Thursday, May 27, 2010

Scott and Christi: Vancouver Bridals

Whoa! Can you believe it?! A post that's actually fairly recent! What's the deal with that?! Well actually, the post was recent when i wrote it, but still, all things considered, it's still pretty recent. I had the good fortune to photograph Scott & Christi for their engagements the last time i was in Vancouver for Kayla's wedding. Doh. i was going to link to those blog posts, but it appears i never posted them. Oopsie. Well, they're on my website until i get them posted here. Anyway, Scott & Christi asked me to come back to Vancouver and shoot their bridals and wedding and i was more than happy to oblige.

I flew out to Vancouver Monday after having worked the whole weekend - i was excited to get some hiking in between taking their pictures, but more on that later.

We were supposed to shoot their bridals Tuesday morning, but a number of elements combined to keep that from happening. When Scott went to pick up his tux Monday night his was the only one that wasn't ready. So we pushed the bridals back until Tuesday later in the afternoon. Which i suppose was good since it rained and stormed and hailed all morning.

Unfortunately, when Scott and Christi arrived to pick me up it was STILL raining. Doh. But while discussing our plight someone noticed a little blue peeking through the clouds off in the distance. So off we went hoping for the best.

Christi had sent me some pictures of the area she wanted to do her bridals in, but it's hard to get a feel for an area in a few snapshots. And while the rain had indeed stopped by the time we got there, the wind was still blowing rather furiously. So here i am, wind is blowing, could start raining again any moment, and i've never been here before. You can imagine what i was thinking.

And believe it or not, doing this kind of work, wedding-related photography, is EXTREMELY stressful. The fear of making bad photographs, of the bride and groom not loving the photos is ALWAYS present. I'm always paranoid that my clients won't be happy with my work. So i was obviously very nervous right about now.

Fortunately, the wind eventually died down a little and we found this cool little stone stairway behind the fence leading down to the river. i think it ended up being one of those locations you would never think would be good for bridals, but ended up actually being really nice. I ended up being pretty pleased with the results and i think Scott and Christi liked them too!

And yes, i know that being a part-time wedding photographer isn't stressful like being a doctor, or fireman, or soldier. But the consequences of making photographs the bride and groom, alright fine, just the bride, don't like are very real and long lasting. Don't believe me? Just ask Jen about our wedding photos. (Yeah, you'll regret it).

Oh, and normally i would be more than happy to tell you where i took these photos in the unlikely (impossible) event that someone from Vancouver is looking at these photos and wondering where they were taken, but i have no idea. All i know is that we drove west on highway 14 (i think) until it ended or something around I-5 and that we were right next to this Mexican restaurant with a funny name (two guys' names).

But see, i can shoot photographs in Washington somewhere other than at waterfalls or in the Columbia River Gorge. As unwilling as i may have been to do so initially.

Oh, and just in case you think i'm done being nervous, i'm not. I still have to go through all the wedding photos which were all taken indoors under very low light. See, that's the other things about being a wedding photographer - you never get to shoot in good light. Alright fine, sometimes you do. But those times when there are no second chances, you never get to choose the light then. It's either in the middle of the day outside in harsh light, or in a dimly lit ballroom, church or other reception center. All i know is that my noise reducing software is going to get a workout while i'm working on the wedding photos.

By the way, don't you hate it when you use a term that you don't know your audience understands? On the one hand, you don't want to imply someone doesn't understand a particular term or something because then they'll think that you think they're stupid or something. But on the other hand, you don't want to assume that everyone knows what you're talking about because then they'll just think you're arrogant or something.

Anyway, what i was getting at is just in case you don't know what "noise" refers to. If you haven't already gotten bored and stopped reading a long time ago and don't need to know what noise you can just stop reading now. (But my feelings will still be hurt).

"Noise" refers to any sound or sounds that are made that are frequently loud, unexpected, unpleasant, or unintelligible. Just kidding.

In photographic terms, "noise" refers to any part of the end image that is not true to the original scene but is caused instead by the communication medium. Film and digital sensors have adjustable sensitivities to light. The more sensitive the "film" is to light, the less light is required to expose the image. The benefit is that with more sensitive sensors you can shoot in lower light. The drawback is that as you increase the sensitivity you also increase the likelihood the digital sensors will misfire and create noise.

This noise is manifested in final images as a grainy appearance, or multi-colored pixels in areas of the photograph. This noise also results in a loss of detail in the photo. So if you don't want noise in your photographs then you should always shoot in the lowest ISO setting your camera supports (the ISO setting refers to the film or sensors sensitivity to light).

For instance, i always try to shoot at 80 or 100 ISO. But unfortunately, sometimes you can't when there's simply not enough light. And then you have to deal with noise and the subsequent loss of detail. So the fast and easy "rule" that i try to follow is to use the lowest ISO setting i can while not shooting slower than 1/15th of a second on a compact camera with image stabilization.

If you're not shooting with a stabilized lens, you might be able to get away with 1/30th of a second, but you're better off with 1/50th or faster. The more you zoom in, the faster (shutter speed) you'll also have to shoot.

If you're shooting with a focal length you know, or a lens with a set focal length, then the general rule is to shoot no slower than 1 over the focal length - and that's assuming you have no image stabilization. So if i'm shooting with an 85mm lens, that means that at ISO 100 i shouldn't shoot any slower than 1/85th of a second.

If you DO have image stabilization then you can turn the dial that controls your shutter speed about 2-3 clicks slower than that. But that's a GENERAL rule. If you're really shaky, or really steady, then you can adjust that rule to meet your personal needs.

Also keep in mind that with some removable lenses, the length of the lens never changes. So with my 70-200mm lens which is always the same length, even if i'm shooting at 70mm, to safely get a sharp image, i shouldn't shoot any slower than 1/200th of a second. Fortunately, my 70-200mm lens has image stabilization, so i can go slower than that.

So now you know what to do. Look at your camera's settings and try not to shoot slower than you can safely hold the camera without introducing any blur to the image. If you're shooting a scene on a point and shoot zoomed all the way OUT and you know you know you can safely shoot at 1/10th or 1/15th of a second and the camera is telling you that at ISO 100 your image will be significantly underexposed, then either make sure your aperture is open as far as you can make it (the lower numbers) or increase the ISO sensitivity until you have enough light. So if my image is too dark at ISO 100 and 1/15th of a second, then i will slowly increase my ISO sensitivity until the image is not too dark. And i guess i'll deal with the noise later - it's better than no picture at all, right?
Oh, and two last points. Still want to shoot at a low ISO but there's not enough light to safely handhold your camera then the easy solution is to put your camera on a tripod (or even a monopod). But in certain situations, like weddings, slowing your shutter speed and putting your camera on a tripod doesn't mean your subjects will hold still for that long. Personally, i don't think many adults can hold still longer than 1/15th of a second or so. And definitely not kids. And lastly, if you're shooting with a DSLR, don't forget most have a crop factor of 1.6x (for Canons, i think it's 1.5x for Nikons). So if you think you're shooting at 100mm on a Canon, you're actually shooting at 160mm. So shooting at 1/100th of a second may not be fast enough, you may need to go to 1/160th of a second or faster. (And you thought this post couldn't get any more boring).
Anyway, hope the "photo lesson" wasn't too boring and that you enjoyed some of the photos!


Mythreesons said...

Um. The photo lesson was super boring. But the pictures were gorgeous! I seriously LOVE some of those shots!
Good work and cool location. I can't wait to see the Denali shots!

Bug said...

no exaggeration whatsoever, and no bais whatsoever (since they are both my very good friends) those are hands down my FAVORITE shots of any of your bridal shoots, EVER. i LOVE these shots. they are so so fabulous. the location. the light. the contrast between sky and flowers. the framing and poses. so great. love love love them.
and your lesson was actually quite good. :) thanks!
awesome pics alan! you are getting even more amazingly talented with each shoot! can topher and i get remarried now so you can do our pics? ;)

Bug said...

no exaggeration whatsoever, and no bais whatsoever (since they are both my very good friends) those are hands down my FAVORITE shots of any of your bridal shoots, EVER. i LOVE these shots. they are so so fabulous. the location. the light. the contrast between sky and flowers. the framing and poses. so great. love love love them.
and your lesson was actually quite good. :) thanks!
awesome pics alan! you are getting even more amazingly talented with each shoot! can topher and i get remarried now so you can do our pics? ;)

Super Daysh said...

Alan! Those are some awesome pics!! I am way impressed! Hate to break it to you, your "noise" lesson was a little boring, but thanks for trying. You don't have to write THAT much when you are posting pics, we will still like you. Then maybe you can do more posts since you won't be writing so much. :) But I like you anyways. But honestly, those pics looked so great! The lighting and dramatic clouds were so cool! Way to go!

princess jen said...

I liked your photo lesson :) I will go back and re-read it a few times to make sure I understand it. However, I much prefer our up-close and personal tutorials... I have to concur with everyone else and rave about how amazing these photographs are!!! I love the unique location and the poses you used. You are so talented and you are working hard to develop this talent. I wish you could have been our wedding photographer ;) Love you!!

Lady of the Rings said...

Such great pictures. What an awesome photographer you are! Sorry, I didn't read all the "stuff". Looking at the pictures was all I wanted. You are awesome. I think I need you to take some Sammy and me pics next time you show up here.

rodent said...

Those pictures were amazing! I can understand that it would be really stressful to take wedding pictures but i really don't think you have much to worry about. Your pictures are incredible. I love all of the pictures you took of me and Kevin. I have them all over my house and I never get enough of them. (Although I guess it could just be that I'm incredibly narcissistic; since apparently our pictures weren't good enought to ever make it on the blog- engagements or bridals - are you ashamed of our pictures? We can't help it that our faces look like that. :) just kidding). You are an incredibly talented photographer, and I loved the lesson. I'm going to have to read it a few more times to make sure I understand...but it was great anyway.

Yanks4Life23519 said...

great wedding photos :)