Thursday, September 26, 2013

Are we photographers or are we plastic surgeons?

Uh oh, I am about to do something totally different on the blog today. I am writing about something that really bothers me. Last night, I picked up one of my many photography magazines and was flipping through the pages when I came across this ad for Portrait Professional software. And what I saw really disturbed me. Enough so that I pre-empted another blog entry to write this one.

Let me start by saying that I am not against skin clean up, or slight modifications to make someone look better. If a kid has acne, I will clean that up. If someone is wearing a small bandage on their big day, I will remove it. If someone is concerned about their weight and asks me to make them look skinnier, I even wrote an action which compresses the image by 5%. (I should also state that I rarely ever have to use this action for a client.) But when I make these modifications, for the most part, they are minor modifications that do not change the overall look of the person. We are who we are, and we should be OK with that.

Here is the ad that I saw:


If you look closely at this advertisement, you will see that they have done a lot of work to this girl. Amongst other things, they have completely redesigned her nose, slimmed her face, made her lips more full, and lightened her hair. I have a real problem with the ad campaign because it is saying to photographers that it is OK to completely change the way someone looks. I disagree. Photo retouching should be used like seasoning in a recipe. It should enhance the dish, not overpower it. Good photo retouching should barely be noticeable.

Here is a close up of the girl's "real" nose.



And here is her new "Michael Jackson" nose.


I have to be honest with you, I think this girl is very attractive in the original photo, and did not need to be altered in this way. And this is the type of message that my daughter and her friends will see and think "I need to look like this to be acceptable." Are we OK with this?

Here is another horrible Portrait Professional ad which I posted on my Facebook page last year:


I will admit that, in my opinion (influenced by the media), the girl on the right is more attractive. But the girl on the right is not the girl on the left. That is a different person, not literally, but with the assistance of software.  I went to their web site to get more information, and landed on this page (at the risk of sending them a bunch of web traffic). Example after example of changing people's features.


Here is an example of one of my images (of my neighbor's daughter) which has been retouched. Did I clean up Bridget's skin? Yes, I did. Did I remove some fly-away hairs? You betcha. But did I make her skinnier or change any of her features? Not a chance.


Here is a before and after example of what I am talking about. This is a photo that I took of my daughter a couple of years ago. The top image is the retouched and finished photo. The one below shows the original photo taken. If you compare the two photos, you will notice the slight exposure adjustments, minor clean-up to her eyebrows, and a touch of skin smoothing. Not much more.


I have nothing against the Portrait Professional software package, and I know people who use it and really like it. But, I do have a problem with their advertising, and promoting such drastic change to a person's natural look.

Sorry everyone, but I thought we were being hired as photographers, not plastic surgeons!

I would love to know what you all think...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The evolution of digital cameras - My personal trail of technology

What do digital cameras, Steve Wozniak, and myself have in common? Well...I will tell you. People ask me how I got started as a photographer, and they want to know what equipment I started with. I usually start my story at my first digital SLR, which was the Olympus E-10. But, the story and my love of photography started in a unique way and much earlier than that. So join me as I look back at my digital camera evolution throughout the last 20 years.



In 1996, I started with one of the first point and shoot digital cameras. This unit was the Ricoh RDC-1, and it was REALLY expensive. This camera was purchased in Japan by my good friend, Steve Wozniak (the founder of Apple Computer). Woz and I became friends almost 30 years ago, and he is an incredibly generous man who gave me this camera, along with the LCD option and a manual all in Japanese. He and I spent a lot of time staring at that cryptic manual and trying to figure out all the features. Believe it or not, this camera cost around $2000 at the time and it was not even one megapixel. BUT, it was the first time I was able to capture digital photos and video and I was hooked!


After the RDC-1, Woz and I upgraded to the RDC-2. At this point, I had contacted Ricoh in the United States and made some friends there. They were able to supply us with English manuals for this camera, even though we purchased these cameras in Tokyo and all the buttons and menus were in Japanese. (At the time, you could not get these cameras in the U.S.) We also upgraded to 48MB cards and thought we were styling!


You are probably looking at this photo and thinking "Huh? What is a video camera doing here?" Well...this is the Sony TRV-900 camera and it could shoot video to tape and still images to a memory card. This was from yet another trip to Akihabara (otherwise known as Electric Town in Tokyo) with Woz. And I actually used this to take some of the early digital photos of my kids. This camera had a great zoom and take reasonable photos. That was pretty unique at that time.

As you can probably tell, Steve Wozniak had a huge influence on the early days of my photography. And, I remember the day that he showed me the Casio Exilim EX-S1. It was so incredibly small that I was blown away! I could not wait to get one of these for my travels, and I took this camera everywhere with me. It was so small, that you could slip it in your pocket and almost forget that you had it with you. Seriously, this was so cutting edge at the time. This was during a time when everything was getting smaller and more high-tech, including TVs, pagers and cell phones.


After a while, we upgraded to a slightly larger version of the Casio Exilim, with a higher megapixel sensor and an optical zoom. This was a much better camera than the EX-S1, but since it was much larger than the original, there was still a piece of me that missed the engineering marvel of the EX-S1.



Then came the year 2000. Remember Y2K? Olympus came out with the E-10. This was the first "serious" digital camera that I ever used. It did not have interchangeable lenses, because Olympus did not want users to have to deal with dust on the sensor. But the optics were excellent and the 4 megapixel images were very good. And, it was with this camera that I took my first "money shot." I remember it well, it was a photo of my young daughter drinking from a water fountain, and it was so sharp!


This is the original Canon Digital Rebel and it was my first Canon DSLR. As it turned out, it was the first of many to come. At this point in my photographic life, I was just learning all the features of this camera, and was mostly using Canon's consumer lenses. This was a really nice starter camera, even though it had a plastic body and a really tiny LCD display on the back (that seemed big back then). This was also the first camera I used to start my photography business. I had this camera, a wobbly tripod that was damned near useless, and one flash. It is scary now to think back to those days when I had no backup camera, no backup flash in case something happened






After using the Digital Rebel for a couple of years, I was ready to move up to my first "serious" DSLR. I was looking at the Canon 10D, but heard rumors that the 20D was on it's way. I waited for a little while, the 20D was announced and I made the investment. This was my first DSLR with a metal body and was faster than the Rebel. And then, in the years that followed, I would upgrade to the next camera body, including the 30D and 40D. At the time, the main reason for my upgrading was the increased megapixel sizes.
Then in 2009, Canon announced the 5D Mark II and it was love at first site! This was my first full frame camera and I was blown away at the quality of the images. At this point in my photography career, I was less interested in the megapixel count and more interested in shooting images at higher ISO and getting clean results. I really feel that this camera was the tool that helped me get to where I am today. I loved it so much that I purchased two of them to build my photography business.


And now, after looking at the past 17 years of camera evolution, we arrive at my latest cameras of choice. When the 5D Mark III first came out, I purchased one of them, thinking that I would use this as my primary camera and use one of the 5D Mark II cameras as my second body. Well...as it turned out, that did not last very long. In almost no time, I became so comfortable with the new interface of the Mark III and having the expanded focus points, that I found it difficult to go back to the Mark II. So after only a month, I purchased a second Mark III.


And lastly, it is the big boy, the Canon 1DX! I first used this camera (on loan from Canon) at the London Olympics in 2012. Actually, I had a prototype of the camera for a month before the Games, and learned all of the important features so that I would have a chance to get to know the camera settings and new features. Trust me, you don't want to show up to an event as big as the Olympics and try to figure out a new camera. After using a couple of these camera bodies for the month in London, I knew that I needed one for my business. I do use the 1DX in combination with the 5D Mark III bodies when shooting events, like Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. But for sports, it is almost always the 1DX, with it's ability to shoot 14 photos per second.

And now comes the big question: What's next???

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Canon 600EX-RT Flash System - A real-world test

In the last blog entry I talked about using the Canon 600EX-RT flash, and I had numerous questions about this new flash system. So I thought I would write a blog specifically on the newer Canon flashes and tell you all how it fits into my event photography.



When Canon announced the new 600EX-RT flash system a while back, I saw some potential for these units in my shooting. But, honestly, I was not sure how much I would use the new features. And, for the first couple of months, I felt as if I had just spent a bunch of money to replace my 580EX-II flashes and saw no major advantages. But, as time went on, I started learning more about these new flashes, and I saw that there were some interesting features. Now that I have taken the time to learn more about these, I realize that, not only have I spent my money well, I have some really amazing tools at my disposal. Here are my top 4 reasons why I now love the new Canon flash system:

1. The new long range wireless communication between flash units
2. A new and much cleaner user interface
3. A fast and powerful flash unit
4. Complete control of the flash from the camera

Now, after having used 3 of the 600EX-RT flash units for 6 months, I have to tell you that I think my event photography looks better than ever. Why? Because now I can set up a remote flash anywhere in a large room and know that it will reliably flash when I want it to. This added light can be used to add a whole new dimension to my photos.

The Wireless

I have always had mixed results with third party wireless systems, and never liked the additional setup that they required. Now, with the newer Canon flash system, I do not need any additional equipment. I set up at least one 600EX-RT somewhere high up in the corner of the reception area, turn on the wireless mode to "slave" and I am ready to go. With the new 2.4 GHz wireless mode, the flash units do not have to be line of sight in order to communicate.  And...unlike the old infrared wireless mode, this new wireless system works reliably in almost all situations. With the old system, I would have times when the flash units were 5 feet apart and not communicate. With the new system, I am regularly firing remote flashes from 100 feet or more.

Even though I was using an on-camera flash (diffused) to add some light to my subjects, you will notice the great light on the girl's face, coming from a remote 600EX-RT on the left of the scene. This additional light really changes the quality of the photo and makes a good photo so much better!
And I love that I can easily control the remote flash from wherever I am in the room. Do I want it on or off? Powered up or down? I can control all of this within seconds.
In this photo, you can see the remotely mounted flash unit firing. Since this was a destination wedding and I did not want to travel with a light stand, I used the Manfrotto 175F Justin Spring Clamp to suspend the flash to a hook over a doorway.

Notice how the remote 600EX-RT, mounted in the far corner of the dance floor, is putting rim light on the bride's face and the groom's hair. Without this remote light, there would be little separation of the subjects and background, and they would blend into the darkness behind them.



My remote flash is directly across from me (clamped to the DJ's light stand) and creating the hair light on the girl, and lighting the man to the right of the chair.
Basically, with the addition of this new flash system, I have a whole new look to my reception photos. And in the competitive photography business, this is a way to stand out from the rest.

The User Interface

Whenever I get new camera equipment, my goal is to introduce this new hardware to my workflow with the least amount of interruption and frustration, and achieve great results immediately. This does not always happen, but it is the goal. Initially, I used the 600EX-RT flash (without wireless) just like the older 580EX-II, and I did find the new interface to be slightly better and the screen layout very easy to see and navigate. But, after some serious learning from Syl Arena (the master of Canon flash), I found some really great tricks within the menus of this new flash. I now have my own custom wireless channel, I made it so that I can dial the power up or down using the scroll wheel only, and I have turned off the older wireless triggering (which never worked reliably anyways) so I can make changes quicker from the master flash.

The Power

I have always had excellent results with Canon flashes, and even though I have come to rely on good consistent flash power, I think it is important to talk about. I almost always leave the flash in ETTL mode, thus letting the flash system determine the amount of power needed to properly light my subject. Many times I will dial that up or down, depending on how much light I want on my subject. I can also change the zoom of the flash from 24mm to 200mm, although I rarely adjust this setting for event shooting. The 600EX-RT flash has plenty of power and I regularly use it outside during the day, to add light to subjects that are easily 100 feet away from me.

This photo was taken in almost complete darkness. You will notice that the 600EX-RT had no problem assisting the camera in the focus of my subject and lighting both him and the people in the background.


As much as I tried, with my desired settings, I could not get enough light on all my subjects with just one 600EX-RT
In the last blog entry I talked a little about this family portrait. Due to the fact that I was shooting at ISO 50 (to get a really slow shutter speed) and the camera was metering off of the white water, I needed to add a lot of fill flash to my subjects. I tried using one 600EX-RT flash at +3 power, but even that was not enough. I stood there in the water trying to determine my next step. I could either increase the ISO to get more light on my subjects or increase the exposure compensation. Neither of those were good options for me, because I wanted the slowest shutter speed to blur the water and I did not want to over expose the water. I could move closer to the family to get the flash closer to them, but I wanted a wide shot to include the surroundings. I knew that I needed more fill flash on the family members. It was at that point that realized I had 2 more 600EX-RT flash units in the car. My wife was nice enough to take the short hike back to the car to get these.


A team effort
In this case, I was able to take advantage of 3 features of the 600EX-RT flashes. I used the wireless (to have all 3 flash units fire at the same time), the power of these large flash units to light the subjects, and the control from the camera to set all flashes at +1 stop.

The finished product - using 3 flash units all working together.

The Focus Assist

What people may not know is that these boot flash units have a focus assist feature which helps the camera determine the proper focus even in the dimmest of light. This is instrumental to me when shooting parties / receptions where the lights are turned down or off completely. Initially, there were some issues with the 600EX-RT working with the 5D Mark III and 1DX, where it would take multiple seconds for the focus assist to communicate with the cameras. This was excruciating for me, since I would have to point the camera at my subject, wait for what seemed like hours to get a focal point, and then fire. With the latest firmware upgrades for the 5D Mark III and 1DX, this problem has been solved. Now both camera models work very well with the new flash system and the focus is very fast.

Control from the camera

Most of the newer Canon cameras have an on-screen menu which lets you change all the flash settings from your camera's menu. I don't use this very often. I am so used to making the adjustments on the flash unit, it is a hard habit to break. But, I plan on using this more in the future.


Directional light

As much as I love shooting with an on-camera flash (to keep things really simple), I also love having the ability to direct the light on my subject and not have it straight on, evenly lighting their face. There are times when I can bounce the light off of nearby walls, thus creating a virtual light source, but not always. The 600EX-RT flash lets me pivot the flash head in almost any direction. (For any beginners reading this blog, I NEVER recommend buying an external flash with a fixed head. You will want one that allows movement in all directions to give you options in the future.)

For this photo, I turned the flash head towards the wall on my right, and bounced the light to illuminate the left side of this little girl's face. Look at the light and shadow on her face, adding dimension, and you see how much nicer this is as compared to a straight on flash, diffused or not. 

There are other times when I am outside, or in a room with colored walls, and bouncing is not an option. In these cases I may choose to use one of the 600EX-RT flash units as my main light and I will trigger that flash from the Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite transmitter, which is mounted to my camera. I could also use a second 600EX-RT on-camera and set it as a master, but tell it not to fire.

Performance and durability

Let's face it, for any of us who shoot events for a living, we use and abuse our flashes more than most. I am sure that I have more than 100,000 flashes on my older flash units. So I need to make sure that my flash is reliable even when I am bursting out a bunch of shots. I have been using the 600EX-RT flashes now for many months and they have proven to be incredibly reliable. They recharge very quickly and I have yet to see any instance of overheating.

I am sure that, at this very moment, the bride and groom were thinking "uh oh - what about Jeff's camera and flash?". Or, maybe not.
These flash units are also water resistant, which came in handy when shooting my last wedding in the rain.

Batteries and charger (not directly related to the 600EX-RT but still important)

For the last 10 years I have generally stuck with the brands that have proven their value to me (Canon, Lexar, Apple, Gitzo, Wacom, Sigma, Epson...) but the one accessory that has proven the most unreliable to me throughout this time is the rechargeable AA battery. And up until the last couple of months I could not recommend a brand to those who asked. But, taking Syl Arena's advice again, I think I may have found a brand of battery and a charger that I can rely on.

I used to use the Power 2000 batteries but found that many of them would not charge correctly or they would overheat and literally peel apart. Batteries for me are an important part of my equipment list, and I cannot have any questionable products keeping me from doing my job. I just took all 50 of them (including a bunch of unused ones) and put them in my recycling bin. For the last 2 months I have switched all my batteries to the Sanyo XX powered by Eneloop (a weird product name) and I have been extremely happy. Every battery has worked perfectly and they hold a charge for a really long time. The most amazing thing is, I have had many receptions where I went the entire evening without having to change the batteries in my flash, and as I mentioned, I shoot a lot and push my flashes pretty hard.


When I switched to the XX batteries I also switched to the Powerex MH-C801 battery charger. I like this charger because it charges each battery separately. You can even use this charger to discharge your batteries and recondition them. I have not had to do that yet, but like that it has this feature. The other impressive feature of this reader (combined with these batteries) is the charging speed. The batteries seem to charge MUCH faster than my older Power 2000 batteries in their own chargers. 


I could have written this blog right after the 600EX-RT was released, but I am glad that I didn't. This gave me a chance to really test the flash system to it's fullest and even find the best accessories to compliment them. I hope that this blog entry has been helpful and informative for you.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A little rain never hurt anyone - An amazing destination wedding in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina

Some of you may have noticed that I was conspicuously offline for most of the last 5 days. I was busy traveling to the lovely Smoky Mountains of NC to shoot a wedding. And this was not your normal one day event. This was a long and amazing 4 days of photography, starting with portraits of the couple, then capturing photos at the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, family photos, and then capping it all off with the wedding and reception. Here is a recap of our fun filled week and weekend, with some photography tips sprinkled in along the way.

On Wednesday, my wife and I took off from San Francisco airport. I was a little concerned about the amount of batteries and equipment in my bag. But the TSA just pushed it straight through and we were on our way. Well...kinda. We flew into Charlotte, NC and found out that our flight to Ashville was cancelled. The good news? It turns out that it is only a couple of hours to drive to where we needed to go. So...we grabbed all our camera gear and luggage, headed over to Hertz, rented a car and off we went. This also saved me gate checking my camera gear (mostly packed in my LowePro Pro Roller x200). I really hate having my camera gear out of my sight when traveling.

Even though it was fairly late in the evening, we made a pitstop in downtown Ashville to meet with Melanie Cantrell, who was helping me second shoot this wedding. It was great to meet her before the big day, do some strategizing, and have some good chocolate at a local desert place.


We started shooting portraits of the couple on Thursday afternoon. This was one of the first photos taken during the week, and it was obvious that we were in for a heck of a week. Lauren just lit up in front of the camera.


Lauren and Trey were good sports, letting me try different locations, and trusting my decisions. In this case, we could not shoot by an old barn that we had scouted earlier (failing to notice the surrounding fence). But, on the drive to the barn, I spotted this nice wall next to the road, so we pulled over and I shot from the middle of the road.


This was also taken on the side of the road. I really liked the nice even light and the solid green background. I shot this with the Canon 1DX and the Canon 70-200 2.8 lens (my go-to lens for most portraits!) And for those of you wondering if I added light, I did have a Canon 600 EX-RT flash set to -1 stop to add some fill light. There was a small portion of the road which showed on the bottom right of the image, so I cloned the grass in Adobe Photoshop, as it was very distracting.


We drove around and came across this small pond. Since the water was still, I knew that this would make for a good reflection photo. I shot this with them off center to include the surroundings and draw your eye through the image to them and their reflection.


After shooting portraits for an hour or so, we went back to the house where Lauren's family was staying, and her father showed us these great wood carvings which he had created. This called for another photo. I did shoot full length photos of Trey and Lauren with the wood, but liked this tight composition better. It tells a completely different story and makes the carvings the subject instead of the couple.


The groom's family, who we have known for years, was nice enough invite us to dinner with everyone that night. But before we sat down to eat, we headed over to these two adirondack chairs which were at the end of a peninsula and took this shot just before sunset.


Friday afternoon, we headed off to the Sawyer Family Farmstead, for the wedding rehearsal. This place is like a photographer's dream location. Lots of character and great locations for shooting.


You can see the love they have for each other (and it is our job to capture that emotion).


The rehearsal dinner was at the Castle Ladyhawke. Yes, there is a castle in North Carolina. It is not an old structure, but is really picturesque. We scouted this venue before the event and as soon as I saw this staircase, I knew that I had to get a photo with me up high and the couple looking up at me from the ground floor.


Everyone had a great time on the outside deck of the castle. The wedding couple sat in the middle as friends and relatives gave their speeches.

Later that evening, Lauren's father asked if we could do some family portraits on the following morning. And since the wedding was not until Sunday, I was up for anything.


I had seen a really cool bridge, the other day, on the way to Sawyer Family Farmstead. I figured that we could get some nice photos of them there. Unfortunately, the sun came through the clouds and it was not ideal lighting. So, we moved down to the river to get some shots in an area with even light.


We had heard about a nice waterfall that was 20 miles away from where we were all staying, and I figured that it might be worth a trip there for the family portrait, and it was! (Photographer's note: I really wanted to shoot this portrait with a slow shutter speed, in order to show the motion of the water. The only way to achieve this (without any ND filters) was to lower the camera's ISO to 50 and set the aperture as low as it would go. The problem is...when you do this, everything but the waterfall goes dark. The only way to fix this was for me to add light to my subjects. My wife was nice enough to go back to the car to grab 2 more Canon 600 EX-RT flash units, and we used all 3 together, firing wirelessly, to light the family.)


This was my "behind the scenes" shot (taken with my iPhone). You can see Annette and another young man holding the Canon flash units, while I triggered them from the flash on my camera. You can also see how the water frozen in place is not nearly as pleasing as the "real" photos at a slower shutter speed.


The family having some fun (and trust me, they were not short on personality).



And then, on Sunday, it was the big day. You can't shoot a wedding without taking detail shots. My wife is really the talented one in the family and helped to set up all of the detail shots.


We tried hanging the wedding dress in numerous places around the farmstead, but I liked this location the best.


And then it was "go time" and we headed up get some shots of the bride getting ready. For most of these photos, I chose to use the Canon 50mm 1.2 lens which lets me isolate my focus exactly on my subject and have amazing options with my depth of field.


We were having some fun with the wedding party and asked the flower girl to help the bride get her boots on. At one point, the little girl thought it would be fun to try her boots on Lauren. I think they were the wrong size, and put on the wrong direction. :)


Could this ring bearer be any cuter?


I turned around and saw the kids looking out the window. I asked Lauren to go over to them and see what they were looking at, and I quickly grabbed this shot. I love the light on the their faces and the reflections in the glass.


We took many traditional photos of the wedding attendees, but I had some fun doing something different with the girls. All of these photos were taken with the new Canon 24-70 lens.


Another precious moment with the bride and kids.


This photo just cracks me up! The flower girl walked down the aisle and then just pulled up her little dress and put it in her mouth. I don't think that was the plan. But I just kept shooting and laughing at the same time. You can see the other people laughing in the background.


The bride and her father were brought up to the wedding area in a horse and carriage. As I was shooting this at 1/1000 sec, I realized that this would be a perfect motion blur shot. So I quickly changed the camera settings from f4 to f22 (I was already at ISO 100) which gave me a shutter speed of 1/10 sec. I took numerous shots as I moved the camera at the exact same speed as the carriage  This was the best of those shots, showing motion in the wheels, motion in the horse's legs, blur in the background, but maintained a sharp image of the people in and on the carriage.


I loved this sign, and framed a shot to highlight the text while giving a hint of the ceremony happening in the background.


And then it was the big moment...time for the wedding vows. But just as that time came, it started to rain! Instead of panicking, Lauren just burst into laughter and lived the moment. I love that! (Photographer's note: Thankfully I was using the Canon 1DX, 70-200 2.8 IS lens, and 600 EX-RT flash which are all water resistant. This would have been a bit riskier with the lesser camera bodies or non "L Series" lenses.)




This is a close-up crop from the prior image. I love that you can clearly see the raindrops, and also see the bride and groom having fun with it.



And...as quickly as the rain came, it stopped, in perfect time for Trey to kiss the bride.


As the bluegrass band started playing, Lauren and Trey danced their way down the aisle.


We managed to get some nice group photos before the weather started turning bad again.



At which point we moved into the barn area for the rest of the photos.


Did I mention that my wife is really clever? Well...the days before the wedding, she went shopping and found these cool little flags and twine. She made this sign, and I made the photo. Not a bad team! (Photographer's note: I took this photograph two different ways, one focusing on their faces and having the sign slightly out of focus and one just the opposite. This photo is clearly stronger than the other, but since we are shooting digital, give yourself some options, as you never know what you and your client will like better.)


Some nice shots taken just prior to the couple's introduction.



This is the couple's first dance as man and wife. I set up a remote flash high above the dance floor to get this lighting on them. It really paid off for this special moment.


Prior to the wedding, the bride's parents asked me if we could do a group shot of all the guests. I saw that there was a loft above the venue floor and used that to my advantage. The funny thing is, I yelled down "Hands up everyone" and someone yelled back "Are you robbing us?"


Then the band cranked up and the party really began.


This is one of my favorite shots from the party. After shooting hundreds of photos of people dancing, I was looking for something a little more creative. Here is what I did to get this shot. I grabbed my Sigma 15mm fish eye lens and put it on my Canon 5D Mark III. I then locked that onto the top of my tripod and extended the legs all the way. I pre-focused the camera to approximately 8 feet from me, and set the camera to the 2 second timer mode. I would hit the shutter release button, quickly raise the tripod up over everyone on the dance floor, and let it fire. You can also see the remote flash firing in the background giving me the extra light on the bride's hair.


Lauren getting ready to toss the bouquet.


At 10:30pm, it was time for the new couple's grand exit. All the guests grabbed sparklers, lit them, and created a tunnel of light for Trey and Lauren. I knew about this in advance and was a little worried about capturing this shot with the correct exposure. I had just enough time to test this prior to the couple entering, and noticed that the camera wanted to add too much light. I quickly dialed the camera down a full 3 stops and prayed that I got this shot. For this final image, I did use Adobe Photoshop to further darken the people closer to me, and to brighten Trey and Lauren for their farewell kiss.


Overall, it was an amazing long weekend for everyone involved! Congratulations to Lauren and Trey (and their families). I feel so honored to have been there to capture this important moment in their lives.