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.
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!
It’s hard not to gush about Andrew and Erin. Andrew and Erin are great people with great friends and great family. Andrew and Erin are two of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever met. Andrew and Erin threw a fantastic wedding last month and I (and Mike) had the privilege of being their photographer. Andrew and Erin pretty much ARE Waterloo and it will be sad to see them move on to other places after their extended honeymoon.
Here are a few highlights from the wedding, keeping in mind that they will be seeing these for the first time (internet access is spotty in the nooks and crannies that they’re visiting). So, enjoy! And Andrew and Erin, there will be plenty more to see when you get back 🙂
Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing Andrew and Erin’s wedding in Waterloo Park and Victoria Park. The day went off without a hitch, with perfect weather, great people and absolutely fantastic food.
Once I’ve edited my way through the massive number of photos I’ll write a full blog post, but for now I can say this. I have never been happier with the way my equipment performed at a wedding. The D300s + Sigma 50mm f/1.4 combination was an absolute dream when the girls were getting ready early in the day. The D7000 + AF-S 85mm f/1.8 worked flawlessly for portraits later on. Exposure and focus accuracy were at an all time high. Even the white balance was more accurate than normal. Together these are all adding up to a much more pleasurable editing experience than I’m used to.
To celebrate I had some fun playing around with a 50+ shot Brenizer method bokeh panorama of the bride and groom that I took in Waterloo Park with the D7000 and AF-S 85mm f/1.8G. First I’ll show the version that’s close to what I’ll give Andrew and Erin and then a more vintage-y black and white.
When photographing candids in a dark environment, there are many options for lighting. One could choose to use the camera’s built-in flash, but that gives harsh shadows and terrible red eye. Adding a speedlight (flash) to the hotshoe and firing it directly moves the light source a bit off axis, but shadows are still harsh and red eye is still a risk. Diffusing the light, say with a Gary Fong Lightsphere or a Lumiquest Softbox (both of which mount directly to the head of the shoe-mounted flash), helps too. However, the light is still on axis.
A very common solution, and one which I often use, is to tilt the strobe head up and bounce it from a ceiling or wall. This effectively provides a large off-axis light source, giving a very soft fill. However, if the ceiling is quite high, non-white, or not there at all bouncing just won’t work. Even if bouncing does work, the fill is still quite soft and undramatic.
A lighting solution that I’ve been working with for the past while is to hold the flash in one hand while shooting with the other. I put a diffusion on the flash, usually a Lumiquest Softbox LTz and hold it with my left arm outstretched at about 30 degrees from horizontal. This method gives soft (but not too soft) off-axis light that is easily under my control.I trigger the flash (Nikon SB-900 or SB-700) using Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System). I set the camera’s built-in flash as a “controller” so that it will control remote flashes but not add to the exposure. If I had set it to be a “master” it would fire as part of the exposure. I then set the handheld flash to be a remote, making sure that both it and the built-in flash are set to the same channel and group. (Note: Nikon CLS isn’t actually that complicated once you figure out all of the terminology. I found this site to be extremely useful.)
Of course, having more than one light source usually improves a photo even more. In the case of a wedding I did this fall in a barn, the light shining through the windows and poking through cracks in the wall provided an excellent backlight to complement the light from my flash. Thanks for reading!
In early October I was fortunate to photograph the wedding of my good friend (and former roommate), Rachel, at the Pavillion in Kitchener’s Victoria Park. Rachel and Jeremy’s fun-loving personalities brought many unique elements to their wedding including adorable decorations, a crochet wedding cake and a live photo booth projected on the stage.
The ceremony began with a workout routine for the audience and included a science experiment (with safety glasses, of course), vows read by the audience and a fantastic victory lap at the end. Natural light on the stage was low, so I lit the ceremony with two Alien Bees AB800 lights bounced onto opposite sides of the vast ceiling. This setup provided enough light for the processional/recessional as well, making my job a lot easier! I took the massive wedding party outside for a photo in front of the pavilion. Not having a ladder, I held the D300s with AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 above my head and took a series of images at 17mm f/5.6 adjust the framing slightly for each shot. I learned this trick watching a newspaper photographer cover a large crowd scene with his D2h. He held the camera high up and shot at max frame rate while moving panning the camera up/down/left/right.Alone with the bride and groom (along with videographers and Mike Portt, who was assisting) I captured these images. The first is a panorama of many shots with the D7000 and Sigma 50/1.4 at f/1.4.The next are with the Sigma and a rented AF-S 24mm f/1.4, respectively. The weather was unfortunately cold and I felt bad keeping Rachel and Jeremy outside even for the short time that I did. After portraits, I set up the Alien Bees again for lighting the rest of the evening. By placing one on the stage and the other high up at the back corner I was able to light the entire room. I think I’ll write a full blog post on this technique as it has worked well for me. The studio flashes run off AC power and recharge quickly, giving consistent and reliable output.Here is a shot of the crochet cake followed by the “cake cutting”. For lighting many of the candids I used my new favourite technique of holding the camera in my right hand with something wide and an off-camera strobe in my left hand. Here, I put the Lumiquest Softbox LTz on an SB-900 set to be triggered in TTL with the camera’s built-in flash. The softbox at this range puts out even and soft light, sufficient for a pair of people.The dance party was started off with an amazing ceilidh that got nearly everybody on their feet. Using the Alien Bees to light the room and playing with shutter speed to control the ambient light I was able to achieve a wide range of looks, from frozen motion to slow speed sync. I’ll end this post with the cutest gift card box I’ve ever seen. Rachel and Jeremy’s wedding was a real treat and I wish them the best! Thanks for reading.
I’ve had a request to explain in more detail how I achieved the wedding party composite from yesterday’s post. I borrowed the idea from Ryan Brenizer, who uses this technique very effectively to achieve dramatic (but even) lighting over a group of people. This would be extremely difficult with a single or pair of flashes in a single image, especially on the fly and in the wild.
Here’s how it’s done.
First I set the camera (D300s with AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17mm) on a tripod to keep the framing the same between each shot. I used manual mode to ensure consistent exposure. Settings of ISO 200, f/8, 1/250s gave this look:
The ambient light is at least a stop underexposed, which is right where I wanted it. The next step was to set up the flash. I used a Nikon SB-900 set to wireless TTL control (the Nikon CLS system is powerful and complicated… something I’m sure I’ll delve into explaining in another post) and triggered with the on-board flash. To diffuse and soften the light, I added my favourite light mod, the Lumiquest Softbox LTz. This softbox mounts to the flash with velcro and folds up to the size of a 17″ laptop, which most camera bags nowadays have a slot for. Portt, who was assisting me that day, held the flash up close to each pair of people and I took a shot for each position.
In Lightroom, I batch processed the five images for exposure, lens correction, sharpening and then opened them in Photoshop as layers in a single file. Using the first image as a base layer, I painted in the relevant bits from the successive layers and finished things off with some global and local curves and dodging/burning. Here’s the final image:
To get this look in a single image would have required some pretty tricky lighting, both to light each person evenly and to control the spill on the background. In all, the composite took just a few minutes to shoot and less than half an hour in Photoshop. An added bonus to shooting each pair separately is that I can focus on just two faces at a time (i.e. no blinkers).