by David Beckstead Published 01/09/2006
How do you avoid visual chaos?
Isolate, isolate...isolate! Isolate on the compositional elements that convey a strong sense of the wedding story, of its emotional elements, and of the wedding location. Include only the subjects that blend well with the natural environment or help tell the story. Learning to understand how you isolate is a perceptive ability needed outdoors.
There can be too much natural light now. Go back to my trick of squinting your eyes, but this time look for the darker areas. Now change your angle of view or move the subject into the darker areas. Then use light angles to highlight your subject. Very cool! The quality and direction of light has been one of the most important aspects of perception since cameras were invented. Learn your light angles: sidelight and backlight.
Yet the concept of quality of light may have played too large a part with many wedding photographers before us. You are given only what the weather and bride timeline allows. Part of being perceptive is how you change and flow with what really happens at your wedding, hour after hour. Finding the perfect quality of light will often elude you. Best to make use of the harsh light, the bad light, the poor-quality light, and then pull out all the stops of perception by working these types of light to your advantage. It's all in your head! Make something cool happen if it is not happening. Being perceptive about what your camera can do other than Priority-mode will give you tools of exposure to counteract the bad light. My advice - practise daily until you are comfortable with Aperture Priority mode and Manual mode. Be the alfa-dog of your camera! Don't let it make all the decisions!
"Spin the dial and experiment"
Here is something to think about: shooting horizontal images outside is harder than shooting vertically. Why? Deadspace! Understanding deadspace is the ultimate in being perceptive. Lines outside run more often vertically. Trees and architecture often have many more vertical lines than horizontal in the outdoors. Trees create lines to help guide you to your subjects more easily through the viewfinder. Deadspace is easier to find pointing your camera up to the sky or down to the ground when you are shooting vertically. Deadspace, I am defining, is a place in the composition that has very little or no elements: generally a block of colour: sky, wall, flat ground or consistent patterns. Good deadspace enhances the subjects or leads your eye to the subjects. Bad deadspace leads you away from your subjects or detracts from the overall composition. So shooting good deadspace in a horizontal format outside is not easy. There are so many elements that intrude on your search for good deadspace to enhance your subjects. Deadspace it just one more perceptive ability you should have in your arsenal of artistic ideas to try out at every wedding.
Here is something else about shooting horizontally: including the intended subject is easy and normal (but you run the risk of bad deadspace): including another subject or subjects into the frame to help tell the whole story is difficult. Using one subject to lead into another to help you understand the action of the story is a perceptive ability you will need. Too many subjects causing a complex composition that does not enhance the story, is something to avoid. To tell the more elegant story, isolate only the subject(s) needed with a less complicated background eliminating any unnecessary deadspace. Why? We are going explore that now. (4) (5)
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