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    I am a complete novice in the photography realm, I have read everything I can get my hands on and take as many shots in every different place I can find. I have a older Nikon D70 that I had the good fortune to come into, I cannot afford anything better at the moment. My finances also dictate that I have 2 manual lenses and one AutoFocus lense. Therefore I shoot in manual almost every shot so I don’t have to keep switching modes. The lenses I do have are the AF NIKKOR 28-85mm 1:3.5-4.5    The Toyo optics 500mm F:8 Mirror Lense and the Vivitar 70-210mm 1:4.5

    I know none of the equipment is high-end, but what I am wondering is it allowing me to produce acceptable results. I have done some photo shoots for family and friends who just wanted some nice shots for a frame, they saw the shots I produced and decided to ask me to do a wedding. Keep in mind I am not charging for any of my services, I have been using these shoots as a chance to grow. Wedding’s have a whole different importance to them, I can’t just reshoot the next day.

    I will link my Deviant Art account and if you have comments and critiques about how to improve my photos I would be very appreciative. I tried to tell the friends who want me to do their wedding to get a Professional photographer but alas they have stingier pockets than I. I’m more concerned about how well I handle the photos of people, but anything you have to say to help me improve the others would be fantastic. My goal is to learn, improve, save some money for some real equipment and then think about Charging. Way down the road.  If you think I am one of these Fauxtog and have a better chance of harassing them into finding a better photographer than improving my skills, I’m ready to hear it.


    Thank you for your consideration.


    Wedding photography is not for beginners.  If they really, really want you, tell them you have to rent proper equipment and they are paying for it.  You need to figure out what the environment is/will be, then plan accordingly.  If shooting in a dark church, you need bodies that handle low light well, that is, high ISO with low noise, and you need really fast lenses — f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8.  The challenge with those lenses is DOF.  At f/1.2 it can be pretty thin.  Focus is critical and it is best to set your auto-focus point on your subject and leave it there.  Focus and recompose can be enough movement to get blur where it must be sharp.  If the church is reasonably lit, you can use pro-grade zoom lenses — constant maximum aperture of f/2.8.  A couple of stops slower than the primes but with Vibration Reduction they can work pretty well.  You want one that is really wide, 16 mm on a full frame body.  You want one that is moderately wide to moderately long, 24 or 28 mm to 70 or 80 mm, and you want a long one, 70 to 200 mm.  The really wide one is not used a lot, switch it with one of the other two when needed, try to switch to the lens you expect to not need next.  For this to work, you need two bodies.  You also need spare memory and spare batteries.  If you will be shooting outdoors and/or at the reception, you will need flash, at least one per body.  Off camera flash is an option but may be too complex to bother with unless you have an assistant to keep track of gear and move things around for you.  If you are indoors, you can point the flash straight up, rotate the head 90° and put a white card around the rear half as it sits on the camera.  Hold the card on with an elastic.  Cheaper and more effective than the light domes.  You will need a couple of extra sets of batteries for each flash unless you also rent the external power packs, but then you are carrying extra weight around on your belt.  Even after the photos are taken, there is a lot of post processing and someone has to deal with printing or laying out photo books.  All areas worth learning, but I hope you can get out of being their photographer.


    Your gallery:

    In 20130311-MelGrad, she has her shoulders too square to the camera.  If possible, the light should have been 2 or 3 feet higher.  The background is not doing you any favours.

    In Grad Photo Japanese Gardens, firing a strobe would have put catch lights into their eyes.  The light looks quite flat.  That background is not doing you any favours, either.  A faster lens and moving them from the background would cause it to blur.   Adding flash would let you get a darker sky.

    SumMelon, why the tilt?  Why eating? It shows her hands pretty well!

    Wind Surfing, was that taken with the mirror lens?  Look at the difference between sky in the middle, and sky at the upper edges!  You seem to have several spare kites in the photo too!  And, all the water is running out of my monitor onto the floor.  Rotate it without cropping, then clone in some sky and water before cropping.

    The Jones, is suffering from a keystone effect.  Better editors have a tool to straighten the image.

    Red Raiders Reciever, needs a tighter crop.  “Receiver” is the correct spelling.  A portrait crop from the top, down to the bottom of his jersey should be enough to hold him and the ball, with almost nothing else.  You should have enough pixels to do that, I think that would give a really good photo.

    Untitled, could be called “Death with tulips”.  The lighting is bad.

    Gaze, needs levelling.  What do you see in the photo that is compelling?  Why should anyone look at it?  What story does it tell?

    OK, enough already.  The planes and fish are pretty reasonable.  The football player is your best photo, but it needs a tighter crop, and that team really needs to get numbers onto the shoulders of their jerseys.




    Wow, thanks alot! That was a lot more consideration than I was expecting so again, thanks. I will put foreword the possibility of renting the professional equipment, but then we have the problem of me not being familiar with it. The only reason I am still considering doing this is because they have told me if I do not do it then they will just get disposable camera’s and let the guests take the photos. I know my work is juvenile  but I think it’s better than what they would get if they did that?

    Ok so I need to work on the posing of my subjects is what I am understanding from the first one. The background is what they wanted, but what is the detractor that you are seeing?

    I have an external flash that I am using, again it is manual and so I am obviously not getting the lighting I need. Ok so find new backgrounds, I will do that.

    The Sum Melon photo was pretty much an accident, I was shooting a plane flying really low overhead and I was lowering my camera and saw her having trouble and making a mess with the watermelon, so I snapped a quick photo. I really wish the tilt hadn’t of been so severe.

    Wind Surfing was taken on a boat going 25mph with that manual Mirror lense, I wanted it straighter but I try not to edit to much in post. I’m trying to force myself to get it better the first time, but I like your suggestion and will make the changes again.

    The Jones is suffering from an effect I could never put a name to, so thanks for pointing it out! I will attempt to correct this with my Photoshop.

    I am glad I have at least one decent photo to work with. I took that with that manual zoom lense as well, it was at a College Scrimmage game so that is why there are no numbers. It is a friend of mine though so I know the number, I could always put his number on him and make it “pop” with some selective coloring. (This was a joke.) I will perform this crop you suggested.

    Untitled was a photo for a friend who wanted it so he could have a computer background, I think the photo could be great without those dead limbs, or the building, maybe just the moon…. I’m being facetious of course.

    Gaze is a personal photo. The Woman in the photo had just lost her father and they used to spend a lot of time on that lake together. I will try to level it.

    The planes and fish are just ones I had fun with, obviously my 4mp olympus and canon were a bit dated and low quality at the time. But I like them because they were fun and I’m not trying to sell a client with them.

    Thank you for the time you took to address my photo’s. Obviously I have a lot of room to grow, I would ask if I was to buy equipment first should I invest in a better body or lenses first? When I get on my feet again I would like to get very serious with Photography.


    Apparently I don’t know how to edit a previous posting. I went through and made the changes you suggested. Thank you for your input.


    If you rent gear, arrange to get it a day or two early and practice a lot.  Nikon and Canon manuals are available on-line so you can download and study them weeks ahead, for as long as needed.  Some people don’t feel photos are important.  Some budgets are small.  The thing with wedding photos is the recording of history.  You spend a lot of effort taking great photos, editing, printing.  The bride, groom and their parents glance through the photos, yawn, and put the album on a shelf, where it collects dust for 20 or 30 years.   Then a child is getting married, and suddenly there is interest in those old photos.  Lo and behold, there is a picture of Mary and Phil, who were divorced 15 years ago, there’s Uncle Fred who passed away 3 summers ago, and there’s Joan who was only 5, and she just got married last year …   You get the idea.

    The background is not as bad as it could be.  But, also perhaps not as good.  If you have a really nice background, or the background is important to show where it was taken, like a photo of me standing in front of a glacier, or Niagara Falls, I need the background details to be clear so the viewer can at a glance see where I was.  If I am standing in front of a couple of garbage cans and a rusty car, perhaps I don’t need a nice sharp background to show where I am.   Those are extremes.  Your photo has a lot of plants that are just “busy work” for the eye.  In focus so it is easy to see individual branches and leaves, but also a lot of distracting detail.  By moving your subject further from the background and positioning yourself properly, a wide aperture will cause the background to be out of focus.  This works better with longer lenses.   It will work at f/5.6 but it is a lot easier at f/1.4, too.

    Compare this version of your photo to the original.  What do you think?


    Untitled was a photo for a friend who wanted it so he could have a computer background, I think the photo could be great without those dead limbs, or the building, maybe just the moon…. I’m being facetious of course.

    Uhmm… The other Untitled.  It’s nice you have a sense of humour about this though!

    Thank you for the time you took to address my photo’s. Obviously I have a lot of room to grow, I would ask if I was to buy equipment first should I invest in a better body or lenses first?

    It depends.  What you want to achieve and budget have input into the decision.  Basically, a great body and cheap lenses will under perform.  A great lens and a cheap body may also under perform, but to a lesser degree and in different ways.  A great lens and a great body will deliver the best result, most easily.  I shoot with Canon, you could translate this to Nikon, I’m sure:  I have a 5D Mk III, which is one body from the flagship, and which for a number of reasons, I like better.  I also have a 550D, which is older, plastic, and a step or two from the bottom of the dSLR line.  This month I have shot 1500 frames with the 550D and 25 frames with the 5D.  Some photos are just easier with the 5D because it has a much more robust auto-focus and is a stop or two better in low light.  The 5D is full frame, so lenses are bigger and heavier.  The top photo here:  http://cameraclicker.com/Compare/Sensors/Sensors.html, shows a couple of my favourite super zoom lenses.  The lens on the left is on my 550D most of the time.  To get an equivalent zoom range with the 5D, I would have to use the lens on the right.  If I have to carry it all day, I will choose the 550D unless I really need what the 5D can do for me.  A difference between Canon and Nikon is that Nikon crop sensor lenses mostly work on full frame Nikon bodies and Canon crop sensor lenses cannot be attached to Canon full frame bodies.

    Nikon and Canon both make inexpensive 50 mm f/1.8 prime lenses.  Build quality is what you would expect for around $130, but optical quality is reasonable.  If you have little budget, I would start there, then build a collection of lenses and upgrade bodies based on what the upgrade would do for me.  Also, check the used market.  Study before purchase.  Nikon have some odd rules around auto-focus.  Look through lenses from the front with a light at the back, you should  be able to see the walls inside.  You want to avoid lenses with mould inside.


    I think you will do better than the guests with disposable cameras but bear in mind shooting a wedding is a mammoth task and it is really hard to get it right. If they can rent you a nikon D600 and a 24-70 f2.8 lens it should be a great start, if they can get a 70-200 f2.8 (stabilised version preferably) you’d have a very good set up. If you can swing a 35mm f2 lens from nikon it would be of great help as the shorter lens gets a more manageable depth of field at large apertures than a longer lens will. The 35mm will be ideal on your D70 also as a walk around lens and at a little over $300 new it is great value and more versatile in the future than a 50mm will be. Maybe get them to buy you a used lens as a thank you for doing all that work with shooting the wedding? It won’t be that expensive on the used market.

    One tip I would give you is to shoot wide rather than close ups as you can then crop the shots to get better framing as that is something your shots in the portfolio is lacking in general. With the extra megapixels you can crop more and still get a sharp shot


    To CameraClicker:

    Sorry for the delayed response! I have been talking over the advice I have received here with my friends and they will not be renting equipment. They did say they would buy me the 50mm lense that you suggested however! I have done as much research as I know how on the lense and it looks like the most viable option for getting them quality without breaking the budget they have! They said the budget of the whole wedding was $2,000 so this should be an affordable compromise.

    Ok again some helpful and informative tips on how to select my background, I really like the change that you made by blurring out the background! It definitely helps, I see what you meant by a lack of catch lights in the eyes now. I was told by my friend who has been doing photography for a long time that I should almost never edit a photo in post, but I figured out how to add the catch lights in lightroom, is there a taboo I am breaking by doing this?

    Oh the other Untitled, good thing there were only two. It was purposely played with, we were having fun and I wanted to see what changing setting would do to my camera in the Direct Sun, I wanted the highlights on her skin and I got them ok, it was the same day as the one photo you blurred the background for me. If I brighten it up any it is to grainy, so I left it.

    I looked around and I will just keep the Nikon D70 and upgrade my lenses Starting with the AF-S 50mm that you recommended, I am very excited about learning that lense!

    Well shucks, I thought the mould meant the lense had aged properly! No but really I will check for mould now, I didn’t know that was even an issue!

    To Nesgran:

    Thanks, I am definitely daunted by this task and I wanted to make sure I was at least competent for them. I am definitely checking into the 35mm lense you talked about, and as for getting them to foot the lense they offered to get me the 50mm as it will give them better photo’s and it will compensate me for my time. As for the shooting wide, I am always afraid with my older camera I may not have the Megapixels for quality when I want to crop the image so I have developed a habit of shooting close. I will experiment with the wider angles though!

    Thanks for the input again, I am excited to try shooting and feel alot better about doing this for them now!






    Since you are shooting on the Nikon DX format the 35 mm DX lens price point wise isn’t that bad at all. I just got the 35mm DX-f/1.8g for $200 new.


    The Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G (check your camera manual, you may need G lenses instead of D lenses in order for autofocus to work on your camera body) is in FX format only last I checked but would still work with your camera and is running around $240 a pop.


    Hey Cassie

    I actually found a Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 and it has an aperture ring so I believe it is a D lense. Correct me if I am wrong but from my understanding the D70 wants me to set the Aperture to the highest setting on the ring, lock it in and then adjust it from the rear wheel on the Camera. So it should shoot from either lense with the same results. It is much cheaper than the AF-S and since they are on such a tight budget I will just quote them on the AF not the AF-S (difference of over $100).

    As far as I can tell it will work with my camera beautifully, minus the 1.5x crop factor?


    My understanding is you get the same image with the 50mm DX and the 50mm FX on the DX body, but the DX lens is usually cheaper and more compact.

    D means there is an aperture ring, yes. But D lenses also don’t have an internal focus motor so if the D70 body doesn’t have it’s own focus motor it’ll work on your camera but at the same time it won’t. Like I can technically use D lenses on my D3100 but only at the narrowest aperture and it doesn’t AF so it’s not worth the savings at all. The mount on the G lens is better though and it’s heavier because there’s less plastic in it. I have the 18-55 kit lens and also a 28-85mm D lens and there is a pretty significant difference in quality between the two mounts and lens elements.


    Ok I understand that, I have a internal motor in my D70 and the quality shouldn’t be too big of a problem as the glass quality is apparently very nice. I am very cautious with my lenses since I know I cant afford to replace them, so I think the 50mm AF will do very nicely for me!

    Thanks for your suggestions, I feel better having those questions answered for sure!


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