Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My first engagement shoot - reflections

Sometimes doing too much Post-Processing makes me bored and gives me a headache, hence this post on the eve of Christmas. I feel it is good to do some self-assessment on my photos, so that I will know how to improve in the future.

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to photograph Cheng Long and Sue Ann's wedding. Being my first wedding shoot, I really wanted to give it my best shot, so I also suggested if I could shoot their engagement photographs. This happened 3 days before the wedding day itself!

We went to 2 places, a church and a public park nearby. Being inventive is the key, so adapt the couple to your surroundings make the best with what you have.

For the gear savvy - I use an Olympus E-3 and a Zuiko 35-100 f2 lens (the ultimate portrait lens for Olympus SLR users). I shot some of the pictures in jpeg, though I know that I shoot utilise RAW more often (RAW pictures show less noise at higher ISOs). I'd rather turn off auto-gradation - it increases dynamic range at the expense of noise, especially at high ISOs. I used the lens wide open at f2 on all of the pics.

Couples who are getting married generally do not have much experience with photoshoots. Therefore it is important to get the couple feeling as comfortable as possible & direct them with simple instructions to get the good pictures going!

A simple pose - the groom sits while the bride stands behind him.

Some notes here - Have the bridge and groom wear simple but elegant clothing. The groom's dark shirt and pants pair well with the bride's white summer dress in my opinion.

You can make the bride and groom do a variety of poses without moving much. Looking sideways in one direction is also a good approach.

Try to get the bride and groom in the shade to avoid harsh shadows on the skin. I was fortunate that the skies were slightly cloudy that afternoon.

Although most photos are staged, candid moments can sometimes bring out the best photos. You just have to be quick enough to snap it up.

Close body contact is great to show intimacy, but the couple needed some time to get used to this

Although the limitations of the 4/3rds sensor means that the 35-100 f2 lens has an equivalent DOF to a 70-200f4 lens on a full frame camera, it is imperative to maintain accurate focus on the subjects.

plain backgrounds work best to bring attention to the subjects but sometimes it can get a little dull, like these blue stone walls.

Sitting back to back. I could've used a wider lenses to include more of the environment, but I was kinda lazy to change lenses. My 510 body was away 'holidaying' in US / Europe at that time. I would have loved putting my 7-14 to good use.

The stained glass windows give a beautiful orange glow inside the church interior. I had the bride and groom walking up and down the aisle several times while I was burst shooting. Took several tries before I found one picture that I liked.

The sunlight streaming through the windows introduces some rimlights on the bridge and groom, while the light coloured tile floors reflects some light upwards. This picture would've been great if I had taken care of one small details on the left corner - the bride's handbag.. Lesson learnt - place other things well out of sight if you don't want them in your frame!

I needed as much light as possible, so the constant f2 aperture of the 35-100 helped greatly. Nonetheless, i still had to use iso 400. If I had used the 50-200 this shot would still be possible, except that i would have had to use iso 800 and above due to its variable f2.8-3.5 aperture.

Who says photos have to be static all the time? sometimes you can ask the couple for some of their own favorites, with some very interesting results!

I like how the way the doorway and pews on the side of the aisle 'frame' the image.

Another tactic i've explained before in my last post - if the colors are crap, desaturate it!

Although this shot looks simple, I had CL and SA climb all the way up an unused fountain. Thank goodness both of them were really sporting!

CL is very exclusive in his diet - the only meat he eats is seafood. I feel it ties in very well with the dolphin sculpture :)

walking through a clearing in the forest, even though its in the middle of the Melbourne CBD :p

looking at the little fishes in the imaginary stream

one of my favourites, SA's smile is so natural and pleasing. the brick cottage and hedge make a wonderful background

the gallant prince arrives for his beautiful princess

peekaboo, i see you.. a very nice concept, thanks to my housemate

shadows are great too. a more 'abstract' approach, in my opinion.

we were looking around the gardens for a clear spot where CL + SA could lie down and have some intimate poses. this shot would have been great, accept for the palm in the background.

altering my perspective gives a much better background. i like this pic, except that the groom seems too sleepy to keep his eyes awake!

Anybody keen for some engagement photos? :)

Merry Christmas !!


KeL said...

Hey Brandon. I've seen quite a lot of your portrait photos. How do you always balance the brightness, so the people won't look dark?

brandon said...

if the ppl look dark, change from the default metering system to spot metering. it will expose the faces correctly, at the expense of blown out background highlights, if you don't mind that. otherwise use fill flash using an external flashgun or pop up flash.

congrats with ur a350 too. their top lenses are great, but more expensive than canon and nikon.


Gary said...

well done Brandon, I'm sure the couple will be very happy with these. You have captured their love for each other perfectly.

SoNaR said...

Yea..happy indeed..

S. Chie said...

what i feel twd ur shoots is, there is a clear theme or a message you want to convey via the pictures. It actually provides your audiences a comprehensive idea of what the pictures are saying about without killing off the space of imagination.=)


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