I met Savio while I worked in P&T’s Téléboutique in Luxembourg city – my summer job for the last couple of years. I think he saw the slideshow from Martine and Mike’s wedding and showed them to Julie. They asked if I could take photos at their wedding, and once my schedule for my MA last summer had taken shape I could confirm that I’d be able to cover one last wedding during my time as a student – theirs.
Once more I asked Olivier to help me out as assistant and second shooter, and he did a great job. We started the day at Julie’s parents’ in Thionville. From there it was but a short drive to the lovely neo-apostolic church where they got married. This was the first non-catholic wedding that I’ve covered so I checked with the priest to make sure I’d be aware of the differences. After the moving service, a limousine picked up the newly-weds. We drove to Mondorf-les-Bains: the reception and the dinner were held at the Orangerie in the park. Having everything in one place like that made logistics a bit easier and meant that we could spend a bit more time for the couple photos.
I had a really great time at the wedding, and I hope I captured the ambience in the photographs! That was probably the last wedding I’ll cover. My time as a student is up and I’m moving on.
[Update: Some people have asked about the editing of the ‘splash’ photo, so I’ve uploaded the original for comparison.]
I really liked Southlands Beach which Alison showed me when we were in Bermuda. I had a Fashion photography competition that I wanted to participate in while we were there, so I asked Alison to play the ‘local’ card and get in touch with one of the models she’s worked with before, Stephanie Wilkinson.
For most of the photographs I used three flashes. Two were used together with a shoot-through umbrella which Alison held on to to avoid it falling over. The third flash was used on its own as a kicker or sidelight and was safe on a tripod. Or so I thought.
The shoot went really great – until we got to the final location. The wind blew over the tripod with one of my flashes and a PocketWizard. The hotshoe foot of the latter snapped off, so tomorrow I’ll have to head over to the Flash Centre in London to get a replacement foot (they said they can fix it in time for my Eurostar to Luxembourg in the evening if I drop it off in the afternoon).
Sod’s law. I think I got quite lucky for the rest of the shoot anyway. The forecast had announced rain but it stayed dry, I got way too close to stepping on a Portuguese Man o’ War, and the light levels were just on the sweet spot for me to make use of the flashes at full power and a 1/500 sync speed whilst keeping a shallow depth of field.
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.
Two recent self portraits that I shot for the Camera Bag and Boats II contests over at dpchallenge.com. No need to worry though, I still prefer being behind the camera rather than in front of it.
For the cathedral shot I placed the 5DII with the Peleng 8mm fisheye at the bottom of the camera bag and used PocketWizards to trigger two flashes, one below the lens in the middle and one to the right (you can still see the bright diffusor panel). For the pirate shot I used Canon’s ETTL system to trigger a 580EX in a softbox over the camera and a 430EX in some ziplog bags under water.
The second season of the DPChallenge Photography Leage started this week over at DPC and I decided to submit a warm-up entry before the season begins to get back into the game - I haven't taken part in the site's competitions for a while. I decided to shoot something for the Out of the Ordinary challenge.
I'm staying with Alison in Bermuda at the moment. (My flight was meant to leave 4 hours ago but with the airspace around the UK being closed for some foreseeable time I'm not going anywhere soon.) We borrowed some furniture from her house and drove to Warwick Long Bay. We set the things up where I thought we'd get a wave washing over them once in a while. Turns out that for a long time the only wave that would make it that far was the one that got my feet wet when we set up...
In order to make the lamp light up I placed a Canon Speedlite 580EXII inside the lamp head. I had taken out the bulb earlier. My initial plans to keep it there with a superclamp didn't work out because there was not enough room inside the lampshade. So I kept the flash and the Pocketwizard FlexTT5 that was attached to it in place with a ball bungee. A Full C.T.O. gel gave the flash the colour temperature of a tungsten lamp. The flash was set to ETTL, I let the camera do the metering for the lamp, which was easier since my aperture, shutter speed and ISO kept changing as it got progressively darker after sunset. The settings for this photo were f/4, ISO400, 1/30. I also asked Alison to point a snooted flash at the plant to give it a bit of extra definition.
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.)
A bit of behind the scenes information about my PAD for September 16th 2009. The initial concept for the picture was to have a hand come out of a suitcase, and to add some visual drama by putting a lightsource inside the suitcase too.
I placed one of my flashes inside the suitcase. Because I wanted the light to spread as evenly as possible, I placed the flash inside a clear plastic tube (the ones you get when you buy 100 DVD-Rs together… I burn every RAW file I might ever need to get back to on DVD. Twice.) Since the lid would be closed, Canon’s ETTL triggerism functionality wouldn’t work here – it needs line of sight. A perfect opportunity for my new PocketWizard set then. The flash and the FlexTT5 fitted inside the tube easily. A stofen omnibounce-type diffuser spread the light out a bit more. The settings on this flash were 32mm at 1/2 power.
The flash on the Manfrotto Nano 005B lightstand, which provides the light outside the suitcase is still triggered via Canon’s ETTL. It’s zoomed in to 100mm, at 1/2 +0,7 power. A full CTB (Color Temperature Blue) gives the light a blue cast that contrasts with the neutral light from the suitcase. To limit the area lit by this flash to a small surface, I added a DIY straw snoot to it. That way the beam behaves more like a spotlight.
I took one picture with just the suitcase, and another with the same settings (Canon 5DMkII, ISO100, f/9, 1/200) where my sister put her arm in from one side and out at the front again.
In Photoshop I layered the two photos over each other. Now all I had to do was mask Carmen out of the photo so that only her hand would remain visible.