From Small Details to Big Scenes

It seems to have become a tradition for me to photograph my friend’s wedding proposal. I can honestly say two things about this, I never expected that I would be asked to do that kind of photography and I am deeply honored that my friends not only asked me but also that I get to be there for that special moment. To this, I humbly say thank you!

Now the first thing that comes to mind when you get that question is, “What lens do I use?” That is a very good question because the intended needs to be surprised and if you show up with too much equipment, that might give the surprise away. In this case, I just going along under the pretense of a fun fishing outage which meant the Nikon Z6II and the Z 24-120 f/4S. This has essentially replaced the 24-70 f/2.8 that I have carried in my bag for a very long time but frankly, the focal range and the depth field of the Z 24-120 are just perfect for a lot of scenarios.

As I was saying the Z 24-120 is great for those wide shots where you are trying to capture a lot of information and then the tiniest of details like the light refracting in this diamond. Now I know that this lens has been out for a while and while I am a little behind the times, you know what that’s part of photography. You grow as time goes on and talk about your experiences so others can learn. The one other benefit I learned with this setup is I only have to carry one body and one lens while I’m out “fishing” and that makes it a heck of a lot easier on my back. It’s those little things that can make a big difference in the long run.

Happy New Year 2015!

It’s the beginning of a New Year. Isn’t it an amazing feeling knowing that another year has passed and we have a whole new year to look forward to making so many things happen. The possibilities are endless and the adventurous are everywhere. 2014 was a great year for myself and my family and it’s one of those times when it’s good to reflect on how good it was and what there is to look forward to.


I had the great fortune of going on many trips to many places that I had never been before, and many more that I had been. As photographers we have the privilege and the challenge of constantly trying to come up with the next big thing. To improve upon our own work so that others may learn from what we have accomplished, while capturing the history of what we are witnessing. With the new year comes the challenge of learning from last year to make this one better.


Whether we can see or not see the path that leads forward in this career, all we can do is keep working. Photography isn’t just about following your passion but about taking on anything that comes your way. Being able to rise and fulfill any job you wouldn’t normally do, can be more rewarding than anything else you have done.


During this year we will meet new people and add more stories to the already bursting hard drive. Take time to enjoy those moments with those people you care about for often the best moments are fleeting. It is those times that we truly need a camera in hand.


Above else, make sure you have a wonderful place that you can call home. For at the end of the day, at the end of the next trip, you need that special place to return to. Have a Happy New Year, may it be filled with joy.

My First Wedding Shoot, Part 2

Yesterday I blogged about overcoming some of the challenges of my first wedding shoot and showed some of the images from just the pre-ceremony, mostly shots of the little details that make up the whole event. Going into this whole project I tried to keep as open a mind as I could not knowing really what I was getting into. As I was told when I was seeking advice beforehand, the best thing to do is to stay confident. If they sense that in you then they will have confidence in you. I have to say for my first wedding shoot, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer family or couple to be working with. Brad and Sarah were easy to get along with and very laid back as I worked through all the challenges that this event had to offer. Despite the actually ceremony only taking a few minutes to take place, it was still hours of shooting before and after.


With the D4, 24-70 AF-S 2.8 and SB-900, I was able to do a lot with the little details, as per yesterdays post. The wedding itself was actually held just 10 minutes away from where I live, which was great. Mostly outdoors with the ceremony at 4:30pm. Not my favorite time for lighting but with the nice open backyard, I couldn’t complain. The whole day I had the camera clicking, trying to capture every moment that wasn’t scripted in between those oh so important ones. Both inside and out it was a matter of capturing the faces of everyone there, while trying to remember everyone’s name. Not my strong suite.


It finally came down to the ceremony itself with me running around both sides trying to capture the feeling of the whole event from everyone’s perspective. Not easy to do. Mostly using the 70-200 VRII and 24-70 AF-S f2.8, I focused on every smile and moment of the ceremony. Now the one thing that amazes me about photography and continues to amaze me was how fast that project can go by after all the time you send prepping for it. The ceremony was over faster than anything I could have predicted but the work was still not done, for all those portraits remained. Every family member and all the newly wed couple shots had to be done.


Even those goofy but fun shoots which you just have to do. You never can go back and do them over.


In the end, after months of worrying, prepping, strategize everything worked out in the six hours of shooting. It of course took longer to do the finishing on the images, making the prints and making the dvds then it ever did to take the images, but it was all worth it. This process taught me many lessons, mostly that something that is as far out of your comfortable zone as possible can be the most rewarding. As photographers we capture moments in time. Sometimes those are moments that only we behind the camera truly realize how important they are while other times it’s the subject in front of the camera that knows it is their moment. Being able to share those moment is truly special and no matter what field, what passion or what reason you are a photographer, remember to always be on the lookout to try anything that might come your way. You never know what it might lead to and who you might meet. For me, I was able to share a very special moment with these two wonderful people and do something that I had never done before. Thanks Brad and Sarah!

My First Wedding Shoot, Part 1

Over the last few years I have learned one very important lesson in photography and that is always to be open to everything that comes your way. A while back I wrote about having to become a general photographer and taking advantage of all opportunities that come your way even if those are outside your comfortable area or don’t fall within your passion. Well if your passion is photography then any photo opp is a good one. I’ve spent a lot of time photographing critters, landscapes and planes but never much time photographing people, so this past project has been quite a challenge for me. Thanks to the mysteries that life bring some friends of mine asked me a while back if I would be interested in photographing their wedding. Well I can honestly say that up till that point I had no interest to do so and even told them that I had never done something like that before. Brad and Sarah were fine with my lack of experience in that field because they knew I would work hard. And boy did I!


Everything was started way back in Winter and the wedding was just a few weeks ago in July. I had a lot of prep work to do before then. Photography is still photography and light is everything, and that’s truly the most important lesson in all this. Getting prepped was more about learning techniques, coming up with creative shooting angles and figuring out the best timing to accomplish every shot. Without an assistant it was all me so I was very glad when they didn’t ask for video with their stills. As I have discovered in the past and for anyone out there that has tried to do both before, it’s really tough!


The technical aspect was the hard part at first. When you spend a lot of time working in one particular field you get used to doing everything that way and nothing else. With my planes I use the 200-400 VRII and 70-200 VRII a lot to isolate backgrounds and focus on one subject. Often times trying to capture as much information as possible in both the subject and the background. That seemed to be so inverted in this field as having shallow depth of field was such a key factor in so much of the shooting, something that I am NOT used to doing at all. Using the 24-70 AF-S f2.8and 50 f1.4 were a big help in achieving some of those shots. Black and White is also a key tool which made a lot more sense afterward as the light kind of sucked a lot of the time, being that everything I shot was during the middle of the day.


The last part of the prep was the inspirational side. The best was to do that I found was to research what other people had done and see what they had created. How they placed their subjects, their relationship to the background and the direction of the light that they choose all provided the answers to those questions in my mind. At Photoshop World this past Spring I spent a lot of time attending classes on wedding photography, like Cliff Mautner’s. All of this research material helped. Of course the only way to get the answers to those questions was to put them into practice.

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