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Old Jun 30, 2004, 1:11 AM   #1
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I have been drooling over the DRebel for over a year now, and I just ordered it, I have wanted to get into taking high quality pictures for a while and learn about SLR cameras so I have been reading everything I can find. I had a $1200 budget for my camera so I bought the camera w/ lens, 1GB 45X CF card, and a case.

This is where the help comes in, my sister is getting married july 31st and she cant afford a person to do her wedding photos, so I opted to help and do my best but the more reading I do, the more worried I get. I want to take some great pictures for her wedding album but I am a total newbie, once I get the camera would you guy be able to maybe coach me on it?

I know I have alot or hours to put in on the camera to get good with it but Im looking for the 20 day crash course on being a good with the DRebel. Any takers?
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 8:15 AM   #2
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Wow. You are taking on quite a responsibility. You need to do quite a bit of shooting and learning the next number of days. Doing weddings can be quite stressful. I've done it for family and co-workers, so far (cross my fingers) with good luck. Doing one for someone you work with or see all the time could be not too good if anything were to go wrong!

Regarding your kit- congratulations. Very nice. The kit lens will surprise you. It's capable of very nice images. It does cover the focal lengths you'll need to use for a wedding. Maybe it's a little short if you have any back-of-the-church shots, but it should be OK.

My first thoughts about shooting a wedding though are that your built-in flash may be just a little short in terms of enough coverage for some shots, and you'll find it will not give as pleasing a light, being so close to the lens. That is typical of any built-on flash unit. In some circumstances it's just fine. For many others it is not.Your sister may want you to do this as a favor for her, but I think I'd get her to pay you enough up front that you could go out and buy anE-TTLdedicated flash unit as soon as possible so you can get familiar with it, be it a Canon model or one of the nicer third-party equivalents, like the one Sigma offers.

Are you going to shoot JPEG or RAW format? JPEG at the highest resolution, and that's the minimum you should shoot at, will probably get you around 300 or so pictures with your 1 GB card (and let's not even think about your onecard failing, right?!). RAWformat only about 150-160.How long is this weddinggoing to last? Are you doing a long reception too? Are you going to be there prior to the wedding to do shots of the wedding party and bride? Even using the larger capacity JPEG format, 300 will be cutting it close if you'll be there shooting for a number of hours. You almost need to go ahead and spend around $85 or so on at least one additional 512 MB flash card.

Based on what you've said, that is a starting point. I know I've only pointed out you need to spend a little more for a couple of additional items, but those in addition to what you've already bought are, in my opinion, the least amount of equipment you need to take with you. One other thing. If any otherfamily member has a digital camera that accepts CF cards, I would ask them if I could take it as a backup, JUST IN CASE.

Greg
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 8:28 AM   #3
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Oh, one other thing I forgot. If you do wind up using only your built-in flash, the one battery you get with your Digital Rebel is probably not going to be sufficient power. You need to get one backup thats fully charged for you to be able to switch out when it does die. Even with a separate flash unit, I'd be awful wary about going into a wedding with no second battery. Itis a wedding were talking about here. You don't want any nasty surprises.

Sorry, more $$!!
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 10:23 AM   #4
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Sigh. I am very sorry for you. It might turn out well, and it could also turn into a serious disaster. Have you searched around this forum for the word "wedding"? If so, you have probably seen a lot of posts by me on this subject.

My advice is almost always "don't do it" but you're already beyond that point. Greg is very right, weddings are very high pressure with very little time to get all of those once-in-a-lifetime shot. You have a lot to learn in very little time.

You do realize that you will not really enjoy this wedding? You won't get to sit and rest... eat with everyone else. While things are idle, you should be checking your pictures to make sure they came out right.

Do get the extra CF card. If you have access to a laptop bring it to the wedding. Convince a friend to help you and copy the contents of one CF card to the laptop while you are taking pictures with the other. That way you'll know you got the pictures (they were copied correctly) and you won't run out of card space.
Here are some things I would suggest, but also please read my other posts on this topic by searching the forum. The odds are if you find one of my wedding related posts you'll find links to many others (as I usually cross reference them.)

Taking pictures of people wearing black while standing next to people wearing white is not easy. Either the black tux will have too dark and have no detail or the white wedding dress will be blown out and have no detail. You need to find some friends/relatives who will dress in similar cloths to the wedding outfits and take many many pictures of them. Take the pictures with different settings. Unfortunately you don't have exposure compensation in the drebel (I don't believe.) If you do, use it to adjust things and see how it effects things. If not, then meter the scene using an automatic mode and then switch to manual mode and use similar aperture/shutter speeds to start with but then adjust the settings to give you exposure compensation. You need to find out how to get good pictures where the people in white and black will look good.

Plan what shots you will get ahead of time. Talk with your sister about how the wedding will run. Learn where people will be when. Make them plan for time for you to get formal shots with just them, and with the families. Make sure you are at the proper places ahead of time so you are ready.

Make sure you know all the people you should know. This is probably true, but just in case I will say it. Learn all the important people in both families. Talk with the bride and groom about who you should get pictures of. Make them show you them at the rehearsal dinner. You do not want to show them the pictures and have the groom say "where is my step dad Sid?"

Get that spare camera like Greg suggested. If your camera fails, you need to be ready to quickly use the other.

Learn the controls of your camera really, really well. You need to be able to switch from different focusing modes without looking at the controls. Know how to turn on or off the flash quickly. You really have to be able to do things like that, and if the wedding is in a dark church then you need to do it in the dark.

Unfortunately you probably need to shoot in RAW mode because it will make white balance easier in post processing. If you get the white balance wrong, the wedding dress will be the wrong color and that is not acceptable. It is much easier to fix white balance in RAW mode than in JPG. This is where the labtop to offload pictures will be a huge savings. (If you have to, see if you can borrow one.)

Get a tripod. You MUST, MUST, MUST use a tripod for the formal shots. That is the shot that must be perfect, and must be able to be printed large. That require VERY sharp and hand-held won't cut it.

You might even consider renting equipment (if there is a local place that will do it) including a tripod and a good lens. The 17-40 f4 L is a very nice lens that will have a good wide angle and is much higher quality than the kit lens. Another possability is something like a 70-200 f2.8 IS L. You won't use it much during the ceramony, but during the reception or the dance when you won't have complete control and might be further away than the kit lens would allow... that lens would give you some reach. If you can get the image stabilized version even better, as it will allow for better quality hand-held shots. If you can't rent them, and your credit card has enough space on it, you could consider buying the lenses and then returning them (make sure you can return them before you pick that store!) I'm not normally a fan of doing that... I sticks the store with a lens they can't call "new" any more. But you'll find at times you'll want more reach than the kit lens will provide.

And finally, set their expectations. While you have a good attitude (at least, you seem to from the feel of your post) you are not a professional photographer and you are not using professional grade equipment. You will get some good shots and you will blow some shots. Your equipment will probably not be good enough to make really large enlargements. I wouldn't expect to make a REALLY HIGH QUALITY (professional wedding quality) large prints (I'm talking about the "put on your mantle" shots that are larger than 8 1/2 x 11.) You might even be sneeky and use them for the test shots. Take it all the way through the process and actualy make the prints at the store you'll print them at (if you're giving them prints.) Show them what they look like. Let them realize with your skill and budget that is as good as it will get (obviously don't say it that way, but comments like "not bad considering how long I've had the camera" when you're all looking at the picture for the first time, will help set expectations.

That is all I can think of off the top of my head. There is a lot more info in my other posts, so please go look for them.

Eric

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Old Jun 30, 2004, 10:40 AM   #5
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Several years ago I also have to do a wedding for a niece that could not afford a photographer. I volunteered to take pics along with another friend. I was very lucky and my pics turned out very well and the niece and her new husband were happy. The friend who had borrowed a digital from another friend had very bad results. The biggest problem that I had was what series of photos to take. Someone has posted a link to a list of photos to take. Sit down with your sister, mother, the groom, the grooms mother and make a list of the photos they want. Good luck.
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 11:10 AM   #6
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Greg, Gibson and Eric have given some good advice. What I can give you is my impressions based upon a recent wedding that I attended, and took pictures with my Rebel. I wasn't the pro/main photographer, but I spent the day trying to look at it through the eyes of the pro. I also watched the pro who was there (with 1 film SLR and 1 medium format camera) to see what he did all day. Let me tell you....I have no desire to ever do that for money. The stress would kill me before the day was done.

Things I noted:

1) The buffer of the Rebel is pretty small. Holding only 4 shots, I had problems taking pictures of the people coming down the aisle. The pro was taking shot after shot, usually one or two of each bridesmaid. My buffer filled up, and I missed a shot of one of the bridesmaids and missed a perfect shot of the flower-girl (framed it perfectly, but when I went to click the shutter...buffer still flushing!). Was one of the reasons I upgraded to a 10D, because despite not being the pro, I'm still angry that I missed some good shots.

2) 18-55 will be tough for certain things, but not impossible. I used a 70-200 for the bridal party coming down the aisle, and also for closeup shots of the couple at the altar. Of course, the pro used a 24-70 on a film camera (which is pretty much an 18-55) but he was able to move up right behind the couple. I chatted with the guy during the wedding, and he said he had a longer lens always, because some priests/reverends want the photographer back away from the chapel. You'll want to check with your sister's church.

3) You will have to be always on. Forget enjoying your sister's wedding. The pro was on all the time. If he wasn't taking a shot of a speech, or the ceremony, he was taking candids of people in the chapel watching the ceremony, or shots of folks at tables, or setting up his gear for group photos in the reception hall lobby. Or taking his gear down. Or walking through the reception hall with the bride and groom for some extra candids.

4) Lighting is spotty at best. The chapel will be dim, and some don't allow flash. This can be a problem for the kit lens which is 3.5-5.6. I was shooting with a couple of f4s, and I had to sometimes pull out the 50 f1.8 to get the right light without flash. The reception hall will have inconsistent lighting, which doesn't mean you can't get the shot, but it means you'll have to know how to handle the shot. I didn't. The pro did.

5) Eric is right -- for any portrait type photos, the pro always used a tripod. Handheld was only for candids and during the ceremony.

6) I took close to 200 shots, and I only took them at the ceremony and at the first part of the reception. I wasn't there when the bridal party went off for a few hours of photos in a park, and I gave up taking photos after the meal, because I wanted to enjoy the rest of the reception. Plus I actually ate, so I didn't take that many shots during the reception. I have a 1GB card, but shoot RAW so in between the ceremony and the reception, I downloaded the files into a portable storage device that I have.

Upon looking at the photos afterwards, I have many decent keepers...but a lot of dogs too. More dogs than keepers for sure. Some because of lighting issues (see point 4), some because of camera shake, but many because of the subject. People blink, people look away, people have strange expressions sometimes. For example, I took pictures of my girlfriend and her sister and the bride. If I was concerned about space, I might only take one shot...but I took 4. And I'm lucking I did. Because only 1 of those 4 was useable. My girlfriend blinked in one, the bride blinked in another and her sister looks away from the camera in another.

So, I would heed Eric's advice. Set the expectation level. You might assume that since they are paying nothing they shouldn't expect a lot, but you need to make sure they understand that. I'd had my Rebel for a long time before that wedding, had taken at least 3000 shots with it, and had a full complement of lenses (Wide, Telephoto and fast prime), and I still sucked pretty bad. If the pictures I took were the "official" wedding photos and I was the groom...I'd be incredibly upset.

Anyway, that's my experience. I hope things work out well for you, but I again highly suggest you have a good talk with your sister so she understands fully what she is going to be getting.

Thanks,
Graeme
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 11:11 AM   #7
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eric s wrote:
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. . . Unfortunately you don't have exposure compensation in the drebel (I don't believe.). . .

The DR does have exposure compensation of +- 2 stops in 1/3 stop increments.

One word of adviceI can give is to practice. If this is an indoor wedding and you do purchase an external flash then you must practice with it. If you don't get a handle on the synch then your pictures will not turn out. Go out and take some shots and learn how to control the different parts of the camera. When I got mine I had experience with a SLR but not with the EOS system. It took me a few weeks to get to know most of the settings and what they do.

If you shoot in the creative zone (the M, AV, TV, etc) you will have more control over what the camera does but for now don't worry about those except for the AV mode. This is the mode I shoot most of my pictures in. If lets you choose the aperture and it sets the rest. In the basic zone for an indoor wedding I would recommend the portrait and the night portrait mode. The night portrait mode is very nice as it will have the flash go off to light up your subject but will then also let the exposure go a little bit longer after the flash has gone off. This makes the background not so dark. Remember that you can't choose RAW mode when shooting in the basic zones, only JPEG. RAW mode is only available when shooting in the creative zone. RAW mode allows you to adjust a lot of things after the fact like exposure compensation, white balance, etc. It can make a picture that you would normally delete because it is too bright or too dark into a great shot.




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Old Jun 30, 2004, 11:49 AM   #8
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What Eric was referring to regarding exposure compensation was regarding FLASH exposure compensation, and the Digital Rebel out of the box does not offer that. Flash photography with a Canon film-based SLR is completely different from using the same flash units on the digital bodies. The digital bodies, in my experience, are much harder to work with. I've always been able to get great exposures with first an Elan 7 and now my current EOS 3 film bodies by simply adding the Canonflash unit and shooting away. With the digital bodies the exposure latitude is greatly reduced compared to shooting film. Overexposure is death in digital flash photography- blown highlights are gone, gone, gone, and black and white together in the same frame create difficult lighting situations. Flash Exposure Compensation gives you the ability to give a scene more or less flash as needed. Of course, you are starting from scratch and until you've had some shooting experience you are not even going to know when to add or subtract or evenwhich way you should go, more or less light.

You have two choices when it comes to adding flash exposure compensation. If you do it Canon's way you buy the 550EX flash (expensive). With it you have the ability to set Flash Exposure Compensation from the flash unit. If you do it MY WAY, you take your brand spanking new camera and add the hacked firmware that adds the ability to set FEC from the body. Now, I understand you maybe not wanting to do that. It's a brand new camera and you don't even really know alot about its operation yet. The hack does void the cameras warranty and I really suggest you not do the hacked firmware until you've had the camera awhile and decided the added features are worth making that internal change to your camera.
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 11:55 AM   #9
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Victor-

You have gotten a TON of good advice, almost too much.

Live with your camera night and day !! Shoot til your fingers are sore !!

Set up similar shots to what you expect and shoot some more.

If you can squezze some more money absolutely buy the Flash first (Canons EX420 for about $175 will work just fine.

Shoot some more -

Sit down with a pad of paper and mentally walk through the preliminary's and the ceremony, and the reception, etc.

Write down a "shot list" and give each a priority letter (A,B,C)

Present this to your sister - discuss it and then you have a plan.

Remember you are one person and can't be two places at once - hence the priority list.

Dedicated help of any kind from a friend is almost a must-

With a little luck you should get a lot better stuff than you think. Don't be intimidated by ANYONE -
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 1:28 PM   #10
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To start off with thank you for the tips and advice, The good thing about the wedding there is a 4 other people who are ging to help with pictures 3 with one use cameras, and another with a APS camera. So I am thinking I will have a major quality edge over them. Also have a Sony DCS-75S point and shoot 3.34MP digital camera thats the one they where thinking I was going to use so they werent expecting a DSLR. I will be using the sony for the wedding too, but it only has a 64 meg stick.

Im lucky in a way cuz my pc will be in my dads RV hooked up to a UPS, so inbetween the wedding and recption I get an hour maybe a bit more to off load the images via a usb CF card reader, but could I rechange my battery in an hour or close to it?
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