Tips + Techniques

How to Use Strobes in Tricky Shooting Locales at Weddings

November 18, 2019

By Cami Grudzinski

All Photos © Cami Zi Photography

Most couples may panic at the thought of rain on their wedding day, but I love a good storm. Florida weather messes with people’s emotions—we have sudden, big storms, but they tend to be quick, leaving behind stunning skies, full of colors and textures to work with.

During this particular wedding, held at the Wishing Well Barn in Plant City, big storm clouds started forming as we were wrapping up portraits. The clouds had my heart and I wanted to keep shooting with them, but there was just no more time left—it was time to move forward with the timeline. 

I got my lights set up for the couple’s first dances and proceeded to shoot as usual, with two lights: a Godox AD600 with a Westcott Rapid Box Beauty Dish and egg crate at the bottom left corner of the dance floor, and at the top right corner, a Godox AD200 with a MagGrid, ¼ CTO gel and a MagSphere. 

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While everyone was so focused on the couple dancing, I kept wondering how the sky looked above the barn. I captured all of the traditional shots quickly and just had to run back out to check. It was such an amazing view. Luckily, the couple was turning around as they danced and I did not have to change anything in my light setup to get the shot; the couple was well lit and all stars aligned.

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All I had to do was drop my shutter speed to open up the sky, wait for the right moment, shoot and run right back in. Despite the distance from which I shot, the light helps direct your eyes straight to the couple.

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 Focal length: 24mm
f/3.5 at 1/60 ISO: 1600
Lighting: Godox AD600, Godox AD200, Westcott Rapid Box Beauty Dish with egg crate, MagGrid, ¼ CTO gel, MagSphere

The light outdoors can be unpredictable so I do my best to schedule my sessions around sunset. Sometimes my couples have limited availability, so I use strobes to work around any situation and create my own light. That’s what happened here.

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This portrait session was set to be held at the stunning Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin, Georgia, but the couple could only meet me in the middle of the day so I arrived early to scout. I found a really tight space to shoot from, but the view was worth it. I knew I wanted to frame the couple with the canyon walls so I shot with my wide lens to “open up” the space a bit more. 

Though the canyon walls were darker for the shoot than when I had first spotted them, I just added two lights to the scene: one bare Godox AD200 as my main light, set up just outside the canyon wall and at camera left, and one Godox Speedlite, positioned by my feet on a short pole with a MagSphere from MagMod, pointing up the canyon walls to open up the shadows.

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The result was a very unusual perspective, accentuating the rich colors of that scene. 

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8
Focal length: 14mm  Exposure: f/10 at 1/400 sec.
ISO: 100 Lighting: Godox AD200 (angled at 45 degrees), Godox Speedlite, MagMod MagSphere 

Right after photographing Jeff and Arlene’s wedding in Orlando, Florida, we headed to the cruise terminal at Port Canaveral to board for their honeymoon. I was hired to tag along during their trip to the Bahamas to photograph a few additional sessions with the couple and their families.

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We were on our way to board the ship and as we walked up the gangway, I noticed the lines and the blue glass. I just couldn’t pass the opportunity to shoot a portrait there. Knowing of strict security rules in these kinds of areas, I asked permission before pitching the idea to the couple just to make sure that we would not get in trouble and ruin their honeymoon. Security told me I had zero seconds to do it and that I could not stop the boarding flow. 

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I sent up Anna, my assistant, (at camera left, hiding in a very small gap) with a small Godox Speedlite and a MagMod MagGrid with a ¼ CTO gel. I checked my exposure and as the couple approached me, I asked them to drop their bags with their family and quickly stop just past where Anna was positioned. We took three frames and kept moving.

Adding the light here helped create a more colorful look in camera, and the ¼ CTO gel allowed me to drop the white balance a bit so that I could bring out the blues and add warmth to the center of the image where the couple was standing. 

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Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8
Focal length: 24mm
Exposure: f/4 at 1/250 sec.
ISO: 100
Lighting: Godox Speedlite (angled at 45 degrees), Magmod MagGrid with ¼ CTO gel

Cami Grudzinski (Cami Zi Photography), is a wedding photographer based in Gulf Breeze, Florida. She was designated a 30 Rising Star of Wedding Photography in 2017. She has spoken at, judged and won a Grand award at WPPI’s print competition.