Making Hard Lighting Work

Often bad light is just bad light and there’s not much to be done about it. Sometimes it’s flat and bland, other times it’s harsh and contrasty. Spotlights on the altar in an otherwise dark chapel are a particular nemesis. Because I don’t use flash during the ceremony (most times it’s not allowed anyway) there are times when unflattering light is severely limiting.

But there are other times when it is possible to turn that limitation into creative opportunities. In this case, the late afternoon sun streamed in through the high windows to paint the far wall in brilliant light that was much brighter than the altar area. By getting low and setting my exposure to the brilliance beyond, I was able to render the waiting groom as a deep silhouette. I particularly like how the shapes work together to make a dynamic graphic out of a scene with little or no movement.

Harsh lighting can make for dramatic images.

As a point of storytelling, it was also important to include both individuals in the frame. The bride was hearing impaired and the woman in the back signed for her throughout the ceremony. While there are other photos of the groom by himself watching his lovely bride walk down the aisle, this photo both tells a broader story and makes interesting use of otherwise not so interesting light.

How I Work:

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