Available Light is the light you have available to you at any given time
When shooting a wedding there is a lot of pressure, not just on the bride and groom, but the photographer as well. It’s important to find your compositions quickly and utilize available light. By “available light” I mean, the light you have available to you at any given time. This could be the natural ambient light of the room, could be strobes, could be a hot shoe flash. In this case it was a flashlight. That’s right, every wedding that I shoot, I keep a Brinkman flashlight in my gear bag. Why? Because it ROCKS! Let’s take a look at an example.
Know the color temperature of your light source
Typically on a wedding day, I try to shoot as much ambient light as I can. Simply because it makes my job and my assistant’s job much easier throughout the course of the day. The unity candles & white roses were a centerpiece in the church I was shooting in. It had significance and importance. Something about it caught my eye. But the lighting in the room was just flat. Knowing what my mind’s eye was seeing, I knew I had to bring in another source of light. For this shot, I brought out my Brinkman flashlight. Being that this light has a color temperature of a tungsten flavored light source, I simply set my white balance on my camera to tungsten. Sometimes, depending on the subject, I may dial down the color temperature to around 3000 kelvin.
Backlighting your subject
I knew this shot would look very nice backlit. So that’s exactly what I went for. I had my assistant hold the flashlight at about a 45 degree angle from behind the subject. The light wrapped around the roses and unity candles quite nicely. As you can see, light is light. I could have used a strobe, I could have used the ambient light in the room. I used what was available to me at the time; my flashlight. Knowing exactly how to achieve the images you are seeing in your head is one of the hardest things to accomplish as a photographer. And when we can achieve it, is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a photographer. Hopefully this post has inspired you in some way, shape or form, to think more about light and composition when you are creating images for your clients. Playing around with alternate light sources can be a lot of fun, try it!