When a bride-to-be approached me few months ago about her New Year's Eve wedding, that would take place AFTER sunset (oh dear me... wedding photography in winter is nice, but at night? When it's pitch dark by 4.30 pm and COLD?), I was very eager to embrace and tackle the challenge, but at the same time, wrecking my brain a bit on how to do it not just well, but stunningly, breathtakingly well. Not only would it be dark, it would also be outdoor, when you could not bounce the flash/speedlight anywhere (the sky is the limit....)
My previous intriguing night shot was with the sparklers photos.
Google is an indispensable source of knowledge for simple, easy-to-understand instructions to do the kind of night photography (when it's pitch dark outside) that I had in my head.
1. Focusing in Low Light (or Almost Totally Dark) Situations
So I did few tests indoor (it was -30 C that week in Calgary) with all the lights turned off. Because the flash could still be bounced off the ceiling, it was too easy. No good. Then I braved the cold and practiced outside with my speedlight (off camera) and an umbrella. My 1st biggest issue was the focus. It was almost impossible to focus when it was pitch dark outdoor. All photos ended up blurry. At first, I thought I'd need a continuous lighting (e.g. video light... or strobe light) so that I could find the focus, and most importantly, would have, well, continuous lighting.
Off I went to Strobepro, my trusty local lighting equipment shop (who not only offer unbeatable prices, but super helpful people at the store). When I talked to one of the guys, and when he knew what equipment I had, he told me I needed not to buy anything from the store, as I had everything I ever needed for my situation. Huh? They did not want to just sell me their stuff unnecessarily! Yay!
2. Taking Photos Outdoor at Night
The staff at Rouge Restaurant was marvelous; they let me use their garden at night to test my lighting. I did go and practice for 2-3 evenings prior to the wedding.
And here are some shots: