Monday, 30 March 2009

Gina & Kerry's Wedding

My run of bad weather continued with Gina & Kerry's Wedding, although to be fair we did manage to stay outside for most of the day (and it was a garden wedding after all).

I was very excited about shooting this wedding, as the venue was an old chapel with beautiful gardens that had been converted into a B&B. Gina and Kerry found it on the internet and asked if they could have their wedding service there. It was the first wedding to be held on the grounds for over 90 years!

The location offered dozens of cool and quirky locations. Gina fell in love with this door and also wanted to make sure that the window at top left was included in the shot. Thankfully my 17-40mm f4L on the full-frame 5D let me get everything in, as well as giving quite a dramatic wide-angle feel to the image.

We played around there for quite a while, as we were really spoilt for choice with cool locations around the garden. It also helped that Gina & Kerry (and the rest of the bridal party) were so relaxed and fun to shoot. We could have spent all afternoon there (well I could of anyway), but they also wanted some photos taken at the beach, and then at the stables by the racecourse where they had the reception. I hope I get a chance to shoot another wedding at Chapel Hill next season (weather permitting of course)!

Down at the beach we played with the dramatic colour contrast of Gina & Kerry against their (very cool) 'electric purple' wedding car. I used a wide-angle again to really accentuate the curves of the car extending out into the frame, and gave the final image a high contrast HDR (High Dynamic Range) type of treatment.

I've recently discovered 'actions' in photoshop, where you can get lots of different looks with the click of a button (if you download the appropriate photoshop 'action'). What a huge time-saver when putting an album together and there are some very cool actions out there (as well as some pretty naff ones). Of course you can create your own actions as well. It's pretty easy. Just google 'making photoshop actions' and I'm sure you'll find an explanation of how it's done.

Another dodgy day in terms of the weather, but another great day in terms of the couple (they were fantastic) and the images we got together. Thanks Gina & Kerry. I'll have your album proof to you soon - promise :-)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

First photos with Rebel XTi

Took the 'new' camera out last night to one of my favorite locations to 'test' it out. For an entry level camera it handles very nicely - especially at night - since the large lcd screen on the back does double duty as the information screen as well. There are also a few nice little touches, such as a count-down for the self-timer and the cut-out sensors when you bring your eye up to the viewfinder. Overall I was very impressed.

The vertical grip creaks and groans a bit, especially given my usual 5D experience, but the battery power seems consistent and I don't think it's likely to break anytime soon. The fit with the camera seems ok, and it certainly handles better with it attached.

The lenses autofocus quickly and reasonably quietly, although I didn't really get a chance to push them to the limits given I was shooting landscapes. Sharpness appears to be acceptable from the results so far, but I will do more tests against my 17-40 f4L soon. That will be a real test.

So far so good. I enjoyed using the camera very much, and it has an excellent user interface. Kinda wish some of the features were on the 5D as well. I can tell I'm going to enjoy using it, and will hopefully use it a lot more soon. More thoughts and pictures when I do.

Monday, 16 March 2009

400D Arrived

Well it turned up today - my XTi, together with a vertical grip and 18-55mm kits lens. I've already changed it for the EF-S 18-55mm IS lens, but will keep the standard lens for possible re-sale.

First impressions are positive - it's a very clean unit - looks almost brand new. Other first impressions? It is very small and light - so I'm very glad I got the grip to go with it. Makes a huge difference to the way it handles (to me at least), and certainly remains light and responsive. Focus response with the EF-S lenses seems quick and precise and the large lcd display on the back makes changing camera settings very quick.

Have also found the 'perfect' bag for my new travel kit - a Lowepro EX 180. As you can see in the photo, it's big enough to hold the 400D with grip attached, plus the 18-55 standard lens, as well as the 55-250mm EF-S, a Canon 50mm f1.8, a 430EX Speedlite, plus cards, blower brush, manual and other small assorted accessories. Quite a bit really. With all that packed in, it's still a very light load.

I plan on getting out tonight to take some landscapes with the whole kit, which will give me a better feel for the camera, and the load. Although I can already tell that there's no comparison between this and the whole 5D kit I carry around in a backpack. Their may be no weight comparison to be made, but I'm hoping there's an image comparison. It might not be full-frame, or a 5D, but from what I've read I'm looking forward to viewing some of the images made from the 10MP sensor of the Rebel XTi. Will post some soon. I might even get around to a camera/lens/ISo comparison between the two kits. That might be 'very' interesting.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Denise & Ashley

Denise & Ashley were my first wedding couple for 2009 - married on January 17th at Holy Trinity Anglican Church here in Greymouth. Denise is a local girl, so came 'home' to get married, even though both of them are based overseas (they both work for an international airline).

The day wasn't the best weather-wise and unfortunately this was to be a reoccurring theme throughout this wedding season. It rained for most of the day, although it did manage to clear enough so that we could get outside with the wedding party and take some photos.

Even though the weather wasn't really on our side, it didn't dampen Denise and Ashley's spirits. They were (are) a lovely couple to work with, and made the day a relaxing, pleasurable and fun experience for all involved.

The wedding reception was out at Shantytown - a replica gold-rush township that showcases early New Zealand history. This is a perfect venue to get some great 'old world' type images for an album, and is also the best place to shoot if its raining because it has a lot of cover that still allows for interesting views. It is a very popular wedding destination here on the Coast, and rightfully so.

Nicky (my assistant) and I had a heap of fun on this wedding and it was a great way to start 2009 - even if the weather had other ideas.

A few days after the wedding, Denise and Ahsley got in touch with me and asked if I would mind taking some more photos, this time at the beach. Denise had grown up at the Cobden Beach, and was disappointed that her wedding images didn't reflect that (since it was too wet to get out there on the day).

Of course I was up for it, and so after work we met down at the Beach and had a great evening shooting images that will 'round out' their album. It's the first time I have shot more photos a few days later, and although not taken on the 'same day' as the wedding, I think they still fit into the theme of their wedding day, and will make a great inclusion to their album. It is, after all, about producing something that the client is happy with and that brings back the memories of that time in their lives - be it one day, or several.

So 'thanks' Denise and Ashley. Your wedding was amazing, I enjoyed every minute of it, and the album is going to be fantastic! What a great way to start my 2009 wedding season.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Canon 400D arriving soon.

Another year gone, another month along - another camera on the horizon. Am I a camera junkie? Maybe...

Out goes the EOS 1D, and in comes the 400D. Yep, that's right - from the sublime to the ridiculous. I've sold my top-of-the-line 1D and decided to change it with a (you could argue) bottom-of-the-line consumer-grade Canon Rebel. Am I insane!?

Now before I answer that, I will hasten to add that their IS method to my madness. In fact there's several methods (reasons) to my madness - although that probably still makes it madness!?

I fell into something of a routine towards the end of the last wedding season - I used my 5D full-frame pretty much exclusively. Sure, I had the 1D with me, but I never really got it out of the bag. Fair enough, you say, it's your back-up camera after all - isn't it? Well yes, it is, but after lugging my camera bag around for a whole season, I've got to say it's an incredibly heavy back-up. And what's more, I don't find myself all that keen to lug it over my shoulder and go for an afternoon stroll with it either! I could see a pattern emerging, and in as much as it was my 'dream' camera, I could see that I just wasn't ever going to use it unless I 'made' myself use it.

At the end of my last wedding, having just lugged my backpack full of gear around for several hours and almost getting a hernia, I made a vow that during the off season I would 'down-size' and lighten my load. So the decision to sell the 1D was, in the end, relatively easy - if not still somewhat sad.

My decision to sell the 70-200mm f4'L' (gasp, shock, horror) was less easy, but still the right one based on this years shooting experience. For a 70-200mm it isn't particularly heavy, but it does take up quite a bit of space - and heavy is relative when you look at other options. So out it goes as well. But what to replace them with?

To cut a long story short - I've settled on the 400D (Rebel XTi for our American friends). In fact, the camera that I have purchased (on trademe) is from America, and so will have 'Rebel XTi' on the front and not the 400D label as seen above. I am getting it with the vertical grip (I'm not 'that' crazy), as well as the slightly upgraded 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 Image Stabilized kit lens. That should lighten the load plenty!

And from reviews I've read, the image you get from the 10MP Canon CMOS sensor in these is very clear and noise free(ish) up to its maximum ISO1600. Not to mention the same 9 point focus system found on the 40D.

And the 70-200mm f4'L'? Well I've 'replaced' that with an EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 Image Stabilized Canon lens which has also been getting very good reviews. I appreciate it won't be the same as the 70-200 - but I don't intend using it for weddings. I've got an 85mm f1.8 Canon prime lens that I've been using for my close-up wedding portraits with the 5D, and I absolutely LOVE it. So the 55-250mm EF-S will become my 'travel' option, paired with the 400D (XTi) and 18-55mm.

So now I will basically have two kits; my 'pro' wedding kit with the 5D and some 'L' and prime lenses, and my travel kit (backup) with the lighter EF-S lenses that will cover me from 28 to 400mm! All together my travel kit probably weighs less than the 1D body by itself! Now I'm actually looking forward to going out and taking my camera with me. My back, and my hernia, both thank me...