Archive for the ‘Wedding’ Category

Carly & Marc’s rock-star wedding

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Carly & Marc's Wedding

Back in early February, I shot a pretty unique wedding: the processional was basically a performance piece, with the bride and groom doing a duet with her singing and him on guitar. It was a perfect fit for the picturesque Como Park Conservatory. Also, on the long and somewhat drunken limo ride from ceremony to reception, the wedding party took a detour to a… big-box home improvement store. Good times were had by all.

I didn’t do the getting ready photos for this wedding, just the ceremony and reception (well, and limo ride). Had a blast; here are a few highlights. For the above shot, I set up a couple lights to make sure I could get that beautiful blue sky – there’s a flash behind Carly, and another way up (as high as my lightstand would go) above and behind the camera, zoomed to 200mm. Here’s a vertical of more or less the same shot; I can’t decide which I like better.

A few more shots are on Flickr here. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to keep up with my work!

Carly & Marc's Wedding

Carly & Marc's Wedding

Limo Ride

Carly & Marc's Wedding

Carly & Marc's Wedding

Carly & Marc's Wedding

Molly & Sam, brighter than the sun

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Molly & Sam

This is just one of several great shots I got in doing an engagement shoot with a couple friends. We were at Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, which might just be the single biggest wedding-and-portrait-photographer-magnet in all of the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, the only time we were able to meet was late morning, and the sun was shining full force. We did a few basic shots in the open shade and then venture atop the bridge and I struggled with mitigating all the harsh shadows that go with midday sun.

For this shot, I zoomed a single SB-900 in tight on Molly and Sam’s faces, turned it up to full power, dropped my ISO as low as it would go and stopped down my 14-24 all the way to f/22. I got what I was after: a darkened scene with Molly and Sam lit brightly by my flash. (In retrospect I wouldn’t have zoomed the flash quite as tightly, which would have lost me some brightness but gotten me a bit more density in their bodies and legs.) I don’t really recommend trying this with Speedlights if you have studio lights handy; the SB-900 overheated after not all that many shots at full power, but luckily I got what I wanted within the first few frames.

Another thing I don’t recommend: shooting at f/22 without doing a thorough sensor cleaning beforehand. Gross.

Wien & Vince

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Wien & Vince's Wedding

I had the privilege of second-shooting, with the wonderful Lisa O’Quinn, a beautiful wedding here in DC this past weekend. Wien and Vince had their ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle near Dupont Circle and their reception at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. Second-shooting is a luxury for a number of reasons: no post-processing obligations is the chief reason I dig it; but also there’s just much, much less pressure during the day. I didn’t have to worry a ton about getting all the key shots; I was free to roam around a bit and try to be creative. That said, I still did want some of the standard shots (like the headline shot above) for my portfolio, and that wasn’t a problem either. Here are just a few quick outtakes from the day… I’ll likely have a full gallery up later.

Vince getting ready at the Sheraton National in northern Virginia:

Wien & Vince's Wedding

Here’s the interior of the cavernous cathedral that absolutely swallowed up this medium-sized wedding. It was actually pretty challenging shooting in here, despite the ornate surroundings. The best angles were straight-on from the center aisle and we weren’t really allowed to be there except far back behind all the guests. The lighting was extremely dim; at ISO 3200 I was at shutter speeds so low that I generally shot in bursts of three to ensure I got a sharp frame.

Wien & Vince's Wedding

This is the bouquet toss, for which I set up a pair of umbrella’d speedlights to light the bride and the prospective bouquet-catchers separately. I was rushing to keep up and didn’t have time to stop down and add more power to the lights, unfortunately:

Wien & Vince's Wedding

And there was lots of dancing. For most of the dancing shots I decided to use my 14-24 and a flash handheld off-camera. I generally chose to zoom the flash to 70 or 85mm and highlight a specific part of the frame, letting a bit of ambient fill in the rest. I shot at about 1/5 sec, f/4.5, ISO 800 for the most part, with the flash on TTL at -0.7. I almost exclusively shot from the side of the dance floor facing the reception hall, so that the lights from the hall could fill in the frame and I wouldn’t get nasty hard shadows from my flash against the blank wall that was on the other side of the dance floor. I got tons of fun shots here, here’s just one of my favorites:

Wien & Vince's Wedding

Full set eventually. I’m sure Lisa will have a blog post about this wedding at some point, and I’ll add a link to it here when she posts.

Sarah & Matt: The Slideshow

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Testing out Zenfolio’s new embeddable slideshow feature (and finally showing off some more photos from Sarah and Matt’s wedding back in May). This slideshow implementation isn’t bad at all. If you’re interested in these photos, though, I suggest checking out the actual gallery, where the vertically oriented shots look much better than they do in the tiny size above.

One note on this wedding: the ceremony was incredibly brief. From processional to recessional it was all of six minutes long. So I didn’t get all the ceremony shots I wanted – the wedding party, the parents, etc. But other than that, I’m pretty happy with these. Thankfully, so are the bride and groom, which of course is all that really matters!

EDIT: The slideshow won’t show up in your feed reader, so visit the actual site if you’re interested…

One big day under my belt

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009


This past weekend I did my first wedding. I now have 1,200 photos to process after making initial cuts (redundant images, missed focus, missed exposure, pointless compositions, unattractive expressions, eyes closed, etc). I’d say overall it was quite the success. The wedding itself went very well aside from a 5-minute downpour that soaked the wedding party and a few guests… and the photographer. I got a few shots I am very proud of, lots of shots that are fine, and learned a hell of a lot in the process. The formals were challenging, especially since most of the group shots were done outside in full sun (ouch). There are a few shots that I missed, mostly during the ceremony because it was the shortest ceremony ever, but for the most part I checked off everything on my mental shot list and I think the newlyweds will be happy with the results.

I’ll post much more after I’m able to put up more photos, but naturally I want the bride & groom (currently on their honeymoon) to be the first to see the majority of them. For now, I’ll talk about the very basics: my gear strategy. This is what I brought along:

  • Nikon D700 + MB-D10
  • Nikon D300 + MB-D10
  • Tokina 12-24/4
  • Nikon 17-55/2.8
  • Nikon 80-200/2.8
  • Nikon 50/1.8
  • 1 SB-800 flash
  • 2 SB-600 flashes
  • Nikon SC-29 off-camera TTL flash cord
  • 36 gigs of CF cards (SanDisk Extreme III and IV)
  • Lastolite 48″ 1-stop Tri-grip diffuser
  • 3 light stands and umbrella swivels
  • Justin clamp (never used)
  • 2 shoot-thru umbrellas
  • Tripod (never used)
  • Small step-stool (borrowed from the bride)
  • Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Home shoulder bag
  • Impact Light Kit 3 bag

For the “getting ready” shots, I used my D300 and 12-24/4 alongside my D700 and 50/1.8, with occasional use of my 80-200/2.8. I wish I had an 11-16/2.8 or faster ultrawide lens for the D300, but the 12-24 did well even though I had to bump up the ISO on the D300 a little higher than I would have liked. For the formals, I used the D300 and 17-55/2.8 almost exclusively. The ceremony and cocktail hour had me using that combo alongside the D700 and 80-200/2.8. For the reception, I used the D300 and 17-55 or the D700 and 12-24 (yes, they play nice together, much better than the 17-55 on full frame) along with an SB-800 flash on a remote cable. The reception took place in an extremely dim ballroom, which posed a bunch of challenges because I still don’t quite know what the SB-800 is going to do in TTL mode. That said, I came away with 300+ very usable, fun shots, so it worked out in the end.

Just Married

I shot everything in RAW, used a custom white balance wherever possible, and generally tended to D2XMODE1 picture control except for the reception shots. I was in aperture priority mode 90% of the time and full manual mode the rest of the time. I was shooting for about 11 hours, from a little after 1pm all the way until midnight. The result was that I filled up all but one 4-gig card out of the 36 gigs worth of CF cards that I’d brought (holy crap).

My girlfriend acted as an assistant for part of the day, helping me schlep all that gear from place to place (the hotel where the wedding was held was huge, so lots of schlepping), holding the Tri-grip, pointing out flaws in various poses, and generally being a super helpful rock star. Should I ever shoot a wedding by myself, I’m going to have to cut down on the amount of gear I bring, because there was a bit too much to lug around.

Big thanks to the couple, who liked my work enough to take a chance on a rookie wedding photographer, were incredibly laid-back and easy to work with, and had a great wedding at a beautiful location.

Wedding Photography: So Many Photoshop Hacks

Monday, January 26th, 2009


So I’m shooting a wedding in May, and as part of my educational process have been browsing through the portfolios of countless wedding photographers, from the very best (and most insanely expensive) to the more, er, down to earth. It occurs to me that in the field of wedding photography there’s a proliferation of a certain kind of hack: the photog who has a copy of Photoshop, wants to follow the trend of soft-focus, “flattering” or “romantic” post-processing, but doesn’t really have the chops to do it. I can’t even describe the number of otherwise perfectly fine wedding photos I’ve seen ruined with cheesily overdone tilt-shift effects or heavy-handed retouching that makes people look like plastic dolls. I don’t mind the idea of soft or selective focus, or retouching, or whatnot, in general, but man, if it’s not done right, it looks awful.

I started playing around with some wedding actions in Photoshop and I do sort of like the effect sometimes. But I’m very aware of the fact that this is not my style and I need to be really careful about overdoing it. My general rule of thumb regarding pretty much any Photoshop effect: if I think I might need to tone it down, I need to tone it down.