This picture of our bride by the third floor San Francisco City Hall window is one of my favorites. The reason I like it so much is because it really shows the texture of the wedding dress. This detail comes from the fact that the natural light is approaching from the side of the dress. This creates fine shadow detail that highlights the texture in any type of photo. As a San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer I feel it is important to show texture and detail in my images. Using direct flash mounted on the camera could prevent this type of detail from being seen. So this is why we rely primarily on off-camera lighting or natural window light within the building. Fortunately San Francisco City Hall gives us all kinds of opportunities to do both. The neutral walls help with bounce flash illumination. We can also rely on the beautiful natural light that comes in through the North facing windows that are prevalent at city hall. The important thing about making this type of photo successful is the angle of the light. Light that comes directly in to a photography will hide detail and texture. Think of the full moon which is amazing to look at but absent of any real detail. But if you were to look through a telescope at a half moon, you will notice that right along the edges you can easily see craters and other textures. This is because on the moon, those areas are experiencing a low sun angle and thus lots of shadows that help define texture. It works the same way with photography, keeping the light source coming in low and from the side will produce amazing detail. This pose is fairly simple but still does a nice job displaying the wedding dress. I like this type of silhouette when we have a big dress like this one because it really shows off the size and beauty of the bride's gown. This formal bridal portrait is just one of the many types of images we create at San Francisco city hall.
Have you ever wondered why photography studios always have a lighting set up that includes lights coming in from each side of the subject? In addition, one of these light sources is usually quite large. This type of professional lighting does 2 things as we referenced above. 1. It creates soft and complimentary light on the subject due to the large light source which essentially wraps around the subject, and 2. The side angle of light, creates soft shadows that help to enhance the texture and adds dimension to the image. We obviously cannot bring a studio with us to every wedding photography shoot, but we try to mirror the type of beautiful studio light mentioned above. We can accomplish this through the use of natural light from windows and also our off camera portable lighting set up.