting. Move to the side and shoot from an angle.
What I REALLY love are the headtables that are up on a 2 foot high platform. :-(
Since I'm only 5'6" and shoot with a DVMultirig, I end up shooting up their noses. Now put THAT with mirrors or backlighting and you got yourself a real nice can of worms! ;-).
Sigh, gotta love it!
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Old November 12th, 2009, 08:15 PM   #11
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Hey Don

If everything went perfectly we would have nothing to talk about!!! It's the difficult situations that make it interesting!!!

I had a shoot yesterday with the bridal party spread out on a huge garden staircase so the couple were pretty much 6' or more higher than the lawns!! It ain't easy working with your tripod at maximum extension (which is only 6' anyway)!! We had 30 degree heat (that's Celcius!!) an impending rain storm and hundreds of flies as the resort decided to coat the flower beds with fertilizer (the organic type!!!) plus about 99% humidity!

Who says that shooting weddings isn't interesting!!!

Chris
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Old November 13th, 2009, 12:53 AM   #12
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Since we record from in front and behind the couple we've often had the situation the OP describes. Unlike Tom we've found the Z1 backlight button a useful start though if the lighting's very extreme the iris is the only solution.

More tiresome was the recent reception held late afternoon in a white marquee with the sun effectively "behind" the top table from where the speeches were made. As the sun set so the light level and colour temperature changed - a nightmare in post.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 04:33 AM   #13
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A pallate load of 800 watt RedHeads comes to mind... :) that and manual iris control... and fixed colour temp setting..

Funny you should mention the fixed mike for the speeches. I had one client veto that saying a wandering mic would be better - until the issue of getting it on tape was raised. then he agreed..

Ben
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Old November 13th, 2009, 05:03 AM   #14
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Hi Ben

I had one wedding last season where the "funny man" decided to act like a motivational speaker and walk (even run) from one side of the room to the other!!
I normally have one cam on the speaker and then the other cam on my shoulder for cutaways. Following this guy was almost impossible even on the cutaways cam!!! I normally clip a radio mic to the fixed mic on the lectern so I had to rely on the 2nd cam's mic for audio and thru a PA is doesn't exactly sound great!!!

However I must admit that most behave well and stay put!!!

Chris
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Old November 13th, 2009, 05:12 AM   #15
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People are so unpredictable. When I've explained the necessity to 'stay in range' of my table top mic they've sometimes unclipped the house mic and wandered off with it amongst the guests, moving from table to table.

I actually think this is a good thing for speakers to do as it adds variety and keeps guests awake (is he coming over to our table next?). So now I use black masking tape to attach my tiny Samson radio mic directly to the house mic's body and get ace sound all the time.

Or do I? The unpredictability is still there - at a wedding last month the first speaker threw down the house mic (and mine with it of course) saying how much he hated such things. Of course his DVD audio will be forever blighted.

tom.
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