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Old May 26th, 2011, 10:57 AM   #1
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Dealing with backlight

This was the condition at the wedding last weekend, strong backlight behind the head table. I was wondering what everyone else would have done, gone through the effort of getting lights out? Or are lights not powerful enough to help out in this situation. Or just deal with it by doing tight crops or wide takes? Any input appreciated, thanks.

http://fiskephotography.smugmug.com/...2DcBksp-XL.jpg
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Old May 27th, 2011, 09:19 AM   #2
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Re: Dealing with backlight

That is a challenging shoot I must admit, even with 1K lights it won't be enough to off-set the sunlight. I have been in a similar situiaton, the head table was behind a lake and it was a lunch reception. The best I could do was shoot on the side & do a tight zoom.

My 2 cents!
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Old May 27th, 2011, 09:45 AM   #3
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Re: Dealing with backlight

Yeah I get this a lot. As Noel said, slide to the side, shoot tight and manually adjust the exposure for the skin then just let the background blow out. Nothing else you can do.
You'd probably need a bank of 6 or more 1ks to overpower the backlight and I guess we all know that ain't happening.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 09:51 AM   #4
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Re: Dealing with backlight

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Originally Posted by Greg Fiske View Post
This was the condition at the wedding last weekend, strong backlight behind the head table. I was wondering what everyone else would have done, gone through the effort of getting lights out? Or are lights not powerful enough to help out in this situation. Or just deal with it by doing tight crops or wide takes? Any input appreciated, thanks.

http://fiskephotography.smugmug.com/...2DcBksp-XL.jpg
Greg, the MOH and BM actually stood in a pretty good postion for you. You could have had your back against the window and used the naturaly light to your "advantage". Of course you wouldn't see the bride and grooms face unless you had 2 cameras. As a one person crew, I'd have one camera on a tripod pointing into the window to get the shot you show here, then I'd take a 2nd cam and stand with the windows at my back and shoot the MOH and BM using that natural light. You were lucky, the MOH and BM usually stand directly behind the B&G.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 10:43 AM   #5
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Re: Dealing with backlight

I just added this to my list of things to mention to the bride while the wedding is still being planned. If back lighting is taken into account, a different layout can often be used. One of the worst back light problems I had was at the Capitol Club in San Jose. The entire ceremony was in front of a bright window.

This is also something that is a good input for your wedding planner friends. If they are aware of the back light problem, they can help avoid it also.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 04:27 PM   #6
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Re: Dealing with backlight

I feel for ya on this one. I did a wedding last year that was outside under a tent ... about 98 degrees and the sun was at their backs. There was no way to shoot between them and the sun so we had to take it head on. Much of my footage looks similar, but as mentioned ... keeping a tight shot and exposing for skin was all we could do.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 04:47 PM   #7
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Re: Dealing with backlight

Quite often venues have blinds of some sort which you can request be utilised, at least for immediately behind the couple. Then get the room lights turned up if appropriate.

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Old May 29th, 2011, 05:24 PM   #8
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Re: Dealing with backlight

What Don said is what you must do. You "should" have moved to the left so you were not pointing at the window, and then zoom in as needed with a tight shot of the speaker.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 06:22 AM   #9
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Re: Dealing with backlight

I find it can be more tricky when there is strong cross lighting such as this shot below.

It was in a room with floor to ceiling windows without blinds or curtains, it was not possible to move the table. Just as they started the speeches the sun came out at this very acute angle and it's beam slowly moved along the line of the top table. Each person went in and out of the beam or the shadow of the window frame. Even tightly cropped it was difficult to keep one from burning out or the other from being in deep shadow.
I have a couple of venues around me where this can happen at certain times of the year. And a couple of churches as well where if the sun comes out it's almost as if a spotlight is shining through a high window hitting the spot where the bride is standing just as they start their vows. The result is the bride lights up like a light bulb. Stopping down for her the groom is lost in the shadows, opening up for the groom burns the bride right out.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 06:26 AM   #10
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Re: Dealing with backlight

George, I feel for you. I've been there-done that. No matter what you do you know you'll end up working hard in post. Having said that, the still you posted looks pretty darn good and if that's what the entire video looks like you did well my friend, I certainly wouldn't complain about the look at all but I really do people would put just 1 minute of thought into some ot the things they plan for at a wedding like table placement during certain times of year. <sigh> I guess that's why they pay us the big bucks.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 06:33 AM   #11
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Re: Dealing with backlight

Thanks Don. It did take a lot of pulling in post to get that. On the day the people in shadow looked completely lost on the monitor. The worse was when the best man was speaking, he rock backwards and forwards, one second in the light the next in the shadow, some shots there's just a nose poking out of a dark cavern.
No matter how long you do this job for or however much experience you have there are still situations that will tax us.

Last edited by George Kilroy; May 30th, 2011 at 07:51 AM.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 07:31 AM   #12
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Re: Dealing with backlight

Nice save George!!
I too have had some really scary ones!!! The bride thought the ceremony would be great with the sun behind the bridal party (so it doesn't shine in our eyes!!) They forget that we are on the other side fighting with exposure.... Over here we have a lot of civil weddings in Gazebo's designed for the purpose in most Wineries....the entrance always seems to be facing East so we usually have an afternoon wedding with half the bridal party in the shade and half in the sun AND it's changing all the time!!! Last weekend I shot in a Church with a snow white wall behind the altar and a window high up opposite with illuminated the wall like a giant floodlight!! Then again at least I did have even lighting over the couple as only this megabright wall was the problem.

If only couples would think a bit when arranging a ceremony...that's why I always turn up to a rehearsal ...if I do see an issue at least I can make a few suggestions on a new position without ruining the bride's careful plan

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Old May 30th, 2011, 08:36 AM   #13
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Re: Dealing with backlight

This is what it looked like on the monitor.


To expose for the bride would have been like the second image.
Attached Thumbnails
Dealing with backlight-original-exposure.jpg   Dealing with backlight-over-exposed.jpg  


Last edited by George Kilroy; May 30th, 2011 at 10:51 AM.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 10:23 AM   #14
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Re: Dealing with backlight

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Kilroy View Post
This is what it looked like on the monitor
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Fiske View Post
This was the condition at the wedding last weekend, strong backlight behind the head table. I was wondering what everyone else would have done, gone through the effort of getting lights out? Or are lights not powerful enough to help out in this situation. Or just deal with it by doing tight crops or wide takes? Any input appreciated, thanks.

http://fiskephotography.smugmug.com/...2DcBksp-XL.jpg
Greg, when something happens at a wedding that I can't control, I have a saying.. "It is what it is'.
Hope this helps.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #15
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Re: Dealing with backlight

Hey that's what I say too! Must be the videographer creedo. ;-)

George, it's too bad you couldn't combine the 2 then you're post workload might have been cut in half.

I really just wish people would think a bit before they act. That would make our lives so much easier.
(I'll keep wishing)
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