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?

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.

A reason to love Central Oregon wedding photography

Stephanie and Brian at Black Butte Ranch on a Sunday evening.
Stephanie and Brian at Black Butte Ranch on a Sunday evening.

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.

Stephanie and Brian on the dock at Black Butte Ranch with some amazing clouds.
Stephanie and Brian on the dock at Black Butte Ranch with some amazing clouds.

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.

Stephanie and Brian pose for a shot with the 85mm lens and the Profoto lighting the way at Black Butte Ranch.
Stephanie and Brian pose for a shot with the 85mm lens and the Profoto lighting the way at Black Butte Ranch.
Getting low with the 20mm lens while they had some fun while being lit with the Profoto at Black Butte Ranch.
Getting low with the 20mm lens while they had some fun while being lit with the Profoto at Black Butte Ranch.
Stephanie and Brian having some fun during an amazing Central Oregon Sunset at Black Butte Ranch.
Stephanie and Brian having some fun during an amazing Central Oregon Sunset at Black Butte Ranch.

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…”

Indeed.

On a side note, I wish he could write all my posts. There would be more of them. And more links to my Central Oregon wedding photography website.

 

 

A nice compliment

The florist, Sara Carson of Blue Daffodil Flowers, who supplied the flowers to a past wedding, Sara and Beau in downtown Bend, wanted a few photos from the wedding to put on her website. I’m always happy to share the news of my Bend wedding photography to any vendors asking. It’s a great way to generate links to my website and get some pictures out there to help with the business. If in the meantime my pictures help their business, then it’s even better.

Here’s what she said about my work:

“Your work is some of the best I have seen :). My son is getting married next year! We will be contacting you. Thanks for the pics. I’ll get them up on my site tonight. “

Yay! It’s so nice to hear this. I work VERY hard at wedding photography and I absolutely love when people see and recognize what’s going on with my photography.

Sara is one of those brides who has a face made for the Profoto beauty dish. When looking at the pictures after the wedding I was amazed at how good she looked with the light shining on her face. The look was so unique it made me think maybe certain faces and looks shine with different types of light modifiers. Perhaps a different face would look better with a soft box. Who knows, I don’t really want to deal with a 4 x 6 tent in sometimes tight quarters.

Here’s the pictures Ms. Carson  wanted.

Love the flowers by Blue Daffodil.
Love the flowers by Blue Daffodil.
Sara has the perfect face for the Profoto beauty dish and the vintage dress and hair really complete the wedding portrait.
Sara has the perfect face for the Profoto beauty dish and the vintage dress and hair really complete the wedding portrait.
A cloudy fall day and a balcony at the Oxford Hotel. Hannah was inside with the Profoto beauty dish with grid to light them.
A cloudy fall day and a balcony at the Oxford Hotel. Hannah was inside with the Profoto beauty dish with grid to light them.
Ever so slight of a use of the light for this series. Love the brick wall in the alley across from the Oxford Hotel for wedding portraits.
Ever so slight of a use of the light for this series. Love the brick wall in the alley across from the Oxford Hotel for wedding portraits.
I try to include detail shots in weddings, but am more tuned to looking for emotion. Need to work more on this because people love these pictures so much.
I try to include detail shots in weddings, but am more tuned to looking for emotion. Need to work more on this because people love these pictures so much.

 

Bend Wedding Photography: Portraits in natural light

Genna and Isaac between signing the license and being introduced at the reception.
Genna and Isaac between signing the license and being introduced at the reception.

There’s a four-year-old impatient child sitting on my lap right now so this will be very short and to the point.

My favorite wedding studio, Chrisman Studios, often shoots couples framed in something and in this pose. I study their stuff all the time in a quest to reach higher with my creativity as a Bend Wedding Photographer.

I study lots of peoples work and have noticed two types of wedding photography: The Cookie Cutters and the Artists. Most are cookie cutters, shooting regular pictures time after time like a factory producing images for couples. A couple can go to a website, look at some pictures and be relatively sure they’ll get the same product a few weeks after their wedding. The Cookie Cutters stay very busy and make lots of money doing these kinds of pictures. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. Most couples want these pictures.

Sometimes I wish I was happy with this approach for my photography. For me it would get boring and I wouldn’t be able to be a wedding photographer. After leaving the newspaper world in late 2012 and thinking about what kinds of photography to concentrate my efforts with, I found Chrisman Studios and was inspired to create art at weddings and make it fun to do and always different and exciting for the couples to see.

You can ask any couple whose wedding I’ve shot to say how many times I say something like, “There’s an idea I want to try here. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Let’s give it a go.” Most the time it works. Though to be honest, sometimes my ideas fail miserably. When the ideas fail I say something like, “Eeee. Let’s move on to the next idea.” Lots of ideas with lots of solutions to making something different and halfway new.

Just after the ceremony they wanted me to stay downstairs and do a photo of all the guests in the church. I of course forgot this and went upstairs with the couple. After being reminded I rushed downstairs to do a picture, but not before seeing this through the dirty window of the door and having the instant picture in my mind of doing this after they signed the license.

Seeing pictures and visualizing ideas is a skill requiring many years of practice. I learned this from studying outdoor photographer and writer Galen Rowell and doing many, many years of landscape photography. Every picture we take helps make the next picture.

So after kicking everyone out of the room I closed the windows to take away the vertical lines growing out of their heads and had them do this pose. The original idea was to use the Profoto to hit them with some light, but the natural light coming through the window was perfect.

As always, it really helped to have such a nice couple like Genna and Isaac willing to give me a couple minutes to hit the shot.

Central Oregon Wedding Photography: Emotion at Weddings

Samantha and Rob were married at Rock Springs Ranch last summer. Her dad found, contacted, communicated, and hired me entirely on the internet and phone. I had no idea who they were before the wedding. What a fun surprise to have such a perfect couple, perfect family, and perfect friends to spend a warm summers day with at Rock Springs Ranch!

They didn’t want many portraits of themselves, however, and so this wedding was originally on the bubble for the Bend Oregon Photographer website. I was going through the summer’s worth of pictures for the slide show at the top of the site and kept picking pictures from this wedding. After picking about thirteen I came to the conclusion it needed to be a portfolio on the website.

Emotion filled the day with this wedding. I love emotion. It’s what I spent sixteen years as a news photographer looking for every day. Seeing and documenting emotion and love is the first and biggest reason why I’m a wedding photographer. My feelings about this are so complicated it’s difficult to put into words.

This wedding was filled with more genuine emotion than any I’ve ever seen. It’s a no-brainer why I ended up picking it for my portfolio even though they didn’t want many portraits and I could’ve left the Profoto light at home.

It starts with love. If you show me the love I can make the pictures happen. I really do love seeing love and making creative pictures to reflect the love.

Bristle Cone Pines in the White Mountains

Bristle Cone Pines in the White Mountains of Eastern California.
Bristle Cone Pines in the White Mountains of Eastern California.

It would be nice if the White Mountains were closer to Bend, Oregon so I could go more often. My wife, Mary, knows how much I would love to live in Bishop, CA. But alas, getting a medical license in California after getting established in Oregon is all but impossible. Go there a few times and one realizes why Galen Rowell moved there.

The mountains have clean light, a light colored rock, dolomite, and amazing crazy trees, the bristle cone pine, populating the peaks. These three elements come together to create endless photographic possibilities. Unfortunately every photographer knows this and the peaks are now covered with photographers trying to outdo each other and getting into each others photos.

I missed a truly amazing storm the day before these photos were done. Had been backpacking in Yosemite and not really being inspired for some reason and had the idea to make a quick trip to the White Mountains to get some shots. Didn’t realize how long it would take to backpack out of the upper Yosemite area, drive down to Bishop, and then drive up to the mountains. Got to watch the best light ever at the base of the mountains and missed everything. Waited around all day the next day hoping for a repeat, but it never happened.

Missing something like this really depresses me and thinking about it makes me sad.

The morning this was done was clear and cold. I don’t think there’s any other morning temperature in the White Mountains. The trees become an orange/red color in the early and late light and I love seeing and photographing this. Finding picture ideas becomes like an Easter Egg hunt. I wanted to frame a living tree with the remains of an ancient. These trees live for thousands of years and I always wonder how old the dead ones are.

The light reflecting from the dolomite makes the wood glow in the predawn light. Getting the depth of field right became the challenge of the shot and I did ok with it. It was done with a 24mm lens. Now I would use the 20 and get more in the shot.

Yep, I’m a Bend Wedding Photographer who loves going on road-trips and doing lots of types of photography.