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.

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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.

Alli And Scott Engagement Photography at Caldera Springs

Alli and Scott live in Eugene and are getting married in Sunriver this summer. So they had a limited amount of time to get their engagement portraits done and could only come to Bend in early March. Anyone who lives or has ever been to Central Oregon knows our spring is worse than most peoples winters. The afternoon we set to get our pictures done, at Caldera Springs in Sunriver, proved to be a horribly wet and windy day.

To be honest, I didn’t think we could pull it off.

These people, perhaps because they come from “The Valley” as it’s called, aren’t bothered by any stinking rain. We had an amazing portrait session together and made some amazing pictures. The clouds allowed me to turn off the light at a few key moments so they could just be themselves. They’re amazing together. I love when people can have fun and ignore the camera for a few minutes. Those moments become the iconic pictures of any day.

I’m looking forward to their wedding this August.

Now to put some of these on my wedding photography website.

Alli and Scott at Caldera in Sunriver.
Alli and Scott at Caldera in Sunriver.

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This picture is going onto my Bend Oregon Wedding Photography website. It was a moment inside a moment and an example of where I've been pushing my photography in the last couple years.
This picture is going onto my Bend Oregon Wedding Photography website. It was a moment inside a moment and an example of where I’ve been pushing my photography in the last couple years.

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A Profoto light mixed in with a split second moment between two people in love makes a humongous difference.
A Profoto light mixed in with a split second moment between two people in love makes a humongous difference.

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The winding path behind them was a problem, but they, in their moment together, overcame the problem.
The winding path behind them was a problem, but they, in their moment together, overcame the problem.

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I love getting moments like these. They happen so fast. A person needs to be ready.
I love getting moments like these. They happen so fast. A person needs to be ready.
The black umbrella against the lighter water made a nice contrast. The Profoto with a 1x4 strip and grid flipped horizontally popped a small amount of light in on them.
The black umbrella against the lighter water made a nice contrast. The Profoto with a 1×4 strip and grid flipped horizontally popped a small amount of light in on them.
The Profoto with a 1x4 strip box and grid flipped horizontally popped some nice light in on them.
The Profoto with a 1×4 strip box and grid flipped horizontally popped some nice light in on them.
Alli wanted a picture of them without the light. The black umbrella pulled back a little allowed enough natural light in to make it happen.
Alli wanted a picture of them without the light. The black umbrella pulled back a little allowed enough natural light in to make it happen.

Metal Printing – Wow!

I’ve been wanting to see what my pictures might look like as metal prints for a long time. When talking to potential bride/grooms about printing and why they want to pick my print shop instead of Costco to make their prints I was only talking about prints, canvas prints, and foam back prints. My Central Oregon wedding photography website talks about metal printing, and I knew they look amazing because I’ve seen them in coffee shop shows, but never before yesterday had I made prints from my own work.

When the box arrived I grabbed a sharp knife and very carefully cut through the copious amount of packing tape. Why so much tape? Is it going to Afghanistan? Anyway, after a couple minutes of cutting, checking places needing more cutting, cutting more tape and peeling away the styrofoam, I got to the pictures. They were wrapped in paper with yet more packing tape and took a very frustrating couple more minutes to peal away the paper. With the paper finally pulled away I got my first glimpse of my very own first two metal prints.

All I can say about them is, “WOW!” Those things look amazing. Looking at other peoples work I noticed they did some post Photoshop tricks with grain, old age look, etc. and they looked good, but what’s wrong with simple black and white Ansel Adams style? These were amazing.

Here’s the first two:

The pre-dawn light appears ethereal at the Temple of the Sun in Capitol Reef National Park.
The pre-dawn light appears ethereal at the Temple of the Sun in Capitol Reef National Park.
A crow flies past Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
A crow flies past Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

Of the two, the one from Capital Reef National Park is absolutely amazing. The creamy light that dawn looks amazing in either black and white or color. I wanted to see these in black and white on metal, and so that’s the way this one was printed. The Half Dome with the crow shot looks good, but the whites are a little bright and contrasty. It still rocks, however.

So today, for most of the day, I’ve been combing through pictures that might look good as metal prints. I think all these would look killer, but I had to choose just four to both keep the costs down (they are very expensive to do) and to limit the amount of space being used. I don’t want to fill the space where they’re going and then do some pictures in the future and not be able to put them in this space. So from these I culled four more. Any of these would look great as a metal print, and maybe eventually I’ll have a metal print show someplace and try to recoup some of the money from the initial printing. We’ll see.

Enjoy!

Dried mud in Capital Reef National Park.
Dried mud in Capital Reef National Park.
Snow used to be a common feature in the Yosemite valley in winter. Now it's a rarity.
Snow used to be a common feature in the Yosemite valley in winter. Now it’s a rarity.
Morning fog in Yosemite Valley.
Morning fog in Yosemite Valley.
Morning frost on Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park.
Morning frost on Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park.
Clouds on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Clouds on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Morning frost on a leaf in Yosemite National Park.
Morning frost on a leaf in Yosemite National Park.
Foggy morning on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Foggy morning on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Morning dew on a dandelion in Wisconsin.
Morning dew on a dandelion in Wisconsin.
Trees in the Hoh rainforest in Olympic National Park.
Trees in the Hoh rainforest in Olympic National Park.
Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park.
Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park.
A Roosevelt elk eats leaves in Olympic National Park.
A Roosevelt elk eats leaves in Olympic National Park.
Reflecting light on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.
Reflecting light on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.
The Horseshoe bend near Page, Arizona.
The Horseshoe bend near Page, Arizona.
The Narrows in Zion National Park.
The Narrows in Zion National Park.
Sand dunes in Death Valley National Park.
Sand dunes in Death Valley National Park.
Sand dunes in Death Valley National Park.
Sand dunes in Death Valley National Park.
A clearing rainstorm over the Sierras.
A clearing rainstorm over the Sierras.

Bend Wedding Photography: The bow tie argument

Making the transition from newspaper photographer to wedding photographer looks like it would be easy but really isn’t easy. My thinking always was, “Oh, I’ll take a couple no-credit business plan writing and SEO classes at the local junior college and just transfer my photographic skills to wedding photography.”

Wrong.

I have a BA in Aquatic Biology from one of the top marine biology universities in the country: UC Santa Barbara. To earn the degree I had to take a year of calculus, genetics, physics, three years of chemistry, physiology, marine biology, plus all the general requirements – which were most often more difficult than the sciences. At the end of it all, I never worked a day in my life on the ocean. After college I got a job in biotechnology purifying proteins. A few years after working there I went back to school to study photojournalism at one of the top photojournalism schools: SF State. While there I studied lighting, feature photography, portraits, news writing, sports photography, spot news, etc.

In all this time do you think I took one class, one, in any of the following: marketing, business, or accounting? Nope.

So my story is I’m very, very good at photography and very, very horrible at business, marketing, and accounting. I’m slowly learning these things and will take my first credited class in accounting next fall, but I have a long, long ways to go before even having a basic working knowledge of any of these things.

Some people were born into families of small business entrepreneurs, my mom was a home-maker and my dad was a truck driver. My entire working life was working for others in a company. Going it alone requires much more than knowing the chemical structure of the four base pairs of DNA or what organisms live in the intertidal zone.

Don’t get me wrong, I would rather be doing this than working for anyone else. But it’s a very steep learning curve and I have a long ways to go to match the business acumen of the Kimberly Kay’s of the Bend Wedding Photography world.

To learn more I’ve been reading books on marketing and business and creativity. One such book was “The Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. He tells people to be different if they want to succeed in a crowded marketplace. Don’t sell vanilla ice cream, sell jalapeño vanilla ice cream.

To this end I redid my business card and decided to upgrade my wedding selling and shooting wardrobe. I went with Moo.com for the business cards and went shopping at Brooks Brothers in Portland for some nice duds. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just show up at Brooks Brothers with an empty mind. I did a pile of research online and had an idea of what I wanted to wear. The clothes had to be functional, creative, and look like I’m worth the money people are spending. They had to be conservative except for the shoes. The shoes had to be out there nice and creative.

One other thing I thought would be fun: a bow tie that matched the red of my logo colors. I use a Hold Fast Moneymaker for the two cameras and regular ties keep getting caught in the straps. Yet I want to wear a tie to show respect for the ceremony. I also wanted to have a Purple Cow difference between me and the Bend wedding photography competition.

Sort of like my bow tie except mine is just the navy stripes without the yellow. They didn't have an example.
Sort of like my bow tie except mine is just the navy stripes without the yellow. They didn’t have an example.

My wife, Mary, absolutely HATES the idea of a bow tie. She says it’s pompous and pretentious and people will think I’m a kook. I think it might be fun to try. If people don’t like the look I can untie it and put it back in the car.

The other thing I tried was raising my prices and offering 30% off until June 1. The prices of my four packages are on the website. Lots of wedding blogs say to never put all your prices on the site. They all say to use the “Starts with…” approach and make the potential customers contact you for more information. I have since learned this will be my future approach and will be making this change this week. No more bargains until June 1. Since putting this on the website I haven’t had one single enquiry.

I don’t know if the bow tie will work either. But I’ll keep trying new ideas to see what sticks. To not try ideas and be creative with my business is to make vanilla ice cream and try to compete with vanilla ice cream with more vanilla ice cream. We’ll see what happens next.

Bend Photography: Using the Profoto for a freelance job

I try to never put a flash on the camera. The evolution from direct flash on camera when I was first doing pictures in the mid-90’s, to flash bouncing off ceiling or wall from around ’95 to a couple years ago, to trying to never put a flash on the camera for anything during the last couple years has been a long, mistake-filled, journey.

My first attempts of using a flash came from reading how to compensate the TTL flash of the Nikon SB-25 from outdoors photographer Galen Rowell. He did the -1.7 compensation for fill flash and I thought you had to do that for everything, both indoors and outside. I remember experimenting with the idea and having people hold cards with the compensation while I did pictures of them using Fuji Velvia film. Little did I know, the -1.7 TTL compensation only works on outdoors flash in sunlight situations. Doesn’t really work for anything else. It certainly doesn’t work for indoors or cloudy days. I used this silly idea for everything, with horrible results except for outdoors in the sunshine, for a couple years.

A situation where the -1.7 TTL compensation worked really well.
A situation where the -1.7 TTL compensation worked really well.

It wasn’t until I did the Photo II and III classes at SF State where we learned about ideas like “Match Point” for how slow you can go with the shutter speed to match ambient light with the flash. If, with constant aperture, you slow the shutter speed down from as fast the camera will let you to the shutter being at the neutral grey setting the camera meter tells you the background of the photo goes from black to showing through the moving subject. Learning this changed my knowledge of flash photography. Practicing this idea for sixteen years at newspapers made me really good at using a flash on the camera to make pictures.

I still use this when necessary.

A couple years ago, after investing in the Acute B-6 by Profoto, I slowly evolved from using the small flash on the camera to using the big flash off. I still use the small Nikon SB-900 with the Pocket Wizard and will wedge it between TV’s and walls while bouncing it off the ceiling. Sometimes I have my trusty assistant, Hannah, run around with the Nikon flash to hit the subjects from off angles.

My assistant, Hannah, around the corner to camera right with the SB-900 and a Pocket Wizard.
My assistant, Hannah, around the corner to camera right with the SB-900 and a Pocket Wizard bouncing off the ceiling.

My favorite technique lately is to put the Profoto in the corner and bounce it off a ceiling or wall to hit the subjects. The light provides enough power to light an entire room and having it in the corner gives the light both direction and softness. It’s like cutting a hole in a wall and adding a giant window to light the scene.

Eimear goes to the Bend Montessori School. I discovered this place while doing a newspaper story on preschools and fell in love with the Montessori system. To an outsider it looks funny. The kids spend time pouring water from one bowl to the next over and over again. Or they play with different sized blocks of wood. Maybe they’re putting beads on a string ten at a time. These activities make no sense until you see what they’re doing for the little minds in the long term. The kids are somehow learning math, language, and writing skills they’ll be using for their entire lives.

The school was needing a website update and so I volunteered to do the pictures.

Enter the Profoto B-1 on a stand in the corner. The machine worked perfectly because it gave super light and wasn’t very intrusive. After the kids got used to me doing pictures they slowly began ignoring the big goofy dad with the camera clicking away. The results were fun. None of the final pictures used entirely natural light and had the Profoto hitting them from an angle. Not all the current photos on there are mine. It’s still a work in progress.

All those lessons of how to use a flash and 16 years of newspaper experience pay off with jobs like these. Practicing ideas while working for a newspaper has been invaluable for my work as a Bend Wedding and Portrait Photographer.

A slight highlight on her face from the Profoto to camera right bouncing off the ceiling with a window behind her hitting the back of her head. My light overpowered the fluorescent lights in the ceiling.
A slight highlight on her face from the Profoto to camera right bouncing off the ceiling with a window behind her hitting the back of her head. My light overpowered the fluorescent lights in the ceiling.

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The blocks for learning math somehow.
The blocks for learning math somehow.
The Profoto bouncing off the ceiling about 90 degrees from my point of view to camera left. Loved what it did to his hair.
The Profoto bouncing off the ceiling about 90 degrees from my point of view to camera left. Loved what it did to his hair.

My German Shepherd Dog Kate

My dog Kate watching a fly fisherman cast on the Deschutes for a newspaper story. She just wanted to go fetch whatever it was he was throwing into the river.
My dog Kate watching a fly fisherman cast on the Deschutes for a newspaper story. She just wanted to go fetch whatever it was he was throwing into the river.

Before I was a Bend Wedding Photographer I was a newspaper photographer. My first job was with the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa. I worked there for three years before moving to Bend in 2000. Before moving I did some research and found some German Shepherd Dog breeders in Wisconsin who had purebred West German dogs. I spent a few weekends going on road-trips around Wisconsin to different breeders to find some. One breeder, Jane M. Steffenhagen of Columbus WI and owner of Steffen Haus USA breeding, would ship them in from Germany. When I visited the 17 acre grounds where she had the shepherds she let me meet a few. I fell in love with them immediately. They were the best German Shepherds I’ve ever seen.

The dogs were fun, spirited, intelligent, beautiful and friendly. Or as friendly as German Shepherds get. Anyone who’s been around the breed knows they have one master. Other humans dignify a sniff to check for safety and then get ignored.

During my visit I asked if they were dogs who liked to play fetch. “They’ll play fetch until your arm falls off,” Jane told me.

A couple weeks before leaving Iowa I went back to Columbus and found the dog they called “Hera” who I would name Kate, after Katherine the Great. They kept her there because her ears were weak and they were trying to stand them up.

When I picked her up the day we left Iowa (a lot of driving that day) she had some contraption with hair rollers taped to her ears. Kate wasn’t a fan of these things and when it came time to replace them she would have nothing to do with the program. One ear always kind of stood up, but the other was a lost cause. Jane ended up sending me half the money back when I proved Kate was fixed and wouldn’t pass on the lazy ear genes to any future generation.

Her ears never bothered me. I taught her the rudimentary rules of fetch on the drive to Bend, Oregon. The lessons stuck and playing fetch with me became her German Shepherd job. The constant need to play fetch sometimes, no, lets make that oftentimes, bothered me. We would always go on walks with super long ones on weekends. Anytime we would stop for a rest here would come a stick, a pinecone or whatever and it would be associated with a high pitched whining until I threw it.

She was with me the entire time I worked at The Bulletin here in Bend, Oregon. We had a temperature range, 15-65 degrees, and she could join me on days when the temperature fell within this range. Bend, being a place that tends towards the cold, is usually within this range, so she joined me for all but a few weeks a year. My car was covered in dog hair and stank to high heaven. However, she was such a great, great friend I never noticed.

We hiked, drove, hung out, and played fetch all over the state on both road-trips and for newspaper work. I loved having Kate in my life.

Luckily I met Mary in 2008 around the time when Kate started slowing down a little. A few months after meeting Mary I moved in to Mary’s house, which has a nice big yard and lots of strategic locations for a German Shepherd Dog to lay down and keep an eye on things. The breed has an innate ability to place themselves in a place where they can watch the most area all at once.

Her favorite place was always near me. She always wanted to ride in the front of the truck and join me at work. I had to bring her less and less as time went on and had to narrow the temperature range to make her more comfortable.

In the spring of 2012 I went on a road-trip to Olympic National Park. After a couple days I got a message Kate was going downhill fast. She hated when I went on road-trips and would get very depressed when I was gone. I rushed home and got here just in time to say goodbye before bringing my best friend to the vet. We played some fetch with a backyard pinecone and I collected some of the hair she was shedding.

After she was gone I hiked the entire Deschutes River Trail from the Meadows to Benham Falls and threw a stick or pinecone in the river at every place where we used to play fetch. There were quite a few places where we played fetch and many sticks and pine cones floated downstream that day. At the end my arm was ready to fall off, so I suppose Jane was right.

I still have the pinecone and the hair in my drawer and haven’t been able to part with them. Kate remains with me all the time.

Central Oregon Portrait Photography: Bailey and Joe revisited with Analog Pro

One reason why I love not being a newspaper photographer anymore is all the fun stuff a person can do in photography these days. I’m loving the ability to create a new look to a picture with post-processing. One of my favorite new programs is  the Google Nik Analog Efex Pro program. A person used to have to buy each of the Nik programs one-at-a-time but now you can buy all these programs in one shebang for about the same price as one of the old ones. The other two I love are Viveza and Silver Efex Pro II.

Being able to take a picture, done nicely to start with, and add grain and bokeh, put a silver plate over the top, change the film, add grain, lens vignetting, etc. in just a couple minutes is something a person could only dream of five years ago. Making these changes to a newspaper picture would get the photographer fired and blacklisted for all future news work. Making the same changes with Central Oregon wedding and portrait photography will set your pictures apart from the competition and let you be the artist you always wanted to be.

These examples are from a recent portrait session at Smith Rock State Park. I already blogged about the session here. These photos, however, were all done again in Analog Pro. I always give the couple the original adjusted photos in color because so few people like this look.

These were all done in slightly different ways. What I really love is the desaturated, grimy look with lens bokeh on anything not of interest. I really love the wet plate look, but it can’t be used on everything.

Analog Pro is a fun program to play with and I recommend trying it out to see what look you might like in your photos.

I love getting close to people. The Profoto light with beauty dish looks like natural light, but is way better than the flat light of the afternoon.
I love getting close to people. The Profoto light with beauty dish looks like natural light, but is way better than the flat light of the afternoon.
I love the lens flair on the lower left.
I love the lens flair on the lower left.
This poor horse not knowing what was going on. Desaturated and opened the shadows.
This poor horse not knowing what was going on. Desaturated and opened the shadows.
They got out onto a cliff for me. The Profoto really makes them pop from the background.
They got out onto a cliff for me. The Profoto really makes them pop from the background.
The Profoto was behind and to the left of Bailey and Joe. Desaturating gave it a nice look.
The Profoto was behind and to the left of Bailey and Joe. Desaturating gave it a nice look.
Framing them in the Crooked River at the cliffs edge required a "Hail Mary" type shot of holding the camera high over my head and doing lots of pics. I love the wet plate look of this photo.
Framing them in the Crooked River at the cliffs edge required a “Hail Mary” type shot of holding the camera high over my head and doing lots of pics. I love the wet plate look of this photo.
A picture not possible without the Profoto light. The Analog Efex Pro program made it even better.
A picture not possible without the Profoto light. The Analog Efex Pro program made it even better.
John Ford eat your heart out with the Profoto, natural light, and the Analog Pro all coming together very nicely.
John Ford eat your heart out with the Profoto, natural light, and the Analog Pro all coming together very nicely.
Before doing pictures I always try to visualize something to try. This being my first ever couples portrait session at Smith Rock I didn't have any ideas except this one. The dark cliff, the horse on a leash, and the couple looking at each other lit from behind with the Profoto.
Before doing pictures I always try to visualize something to try. This being my first ever couples portrait session at Smith Rock I didn’t have any ideas except this one. The dark cliff, the horse on a leash, and the couple looking at each other lit from behind with the Profoto.

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We were leaving and Bailey jumped on her horse and did this pose naturally. This was the only natural light photo of the bunch. Sometimes it works better than natural light. The Analog Efex Pro put it over the top and gave the picture a special feeling.
We were leaving and Bailey jumped on her horse and did this pose naturally. This was the only natural light photo of the bunch. Sometimes it works better than natural light. The Analog Efex Pro put it over the top and gave the picture a special feeling.

Portraits with Analog Pro

Tiffany Dole, 10, whose favorite book is "Green Eggs and Ham" on her porch in Dubuque, Iowa many years ago.
Tiffany Dole, 10, whose favorite book is “Green Eggs and Ham” on her porch in Dubuque, Iowa many years ago.

 

The original was shot hand held at about 1/30 sec. with a Nikon 80-200mm lens while on a walk around the block. The film was one of the black and white/process with a color processor types. This sort of black and white really scanned well.
The original was shot hand held at about 1/30 sec. with a Nikon 80-200mm lens while on a walk around the block. The film was one of the black and white/process with a color processor types. This sort of black and white really scanned well.

Long before metamorphosing into a Central Oregon Wedding Photographer I was an award winning newspaper photographer at the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. The TH, as it is called, used to do a series of pictures called Friends and Neighbors where the photographer would find someone to do pictures of and ask a set of questions typed out on a sheet of paper. When the paper had a hole in need of something, they would pull one of these out and run it with the questions. The series was enormously popular with the readers. I would always stop to do these pictures and often times the subject would say something like, “I always wondered what I would answer but now can’t think of a thing.”

Portraits were my worst subject while at photojournalism school at SF State. I just couldn’t do them because posing people was so difficult and unnatural. As a wedding photographer I still have difficulty posing people but do much better with the portraits.

The Friends and Neighbors program was the absolute perfect way to cure my lack of skill with portraits. Being younger and full of photographic enthusiasm I would go out with my own camera and do experiments with pictures. Doing these in black and white was a favorite because it forced the paper to run them without color.

My ex-girlfriend, Katrina, and I lived on Clarke Avenue down the street from Clarke College. A person could do a nice walk around the block and we would often do this after work in the warm weather. I brought my camera on these walks because the street below us on the loop around the block (about two miles) was filled with colorful people. I did so many of these pictures of the people living there that the editor in chief of the newspaper told me to start getting some photos of more regular types of people.

This one, of this little girl, was my favorite of the series. She was in the door watching some other kids play and I saw the shot, perfect without any changes. Doing pictures of kids I always asked the parents before whipping out the camera and it took a few frames to get right.

The picture won some awards the first time around and was a staple of my news portfolio for years and years. There’s nothing like this in Central Oregon. Or if there is I never saw it and the very boring Bulletin would never run something like this. As a matter of fact I tried for 14 years to get them to do something like Friends and Neighbors and they never could.

Oh, they tried, but it wasn’t generated by the photographers but by the reporters and editors. The closest we ever got was during the election years of 2004 and 2008 when we went around interviewing people on their political leanings. I had it going for the 2012 election and then was laid off the week before it was to start again.

Anyway, I redid this photo in Analog Pro this morning and gave it new life. It looks even more like a photo that could’ve been done in 1933 and I love it all over again.

 

 

The importance of having a photojournalist do photojournalism style wedding photography

A protester gets a face-full of pepper spray during a riot. I did this photo while still a student of photojournalism at SF State.
A protester gets a face-full of pepper spray during a riot. I did this photo while still a student of photojournalism at SF State.
Steven gets a face-full of cake from his wife, Amy, at their wedding last October.
Steven gets a face-full of cake from his wife, Amy, at their wedding last October.

The same photographer, me, shot both these pictures 17 years apart. They both show someone getting a face-full of something. They both caught a split second moment in time. They both used fill flash to create better lighting. They’re both fun to look at. They’re both in my portfolios.

Lots of wedding photographers advertise themselves as doing photojournalism style wedding photography. Only a handful have a picture like the top one in their portfolios. As a Bend Wedding Photographer I believe it’s important to be able to back up the claim of being a photojournalist with actual news experience and award winning portfolio shots.

A photojournalist pays the price with working at newspapers. Low pay, high stress, little verbal reward are all part of working as a newspaper photographer. We do it because we love the work.

I still love the work, but now do it at weddings. When I tell people they’ll get photojournalism style wedding photography, that’s what they’ll get. I can back it up with experience and pictures to prove the journalism dues were paid with sixteen years of newspaper experience.

So anyone out there reading this and shopping for a journalism style wedding photographer to shoot their wedding, please ask to see some proof of journalism. A person able to make the first picture can most definitely make the second.

 

Analog Pro and the Profoto light for a news portrait

This poor fellow had Alzheimer's and I got to do his portrait for the newspaper in his home.
This poor fellow had Alzheimer’s and I got to do his portrait for the newspaper in his home.

Towards the end of my time at the Bend Bulletin I would bring my Profoto light on assignment to both make way better portraits and to get practiced at whipping it out and putting it to work as a Central Oregon Wedding Photographer. For some reason I would get into trouble for doing this. Perhaps it was something about me not caring about the newspaper as much as about photography? Or perhaps it was something to do with flashing in their faces my goals for the future. I never understood why, but being an artist it kept getting used for work.

This poor fellow had Alzheimer’s and was living at home with his wife. I have since lost their names to time, but the experience of getting this picture is fresh in my memory.

I showed up at their home in Bend ready to do a portrait and wasn’t too inspired by the super clean and well put together home. Most people love having a clean home, but they’re horrible for my style of portrait photography. So after asking a few questions of where we could do a picture they said they had a glass block window in the hallway upstairs. Who has such a thing? I immediately had to see it and came up with this idea in about half a second.

My understanding of Alzheimer’s is it makes small holes in the mind and after awhile they get more and worse. The waves in the glass created the perfect conduit to making this happen in a photograph. The problem, and there’s always a problem, came from how to make it happen.

Luckily I had the Profoto light, the zoom reflector, and was reading a book on lighting by my favorite location light guru Joe McNally. A hard light source, meaning no soft box or umbrella to soften it, placed a distance away from a shadow creating object will make the shadows come out sharper. The waves in the glass would refract the light and be the source of the shadow.

So I put the light in the far side of the bedroom on the other side of this window and closed the hallway door behind them to make it go dark. His wife stood behind and became a nice background element. I just moved him where he needed to go and did the pictures quickly because he would quickly start wondering where he was. Alzheimer’s might be one of the worst diseases and I always had a hard time doing these stories.

A little while ago, unable to sleep, I saw this photo in a pile of photos and thought it might look good with Analog Pro. I don’t know if it does look better. The picture looks fine as it is and tells a story all by itself without the need to add the analog element.

You can be the judge.

The same portrait with Analog Pro applied.
The same portrait with Analog Pro applied.