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  • Writer's pictureGiovanni Rusconi

Exposure times in wedding photos

Exposure times in wedding photos

Wedding photography, and not only that, involves many technical aspects that a good professional photographer must know.

Among these, exposure times, or shutter speeds, are one of the most important elements, because the sharpness of the final shot depends on them.

What are photography exposure times

Let's start immediately with the definition of exposure time, or shutter speed. That is, the time that regulates the amount of light that reaches the sensor so that the brightness of the photograph is always correct and natural.

The higher the shutter speed, the brighter the shot. Conversely, a decreasing variation produces darker photographs.

As always, things change from theory to practice. In fact, there are circumstances in which it becomes necessary for the wedding photographer to force the exposure time in order to obtain the desired effect. For example, if you want to take a particularly exposed creative shot.

Being outdoors or in a studio with the right light, it is possible to use short times and have perfect photos, but of course this is not the case with a wedding. Especially during the church wedding: a typically less than ideal environment in terms of lighting. In this case, how do you do it?

Although the camera almost always chooses the shutter speed automatically, the art of photography requires improvisation and experience. This is why it is always better to turn to a professional wedding photographer, rather than an improvised one.

In fact, you need a very steady hand, capable of holding the camera still even when it is not possible to use the help of a tripod. Situation in which I often find myself in church, since it is necessary to constantly change position to photograph the wedding ceremony from multiple angles without bothering the bride and groom, the don and the guests.

We must always keep in mind that it is a sacred rite and that therefore there are very specific rules. For example, the wedding photographer can only approach certain moments, such as baptism, exchange of vows and rings, and communion. Otherwise we have to be invisible!

Typically, you need to use an aperture speed of 1/60 or longer. But let's see what all the main opening times are and when it is appropriate to use them.

The main aperture times for photographing weddings

There are different exposure times, depending on the subject to be photographed. Let's start with the ones most used by wedding photographers like us at the wedding photography studio in Milan.

As anticipated, the opening times most suitable for a church ceremony or a civil union are the longest exposure times. This is because the subjects are typically still or make rather slow movements. In this case, it is therefore necessary to set a time of 1/60 of a second or less, in order to ensure that the photos are not "shaky".

However, this is not always the case. Often during the wedding we find ourselves using the zoom and in this case a slightly shorter shutter speed is required. For example 1/125th of a second. Furthermore, if the light is very poor, as already mentioned, stability is essential. The hand must be still: this is why, if possible, it is best to use a support (for example a tripod).

The shutter speed of 1/60, therefore, is good for photographing still or slowly moving subjects, such as guests talking or the bride walking towards the altar. But what should we choose if we want to photograph faster movements?

As you may have guessed, the times need to be lowered. For example, if you want to take a shot of children chasing each other or the groom on a bicycle, it becomes necessary to change to 1/125 or 1/250 of a second.

Finally, for faster subjects the photographer will choose short exposure times, from 1/500 of a second up, up to 1/2000 or 1/4000. This applies, among other things, to moving cars or sporting events (usually 1/1000).

Exposure, like depth of field, can only have a direct impact on shots and the final quality. This is why these are rules that a professional wedding photographer must always keep in mind, because during an event such as a wedding, to have an excellent wedding album, it is always advisable to vary, photographing the different stages of the ceremony and various subjects.

However, it is also important to consider that these are not independent photographic elements, but rather, it is necessary to take them into consideration together depending on the context. For example, shutter speeds are also influenced by the distance to the object or the viewing angle.

One more reason to always turn to an experienced photography professional.

Read the other blog articles if you want to discover other technical aspects of wedding photography.

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