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.
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.
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.
Todd and I recently did the wedding photography for Stephanie and Brian at Black Butte Ranch. They’re one of those couples a photographer loves to work with because they’re just happy people. Stephanie has a smile that can light up a dark room.
We were super lucky because they were willing to leave the dancing and drinking going on the patio to do some sunset photos on the dock and next to the pond at the ranch. I especially love couples willing to experiment with the light and time of day for their wedding photography, and sunset at Black Butte Ranch seems to be custom made for this exact purpose.
The dock pictures were spectacular. We had some amazing clouds floating around in the evening sky providing the perfect backdrop. I whipped out the 20mm lens and put them in a hole in the clouds for a few photos. Being such a great couple to work with I had great fun playing with a few ideas for the picture.
After doing the dock shots we all walked over to the grass next to the pond and I whipped out the Profoto for some portraits. We had great fun playing with different ideas with them dancing, posing, and using different lenses to make different ideas come alive. I can’t say enough how much fun it is for a wedding photographer to work with people like this to get just the right picture.
Then, just for the fun of the idea, I turned off the light and did a “Hail Mary” shot with the 20mm lens held high over my head using only nature’s light. It’s the first photo of this blog. I hate to admit sometimes not using a light comes out better than using the thing. This is one case where God’s Light was amazing.
It captures them, their relationship, and the super wedding in one shot.
My friend, who’s a professional writer, had this to say:
“Jesus that’s a defining moment. How cool it must be to be a small part of their marriage from now on, just hanging out on the wall, watching life go by…”
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.
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 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.
This photo, done in May of 2011 for the Bulletin, was the first time I used the Profoto for any kind of work. She was 102-years-old and they wanted a portrait of her. I saw photos of her in the 50’s when she was in her 40’s and she looked like she was 30. She aged amazingly well. I was impressed with how alert she was even though her hearing was going a little.
For the portrait I wanted to keep it simple and fast because there was no telling how long she would last. Because I was new to using the Profoto it took me a few minutes to set up and get going. I’m really glad to have been able to use the machine for newspaper work while learning. Before this I had used the company Alien Bee lights with soft boxes for portraits and had been using the camera strobes with small SF State Photo III lights for 15 years and so wasn’t a total beginner with the lights.
I was, however, a beginner with the 2.3 octobox and putting the rods in the speed ring. The older Profoto speed rings have no color coding and it was very easy to not line the rods up with the proper holes. This fumbling took a couple minutes. Very embarrassing to say the least.
After a few shots to get the light set up right I had her look into the light to hit more of her face and minimize the nose shadow.
The thing I noticed first about shooting with this light was how it created super sharp pictures. The small camera strobes have nothing on one of these lights when it comes to creating sharp pictures. The second thing I noticed was how she almost glows. Doing portraits with the small strobes for 15 years I was used to the look, but this blew me away.
As a matter of fact, I’ve barely pulled out and used the Nikon strobe at the last couple Bend Oregon weddings. It’s all been with the Profoto either with the beauty dish and grid pointed at the people as a portrait or standing in the corner bouncing off the ceiling to give nice light.
Once a person gets used to using a machine like the Profoto they can’t go back to using anything else.
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.
We went to Smith Rock State Park yesterday to do portraits of a wonderful couple, Bailey and Joe. It was my first real outdoor use of the Profoto B1. It was also the first time I’ve done engagement portraits as a Bend Wedding Photographer at Smith Rock.
What a place to do engagement portraits! How could a person go wrong with a background like this? Most of our time there it was cloudy and windy but we still made some killer portraits. I’m right now taking a break from editing the photos to do a quick entry on the amazing B1.
All told I shot over 300 shots mostly using the B1 at a power setting of between about 7.5 to 9.5 and it went down to the last bar on the battery. Luckily I bought two because it did run out the other day in the studio while shooting with the modeling light on. When the battery runs out the light just quits. It doesn’t go dim or take longer recharging. One shot it’s going then it stops. Something to keep in mind and the reason why a person needs a backup battery.
It’s not quite as powerful as the slightly more bulky Acute battery I’ve been using for a couple years. But where it loses power it makes up for in both durability and portability. My assistant, Hannah, was very happy to not have to lug around the heavy battery pack (I have the lithium version – but it still weighs a person down) with the big black cord getting caught in everything.
Just look at this picture. It’s lighting Bailey and Joe nicely with my favorite light modifier, the beauty dish with the grid, and is only a light on a stick.
Having an assistant hold it is crucial to success. We were on a cliff in gusty wind conditions and it would’ve blown over the side if she hadn’t been there. When I was first using the Profoto and when using it on stories for the newspaper I worked alone and it was a hassle.
This machine brings new value to the portraits people get. We can work faster and in more creative ways in any location to make amazing pictures. I’m almost of the opinion to start automatically including the engagement portrait session with the wedding packages because these are so valuable. The couple gets to see how I work and in return they get better portraits than what we’ll have time to make on the wedding day. Plus it helps the mind to stay doing pictures.
Anymore with electronic sharing of pictures on websites, blogs, Facebook, and dating sites like Match.com a person needs to have nice professional portraits done. This light becomes the solution to the problem of making them amazing. My big challenge will be to convince people of the value of getting them done for money.
Genna and Isaac, a young and fun couple, were married on the first Saturday in spring at the Foundation Church in Bend. They let me be their wedding photographer. What fun it is for a person doing what I do, Bend Wedding Photography, to see such a nice couple, their super families, and fun friends all in one place for such a wonderful event.
Super busy with taxes and a sick kid this week and so this post will be about 100 words long.
This is Genna at her wedding in Bend last Saturday. It was great fun working with her because she let us do some creative photography. As a Bend Wedding Photographer (always with a shameless keyword link) I really appreciate when the people I get to work with let me try ideas. Sometimes the ideas work, sometimes they don’t. This one worked pretty well. It came from studying another, super amazing photographer’s website. He shot it through a window with the light of a soft box hitting the subject and reflecting off the glass. I used my ever handy Profoto beauty dish with a grid to camera left and slightly behind her while she stood leaning against the slim mirror.
A soft box with a grid might work better in these situations. The trouble with this idea is twofold: 1) a soft box with a grid costs around $700 and 2) a 3 x 4 foot soft box would take a ton of space and require being carried around the place all day and switching back and forth with the beauty dish. The beauty dish itself is no small or cheap piece of equipment. So it becomes a quandary. Do I want more options or do I want more hassle?
What do you know? The post ended at around 250 words. Amazing how ideas in photography can occupy one’s mind.