Light is Everything!

Posts tagged “Cliff Mautner

Gettin’ Hitched!

July 28th 2012. It’s the day two wonderful people made their vows and promised each other forever. It was also the day I became a wedding photographer photographer who took wedding photos. 😎 Although, with a twist. I also officiated the wedding in my Pastoral capacity. Now, if I only did the catering and the DJ stuff, I’d truly be a jack of all trades. But as it was, the service and the photos were enough. Where to begin?! I thought I would elaborate on the experiences from the day a little bit in this blog post. First of all, as I mentioned it was my first wedding for photos. I did research, as I always do. I went to Manor to scope it out prior to the big day. I’d never been there before and I needed to know some locations. Also, because the wedding was in the evening, the photos needed to be taken care of first. That meant starting at 1PM when the sun was high. And, we had to capture the critical moment of the Bride & Groom seeing each other for the first time. Normally this happens at the ceremony, but with an evening wedding, the need to still capture those moments is key. We setup a little surprise for Kayla and it worked! Lucas caught her unaware and photos captured it all.

Seeing each other for the first time!

From there, I took several more photos of the couple together in the moment. It made for some really great candids. After a few minutes or so, my awesome assistant Michelle helped do some run and gun lighting setups. Nothing fancy, just 1 light in a medium softbox. It gave us a fantastic result and allowed us to keep moving quickly getting a wide variety of shots in the short time we had.

One technique I was dying to try out was Cliff Mautner’s signature lighting setup. No flash was used in this photo. And it was taken at 1:35PM. By turning your subject so that the sun is directly behind her, it gives you an evenly lit face and front. Juxtaposed against the dark backdrop, this technique works awesome. You have to shoot in Manual Mode to get it though as your camera’s meter is next to useless for getting this photo. The camera sees all the white and all the dark and goes “AAAAAHHHHHH!”  You have to override the meter and chimp it to make sure your exposure is bang on. You could use spot metering for the face, but that’s too easy. 😉 I love the result of this technique. Long lenses, wide apertures and awesome lighting. It’s the recipe for pure awesomeness. Thanks Cliff!

Cliff Mautner’s Style

Speaking of Cliff Mautner, another shot he’s famous for I also wanted to try. It’s the “elevated perspective, shallow depth of field, mad-lens compression, way cool beauty shot.” Putting the focus cursor right on Kayla’s eyelash gave me this photo. I love it! It’s nearly angelic and royal, which is exactly what bride portraits should be.

“elevated perspective, shallow depth of field, mad-lens compression, way cool beauty shot.”

After the bride and groom photos were wrapped up, we had the group shots to contend with. Fortunately for us, we lucked out with the beautiful location and the 3PM time slot. I knew that the sun would be lower by then so some nice north facing shade was perfect for getting everyone uniformly lit. Then, we used my typical group lighting setup with two speed lights & umbrellas to brighten the scene and add some much needed catchlights. I had Kayla make up a list of family shots she wanted in advance so we burned through the group shots in no time in an orderly fashion. I shot all the group stuff with my 50mm prime which ultimately looks better than a wide angle for groups.

A split second after we finished the family group shots, it started raining. Boo! Hiss! 😦 But, it didn’t stop us. We ducked for cover and made the most of it. Having Michelle with me was vital for getting these photos because she held the light and we burned around quickly and got all the bridal party shots we needed. I really like this technique of framing the bridal party members around each other for a portrait.

Then we finished up the bridal group photos and everyone was wiped, including me. That took us to 5PM which is what we budgeted for, allowing us a nice break to get prepared for the ceremony.

I got my thoughts together for the ceremony and gave my camera to Michelle. She nabbed some ceremony shots for me as it would have been a wee bit awkward to stop the ceremony to do photography… heheheheh…. 😎 But before we did the ceremony I also wanted a shot of the wedding bands. We framed up a macro shot, making use of what was on sight and in theme with the wedding.

After the ceremony there was the party! The rest of the night was candids of the moments that unfolded before us – which in many ways is easier. The shooting gallery is before you and the moments just happen! It’s awesome.

The couple’s first dance

Like any hall, we always are faced with the problem of poor lighting. So to combat that, I put a flash on a stick and had Michelle keep her eyes on where I was going. It worked like a charm and made for some really cool, dramatic lighting as well as just some nice, evenly lit photos too. It was great to have that control and versatility at our finger tips.

Way cool rim light!

So, all in all, it was an awesome day, albeit exhausting. I don’t think I will sign up for the “whole meal deal” again anytime soon, although not many other photographers can do your photos and your service! hehehhehe… 😉 It was a really fun day and the couple was a dream to work with. I was thankful for the opportunity to try something I’ve never done before and I am very happy with the results. Thanks again to Michelle Needham for being an awesome assistant! And, all the best and God’s blessings to Lucas & Kayla! You guys are amazing! 😀

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Kite Nite

Another beautiful evening in Southern Saskatchewan last night. The wind got up nice, nice enough to fly a kite. So we grabbed our trusty wind walker and away we went. I also grabbed the camera and my 105mm macro lens. Why? Usually this kind of shoot lends itself to wide angle. Well, I had an alterior  motive – that being compression & bokeh. [Photo geek alert! Just look at the pictures if you don’t know what either compression 0r bokeh are. ;)] Compression is the photography effect created when you use a long telephoto lens to make a photo. The background gets smooshed together, compressed as it were, making for portraits that are pure awesomeness. Add that to f/2.8 and you’ve got sheer awesomeness, photographically speaking. And, top it all off with golden light and 100% unadulterated awesomeness. I just watched Cliff Mautner’s latest Kelby Training webinar called searching for the light and he made this comment again and again about compression. He said that if your images are lacking something, it’s compression. And he’s right. I tend to be a wide angle kind of shooter. But you just don’t get the added loveliness of compression with a wide angle that you get with long glass. So I grabbed my 105mm lens and dialled it in to f/2.8 and went to town. All the images here are shot with the 105mm at f/2.8 (except the obviously wide angle landscape shots near the end). I was super pleased with the shots, technically speaking. I’m always happy with pics of my own kids though (who isn’t, right?! ;)) Try some telephoto in your life. It makes a big, awesome difference! 8)

 


Embrace Light

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

~ George Eastman

Don’t you just love those sage proverbs from the giants? I stumbled across this quote in a Kelby Training video. It is absolutely true and backs up my theme of ‘Light is Everything.’ Watching how other photographers use light is really amazing too. In Cliff Mautner’s Essentials of Creativity class he talks about how he uses light in extreme ways. Histograms?! “We don’t need no stinkin’ histograms!” he says. Hehhehehhehe… 🙂

Ugly-Assed Histogram!

When you know all the rules, you can break them – and it looks like you are breaking them on purpose vs. you look like a moron who doesn’t know what he is doing. The moron and the pro might do the exact same thing, but somehow, it is different when the person knows the light.

As an aside, George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company and invented roll film, bringing photography to the masses. He was like digital v.0.01! 😉 He was also an incredible philanthropist donating millions of dollars to various causes and schools.

 


Kelby Training

There is all kinds of information on the internet about photography. There are countless blogs, endless articles and an eternity of tutorials available. For the most part it’s a huge blessing! Free knowledge is a marvellous enterprise. However, there is a lot of crap out there too, and even more jibba jabba. 😉

One excellent resource I have found is Scott Kelby’s online training for Photographers, Graphic Designers, Illustrators, Multimedia Artists and Hobbyists. It simply rocks the set! There are high quality videos from leading photographers on nearly all aspects of photography. And not just technical f/stop this, light meter that stuff. There are really great videos that speak towards creativity and finding your own photo style in addition to more technical items like the finer points of lighting, etc. 

Some of the best courses are simply photo walks with different renowned photographers. The Day with Jay Maisel comes to mind. He and Scott Kelby walk around the streets of New York taking pictures. It’s pure awesome, almost like being able to learn along with him in the same room. Other videos I have found helpful have been with Cliff Mautner a photo journalist turned wedding photographer. He has a wealth of experience and insight when it comes to “what makes the shot.” I’ve watched his videos time and time again. Joe McNally’s lighting stuff too. Also, Jim Schmelzer has some awesome videos on lighting for high school kid portraits. They are all excellent resources that I can’t recommend enough. Watching these dudes is like being in a room with giants! 😉 Very inspiring stuff! It truly is “education for creatives!”