Will this ever work right?

This has been a tough slog to try and figure out all the bugs associated with the blog. The pictures don’t really show up and it takes forever to load. Let’s see how this picture looks.

Bailey at her wedding.

Yet another blog test

Was in Yosemite last week with the kid and wasn’t able to trouble shoot this thing. It seems I have two identical blogs on two sites. One is through the website template (Showit) and the other is on Blue Host. This is going out on Blue Host because I can’t type on the website template. This is all very confusing to me. It’s why I haven’t worked on it in forever. Because when a person has a chance to get out and do some living, versus watching a computer screen, a person will go out and do some living.

So here goes, once again, to test fate and see where this post end up. Will it be on both or just one of the sites?

Another test

I would really like to see this work properly. The blogging has been on hold and I didn’t have everything up and running for such a long time I forgot how to do it with this new website.

So here goes.

This photo, of Ashley and Mark, was from their elopement in downtown Bend last winter. For such a short wedding, the photos were fabulous. She wasn’t wearing a dress, so I use them in the engagements section of the Pete Erickson Photography website.

Ashley and Mark celebrate their elopement in downtown Bend.

Test blog post

It seems my old blog has disappeared into the ether.

Oh well. Such is life.

Wanted to do a test post to see if this goes online.

Thanks,
Pete

Portraits for practice

I recently offered locals a chance to have free portraits done in order to try new ideas with lighting and post processing. It’s also keeping the brain in practice for wedding photography and portraits. The first person to jump on this amazing opportunity was Cassondra Spring Schindler, a local mountain biker and a person whose picture I’ve done before. Didn’t know her husband is a co-owner of Sunnyside Sports.

We met on Ben’s Trail just off Skyliner and hiked up to the U-turn maybe a half mile away. Six-year-old Eimear helped with the light stand. Yay for Eimear helping! She of course wanted to play right in the shot and it took a great deal of cajoling to get her to move out of the way when the pictures started.

Near the end of the session we were talking and Cassondra leaned on her bike. It was a perfect natural lean and I had her freeze, moved the light a little and got the shot. I wanted to use the 1 x 4 strip box with grid for this, but it was way down the trail from some earlier shots and so the 10 degree grid got the job.

My goal this year is to try and blend the flash with natural a little better and just paint the highlights of the face with a little pop of flash. Luckily Profoto is now finally, after years of waiting, making special gels and a gel holder to go over the light to make things much easier on location. So if the sun’s going down I can match that nice, warm evening light with a CTO and make the final picture ¬†look like a flash wasn’t used at all. The gels just came in the mail and I wasn’t able to use them for this. I also noticed Profoto sells a grid set for extra money to focus the light better.

Last year I shot a wedding in Hawaii and wasn’t able to bring the beauty dish because it’s so big and used the grid instead. At longer distance shots it works almost as well at focusing the light. The quality is a little more harsh, but the face lights up nicely.

It worked on Cassondra really well. I think the shadow next to her nose was a little too sharp, but overall it worked perfectly at focusing on her face with a highlight and falling off down body.

The next trick was working on it first in Lightroom and then in Photoshop. The Lightroom initial adjusting was nice. Adjusted the warmth, contrast, sharpening, whites/blacks, highlights, shadows, etc. and made a perfectly usable photo.

The initial photo adjusted in Lightroom.
The initial photo adjusted in Lightroom.

After opening in Photoshop I did a couple additional masking adjustments to get something that looked nice. My goal is to be able to take a handful of images from a wedding and do a few simple adjustments to make very special and memorable pictures.

The final look of the picture after a few minutes in Photoshop.
The final look of the picture after a few minutes in Photoshop.

My ultimate goal, in every wedding, is to have people want to buy canvas prints for their walls. A nice wedding picture on the wall helps a marriage for when times get tough because a couple can see a happy picture of themselves and smile.

For a better look at my work, please visit the Pete Erickson Bend, Oregon wedding photography site.

New Creative Ideas for the Adjusting of Wedding Photography

It has been since forever that I’ve made a post to the blog. Need to get more regular. Maybe to start I just do a post on Tuesdays to see if it can become a regular thing and then work up from there.

Anyone who knows how I do photography has seen first hand how I love experimenting with new ideas. My goal, as always, is to improve and be more creative. Being creative and trying new ideas is a big reason why I’m a photographer.

For some reason I can’t quite figure out this year has been a tough year for signing up weddings. I really can’t explain why. Maybe it’s not so important for the wedding photography business to be good at photography as to be good at marketing and selling oneself. One person told me to start paying off the wedding planners and venue operators. I can’t do that because then it becomes like working for organized crime in a way.

Anyway, one idea I’ve been trying out is to modify the pictures with different layering and tinting techniques. It really transforms the pictures into something special. The trouble is it takes a really long time and I would only be able to do this with a couple of the top images from any wedding.

So here’s two copies of the same photo. This first is fairly straight out of the camera. I brightened it a little, adjusted the contrast, and bumped up the sharpening and vivid scales a touch. There’s still a big blob from a dirty sensor right in the middle.

Tracee at Broken Top. Image straight out of camera
Tracee at Broken Top. Image straight out of camera

The photo is of Tracee at Broken Top last summer. It was my favorite photo from the wedding. The just after sunset clouds reflecting on the lake with the parallel shapes in the bank really make it for me. I used the Profoto with the beauty dish and a grid to focus the light right on her top three quarters and let it fall off below.

It’s a nice photo. I gave it an adjustment and sent it off to them. The adjustment looks perfectly fine. It has nice everything. The blob is missing, the contrast, sharpening, white balance, vividness, etc. all look perfectly fine and totally acceptable.

Then this morning, a few minutes ago actually, I tried something new. I won’t say what it was because it gets annoying with people who might be better at marketing themselves copying my photo creativity and coming out ahead. Let’s just say I applied a few different ideas to one photo to enhance and put some shine onto it.

Tracee at Broken Top with some turbo-charging applied to the photo.
Tracee at Broken Top with some turbo-charging applied to the photo.

The difference is astounding! Holy cow. This was my first try at these techniques and this has to go into the website portfolio right now. Doing these changes makes me feel like Mr. Photoshop. The reality, however, is I’m only a photographer and will always be a student of the computer.

Now to revisit a few of my all-time favorite wedding photography images and make some subtle changes. It’s easy to go overboard with these things and so I’ll be taking my time and doing them slowly. When doing too many at once the eye tends to get lazy and the technique sloppy.

So enjoy, and if you feel like contacting me here at my wedding photography website please feel free to do so.

Practice with the 85

When working as a wedding photographer, I use two lenses on two bodies. One is the Nikon 35mm f1.4 and the other is the 85mm f1.4. Lately I’ve been thinking of the need for something longer than 85mm for portraits, tight first dance shots, tight ceremony shots, plus maybe experimenting with tight shots for getting ready. As much as I love the 85mm f1.4 lens and how clean it makes the backgrounds when shot wide open, I don’t like to walk right up to the bride/groom during the ceremony to fill the frame with an emotional face.

The problem arises when I think of the other main type of photography I do: landscape photography. Nikon and the other manufacturers have followed the lead of mountain biking in creating different rigs for different purposes. A landscape kit would include the amazing 14-24mm f2.8 zoom, a Nikon D810, and something in the middle and long range for lenses. A wedding kit would include what I use: a Nikon D3/D4 and the two lenses I use. Other people prefer the zooms, but I have lots of problems with every zoom except the 14-24mm, but it’s only a landscape lens. Sometime I’ll do a post on why fixed and not zoom, but not now. I would love, love, love to have just one longer lens for everything. The Zeiss 135mm f2 lens comes very close because it’s tough, sharp, and fast. The problem, however is it’s manual focus only. I can live with manual focus for landscape photography and portraits, but the first dance would yield low probability of sharp photos. Another sticking point: is 135mm enough reach? It’s perfect for landscape photography.

One answer is the Nikon 200mm f2 lens. It would work really well for weddings and portraits, but not at all for landscape because of it’s weight. The problem, and this is no small problem, is the price tag of $5,800. Ouch! Does the quality and function outweigh the price? I would still need something longer yet super sharp for landscape photography. And eventually I’ll need Nikon D5 to replace and upgrade the D3, which I’m sure won’t be cheap either. Will the D5 be able to take the place of a D810? Or will I be wanting one of those, too? We’re talking serious money here and lots of thought are going into these ideas.

In the meantime I absolutely love my current setup. It does the job really well and my work has been improving at a steady rate since leaving the newspaper in 2012. How did I lug around the heavy, and now ancient, 80-200mm f2.8 lens at weddings? The 85mm lens rocks the house.

When using only fixed focal length lenses a person needs to stay in practice. So for the last couple weeks of hanging out with the family I’ve had only the 85mm f1.4 lens on the D4. To really get in some tough practice, like climbing the Helicopter Pad every day on the mountain bike, I limited the f-stop to about f1.4. Doing this takes some balls, because lots of shots will be missed. The plane of focus is about a quarter of an inch, and missing a shot becomes much easier than making the shot. The key is having killer autofocus and taking time to make sure it’s in focus. The lens won’t work for sports. Even with autofocus it goes too slowly. The sequence of Mary running towards the camera at the end of her half marathon last Sunday didn’t focus at all when she came in close. It actually sometimes can’t focus fast enough for the first dance in low light.

The lens is tough to use and practicing becomes very important. If you skip going to the gym for awhile and then try to do your normal weights, you’ll be very sore for about a week. Same thing for these fixed lenses.

That said, here’s a few photos from the last couple weekends.

Eimear getting her face painted at the Earth Day Parade in Bend, Oregon.
Eimear getting her face painted at the Earth Day Parade in Bend, Oregon.
Eimear loves this. Notice the very shallow depth of field with this lens.
Eimear loves this. Notice the very shallow depth of field with this lens.
Eimear and I have dance parties almost every day at home. She was dancing to the drum circle at the Earth Day Parade.
Eimear and I have dance parties almost every day at home. She was dancing to the drum circle at the Earth Day Parade.
Eimear wearing my UC Santa Barbara hat during the hail storm at the end of the Earth Day Parade in Bend, Oregon.
Eimear wearing my UC Santa Barbara hat during the hail storm at the end of the Earth Day Parade in Bend, Oregon.

85mm_lens-105

Bend Montessori teacher Miss Jessica, Eimear, and some classmates at Knott Landfill watching a compactor crush cardboard.
Bend Montessori teacher Miss Jessica, Eimear, and some classmates at Knott Landfill watching a compactor crush cardboard.
Mary at the end of the half marathon foot race in Bend, Oregon last Sunday.
Mary at the end of the half marathon foot race in Bend, Oregon last Sunday.
Mary and Eimear celebrate the end of the half marathon. Mary placed 17th out of 85 women in her age group.
Mary and Eimear celebrate the end of the half marathon. Mary placed 17th out of 85 women in her age group.
My mom and Eimear waiting for a table at La Magie in Downtown Bend. We had to hit the Pancake House because the wait was ridiculously long.
My mom and Eimear waiting for a table at La Magie in Downtown Bend. We had to hit the Pancake House because the wait was ridiculously long.

Wedding Photography: Michelle and Brian at Five Pines in Sisters

My sometimes shooting co-worker Todd Martyn-Jones was hired by Michelle and Brian for us to shoot their wedding at Five Pines in Sisters in January. I rarely¬†get a chance to meet the couple when Todd gets hired. So it’s always a surprise when meeting them for the first time on their wedding day and getting busy with pictures.

What a pleasant surprise to have such a fun, good-looking, and nice couple to spend the day with! Michelle willing to jump on the bed and do the cheerleader pose mid-air made my day. She wanted a nice ice-blue wedding in the winter. It was only raining during the day, but we had a nice frozen pond to use for after-the-ceremony portraits using two lights. Michelle knows the words to the songs in “Frozen” and was singing them with her friends before the ceremony.

The couple wanted to have their first look before the ceremony, which makes things easier, and I stayed behind them while Todd shot from the front. The small windows in the door made the perfect frame for an intimate moment between them and I got the shot.

I used both Profoto lights bouncing off the wall to get the dancing and it came out really well. The lights did light the background dining area a little, but they did give perfect window looking side lighting to everyone.

The first-look picture, the ice pond portrait, and the jump on the bed in front of the dresses are making me think this might be a rare portfolio wedding. Now to get off my bum and put it into my wedding photography website.

 

Two Profoto lights, a red umbrella, good looking couple, and an iced over pond make for a nice portrait.
Two Profoto lights, a red umbrella, good looking couple, and an iced over pond make for a nice portrait.

15-01-17_MichelleBrian-102915-01-17_MichelleBrian-102815-01-17_MichelleBrian-102715-01-17_MichelleBrian-102615-01-17_MichelleBrian-102515-01-17_MichelleBrian-102415-01-17_MichelleBrian-102315-01-17_MichelleBrian-102215-01-17_MichelleBrian-102115-01-17_MichelleBrian-101915-01-17_MichelleBrian-101815-01-17_MichelleBrian-101715-01-17_MichelleBrian-101615-01-17_MichelleBrian-101515-01-17_MichelleBrian-1014

The moments before the ceremony are some of my favorites of the day.
The moments before the ceremony are some of my favorites of the day.
Detail shots aren't my super specialty, but when I can get a smiling face in the background, they work perfectly.
Detail shots aren’t my super specialty, but when I can get a smiling face in the background, they work perfectly.
The red umbrella works perfectly against the green umbrellas.
The red umbrella works perfectly against the green umbrellas.

15-01-17_MichelleBrian-1010

The Profoto with a big umbrella works wonders for group shots.
The Profoto with a big umbrella works wonders for group shots.
Moments like this are a big reason why I love being a wedding photographer.
Moments like this are a big reason why I love being a wedding photographer.
The red umbrella made some red light on their faces.
The red umbrella made some red light on their faces.

15-01-17_MichelleBrian-100615-01-17_MichelleBrian-1005

Setting up two Profotos to bounce light around the room makes for some super light.
Setting up two Profotos to bounce light around the room makes for some super light.
Michelle is the best.
Michelle is the best.

15-01-17_MichelleBrian-100215-01-17_MichelleBrian-1001

 

Angel and Alex Engagement Photography at Dillon Falls

Angel and Alex found me on the Wedding Wire. After upgrading my membership I was wondering if the expense would be worth the effort, and after meeting these two I realized it’s worth every penny. They live over in “The Valley,” as Oregonians put it, which means they live on the rainy side of Oregon. I’ll be driving over to their part of the world in July to shoot their wedding. They drove here for our initial meeting and for our portraits.

Driving here for the likes of me was very flattering. My goal is to give them the best pictures possible. This is my goal for any couple, but for them I really want to dig down deep and pull out something special.

We met at Dillon Falls in February for our portraits. The weather was cold, but not stormy. The clouds were mostly blocking the sun but with my Profoto that doesn’t matter as much.

We made some super pictures they loved. Couples loving their pictures is the biggest reason why I love portrait and wedding photography. If you want to see more, please check out my Central Oregon Wedding Photography website.

15-02-13_AngelAlex-100115-02-13_AngelAlex-100215-02-13_AngelAlex-100315-02-13_AngelAlex-100415-02-13_AngelAlex-100515-02-13_AngelAlex-100615-02-13_AngelAlex-100715-02-13_AngelAlex-100815-02-13_AngelAlex-100915-02-13_AngelAlex-101015-02-13_AngelAlex-101115-02-13_AngelAlex-1012