Digital photography has proven to be a tremendous advantage for the wedding photographer. Due to the continued drop in media costs, photographers are now able to take virtually unlimited images during a wedding. The sheer volume of images taken combined with the fact that digital photographers now benefit from immediately viewing their work has created a better breed of photographer.
However, many new digital photographers are lacking in overall technical photography knowledge. If you further compound the situation with a lack of computer skills you may be overwhelmed with the complexity of wedding photography. So here are some points that I think will guide you through the transition from film to digital and possibly help you simplify your photography techniques and thus your life.
First, I suggest you shoot in RAW. Yes, shooting RAW is more expensive (due to the additional CF media and hard drive storage space needed) and it requires a little more knowledge. However, once you learn and implement a well thought out digital work flow you will be editing events faster in RAW than Jpeg. Let me say that again for emphasis. With a great application like Adobe Lightroom – processing RAW images has become as fast or faster than a Jpeg work flow. Mylavalu is a post processing company that specializes in wedding image processing. They charge .21 cents per image to color correct and process RAW images and they charge .23 cents to color correct a Jpeg image. It’s a fact that RAW images are superior to Jpeg images and now that RAW images can be processed as fast or faster than Jpegs – I say make the upgrade to RAW. It is superior.
Second, we have to unlearn at least one major film technique. When shooting film we would expose our negative with primary consideration for the shadows. I always liked blown out skin tones and with negative film it was easy to do. In fact I would shoot 400-speed film but I would rate it at 320 to build in an automatic overexposure. However, digital photography is exactly the opposite. We now have to expose for the highlights because with digital photography if the highlights are too over exposed then the highlights are gone – never to return. When you select the histogram on your camera and your image is blinking that part of the image is over exposed and that part of the picture is gone. So as a general rule I’ll always try to make sure that the highlights in a digital image are still present. I still want images to be bright but I’ll count on bringing the overall brightness and shadow detail up in Lightroom.
Lastly, let’s talk about camera settings. Because RAW allows for easy batch color correction my studio shoots in auto white balance. I find that most images come straight out of our Canon cameras with little color correction needed but it’s nice to have RAW adjustments as a back up. Additionally, our studio shoots primarily in f-stop priority mode. F-stop priority mode means you are setting the f-stop (say at 2.8) and your sensor sensitivity (say 400 ISO.) The camera now automatically adjusts its shutter speed to compensate for the amount of light coming through the lens. Instead of worrying about shutter speed and color balance, I want to spend my time making the couple feel special and capturing unique and creative images. That doesn’t mean color balance and exposure are unimportant it’s just that modern cameras and RAW image editing software are so good that as a general rule we can easily fix the mess-ups later.