Let's Get Technical

Let’s Get Technical

Hello guys, Bryan here. So I have struggled mightily with writing this post and I'll try to explain why. I guess I have to tell you what the blog post is first.

Today I'm writing about technical questions you might want to consider asking your photographer although I absolutely believe you should never ask your photographer technical questions. Don't get me wrong you are the customer, and whatever you want to know to feel comfortable hiring a photographer you have the right to ask. However I don't know that most of my couples understand the answers I give them. In spite of what I think of the question it comes up a lot and I always wonder why they would want to talk about lenses and resolution rather than the pictures they want and how I plan to get them. So I'm going to use this blog post to document our commonly used equipments well as to point out what technical information you can use without becoming a camera geek.

Which 2.8 or faster lenses do you own?

There are a couple of wrinkles to this question but let's concentrate on the basic stuff first. So this is a basic lens description:

24-105mm f4

The italic part of the name refers to the focal length and we will touch on that in a second. The bold part of the name refers to the maximum aperture of the lens, i.e. the hole that opens to let light in. The smaller that number the bigger the hole. Why should you care how big the aperture is on their lenses? Because typically while the rooms look fine to your naked eye lots of churches and reception halls are dark, photographically speaking. Which can make for dark pictures. And since many churches don't allow flash photography during religious ceremonies it helps if you have lenses that let in as much light as possible.

I won't hire photographers that don't own 2.8 or faster lenses; and I specify own, not rent. There are photographers that rent equipment; heck for some of my studio engagements my clients rent equipment. The issue becomes what if the equipment suddenly becomes unavailable? Or it arrives broken or damaged. This happens far too often and you shouldn't have to suffer this calamity on your wedding day.

The first part of the number, the focal length of the lens, is also telling. Basically it says how far you can stand from something but still get a portrait style close up picture as well as how wide a picture that lens is designed to take. There are lots of lenses that have a 2.8 or better aperture but some of them require the photographer really be all up in you guys business to get a good photo (for example the 40mm 1.8). I will not hire a photographer who doesn't have at least a 24-70mm 2.8 and a 70-200mm 2.8. The 24-70mm 2.8 is great for portrait work and goes wide enough to get all but the biggest groups like so:

Roughly 50 people in this photo.

Roughly 50 people in this photo.

Meanwhile the 70-200mm 2.8 let's you shoot portraits from a distance, never having to be on top of the couple. The picture below probably looks like I could touch the couple but I'm about 50 feet from them. This is what good lenses give you.

A ring shot from almost 25 feet away

A ring shot from almost 25 feet away

How many cameras do you bring to a wedding and are they all the same kind? And what resolution do your camera's shoot?

This might seem like a silly question, after all how many cameras does one person need. But picture this: You've planned the perfect wedding. Everything has turned out just the way you like it. You and your bridesmaids or groomsmen are getting ready and here is your chosen photographer fresh faced and bush tailed, ready to capture your day starting with these getting ready pictures. But as they enter your suite they trip over an errantly placed bag and fall breaking their camera.

What if that's their only camera? And almost as bad what if it's their only professional grade camera? Are you going to be satisfied with amateur quality pictures if you were charged a professional price?

We bring 4 camera's per photographer, either Canon 5D Mark III's or 5D Mark IV's. I personally absolutely love my Mark III's but I'm trading them out as they age out simply because it's easier to buy new equipment at some point in the lifecycle. 

Now it may seem that you should only care about resolution if you plan to print pictures, and that is certainly an important consideration. But there are also a number of features that separate a professional or even prosumer grade camera from an amateur one. For the record prosumer refer's to hardware that is just on the cusp of being a professional grade piece of equipment. And rather than become a camera geek just know that you will start to see a host of professional level features and functions that will make a difference in your pictures at around the 10MP to 12 MP mark. 

What resolution do you pictures need to be?

Screen Shot 2018-12-26 at 7.16.40 PM.png

You can always ignore this chart if you like, there is nothing to prevent you from taking a low resolution file and printing it as large as you want. The chart is just a guideline for the largest size a picture will look as intended.

Do you use built in flash, hotshot flash or off camera flash?

There are three basic types of camera flash. The first is a camera with a built in flash. Its basically a little flashbulb built into your camera that is either always exposed or it pops up when needed. These kinds of flashes are typically a little less powerful than the flash on your phone and this is never an acceptable flash for wedding work. There are just to many pictures where this will have little to no effect. Think about how it comes out when you try to use you phone flash to light more than 3-4 people. Now imagine trying to light 40 family members of various heights and skin tones with it. If you are interviewing a photographer who tells you this is how they light their pictures I would politely decline their services.

Hotshoe flash is a flash that is designed to sit in a bracket on you camera. These can be flexible and powerful tools and I occasionally use my Profoto A1 hotshot flash at the reception where off camera flash is just to cumbersome. But for formals you are still going to be lacking in power if you use hotshot flash.

Off camera flash is professional quality lights you can use to basically light anything. Most print photography work you see in magazines is lit using off camera flash. In fact the picture with the 40+ family members above? That is all lit with One Profoto B1. And we own 6 Profoto B1's as well as a host of D1's and a pair of B2s. I love Profoto and I'd tell you they are pound for pound the best quality light that you can buy, we also have a host of Profoto light modifiers that let us shape the light however we need to.

I think that about that's about all the questions I can give you unless you are really prepared to get down into the nitty gritty with your photographer. And these are roughly the questions I ask photographers. These questions along with a portfolio are really all I need to know about the photography side of how a shooter works.

Whew, that was a lot. See you next time. Oh and here is the link for our equipment list. Equipment List