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Settings for a wedding in April, late in the day

edited April 2012 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
This comment has been converted into it's own thread...

@onoblvd's question: I bought two new lenses to go with my kit lens, the Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 and the 35mm f/1.8. The wedding is in April and will be outdoors at 6:30pm, but pictures will begin around 5pm. Reception will be indoors with available lighting, however, I will have a SB-800 external flash.

I'm working on shooting with Aperture priority (A) mode and the available scene modes. Should I try using the Dusk/Dawn, Sunset or one of the other modes?

@Moose's answer: When the sun is low, it's going to be hard to get a sharp shot using a long focal length, so I would leave the 55-300mm at home and focus on using the 35mm f/1.8 and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (kit lens). As for settings, I would stick to the Portrait and Night Portrait scene modes. The Dusk/Dawn and Sunset modes are designed for landscapes, meaning the D5100 will choose a high f-number in order to lengthen the depth of field. When shooting portraits and small groups, you actually want a lower f-number to isolate the subject/s against a blurry background.

If you don't feel like using scene modes, you can use Aperture priority (A) and adjust the f-number based on the subject or scene. For portraits, food, hands, flowers, etc... use lower f-numbers between f/1.8 to f/2.8. For groups of 2 to 3 people, raise it between f/2.8 to f/4. For larger groups, bump it up between f/5.6 to f/8. For landscapes or interiors, adjust it between f/8 to f/16.

As for your flash, I recommend using a diffuser (see here) when pointing the flash directly at your subjects. This will help spread the light, for more natural skin tones. If the reception hall has short ceilings, you can remove the diffuser and just angle the flash head upwards and bounce the light off the ceiling.

Hope that helps and happy shooting! :)


  • edited March 2014
    Same situation for me as well, I'm using my D5100 but renting a 17-55mm f/2.8.
    I was going for the 24-70mm but because of the sensor, I felt I would be better served working with the 17-55mm.
    It is also at 6pm, March 22nd, and I'm praying for warm/no rain weather. In Alabama, you never know, you could have snow (I'll take bread, haha kidding).
    It is a small venue outside and the reception is under a white tent.

    The thing I am concerned about the most is the 17-55mm will be pretty much my only lens.
    When it comes to taking pictures at the alter, I don't think I will be any further than 35 to 50 feet away and that's where I am concerned.
    I don't want to become a spectacle and move around too much, but I don't want to miss anything either.
    For the service, while standing in the back, I was going to start with f/8, shutter 125 and ISO 400 (all depending of course) with a Demb "flip it" on my SB 800.
    That's where I get a little uneasy. Portraits, rings and food really don't worry me, it's the groups that worry me. I'm always concerned about individuals out of focus and I'm afraid with the 17-55mm the groups of the wedding party and families will have that problem.
    With the aperture at f/8 or f/11, do you think that would be ok?
    Thanks for your help.
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