Wedding_Annabel_Williams_-_814x610_wide_750

  1. Q. When trying to capture confetti being thrown and the couples’ faces in focus, what settings would you use?
  2. Q. What kind of flash should I buy for my Canon 5D Mark III?
  3. Q. Can you recommend a good portable projector that I could use to show clients their photos in their own home without the use of a screen?

Q1. When trying to capture confetti being thrown and the couples’ faces in focus, what settings would you use? Also should I have a square focus box up all the time when shooting to help focus or how do I know what the camera will focus on?   Joanne, Cambridge UK

A1. I always focus on the face by setting my focus to one red square in the middle, and if you hold your shutter half down the red square will show. If you use the settings I have shown you in Set up your camera the easy way… then your exposure will also be correct provided the red square is over the area you want in focus and correctly exposed. Practice as I describe in that blog and 90% of your pictures will always work! Don’t worry about some of the confetti being out of focus – it only adds to the effect – it’s the faces that are important.

Annabel x


Q2. What kind of flash should I buy for my Canon 5D Mark III? I have to photograph an evening wedding reception, which will be mostly inside – Alison Phillipson, Cockermouth UK

A2. I only ever use flash once in a blue moon! Just for aisle shots on a wedding and evening reception shots. The flash I use is a Canon Speedlite 580 Ex II – though there will be a newer version out there now – just Google it and see what comes up!

For weddings, try these settings:

FIRST:

  1. Set the flash to ETTL (not manual)
  2. Set the camera to manual (M)
  3. Set ISO to 400 or 800

THEN:

  • For coming down the aisle shots: Use 60th at F5.6 (I often just use AV here as I can’t always remember to put my camera back when I get out of the church!)
  • For interior documentary shots of guests, etc: Use 30th or 60th sec at F5.6 – depending on ambience you want.
  • For evening dancing in disco lights, etc: Use 20th -60th sec at F5.6 – F8 depending on ambience you want and how much background you want in focus.

I have these settings typed up on a sticker, stuck on the head of my flashgun – so I can remember (but that’s because I very rarely use a flashgun). If you’re anything like me, you have so much to think about at a wedding, it really helps to just glance down at your flash and know what to set it on immediately.

Good luck!
Annabel x


Q3. Can you recommend a good portable projector that I could use to show clients their photos in their own home without the use of a screen? My initial research shows they range from £300 to £27,000! – Helen, Bedford UK

A3. Have you tried showing them on the TV? I usually take an HDMI cable and plug it into the back of their big screen TV – word of warning though – you do need to make sure that they have an HDMI connection (most modern TV’s do) – and you need to know how to find the right channel on the TV, etc. – all TV’s are different. I ask the client to sort it out basically! I tell them it would be great if we can show the pictures on their TV, as it’s usually in the lounge so a comfortable place to view and explain that I will bring the HDMI cable if they can check out prior to the viewing that they can get that channel on their TV – get them to test it out with their laptop – or go round before the viewing day and check it yourself with your own laptop.

I find projectors are just not good enough quality these days – unless you spend around £3000 as you say! And even then they don’t look as good as the TV. The picture quality is not great unless you are in a fairly dark room, and then it feels a bit oppressive for people. It used to be great because projected images looked so much better than prints, or laptop screens – but these days people are used to amazing HD quality so we expect more.

Last time I used a projector I was so disappointed with the difference between it and the laptop, that I ended up switching it off and showing the client on the laptop. She also took loads of shots of herself out when it was being projected, but when she saw them on the laptop she put them back in because she realised she looked bad on the shots because of the colour and quality of the projected image – she actually loved the photos when she saw them on the laptop screen!

Also if you don’t have a screen you may not have a white wall so where are you going to project? I once forgot my screen and had to project on a light green wall with a train frieze running across it!! Not a good look!! But the only spare wall space in the house!

Anyway – hope the HDMI cable will work for you – you can buy them from all electrical retailers but they come with different ends – you need one end that goes into the HDMI socket on the back of the TV, and then the other end that fits into a laptop – if you are using an apple, you will then need an adaptor that goes from that end of the cable into your laptop – the apple store sells the correct lead and adaptor. Sounds complicated, but its not, honestly! Once you’ve sorted it, it’s great.

Then when you have your cables connected at the client’s house, you then need to use their remote to find the right channel (often says HDMI 1 or something similar, when it comes up on the screen).

Have a bright coloured picture on your desktop so you can use it as a test screen – rather than the clients seeing an image of theirs at this stage (keep the fun for later!). You will need to tweak the colours on the TV to make sure your pictures look good. Again, work with the client, they usually know how their TV works best. Usually takes around 20 minutes to sort all this out before you show the pictures (but really no longer than setting up a screen and projector).

Annabel x

Feedback

Thank you for taking the time to reply to me in such great detail Annabel, it’s really helpful and cost efficient, cable purchase rather than projector. I’m still in the spending more than I make phase and tend to think buying loads of “stuff” will make me a better photographer. So it’s nice to know in this instance, it’s really not necessary – Helen