QUICK QUESTIONS: August

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  • Q. Would the 70-200mm, F4 lens suffice for portraiture?
  • Q. What type of metering do you use when shooting a wedding?
  • Q. Why do you change your exposure in postproduction, rather than in the camera?

Don’t be put off if some of these questions seem a little “techy” at first…

… I have printed them here, because they highlight just how confusing some sites make photography! My answers may not be what everyone wants to hear, but I think that most people following my site will feel the same way I do – so here goes!

Q1. Would the 70-200mm, F4 lens suffice for portraiture? There is a considerable cost difference between Canon F2.8 and F4… I’m confused because I asked this question on a well-known magazine forum only to be blasted by the “old fuddy duddy stagers”.    Tony T, Bristol UK

& A. Grrrr! I hate camera snobs! Anyway – my answer is yes! Of course it will be absolutely fine – I used that lens for years. I only changed to the F2.8 because once I used it, I was hooked.

The advantage of this lens is that you can knock the background so far out of focus, it is just wonderful. However, the disadvantage is that it is extremely expensive and extremely heavy (its about twice the size of the F4). It is not an easy lens to just throw in your bag. I only use it for professional shoots of people. (The rest of the time I use my iPhone!)

What I would suggest is you perhaps buy (or hire) a second hand F4 one and play with it for a while – so, if you do decide to upgrade to the F2.8 in the future, you haven’t spent too much money already!

It all depends on what kind of photography you do – if you are a full time professional – then the F2.8 would probably be good for you. But if you are doing photography for fun then you may prefer the F4 as it’s much easier to carry around.

At the end of the day, the F2.8 is a superior lens – but the F4 is still fantastic – and it’s down to weight and cost really.

Annabel x


Q2. What type of metering do you use when shooting a wedding? I have trawled the Internet and have not been able to find a consistent answer. For example when shooting just the bride do you spot meter off the dress and exposure comp. 2 stops or spot meter her face? I have pulled the data off some shots on pros websites and its seems a lot of them shoot evaluative so I am a bit confused as I would think that would involve a lot of work with the RAW file to pull back the detail.    Mal Gresty, Queensland Australia

A2. Whoa!!!! That’s way too technical for me – I use the same settings for everything! See my blog: Set up your camera the easy way…

To me the face is the most important thing – if the bride doesn’t like how her face looks, no amount of tweaking the dress is going to make any difference. I always shoot in the shade wherever possible, as it’s the most flattering light for “normal” people, and also the dress doesn’t burn out. If there are splashes of sunlight on the dress it just enhances the picture.

I would never deliberately shoot a bride in full sunlight unless she looked like a model (because only people with stunning features look good in bright sunlight), and even then, this would only be for a few exclusive shots, and I would not have her looking at the camera, as she would be squinting.

If the bride happens to be in the sunlight when you are shooting candid shots – move your position so the sun is behind her. I often discreetly ask the bride if she can just turn round towards me, because the light is better, even when she is chatting to people outside, etc. She will want to look good, so she will usually oblige, and then people will just talk to her that way round, and you can get your shots.

If you have your camera set like mine, and you shoot mainly in the shade, then it should not take long in Lightroom to sort out the images. In a wedding shoot, where you often have to shoot spontaneously – you are likely to have a few inconsistent images which you’ve just grabbed – and of course these may take longer to sort out – but if 90% of your shoot is consistent, then it will speed things up considerably.

Annabel x

Feedback:

Working as a Kite Surf photographer I always shoot in consistent light, so don’t have to worry much about metering, hence the inexperience. Forums have lots of other people asking the same question, but the problem was they are all getting different answers. Thanks again Annabel – a straight and simple answer at last. Cheers – Mal

NOTE FROM ANNABEL – The guy in the header shot on this blog has patches of sunlight on his face, but, a) he has amazing bone structure and looks like a model so he gets away with it, and b) his eyes are in the shade so he is not squinting. This shot is taken on my usual settings, but shows just how effective it can be to allow splashes of sunlight in some areas of the shot, yet keep the face in the shade (or, in this case, most of it – I would normally try to have all the face, and most of the dress, in the shade on a wedding).


Q3. Why do you change your exposure in postproduction, rather than in the camera? I loved your How to position women post. You said you up the exposure afterwards in postproduction so I’m just wondering why you choose to do that instead of using +exposure compensation?    Helen, Bedford UK

A3. Aha! You spotted that! Well, the answer is that I want to keep all the detail in the original shot as I may want some pictures less over exposed and I don’t want to change any settings on the camera. So I just leave it on my normal settings, which work consistently for 90% of my shots – then if the shot is of a woman (maybe the mum in a family shoot), I would bump up the exposure slider in Lightroom. However if the shot was of the family dog – I may not!

So I take all my shots on the same general settings to allow me to alter certain things later if I want to.

If I overexposed when I shoot, I may lose detail, and if I move the exposure compensation dial, I might forget to put it back for the next part of the shoot – it’s much easier to shoot consistently and up the exposure in Lightroom if necessary on some of the shots.

If you check out my blog: Set up your camera the easy way… you will see that I set my camera up a certain way so that 90% of the images will work. If I had to think about every image individually and change the exposure on some pix and not others – I would be fiddling with my camera, and not concentrating on the client.

Hope this answers your question!

Annabel x

Feedback:

It does and it makes sense, thank you – Helen