Last weekend in Orlando I shot my first wedding as the primary shooter and thought I’d share this picture of one of the bridesmaids (my daughter). I was fortunate enough to catch this candid moment as she walked down the aisle with this groomsman. It’s perfect IMO that she was looking at him when he did his little pointing gesture.
Some of the shooting situations were challenging as the ceremony was held in the afternoon as the sun set — the light constantly changed, the sun streaming through the trees caused a lot of mottled sun and shade (as seen in the photo above), the bridal party was a mix of very dark and light skin (see photo above again), the clothing was a mix of brilliant white and jet black which doesn’t leave a lot of latitude for exposure errors on either end (glad I wasn’t shooting film!), and there wasn’t a great choice for locations to shoot the bridal party.
Most of the pictures turned out quite nice. I’ve dealt with the skin color issue before — my own children are a mix of four ethnicities — so I was (somewhat) prepared to deal with it. With the changing light I couldn’t just get my settings dialed in once and fire away, but I knew to be careful about exposing the dark skin enough while avoided blowing out the exposure of the light skin. I also attempted to avoid blowing out the highlights on the white tuxes but was willing to give that up if necessary. The recovery slider in Lightroom was able to compensate for most of those highlights in the end. I used some amount of fill flash for most of the pictures — on-camera for the ceremony, off-camera for the bridal party pictures, and a mix of each for the reception.
Logistically there were many issues. I’ll spare you the boring details but we ran out of time to get all the bridal party pictures that we had listed (got the most important ones though). I didn’t have an official second shooter (but did have another photographer who agreed to capture the groom as the bride walked in, while I concentrated on the bride).
A sampling of things I learned while shooting this wedding: Shoot more (in some situations). In particular, when shooting groups of people during the ceremony, shoot enough to ensure that there are at least one or two frames where everyone looks good (in a pinch you can replace a head or two in Photoshop but that eats a lot of time). I ended up with some sets of group photos where I’m not certain I have an acceptable image due to someone looking “bad”. If shooting multiple cameras make sure the time stamps are in sync. This isn’t absolutely critical but makes things easier. I forgot to do this and things have been slightly painful when sorting in Lightroom. Positioning…too much to explain here (maybe will go thru them someday) but I learned that some of the positions I thought would be ideal for certain shots weren’t so ideal after all and I was forced to make do.
Today my wife and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary (that is, if I scheduled this post correctly). I’d say mushy things and all that but (1) neither of us are very public with that stuff and (2) my wife rarely reads my posts anyway 🙂 I’ll just say that she’s awesome and I hope to be with her for at least another 25 years. The picture at the top is the most recent one I can think of where it’s just the two of us (from a hike in Montana this summer). I’ve posted scans of a couple old favorites below.
Back in 2001…
Way back in 1987 shortly after we were married…
Last Saturday Pete Talke and I helped shoot a wedding held at a ranch outside of Austin. The only shots I posed were some of the groomsmen getting ready and the boots on the stairs shown below. I mainly concentrated on getting candids throughout the night. I’ve posted a few which I feel sufficiently captured the Texas nature of the event…
The lighting was very tough. It was late evening so there was direct sunlight from one side as the sun neared the horizon. If you weren’t careful you ended up with one half of a face being blown out while the shadow side barely had any detail. Girls with blonde hair were particularly difficult — easy to lose all detail in the hair. Pete and I both chose to shoot in mostly in manual mode so the camera’s metering didn’t go all squirrelly with the lighting and we squeezed off a few test shots to make sure we weren’t losing any (important) details and adjusted as the light changed.
[Random note: I’m posting this from the HP laptop which my company purchased for me…I’m very sorry for all of you who always have to use monitors which are this bad. My pictures (and all of yours) look terrible on this thing.]
The wedding was standing room only. These guys were standing in back and I asked them to stand together to frame the bride and groom.
After the bridesmaids were finished with their formal portraits I asked them to pose on the steps. The sun was just setting, providing a perfect, golden light. They were relieved that I was only taking pictures of the boots — no need to smile or keep their eyes open in the sunlight.
Last month some of my family attended the wedding of my niece Jessica in Seattle. We would love to take the whole family to events like that but it’s just not practical in our case. The weather was what one might expect in Seattle — highs around 50 and wet.
I was asked to do some photography during the times when the paid photographer wasn’t around — rehearsal, early wedding morning — and grab a few extra pics at the reception. I had just acquired a Canon 5D Mark ii the day before we traveled and I got to try out its capabilities over the weekend. It has amazing low-light performance and I took full advantage of that.
Here are some pics from the weekend (here’s a link to one I already posted of the rings resting in the flowers). Some are just OK from a technical standpoint but are personally meaningful or interesting to our family.
The shot below was meant to focus on the ring (and it does) but it isn’t the greatest shot. However, I still like the general feel of it — soft light, very shallow depth of field so I included it. It was taken in passing as I wasn’t focused on taking pictures at that point. I’d love to have that opportunity again though. I’d get the ring hand fully in the shot, shoot from slightly higher to entirely fill the background with Jessica’s to-do list on the poster board while keeping the nail polish bottle fully in the frame as in this shot.
Some pics from the rehearsal:
The wedding coordinator was concerned that the main photog wouldn’t arrive at the house early enough to get pictures of the miscellany like the rings, flower, shoes, etc. so she asked me to get some shots. Here are a few I came away with besides the ring shot:
Pre-wedding pictures in church:
After the ceremony the wedding coordinator again commandeered me for a photo assignment. The hired photog was covering the bride and groom’s trip through the receiving line from a vantage point near the church doors. I was asked to cover near the end of the line and I’m glad I did — look at how happy they are!
During the reception I didn’t capture all that many shots but here are a few. Light was challenging in the reception hall. Bouncing flash was not that great (note the black ceilings) and I didn’t have 3 remote flashes on stands like the hired photog did. I still like the shots even with some of the shadows. I take comfort in knowing that there wasn’t a whole lot to be done without setting up extra lighting myself. I just kept a diffuser on the flash and pointed the flash either up and slightly forward or up and slightly behind me. As the night was winding down, Jessica asked me to take a picture of her with the bridesmaids up near the dance floor. I like how the light ended up just fine with the exception of how everyone’s hair disappears into the background. I didn’t have a second light to overcome that. When we walked to the front and lined up everyone and their brother got cameras out and started firing. Getting all the girls to look at me rather than the other cameras was a bit like herding cats. None of the shots had everyone looking normal so I just picked the best of the bunch.
A candid of my beautiful wife. When she finds out her picture is here I’ll probably be in trouble. She never reads my posts so please — none of you go telling her. She never needs to know 🙂
The main photog had already left the reception when Jessica and Jonathan were making their exit so once again the coordinator asked me to take shots. I had the 50mm lens on and there was no time to fetch my 24-70 or really test out the flash to adjust compensation. I’d prefer a little different framing but I was zoomed out (with my feet) as far back as I could get and I wanted to catch some of the flag waving too. I got off 4 frames as they walked out and they capture the moment just fine. There was very heavy tungsten lighting in this little hallway. My flash was gel’ed with a 1/4 CTO and I could get away with cooling the color temperature more but I decided not to eliminate it completely. It’s a dilemma I often struggle with — Whether to keep some of that uncorrected color in certain shots. It can be a nice effect sometimes.
Jonathan and Jessica (my niece) got married in Seattle this past weekend. The flowers were going to be unavailable before the hired photographer was scheduled to arrive (I don’t remember where the flowers were headed…). The wedding coordinator asked me to grab some pics so I placed the rings on this rose and snapped away with my 50mm lens.
I also took pictures of the bride at various stages of getting ready, at the ceremony, and at the reception but I’m not going to post any of those because she may want other pictures to go public first.
When we were at the wedding rehearsal I snapped this shot of the entrance of Queen Anne Baptist Church. A single exposure was used for most of the image but I masked in a darker exposure for the lamps (blown out in the normal exposure). I was asked to shoot pictures of the rehearsal itself and while it felt a little awkward (acting like a wedding photographer during the rehearsal) I was doing it at the bride’s request. Fortunately I was able to get some decent pictures both of the actual rehearsal and of our various family members who were there.
Congratulations to the happy couple!
I got to second-shoot my nephew’s wedding in Seattle a few weeks ago. Since I wasn’t responsible for the primary set of photos I spent my time experimenting and attempting to get some unique images. When the main photographer was using a normal lens, I mostly used my 10-20mm or my 70-200mm. If she was using a telephoto, I typically went normal or wide, etc. My goal was to capture things from a different angle (literally and figuratively) and get a different perspective on this blessed event.
For the shot at the top of the post I used my 10-20mm from about a foot off the ground. This was the bride and groom’s first dance and I shot the whole thing from that angle.
The shot below of the groom and his mother (my sister-in-law) was taken with a focal length of 200mm. It was tough getting this shot framed when zoomed in this tight on a moving couple. However, since the main photog was getting the normal shots I just went with it and hoped it worked.
As it got darker, things got tough. There was almost no light where the dancing was taking place. I shot with my widest aperture (f3.5 on the 10-20mm I used for most of these shots), bumped the ISO up, and then dragged the shutter a lot to get at least some ambient light from the background [I could write a whole post on how I played with flash/ISO/shutter/etc]. Here’s a shot from the dance floor well after dark:
I had a great time, and while I certainly had to cull many images from the set, I ended up with many good images for the bride and groom to enjoy the rest of their lives.
I spent last weekend in the Seattle area and had the privilege of second-shooting my nephew’s wedding. Maybe I’ll post some pics from that later.
Got to bed at 1:40am after the wedding and got up at 3:50am to take my daughter to the airport (she had another wedding to go). The skies had been quite clear during our visit so I had hopes of capturing some dawn shots of Mt. Rainier since I’d be further south toward the mountain.
After dropping my daughter off (at 4:30) I drove up to the 7th floor of the SE parking garage at SeaTac. There was a great vantage point so I abandoned my initial plan of driving further south toward the mountain — didn’t want to end up missing the first sunlight hitting the mountain.
Shot a bazillion images. Bracketed some of them +/- 1 stop to be sure to get something decent. Captured the pano at the top of the post after sunrise, and this one above before the sun hit the face of the mountain. The sky was a bit hazy but I’m quite happy with what I got. In several other visits to Seattle over the years Mt. Rainier was only visible for a brief period one Sunday morning — never saw it again. I was fortunate to see it for several days last weekend.
Surely these aren’t the best panos you’ve ever seen but they do look quite a bit better when viewed large on flickr (click the images to go to flickr then click the “All Sizes” button above the image).
We’ve been getting a ton of rain this week thanks to the relative proximity of Hurricane Alex and the fact that we’re on the north side of it. I’m very glad for the rain, thanking God for it each time I look out the window, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more peeks of the sun.
In light of that (no pun intended) I decided to post this sunset image that I took sometime back. Nothing fancy — a picture of my son in our backyard as the sun heads to the horizon. I never get tired of seeing sunsets and am tempted to get the camera out for each one of them. It’s a run-of-the-mill 3-exposure HDR with some basic adjustments.
Speaking of rain, some of our family is headed to Seattle for a wedding next week. I’m reminded of the classic saying “I spent the summer in Seattle — both days were sunny”. I’m also reminded of a joke I heard sometime back that goes something like this:
A man moved to Seattle from sunny California and of course, it was raining. It rained the next day, and the next…and the next. After 7 or 8 straight days of rain he was wondering if it would ever stop. He asked a young boy passing by, “Does it ever stop raining here?!?”. To which the boy answered, “How should I know? I’m only six…”.