As a wedding photographer, having the highest quality devices and equipment at my fingertips is crucial. I cannot afford to miss a memorable moment due to my equipment. If a special moment passes without being captured, then I am, very literally, going to pay for it.
Preparations for shooting a wedding are extensive. But the more I prepare, the more smoothly the wedding will go—not only for me, but also for the bride and groom. These preparations generally are geared toward improving my digital workflow after the wedding, so the couple can see their photos faster. This will not only make my clients happy—and, hopefully, sing my praises to their soon-to-be-married friends—but the decreased turnaround time on delivering the images will also make my business more profitable.
One essential piece of equipment I always use when shooting weddings is ExpoImaging’s ExpoDisc. This custom white balance filter, which attaches to the lens of a digital SLR, allows photographers to quickly achieve an accurate custom white balance.
The ExpoDisc is best utilized during controlled studio and location shoots, where the photographer has time to set up his shots and get the perfect white balance. Applying an ExpoDisc custom white balance rather than an auto white balance will produce the best color.
However, due to the spontaneous nature of weddings, where I am exposing a shot every 20 seconds over an eight-hour period, taking a custom white balance for every shot is not practical. Even so, I still find the ExpoDisc an invaluable tool for calibrating multiple cameras before the shoot to ensure consistency among the cameras’ individual white balances, even if I am unable to use the ExpoDisc to set a custom white balance for every shot.
Working with an assistant and shooting the same subject with multiple cameras and lenses poses numerous problems for a wedding photographer. I frequently use a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with a portrait lens, while my assistant shoots either a Canon EOS 5D with a wide-angle lens, or the Canon 20D.
Before I started using the ExpoDisc, I would frequently find that pictures my assistant and I shot of the same subject resulted in images with completely different color casts. Images from my camera might have a cyan cast, while images from my assistant’s camera would have a magenta cast. Having to manually tweak the color on 1,500 images I typically shoot at a wedding created a tremendous amount of detail work in post processing.
Rather than use the ExpoDisc continuously throughout the wedding to set custom white balances for every shot, my solution to these problems is to use the ExpoDisc to calibrate all four of my cameras’ auto white balances (AWB) prior to the wedding. That way I know my multiple cameras will be calibrated to achieve consistent results, even if the cameras are different models using different lenses.
To calibrate my cameras for consistency, before the wedding, I put the ExpoDisc on each camera. Using the Auto White Balance feature of the camera, I take a properly exposed shot of the sun. I then remove the Lexar CompactFlash card from the camera and read the file’s color balance info in Photoshop. I adjust the color balance of each of the cameras to neutral gray using the camera’s color adjustment feature, thus balancing each camera to neutral as seen by the camera’s auto white balance through the ExpoDisc. The cameras are then ‘color matched.’ I achieve consistently balanced shots in all my cameras, indoors and out.
Although the cameras’ AWB feature is not as consistent as an ExpoDisc’s custom white balance, having consistency across cameras and having each camera’s AWB calibrated properly saves significant time in post-processing. With the newfound freedom that comes with using the ExpoDisc, I am able to shoot more freely and get better, more subtle shots, knowing that my post-production time will be greatly reduced.
When the wedding ends, my post-production work begins. Before using the ExpoDisc, I had to go through every shot and manually adjust the color. This sometimes meant going through hundreds and hundreds of shots, fine-tuning the color to make the images look right. Now, using the ExpoDisc to set the cameras’ auto white balances before the wedding, I save about 80 percent of the time I would normally spend manually tweaking every image. When I couple that with using my Lexar Pro CF cards and stackable Lexar card readers, my turnaround time has been greatly improved. Within two days, my pictures are online for the newlyweds to see and select their favorites.
The ExpoImaging ExpoDisc has greatly improved my digital imaging workflow. I can now spend more time capturing memories and less time perfecting them. My clients are happy and my business is more profitable. That’s a combination any photographer would welcome.
For more on the Expodisc, visit www.expoimaging.com.