David and Miranda are wonder people. Their love for each other shines through in everything they do from their infectious laughter to their adorable dancing. Needless to say, they put together a fantastic day!
Kaitlin and Sean got married this past June at the beautiful Landon Hall, just outside of Cambridge, Ontario. I’d already had the chance to photograph the two of them along with their adorable daughter, Alice, last winter so I know how wonderful they were to work with. I really admire how organized they were, especially when planning most of the wedding from Vancouver where they live. I also appreciated A Dream to Call Your Own Wedding Consulting for making the day run so smoothly. Bill Blyleven, a co-worker who I found in a pinch as a 2nd shooter, was a rock solid help and I was delighted to see how well his images fit in seamlessly with mine.
The perfect weather, awesome couple, beautiful scenery and killer guests made this a highlight wedding for me and I’m sure the photos reflect that.
Elisabeth and Behzad got married in style at the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto this past July. My afternoon started at their fantastic apartment where I got to see the beautiful dress (that Elisabeth made herself!) and meet the super-fun bridesmaids. The makeup was exceptional, thanks to the talented Misty Fox, which made my work in post a breeze (where skin was concerned). Once I arrived at the Steam Whistle (after an unfortunate delay from the thousands of Blue Jays fans pouring into the streets after the game) I met the guys and set about photographing the wedding party. The weather was HOT and BRIGHT so I quickly whisked everybody to a shaded area. If you look closely at these photos you might spot the Leon’s store through the windows. The ceremony had many Persian elements, as Behzad and family are Iranian, and was quite beautiful. Thankfully the sun dipped had below the SkyDome just in time to not cook the guests.
This was my first time working with the assistance (and 2nd shooter skills) of Sylvia Pond and hopefully not the last! She did a better job than I could have ever hoped and I’ve included a few of her pictures here.
The cocktail-style ceremony provided all the candid photo opportunities that I could hope for and this is where the D700 and fast primes really shone. When things got darker I broke out the strobes. I placed the SB-700 on a stand against a pillar and either pointed it at the stage for speeches or into the crowd for dancing/party shots. I held the SB-900 in my left hand with Lumiquest Softbox LTz to work in tandem with the stand-mounted strobe. For the photo booth I set up the Alien Bee B800s with umbrellas outside against one of the large doors.
During my visit to Colorado in June my aunt Glynis and I took a drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a magnificent park, spanning a huge mountainous area with very little roads or development. The road we did take (Trail Ridge Road) climbs to 12,000 ft and is the highest continuous paved road in the USA. While we only made it up to 11,000, the altitude was definitely noticeable. Standing up too fast after changing lenses took a few moments of recovery.
I saw my first wild elk and, at the very top, a yellow-bellied marmot. Another first was being truly IN a thunder-storm, with lightning striking the valley far below us. Needless to say, we high-tailed it off the mountain.
The shots here were taken with the D300s and Tokina 11-16/2.8, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G. Many are HDR.
Nik and Erin’s wedding last month was beautiful from start to finish. The setting was a winery in the heart of the Niagara wine country, which is already a great start, and their tasteful decorations complemented the natural beauty wonderfully. The good looks of the wedding party and guests helped too! Highlights of the day included the horse and carriage ride from the Inn to the Estate, outdoor games, and a few Estonian wedding traditions… not to mention that I was seated with a lot of good friends of mine.
Now, I can’t say that everything went smoothly. This was my first event with the new (to me) D700 and as much as I thought a week of constant shooting beforehand would bring any problems with the camera to light, I was sure wrong. Right in the middle of shooting every overlay feature in the viewfinder turned on and stayed on! This included all the AF points and the DX crop, blocking out most of my view. Nothing I did could make it go away, and I tried everything. Fortunately, being the overly prepared worrier that I am, I had brought both my D300s and D7000 along and I managed to switch pretty seamlessly to the DX kit for much of the rest of the day. I still used the D700 in non-critical situations. I’ll post soon about the ongoing saga of the broken D700 and its recent resolution.
Back to the shots. Mike Portt did a great job second shooting, giving some excellent candids and details. Overall, a fun day full of photos that I’m proud of. Thanks, Nik and Erin!
As promised, here is a side-by-side comparison of the absolutely wonderful Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art and the well-respected Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX on a cropped sensor camera. What I found amazing is how close the two lenses are in sharpness. The bokeh, distortion, fringing, chromatic aberration and vignetting are clearly better in the Sigma but the Nikon really does hold its own.
Do I regret buying the Sigma? Absolutely not.
The Nikon definitely shows more fringing in extreme contrast.
This past week I visited Denver and Boulder Colorado for my cousin Simon’s wedding. The trip was fantastic and I’ll have lots and lots of images and stories to share over the next couple of weeks. To start things off, here is a photo of one of the highlights of the trip. My aunt Glynis took me to this church, near Allenspark, after a long drive into the mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park. The Chapel on the Rock deserved a full HDR treatment (otherwise the mountains and sky would have been completely washed out).
I shot this with the D300s and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX. Five shots at f/8, each separated by 1 stop.
Finally! Ever since I gave up shooting with Pentax and switched to Nikon I’ve yearned for a lens like the FA 31mm f/1.8 LTD. That Pentax lens was staggeringly good and I hadn’t found anything to match it in the F-mount system… until now with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4.
I’ll start this post with a reminder that I shoot with DX bodies (at least for the time being) so the field of view (FOV) of this lens is more like 52.5mm, acting like standard prime. I’m not going to dwell on technical details in this review. Other sites do a far better job than I’m willing to do, with analyses down to the pixel level and direct comparisons to other lenses (here and here, for example).
Here is my current fast prime lineup, all cover FX lenses in case I ever decide to go that route. From left to right: Sigma 35mm f/1.4, Sigma 50mm f/1.4, Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8G Micro, Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G. This is a great combination for FX, and pretty good for DX. A wider prime would still be needed but for now the 17-55mm f/2.8 fills that roll.
Being an f/1.4 lens, I’ve naturally focussed mostly on the wide aperture capabilities. I’m amazed at how sharp it is at wide open. Not only is it sharp but the contrast is quite high, making the in-focus subject pop. Stopping down does sharpen the image even further but really, I find the lens sharp enough at all apertures. It even shines on the D7000, a body I’ve found extremely sensitive to most lenses. Here are a few wide-open examples from the D300s (first two) and D7000 (the next four):
The effect of shooting at f/1.4 is dramatic, even on a DX sensor. I demonstrate this below with a couple sets of images with a range of aperture settings. The first set of images has minimal post-processing, while the second has one of my ‘fade’ presets applied (click on the images for larger versions).
The bokeh is nice. It’s not the best but far, far from the worst. I have no complaints here.
I was, of course, expecting the Sigma 35 to be optically excellent but I am surprised at how accurately it focuses on both the D300s and D7000. The performance contrasts my other fast Sigma, the 50mm f/1.4 where I find the focus to be inconsistent, especially on the D7000. In single-point AF, I find that I am the weak link, not the lens-body pair.
Do I have any negative comments?
Well, it is heavy at only 100g lighter than the 17-55. That’s about it. I’m really looking forward to giving it a workout at my next wedding shoot. I’ll end this micro-review with some more photos.
Driving home from Guelph, Mitzy and I pulled over at a barn that both of us have always wanted to photograph. You wouldn’t know it from this post, but it’s actually quite red. The mist gives it a completely different feel! I thought I’d show three quick interpretations of the same photo to get a feel for which is most effective.
D300s with AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 at 34mm f/5.6 15s ISO 200.
Which do you like best?