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The Royal PDC Gazebo - ceremony recommendations by del Sol Photography


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#1 Matt Adcock

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    Posted 05 May 2010 - 06:12 PM

    Ceremony location at the Royal, PDC. Gazebo... the big question.... Do we have the wedding inside or outside of the Gazebo, or at the edge? What about it being dark? My thoughts on gazebo's go pretty much hand in hand for all gazebos. I thought I'd clear a few things up... or to throw a PUN in there... shed some LIGHT on the situation.

    The biggest problem we have at the Royal's Gazebo location is that more often than not, brides are planning their ceremony spots INSIDE the Gazebo. While this sounds like a super nice idea on paper and in your mind, lighting wise, its real tough on us photographers.

    A few things...and let this serve as my disclaimer... (we don't claim to be the overall authority either, just an opinion and you know what they say about those :) Consider these basic principals when trying to visualize how light actually works and then try to apply them. I don't expect you to completely understand all of this, so if you want to play it safe, just trust me :)

    1. Light vs Dark. Its obvious...where there is light, you can see better. Where there is dark, you can't see detail as much... Seems pretty simple eh? Well, consider that the human eye can see about 15 levels of detail in a subject falling under any given light circumstances from the brightest bright to the darkest dark. 15 levels of detail. This can also be considered a latitude of detail from brightest to dark. Well, the camera only sees 5 levels of detail under the same lighting conditions. Sounds confusing...well, not really. Just know the human eye is VERY sensitive to light and the camera is NOT.

    2. Apply light vs dark principal to under the gazebo vs not under it. Its that simple, just stand at the edge and by principal alone, there will be more light falling on you vs what would be inside. This is major for our cameras.

    3. Gazebo by the ocean. This needs to be a reality check here because we seem to be realizing a lot of misconceptions, specifically at the RPDC. Just because you are choosing a location that is near the ocean, or "oceanside" as the Royal's Marketing may suggest, its very less likely that your photos will actually have anything in them suggesting you were oceanside... i'm going to provide photo examples below to explain my point....

    There are lots of positive points about the Gazebo location... 1..that its private is a BIG bonus. PDC has a LOT of tourists on the beach, just about every day. This can't be avoided with lots of by-standards hanging around in clothing that may make you blush :) The Gazebo eliminates that.

    In closing on my initial thoughts about the Gazebo, I'd like everybody to know that the privacy element to the Gazebo is one of our favorite elements about weddings here... There are lots of possibilities in and around the garden area for great shots too, so we highly recommend this spot. Just use discretion when planning here.

    Ok, i'm going to provide a few photo examples just to shore up my thoughts on the Gazebo and lighting around. Most of my examples relate to weddings that are shot in the afternoon 3pm before daylight savings or 5pm or so after daylight savings.

    When you plan your wedding next to the far back side, meaning your bridal party stands inside (usually all the guests are in there too) this is when the photographic problems start to begin for us. In this wedding, bride and groom are at the very back edge with such a beautiful ocean background... but, without some sort of artificial lighting (big studio strobe flashes) they are standing in darkness. Make sense? The ocean is about 100-150 feet away, and in TOTAL brightness. Remember my example above, bright vs dark. The light at the ocean is more than 15 times brighter than the light under the gazebo. Remember, the human eye sees 15 levels of detail, but the camera only sees 5.

    So, in this first example. Shot October 29 at 5:15pm, right around sunset
    Click the image to open in full size.

    We used the silhouette technique here, and notice that the sky and ocean are dramatically dark... this is a photo technique where we underexpose the background to draw emphasis. But, you get the idea bright vs dark.

    Ok, here is the same bride Click the image to open in full size.

    Keep in mind, we shoot mostly available light for every single ceremony we have ever photographed at, this is a style choice and Id say that most of our pro photog buddies do the same. Direct flash during a ceremony is kinda ugly. Now, my above photo example you can now notice, all background of that pretty ocean is GONE, all white. Thus, the backlight. Now, a flash may be a problem solver, but it would be a little intrusive for us to use during a ceremony, which is another reason we use natural light.

    Here is the SAME couple, just a few seconds before the first kiss, here we have exposed for the background (WAY darker, which puts the people totally under silhouette.
    Click the image to open in full size.

    My intention by posting these images and giving my short descriptions is to help you visualize what we are thinking and seeing as we shoot.

    Ok, here is a different couple, we used natural light to illuminate the subjects, background is GONE...
    Click the image to open in full size.
    Now, unless your photographer uses very powerful flash during the ceremony (almost studio quality lighting), your photos with available light will look like this. I don't think this is bad at all, just a style choice. You can see that this couple is inches away from the back side, the fence on the edge of the gazebo as well. You can check out Click the image to open in full size.


    Logistically, being on that back edge brings 1 more challenge. As storytellers, we are stoked to get those moments where bride sees groom walking down the isle and groom sees her, or a handshake to dad giving his daughter away...a moment that we feel deserves to be shot from both sides. IF you want to stand a few inches away from the beach side edge of the gazebo, forget about seeing these kind of photos...

    In this wedding, the bride stood at the edge of the gazebo, giving our photographers the chance to shoot from two perspectives..


    Click the image to open in full size.
    These two are all about daddy...he gets the look from his daughter

    Click the image to open in full size.
    Daddy gets that handshake of respect from the groom...

    Keep in mind, if you stand against the back edge, this kind of photojournalism is nearly impossible. I'd change the entire setup for this reason alone, if it were my wedding to plan.

    Ok, so now I think we are getting somewhere in terms of planning ideas and what Light VS dark is really all about. Now, lets throw in 1 more twist. Keep in mind, that most afternoon weddings take place when the sun is at such a low angle in the sky, that the actual building of the Royal casts a shadow on the entire location at the gazebo. This makes the light nice and even, meaning LOW CONTRAST, which essentially is an easier condition to make photographs in. BUT, a few things to consider... The light outside is on the ocean side is going to be WAY stronger, thus if we expose our images to light the wedding area (in shade) then the background is going to appear over exposed.

    Here is an example:
    Click the image to open in full size.
    Image shot on March 29, 4:12 pm.
    This is a beautiful photo for our clients to remember exactly what happened and what the setup looked like on the wedding day, it shows a scene setter and displays all the guests in attendance. With the way the camera works we have a tough time shooting the sky and ocean unless we underexpose (make the people in the foreground in shade, darker) and then you wouldnt be able to see any guests, bride and groom would be in Silhouette. Make sense? We always shoot the wedding in hopes to portray what we felt the guests saw and what the bride and groom remember. Standing inside in the middle of darkness, the waves and ocean and sunshine aren't actually a big memory here. The photo session on the beach is what the sunset and 'beach photo session" is all about, after the wedding!

    That above photo comes from Click the image to open in full size.
    March 29, image shot at 4:15.

    Are you rolling along with my examples?

    I'm going to post a little bit more in another post because my image limit is 10

    #2 Matt Adcock

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      Posted 05 May 2010 - 06:17 PM

      Ok, one last point to consider. Bride and groom inside gazebo, usually in the middle, and all the guests outside. I'd probably caution against this because the further towards the middle of the gazebo you go, and especially if you include your bridal party inside, then you run into lots of problems. 1. Its nice to be a guest and actually see / hear what is happening...Its very likely that your guests can be 15 to 20 feet away from the action...

      Also, closer the stand to the edge, the more balanced the light on them will be compared to that of the quality of light on the guests. In this photo, you can clearly see guests in the background, participants in the event. This shot also came from Julie + Greg.
      Click the image to open in full size.
      Love father of the groom wiping a tear in the background...priceless!

      I could probably go on and on and on, with lots more photo examples but I think you get the point.

      Moral of the story. Gazebo is great... its private and its accommodating.

      We recommend that you stand outside and have your guests setup just in front. LOTS of free space to move around outside. Lighting is super even. Bride and groom are elevated and CLEARLY visible to all guests in attendance. Those are pretty important things to consider, eh?

      Good luck you Royal Brides!
      mateo

      #3 luna1923

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        Posted 05 May 2010 - 07:09 PM

        Service well done for brides and photographers!! Thanks for taking the time to provide all of this valuable and informative information, especially for us brides at RPDC!
        Luna

        #4 LynnieS

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          Posted 05 May 2010 - 07:52 PM

          Thank you so much Matt for all this information, this is so helpful.

          Now, my ceremony is at 2pm when the sun is its hottest and brightest and we have 50 guests. . .would you still recommend everyone standing outside the gazebo? I do REALLY like how Julie and Greg set up their wedding ceremony with all guests on the outside

          Your pics are beautiful!! thanks again!
          yay. . . we're gradu-umtaded!!!

          #5 giraffexx

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            Posted 05 May 2010 - 07:57 PM

            Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! I never would have thought of this. I was planning on having the ceremony inside the gazebo but your insight has me strongly reconsidering it. Can't wait for my FI to come home so I can show him this :)

            #6 Matt Adcock

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              Posted 05 May 2010 - 08:14 PM

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by LynnieS
              Thank you so much Matt for all this information, this is so helpful.

              Now, my ceremony is at 2pm when the sun is its hottest and brightest and we have 50 guests. . .would you still recommend everyone standing outside the gazebo? I do REALLY like how Julie and Greg set up their wedding ceremony with all guests on the outside

              Your pics are beautiful!! thanks again!
              DE NADA!

              Yeah, the earlier on the afternoon, the greater the "Light vs Dark" concept I was talking about. SUPER bright outside, SUPER DARRRRRK inside. So telling the story with light using whats happening inside and whats happening outside is tough to do in the same frame.... Its all about in vs out.

              shooting against a backlit background is tough too. Basically, one of the hardest circumstances we can come up against as photographers!

              good luck with your planning :)

              Mateo

              #7 zelda062

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                Posted 05 May 2010 - 09:37 PM

                Thanks for the great info!!

                I am planning on getting married the end of next April. I am thinking about the beach location over the gazeebo though. I really want some pictures with the bright turquoise water in the background. What would you recommend?

                Also, from a photographers point of view, does a white or ivory wedding dress photograph better in the sunlight?

                Thanks, Wendy
                Iberostar Tucan Resort, May 3, 2011

                #8 dianep

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                  Posted 06 May 2010 - 10:08 AM

                  thanks for sharing your insight. i'm having a beach wedding, too (next weekend, yay!), and would be grateful for any tips for that as well! :)
                  http://i707.photobuc..../065copy-1.jpg
                  and happily ever after begins...


                  wedding review (the royal and the gran porto real, playa del carmen)http://bestdestinati....ew-long-59649/

                  #9 Matt Adcock

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                    Posted 06 May 2010 - 01:10 PM

                    Quote:
                    Originally Posted by Matt Adcock
                    Thanks for the great info!!

                    I am planning on getting married the end of next April. I am thinking about the beach location over the gazebo though. I really want some pictures with the bright turquoise water in the background. What would you recommend?

                    Also, from a photographers point of view, does a white or ivory wedding dress photograph better in the sunlight?

                    Thanks, Wendy

                    umm beach suggestions....wow, thats another 2 to 3 hour sit down for me to organize thoughts.... let me think on this, cool?

                    #10 Jeff Babineau

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                      Posted 06 May 2010 - 01:15 PM

                      I agree with everything you have pointed out. The Gazebo is wonderfull and looks great. but very back lit and gets a bit crouded with 30 people in it.
                      Great Photos BTW Matt . Always love to look at your work.




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