Jacky and Steve’s wedding in September was the last one I covered in 2009, and oh boy, it was great to be there. Alison had come down to be my assistant for the day. We started the day with the couple shooting in the park in Colmar-Berg. It offers some gorgeous backdrops all along the shores of its lakes. On the technical side, I finally got to make proper use of the PocketWizards’ full potential. Their high sync-speed capabilities made it easier to balance the flashes against the full daylight and generally made using the lights more practical. The shoot in the park was a lot of fun, and the atmosphere just carried on right through the rest of the day.
The ceremony was in the town hall in Vichten. Their ceremonial room upstairs was very interesting in terms of lighting, the mix of indirect sunlight from the windows and artificial light sounded like it was going to be tricky, but it turned out to make for some great sidelight and colour contrast which gave the whole ceremony a very warm character.
The reception and dinner were back in Colmar-Berg. We had already briefly visited the area for some architectural elements in the couple shoot. The dinner hall was nice because it offered such an open space and a lot of room for the dance floor. I actually asked Alison to film Jacky and Steve’s first dance with her 5DMkII while I was taking photographs. I think the short clip makes for a nice moment in the slideshow. The evening was marked by some crazy games for the newlyweds and their guests and an all-round festive mood – definitely an awesome evening for a very cute couple.
Meet Zazu, Alison’s African Grey parrot. She’s a crazy one. (Zazu, not Alison.) When I took this photo, Zazu was about three months old. You may already have seen this photo in my PAD collection, but I wanted to show you a bit of behind the scenes information from when I took this. The setup shot below should give you a pretty good idea of how I managed to light Zazu in her ‘natural habitat’.
So, first of all, for Zazu to be sitting somewhere outside her cage with not too much clutter around her, I first set up a lightstand with a superclamp, which in turn held one of her perches in place. To keep her occupied we let her play with a pen top, one of her favourite toys.
The lights are all triggered using Canon’s ETTL system. An on-camera ST-E2 sent out the signal to the slaves, which were all set to manual mode. The lights on the left and right in the back are 430EX Speedlights with my DIY snoots on them. (The snoots are cookie boxes lined with gaffer tape.) The snoots shape the light into a tight beam, to reduce flare to a minimum and to avoid the light bouncing around the room.
The softbox on the left is the Westcott Apollo set with a 580EX inside it. It’s rotated towards the camera so as to avoid it spilling light onto the wall in the backround. On the table on the right side is another 580EX. This one is flagged by a tissue box (whatever comes handy, really!) and I put a CTB gel on it in order to end up with a strong blue background. I also didn’t want the background to be homogenous, so I placed a basil plant in front of the light. The shadows from the plant add a bit of interest to the background.
Oh and the white thing floating at the top of the image which Zazu is staring at in the setup shot is an origami crane. She has since taken care of it.
A day after having visited the London Aquarium, Alison and I went to see the London Zoo. I had been there quickly once during a DPC get-together, but this was my first opportunity to actually explore the zoo properly.
The photos above were all taken with a Canon EOS 5DMkII and EF 70-200 2.8L IS lens, handheld.
Mouse-over the photos to see the name of the animal on the photo. I can't ID the owl on the third picture, if someone can help me there please leave a comment.
Alison and I made a trip to the butterfly garden in Grevenmacher. This time the temperature was a bit more comfortable than the 40°C in the World of Butterflies. We only had one macro lens between the two of us so we took turns in photographing and holding a flash for one another. We started out with the ringlight adapter but moved on to a DIY diffuser to light the butterflies. It's quite useful to be able to sculpt the light the way you need it to be rather than being at the mercy of the sun shining through a glass roof and foliage. I used the Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 to allow the camera and flash to communicate with one another. Setting the flash power manually would have been tricky, since we worked without tripods. At those small distances, a few centimeters change in the distance between flash and subject can make a big difference. (Inverse square law: if the flash is giving me a correct exposure at 1/8 power and 10cm distance, if the flash moves 5cm closer the power needs to change to 1/32. ETTL takes care of this on the fly.)
So my technique here is to get the aperture I need for a decent depth of field, then dialing in a shutter speed and ISO that get me enough ambient light for a photo that's slightly underexposed, then bring in the flash to get the exposure to where it needs to be.
(For those wondering what the title means: it's one of the Luxembourgian words for butterfly.)
I couldn't very well live two hours away from London for three years and not go there to take some photographs at night. Alison and I took a ride on the London Eye, then walked along the river waiting for the sun to set. The HDRs have been combined using Photomatix Pro 3. The zoomable hi-res panorama of the Tower Bridge below has been stitched using PTGui and is presented here using PSCS3's Zoomify plugin, integrated into WordPress using the Kimili flash plugin.
Essays handed in. Sun in the sky. Trains on time.
Once again a bunch of crazy photographers met to walk around London in the rain and take pictures. This time the get-together had a slightly more international feel: Olivier and I represented Luxembourg (we're used to the rain and the cold). Alison and Mikey from the Photography and Modelling Society represented Bermuda and Barbados, respectively (they're not used to temperatures below 15°C). The four of us who are or have been studying in the UK met up with Natalya, Andi, Robert, Dain and Matthew. Some of their photos can be found in the DPChallenge.com forums, here. Apart from taking photos, by walking about three miles we also contributed to the Walk Around the World for Brain Tumours.
Related links: International Brain Tumor Alliance, Rose McGill, Digital Photography Challenge.