Ryan Smith Photography – Photo Story Blog

Myrtle Beach photography blog documenting the stories of real weddings and family portraits from around the Grand Strand area

Tagged: lighting

First wedding at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC

This was the first time I've been to the Magnolia Plantation area in Charleston for a wedding. I've done some engagement pictures here, but never a full wedding. The first time to a new site is always exciting, I do a lot of looking around trying to find some spots with good lighting and background details. We also had a golf cart driver that took us around to some popular spots.

The reception was in the conservatory which is a really cool spot. It's an indoor garden area with a small section with tables for the guests. The couple was pretty flexible so we even spent a few minutes experimenting with a few nighttime, off camera lighting shots in the garden area.  I was putting a flash with umbrella in the background to give some highlights to the foliage behind them. Experimenting is always fun if there is a little extra time.  I'm looking forward to my wedding in a couple of weeks at this location and I hope I get some in the future as well.  As always please comment below if you enjoy these pictures.


Some random things from April and how to shoot backlit subjects.

I always have trouble making blog posts when things start to get busier.  So I just wanted to post a few random pictures from this month. I decided to talk mostly about the first picture I highlighted below.  This was a very difficult situation, as soon as I saw where they were having the ceremony I knew it was going to be a problem.  The sun was very bright outside, almost fully up in the sky.  The ceremony was held under a beach shelter right on the edge of the bright sunlight.  If you have ever tried to photograph something like this before, you might know what would happen.  If you let the camera make the decisions, the couple would be almost completely dark because it's trying to adjust for the bright background light.

I long ago started shooting on manual, so I would expose for the couple and not the background.  This way the camera's own adjustments would not cause the subject to come out really dark.  However, there is still a problem.  If you just expose the couple properly, the background would then be completely blown out, it would just be a very bright glow behind the couple.  The couple would have kind of a flat, lifeless light on them with an annoyingly glowing background.

So how do you fix this? Well it really comes down to having the proper equipment.  I have these things called Pocket Wizards, they allow me to have a flash on the camera and also another flash off of the camera that is controlled by radio.  You can control another flash through  the built in infrared in the Nikon flashes, but it never works very well.  The Pocket Wizards work the same way, but they are much more reliable especially in sunlight.  Although you can let the flashes decide how much power they need to put out on their own, under this difficult lighting, I thought manual would be better.  I set my on camera flash (that had a tiny Lumiquest softbox on it) and my external flash both to 1/2 power, that seem to be a pretty good compensation for the outside ambient light without overdoing it.  If you notice in this picture, there is a nice light coming from the side of the couple that makes them look more three dimensional.  You can see some shadows from his hand and her arm, these are not from the sun but are from my external flash.

If this sounds too complicated, to make it more simple.  If you are trying to photograph a backlit subject in the shade, use whatever flash you have available, even just the little one on the camera.  Set your camera to manual and keep taking shots until you see the couple is as bright as they need to be.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.

First kiss - Myrtle Beach State Park

First kiss - Myrtle Beach State Park

That's a lot of groomsmen -

That's a lot of groomsmen

There are many more pictures, click here to continue viewing this post . . .


Overcast sky, soft light engagement pictures

I had another nice engagement session at the Myrtle Beach State Park for a young couple that are not getting married for a couple of years yet.  They are getting married back home so I won’t be doing their wedding.  It was a cloudy day with just a little bit of color from the sunset showing through the clouds. Actually, when the sky is cloudy, it can be one of the best times to get shots that look more like in a studio.  In a photo studio they use these big boxes over their flashes or lights called a soft box.  Basically it’s like putting a sheet in front of a light, it makes it soft and kind of disperses the light around.  That is similar to what an overcast sky does, instead of strong direct light you get a more soft and dispersed light without as harsh of shadows.

However, an overcast day can make for a pretty boring flat look to the images with eyes that are kind of dark and lifeless.  Everything is kind of a trade off trying to work outdoors, you do the best you can with what you have to work with.  One thing that helps, you will notice there is a little sparkle in the clients eyes.  This is because I’m using a some fill flash.  Flash is very important even when shooting in plenty of light outdoors. In the future I'm actually going to experiment with more off camera wireless flashes to see if I can get a more unique look to the images.

I was really happy with the way the shots turned about, I ended up with about 150 shots that I liked, so that was a really good session.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.  If you like this post, please try out my few Facebook comment system at the bottom of the post after the pictures.

Couple laying by the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park

Couple laying by the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park

Couple having fun on the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park

Couple having fun on the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park

There are many more pictures, click here to continue viewing this post . . .


Understanding Manual Flash

There is a great video I found at CameraDojo.com explaining controlling manual flash. You have to understand the basics of shutter speed and aperture for this to mean anything, but it helps to simplify what is a really confusing subject.  When I'm using flash to actually light a scene, and not for fill light, I almost always shoot with the camera on manual and the flash on iTTL. This get's me pretty close to what I want most of the time, but any time a camera has something on auto it's going to give variable results. I always get close enough that with a little adjustment in Lightroom it's perfect, but ideally it's nice not to have to adjust a picture in post at all. I think I'm going to try setting my flash on manual more of the time and see if I can get my results even more consistent.