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Outdoor Photographing with Available Light

Lesson 16 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

Outdoor Photographing with Available Light

Lesson 16 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

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Lesson Info

16. Outdoor Photographing with Available Light


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Define the Goals of Wedding Photographers


The Importance of Wedding Photographers


Shooting Philosophy


How to Build a Shot List - Bride, Groom & Formals


Tye the Wedding Story Together


Capture Stories in Wedding Pictures


Get the Right Exposure


Lesson Info

Outdoor Photographing with Available Light

Okay, so now we're going to shoot with this beautiful, gorgeous available light that we have out here. Essentially, what happens with lighting is this. You know, light is always present. Unfortunately, it's not always perfect, and we're just gonna have to learn to work with it. So, by doing my little hand trick, I'm gonna work out, first and foremost, where the light's coming from. Now, remembering that if I put the light behind me, I'm gonna get a very, very flat shot. So I want something a little bit more dynamic, so I'm gonna work out basically that the light is really coming from that part of the sky, so I've got more light coming from there than I do have coming from this part of the sky, which is quite dark and gloomy. But I've been told that that is just normal from these parts of the world. So now what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna place my couple into here, I'm gonna shoot with a fairly long lens, and I'm gonna do your standard half-length shot, bride and groom, bouquet, mum and ...

dad shot, top of the fireplace, this is what's expected. Okay, so I'm gonna get you right down the bottom. So, you notice I've got color in the background. I've got yellows, I've got reds, I've got greens. Now, by shooting a very shallow depth of field on a long lens, what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna compress that background and we're just gonna turn it into nice, beautiful, soft, milky hues, which is really nice and pretty. I love it. So, guys, just go back a little bit more. That is great. Now, Chris, just your hand on the small of the back. And Ryan'll just set you up. So Ryan's just gonna refine the pose while I set up my camera, so-- Front toe out a little bit more. Yep, that's it, and guys? Just turn this way just a fraction more. There we go. And these come down just a fraction there. That's good. Just bring that elbow back a little bit more. Beautiful. So we just never want those flowers too high, so that they're blocking any part of the dress. So, just down, we've still got this beautiful part here. And what I ask them to do is, guys, bring your temples together. Whoa, hey, and see how you went like that? Okay, do me a favor, do the pose again. Yeah, there we go. So more cheeks. There we go. And back up. And back up to Roc. Okay, you'll notice that now I've got kind of here light happening, but I don't have much light coming from the foreground, so Ryan's gonna add a bit more light by bringing a reflector fairly close to them. That is perfect. Just bring it back a little bit more, Ryan, 'cause I'm gonna shoot the flowers in. So we have a little bit more light, that is awesome, guys. And hold it right there. Good. And just bring the reflector back, Ryan, a little bit. Good. Guys, looking at me. Good, and happy thoughts. That's it, warm, yes. It's very warm. Extremely warm. That is awesome. Let's just do another one. That is so good. Nice. Now, Chris, just turn your face, your nose in towards the cheek there, a little bit more and just looking down, imagine an imaginary line looking in through the nose, or just actually down through to the lips, and, Darlene, just looking down a little bit more. Just bring your flowers up a little bit. That is awesome. And, happiness! Chris, how's that-- aww yeah. So natural, I love it. Just enjoy the view, Chris, you're looking right down there, mate. Yeah, enjoy the view, you've got the perfect angle. That is so cool. That is great. Fantastic, now taking the reflector away, maybe moving it on this side. Okay, I'm not gonna change anything except move back a little bit more, right, and do a nice full-length shot of them. So here I am. That's it, gorgeous, guys. Looking at me. Good. Gorgeous. Fantastic. So once again, making it easier for myself. Okay, guys, come up here. We're not gonna keep you outside too long, 'cause the temperature is dropping at an incredible rate, but that's okay. We're happy. Come across here. So I'm always looking for interesting things to work with, and, in this case here, we have this beautiful wrought-iron gate. Now, if I shoot in this direction, there's not much to shoot, that's not my background. But this is an interesting background. If this would be, say, the reception venue where they'd be getting married, then this would be, you know, sentimental to them, and we can use it. But also I'm gonna use the gate as my foreground, so the wrought-iron gate, to be able to create just a nice, sort of interesting shot. So let me just go and set up here. Guys, go back a bit more. That's beautiful. Now what I'm gonna get you to do is-- Drop the dress. I mean, don't drop the dress, but you know, you know what I mean, okay. And take the jacket off. Now guys, I want you to hold hands. Okay, get really close. Right, and what you're gonna do, you're actually going to walk towards me, okay, but as you walk towards me, I need one very important thing from you both. Okay, give each other as much love as possible. Okay, really have fun with this, guys. So come this way a little bit more, yeah. We've got stalkers in the background there, not good. And (laughs) hold it there. And looking at each other as you give each other love, yeah? So I'm gonna change my camera setting now. So I'm gonna go into autofocus continuous, so it's gonna track them as they're walking towards me. Okay guys, and let's go, let's go. Walk, walk, walk, beautiful. Awww! That was amazing. Can we do that again? It's very dynamic. I love the throwing back of the head, you know? That's amazing. Come a little bit closer together and come this way a little bit more. Okay. Go back just a fraction. Back, back, back. Okay, and let's have fun with this, guys. And let's go, let's go. Okay, that is great. That is great. Go back a fraction. Okay. So let's just get rid of the bouquet for a minute. That's it. Okay, Ryan. Do your flash shots? Yeah, we got it? It was good, got it. Okay. There we go. So just while we, uh, while we set up this shot. What I'm looking at here as well, guys, I'm looking at the tree that we have here. And I know it's not blooming, it hasn't got anything on it, but to me, it's an interesting structure, of sorts. So, just while we've got the mack truck, you know, coming past us as well, that's great. So what I'm gonna do, guys, I'm gonna get you in position first. So don't take off the jacket as yet, come back in there for me. Lovely. And maybe just come across a touch more as well, that's perfect. What you're gonna do, Chris, is you're gonna come right in behind her, mate. That's it, so you're sort of like cuddling her from behind. Lovely. Now, what I wanna do, I wanna crop out the reality of the scene that we're in, because if I shot it from my angle as I am at the moment, I'd have street, cars, apartment building, kids playing in the background. Don't want any of that. I'm gonna come from as low a camera angle as possible. Shoot up into the tree, and use the tree more as a, like a feature or a structure in the background, and that's it. So I'm gonna completely underexpose that background, to increase that depth in the sky. I want that cloud to become really dark and moody. How I'm gonna light them is by flash. So, Roc, if he's around-- So I have quite an easy set-up for my flash. I use grids or gels or anything like that with this system, this system's called the MagMod system, it's all magnet-based. So once you have the main part on, literally it magnetizes, and you can swap those in and out. So I've got the grid on today because I wanna contain the light. Don't want the light to spread or anything like that, I just wanna contain it. Now, what I must first do, is get an exposure set for this background, so lower side, so, I'm gonna go to say, F16 to start with, and at 200th of a second, and that should be around about where we need to be. We'll go darker. We'll go F18. And that's where I need to be now. So I'm probably, with that sky as it is, I haven't rendered it gray, I actually rendered it under that. So I've really stopped it down and really made it quite dark. Now, TTL with the flash. So it's set up ETTL at the moment. What I do with most of my ETTL settings is push it by one stop, because, again, ETTL's gonna render everything that it reads mid-gray, okay? What I need the flash distance to be is a similar distance to where I have my lens to subject, because that's what it's reading. Okay, so, lens, subject. TTL's working out that distance. Need the flash at a similar distance, but at a 45 degree angle, again to create that directional light. Just drop the jacket, I'm so sorry. Okay. Do I need the bouquet? Yeah, no, no, the bouquet's fine, that can stay. And guys, you're gonna hold each other there, so he'll hold you from behind. Hold each other's hands for me. Lovely. Just turn that in a little bit there as well. Excellent. What I need to do, because I'm shooting low to the ground, wide angle, I need to correct their perspective. So what they're gonna do, get a good, get a good footing there, guys. So that front foot, that left foot's gotta, gotta come out, so, you're the other way at the moment. Yeah, see, I couldn't even see your feet and I could tell. There you go. And what you're gonna do, from the hips, you're gonna lean completely over me, okay, to correct your perspective. Alright, so, let's try this out. Aw, this is gonna be terrible. This is why he's doing that shot and not me. Oh my goodness! That's the way it worked. Oh my goodness, alright. (groans) I said, why don't you do that shot? Pay respect to your elders, man, that's all I gotta say. Yeah, thanks, thanks, Ryan, love you. So lean into me, guys. And now, actually, can you turn your chin that way? Mate, you turn your chin into hers. Come right down, guys. Right down, further, further, further. There it is. Eyes away, so, that's it, and connect the heads. So you're coming right in close there, mate. That's it. Eyes down for me, Darlene, chin down just a touch as well. There we are. Hold it there. Mate, just turn your chin into hers a touch more. Close your eyes as well, just 'cause it's a bit funny with your eyes open. No flash. No use. Are you on? Yeah. There we go. Nice. Okay, try again. Here we go. Beautiful. Alright, we'll just do one more, I just need you to turn your chin that way a touch more. Yep, keep going. Gorgeous. Hold it there. Oh my God, this is cold. I must really love you guys, if I'm doing this shot for you. Okay. Chin down a little bit there, Darlene. Breathe through your lips again. Gorgeous, hold it there. Just with these right hands, guys, pull it back around the waist. Bit more. That's it. Yep, beautiful. Okay, relax. (laughing) So, what we end up getting, is a very underexposed sky, but with the TTL and the flash, the flash is illuminating. With the grid on, we get quite a, sort of a contained light source right there on our bride and groom. We are gonna go inside, because it is absolutely freezing. I'm gonna do one more shot from out here, but I'll stay out here, the rest of you can go inside, and you two can just go just in, you're gonna be just in behind that door, basically. Yeah, just that door there. You see that door right over there? And I'm just gonna grab a longer lens. And Roc, you're gonna need to be inside with that flash. So I'm gonna explain the idea behind this shot, because, again, looking at reflections and how I see things, when I'm looking into that glass, I see the reflection of this tree and everything going on, and I'm thinking, how can I incorporate the bride and groom within that and just add an extra depth, an extra level of depth. Well, if I put them inside, and I light them with the flash inside, I could have them inside the glass, then having the background set as this tree and have this really ethereal type of feel to this picture. So, first things first, we've gotta get an exposure set again. So I'm gonna have a look, I'm waiting on one more lens to come out to me. When it does, it'll be much easier to do, but I'm gonna get an exposure set for the reflection first. And that's why it's so great working with ETTL on a flash system is so fantastic, because it works out distance value ratios and everything else. Remember, just pushing the ETTL by one stop, because ETTL is gonna render 50% gray. Like your light meter does. Now, I don't want that, do I? If I'm trying to bring a highlight to something, and bring, and render out a highlight, I wanna push that. So, again, I push my ETTL just by one stop and it helps out everything. So let's firstly get this set. So yeah, they can't hear me, so I'm doing sign language, yeah? Face each other. Beautiful. Okay, so. Beautiful. So what I've done, it's gonna change the exposure, I can't use the same exposure from out here, I'll go to F9 actually, 200, so 200th of a second at F9, 200th of a second being the fastest that I can sync the shutter speed to on the Canon system. And, Roc, we're gonna backlight them with the flash. I'm just still waiting to, I'll just grab that lens. Thank you. So just going to the 24 to 70 now, be a little bit more flexible with things here. Alright, guys, so I need you looking directly at each other. That's it, come a little bit closer, just close that gap a touch. And actually, Darlene, you can get rid of the flowers, don't worry about them. And then, guys, you're gonna have to lean to me. That's it. Eyes to each other again. Hold it there. The difficult part here is actually getting a focus point. So let me see if I can get one. 'Cause I've got that much reflection coming through. Okay, okay. And, guys, just leaning into me a fraction more. That's it. Lovely, but wait there. Okay. Just gonna come back a bit. The hardest part being, don't wanna get my own reflection in this shot. So, go a bit longer. See if I can get a focus point here now. I have. Close your eyes, guys. Do me a favor, guys? Turn your bodies that way a bit more. That's it. What's happening is, the flash is hitting her dress too much, and it's lighting up this area. Okay, so, Roc? Yeah? The flash is lighting her dress too much. So you need to come higher and try not to hit the dress for me, just hit their faces. Okay, turn your chin to me. Alright, that's it, close your eyes, guys. Hold it there. Okay, one second. And too much on him, Roc, now. Okay. That's it, guys. Beautiful. Okay, relax, very good. Okay, guys, we've got some really interesting light coming through here, we've got very strong sunlight, so we're gonna expose for this, making the background nice and moody, so let's have a look. Chin up, Darlene, that's it, and close your eyes, you're sniffing her cheek, just enjoy the moment, guys, this is beautiful. Ah, that is awesome. That's great, one more time. Just gonna open up just a little bit more. Gorgeous, that's it. Just take a deep breath in, and breathing out through your lips. That's great, good, hold it there. Good. That is great. That's nice. Going a little bit closer. Good, awesome. This is good. So we're getting nice, beautiful mottled light, you know, on the face, just really, really concentrating on the expression and the emotion. So don't shy away when you see, like, you know, strong pockets of light like that, because these become these, you know, spotlights, and they're free to use, because when the sun is there, use it to your advantage. So you can create some really beautiful, striking images. Yeah, and I could do the same now with the groom. So just come away, while the sun's still there. Okay, I'm gonna get you leaning, just on the telephone booth, into that gorgeous light. Okay, just with your back against it. Totally, that's great, good. Now hands in the pockets. Just turn your body away from the light. Good. Head's across that way, that's it, and look down with your eyes just a fraction more. Good, beautiful. That's fantastic. Yeah, that is really nice. So what I'm doing, guys, here is, I'm using also these beautiful patterns that are being created with the glass on the background, but it's giving us a really, really, you know, strong graphic elements of lines. We've got the light coming across, you know, creating this beautiful triangle, you know, with the nose. And we could play around with this a little bit more. Get you just to-- that's it, eyes to me. That's great. Good, beautiful. How you doin'? That's the one. Gorgeous. Let's have a look at that. So then, you know, looking into the camera, creating a really, really strong, you know, dramatic portrait. Okay, the other thing with detail also, I could use this sort of light, just turning the body away, that's perfect. I've got light coming perpendicular, which is giving me texture, because it's giving me highlight, shadow, highlight, shadow. Okay, turn your head across that way. And we'll do a pretty unconventional crop now. That's awesome. Once more time. Beautiful. So now I've got, I just cropped basically the lips across here giving me a nice, beautiful, you know, detail shot of this area here. Okay so, changing focal length, changing positions, okay, we can create all sorts of different wonderful things just using the same light source and just changing position relative to that light source accordingly as we need to.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Posing Guide Book Chapter

Ratings and Reviews

Jerry Willis

Ryan & Rocco, in my very humble opinion, are THE best wedding photography instructors in the entire industry! I've been watching their work for years now, which just so happens to win a most grand-scaled competitions, and they somehow continue to keep getting better! I first drilled Ryan at WPPI inquiring about what made his workshop different from all the others. His response, me paraphrasing, "If you're looking for tools to learn, come to my workshop. If you're looking for inspiration and smoke blowing, don't come." That's exactly what I needed to hear. Straight tools, no fluff. THE BEST photography workshop I've EVER taken, by far. You want the best photography education, learn from the best. This CreativeLive workshop is the PERFECT complimentary refresher and companion to what I learned! Thank you so much for having them! It's not the same as the workshop, which it shouldn't be, but they ARE reinforcing many things that have slipped my memory! I'm for sure buying this! :-)

Neeraj Arora

WOW!!! I have started a few CL courses but not finished as I got distracted by "life" and it took me a while to get back and finish them. But these guys!! They were simply superb. I finished this course really fast. Amazing artists, they explain things so well, Ryan is such a charmer and engaging teacher, Rocco is a fountain of knowledge. I am an enthusiastic photographer with aspirations to start my own business soon. I learn't so much from this class that will help improve my photography even if I don't become a professional wedding photographer. Great job guys, keep it up. I will need to come back to the lessons and I very much appreciate the key note pdf. All CL courses should include the slides like they did here. Thanks CL.


I am a newborn photographer by trade, but I really want to venture out and photograph more weddings so I decided to purchase a wedding class on creative live. Of course when I typed in wedding, quite a few classes came up. But when I saw the image and title "capture the story" I was definitely intrigued. I've always been touched by the photographs that have emotion and that's what I'm passionate to photograph! Always a little nervous when you purchase a class because you don't want to feel like it was a waste of money, but this knocked it out of the park for me! Thank you to Ryan and Rocco for explaining so much, showing the pull backs, and moving your subject and explaining why! This has opened my eyes so much to how beautiful photographing a wedding can be and not so terrifying as I've been making it out to be. I'm really so thankful to hopefully being a great wedding photographer and making more income for my family, while having fun creating something beautiful

Student Work