In the first two parts on Wedding Cake photography I talked about how I do portraits of the whole cake in different lighting scenarios. This part will focus on our next step in the process—the details. I really enjoy this part because it’s where we can be the most creative in our compositional set-ups. It’s very much like doing table-top product photography in the studio except I don’t have all my lights, tools, or the time. In my studio I can mull over the composition and lighting for hours, but at a wedding reception the challenge is to create studio quality images in minutes!
So, to make this possible while I’m doing the overall cake table photos, Kathi is raiding the bride & grooms’ head table for additional items (we already have their bouquettes) to include in the detail set-up like: toasting goblets, favors, the wedding invitation, and of course, their rings.
We did this kind of still life at most weddings….
|My PPA International Print Competition Merit Print General Collection, (c) 2000
I’m proud of this award winning image because it embodies my lighting philosophy, showcases our attention to details and composition, was done at the actual wedding reception, and the Bride and Groom Loved It!
How I got the image:
Lighting: Natural Light through a window of course! This is the First thing I look for when I walk into a reception site.
Placement: With the cake table near a window then I rotate the cake so its best side is being skimmed by the soft directional window light.
Invitation: With my camera’s point of view established I let Kathi know the best spot for the invitation and she places it and all the other elements around it.
Exposure: This was done on medium format film, so, I don’t have the exact exposure data, but I did most of these still life portraits on Fuji, 800 ISO, Color Negative Film. So this was probably done with a shutter speed of around 1/4 to 1/2 sec., to get to an f-stop of f11.0 or f16.0. I always did these still lifes locked down on a heavy tripod.
The competition print of this image gave me one of the Merits I needed to earn my PPA (Professional Photographers of America) Masters Degree in 2002.
Close Up of the Rings
The next step in our process is a close-up of the rings. Kathi will again gather some of the table decorations and use something that will prop up the rings. She put the bride’s bouquet in the background for this composition…
f8.0 @ 1/60 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 50mm
How I got the image:
Lighting: Sometimes you get a reception site that just does NOT have any windows. That’s when YOU must provide the light or use what’s available.
A SpeedLight as a Source: I’ve always detested any hot-shoe mounted flash being pointed directly at any subject. So, I was always looking for the next best flash diffuser that would soften the light and increase its size as a source. In addition I wanted one that would work well when in a bounce mode, which is where I always had my flash set when doing weddings.
The diffuser I used for this image of the rings has been my favorite for many years—The Gary Fong Lightsphere.
The Placement and Set-up: Kathi placed the rings on one of the glass beads in an up angle, which made it easier to get light into the diamonds. Then I flipped the flash head pointing straight up (you can see the Lightsphere’s shape in the reflections on each glass bead); this gave the rings and set some front light and some bounce light off the ceiling.
Here’s another at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay….
f8.0 @ 1/20 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 45mm
Because this was an evening reception I had no window light so I used the same set-up as on the previous image of the rings. Kathi and I liked the “fall” of flowers doing down the side of the cake so…
Placement: We went for a vertical composition with one flower petal under the rings so they would stand out better (more contrast) on the cake.
Lighting and Exposure: I use the Fong Lightsphere, again pointed straight-up, to get some bounce off the ceiling. I slowed my shutter speed to 1/20 sec., to “drag-in” some ambient room light. This makes the resulting image look less like a flashed image.
So, with these three blogs I think I covered any likely lighting scenario you may encounter in wedding cake photography. If you have had a difficult lighting situation that I did to touch on here tell me about it! ’Til next week….
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training Site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client Site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com