Monday, November 30, 2009

Jody's Bridal Portraits

I had an AWESOME TIME photographing Jody's Bridal Portraits a couple weeks ago! We drove down to Walterboro where we had received permission to photograph at Bonnie Doone Plantation. It's such a beautiful place with the most dreamy Spanish Moss covered oaks! On top of that, Jody's dad brought along his amazing new Dodge Charger. I couldn't help doing a few poses with the bright red muscle car juxtaposed against the soft green tapestry and draped with a beautiful bride in her flowing white gown! :-) Jody was so much fun to work with. I can't WAIT to photograph her and Gerald's wedding!!!

Lee's Baby Dedication

I recently had the honor of photographing Lee's 4-month portraits. His baby dedication was this past weekend at Ashley River Baptist. This was one of the photos they selected to be projected on the huge LCD screen of him during the service. What an ADORABLE young man!!! Congratulations Chad, Denise, and big brother Thomas! :-)

Joy & Michael's e-Session

Joy & Michael got married yesterday in a FABULOUS wedding aboard the Carolina Girl Yacht! While Cami & I are madly editing the TONS of images I shot, here's a really cute image of them from their Engagement Session. Oh, and this doesn't even show their beautiful parrots and all their fish. :-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

High Dynamic Range Photography

High Dynamic Range (or HDR) photography has fascinated me for some time. So I finally decided to take a crack at it. It involves photographing a series of bracketed exposures of the same image, then merging them together.

I used a popular HDR program called Photomatix. Here are a couple of my first attempts from last week. Any thoughts or suggestions on what I could do different?!?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Adrienne's Bridal Portrait

I photographed Adrienne's Bridal Portraits the other day. Isn't she UNBELIEVABLY beautiful?!? We got so many awesome images from her shoot! This was one of the very first ones.

I loved how this shaft of late afternoon sunlight was making the fuzzy ferns glow. So while she was in the changing room, I had figured out that I wanted to place her here where her veil would get that same angelic rim light. Then I popped up a Nikon SB-800 in a small EZ-Box on a Bogen 3333 lightstand off to her left. (Ask me why her left next time you see me.)

Here's the "before" without the SB-800. I had a slight warming filter on the remote flash and triggered it via a set of Radio Poppers. They were shot with a Nikon D3 and 70-200 f2.8.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Julia & Erik's St. Thomas Destination Wedding

WOW!!! What can I say about Julia & Erik's BEAUTIFUL Destination Wedding?!? Cami & I are so honored that they brought us with them to capture their amazing time in the US Virgin Island of St. Thomas. Many thanks to Lori at Bolongo Bay Resort for making everything run so smoothly. Erik & Julia, you guys simply ROCKED!!!

Check out some of my favorite shots from their trip in this slideshow. Then Click Here to see the rest of their Online Gallery...there's only a FEW to look through. :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Depth of Field

Here's an interesting question I received this morning:

"Hey Chris, I had a question about something I've been struggling with when taking pictures. In short, how do you get good background blur yet maintain good sharpness in a group shot. I know increasing f stops (or closing aperture) will help but I don't know what range i want to be in to get uniform sharpness through the group and blur the background. What looks good on the LCD screen isn't always translating when I upload on my computer. Hopefully, this makes sense and any advice you could provide would be greatly greatly appreciated. I'm really enjoying your posts on your blog and FB. I never realized that setting up shots was so complicated. thanks for sharing your knowledge!


And my response:

"Hey J! Great to hear from you. There are lots of variables when it comes to DOF in group big a group, what focal length you're using, and how far away you're shooting from, for example. My general rule of thumb when doing wedding parties and family shots with 2-3 rows of people is f5.6. Rows of 4 or more I move up as high as f8. I'm usually shooting with a moderate wide angle from 10-15 feet away. (Also remember I'm shooting on a full-frame camera, which is important since you get slightly more depth of field at a given aperture when using a camera with an APS-C sized sensor.) One key to getting the most use out of your available DOF is to focus 1/3 of the way into the group. Logic would have you focus 1/2 of the way in. But DOF doesn't work that way...there is more "in-focus" room behind your point of focus than in front. So put your focus point on someone 1/3 of the way into the group and you'll be maximizing your available DOF and be able to use a smaller aperture to still get everyone in focus. (And another tip is to position your group as far away from the background as possible.) There will definitely be some variations between your cameras LCD and your brightness and color temp. However, DOF should NOT be one of those. If there is a difference, it's probably just because your camera's LCD doesn't have enough detail to properly show exact DOF. Do you have a DOF preview button on your camera? Try using that if you have enough available light to see the image at that dim an aperture. Hope all his helps. Cheers!"

Here's a group photo I did yesterday for Anchor Commercial's holiday greeting card they sent out to all their clients. Nothing fancy, but it's got enough DOF! ;-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dixon-Hughes Executive Portraits

I just wrapped up shooting Executive Portraits for Dixon-Hughes, one of the largest accounting firms in the nation. The firm celebrates it's 50th Anniversary this year!

They had me set up in their conference room. And I used my totally wireless system that I LOVE!!! This time I fired two SB-800 flashes into a large softbox (seen on left) instead of using the Westcott shoot-through umbrella as my main light. Fill was provided by the reflector (seen on right). I almost used the dry erase board that was already there instead! ;-) Hair light was a Westcott Apollo with a domed SB-800 in it. It was triggered by RadioPopper. The others were fired by Nikon CLS.

I popped up the Old Master's canvas background and fired away on the Nikon D2x with 70-200 f2.8 attached. I used the D2x instead of the D3 because I have the WT-2a wireless transmitter on that camera, allowing the images to magically appear on my laptop as I'm shooting. Each indevidual can then go through their shots right then and there to make sure they're happy with them. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dan Rather reports on Congo

Dan Rather goes into the Congo (where I was born and my parents were missionaries for decades) to find out what the people in a small village are receiving in exchange for allowing companies to extract their natural resources. Turns out, the mining companies don't want to allow our cameras anywhere...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maria Sharapova

I just found out Maria Sharapova is using one of my images from last year's tournament to announce her return to this year's Family Circle Cup!!! I love it:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Julia & Erik's Destination Wedding in St. Thomas

Here are a few of our shots from Erik & Julia's beautiful destination wedding in St. Thomas, USVI. I haven't had time to do any editing yet. So these are completely un-touched, strait out of the camera.

The last two were taken during their Trash-the-Dress shoot the morning after the wedding. Erik & Julia were AWESOME to work with, incredibly attractive, so much fun, and completely willing to do all the CRAZY things I asked them to do. :-)

Many thanks to Lorie and the rest of the AMAZING staff at Bolongo Bay Resort. We'll get the rest of the images edited and put a preview slideshow online as soon as possible. In the meantime, CONGRATULATIONS to Erik & Julia...enjoy your honeymoon!!!

Destination Weddings

Cami & I LOVE to travel. So being invited to fun places to photograph fun weddings is like that old Wrigley's commercial...double-mint fun!!!

We just returned from photographing Julie & Erik's AMAZING destination wedding on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Several of you have asked me what gear I pack for these out-of-town shoots. With new TSA regulations and airline carry-on restrictions, it has definitely become more difficult to get all your priceless equipment there in one piece.

I NEVER check my camera gear! I use one of Tamrac's airline approved rolling backpacks. And I narrow down my kit to the most essential gear so that it fits. This is my carry-on. If flying domestic, I'm also allowed one personal I bring our smaller 14" laptop. Cami usually carries a backpack with our toothbrushes, reading material, and what we'll wear on assignment. So if our bags get lost, we have everything we need to do the job! If it's a really big job, she'll carry a second smaller camera bag with D300 and additional lenses, chargers, etc. as her personal item.

From my gearbox, here's what I selected to carry on the plane: a pair of D3 bodies and what I consider to be the "Holy Trinity of Lenses", the Nikkor 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, & 70-200 f2.8. I also included 5 - SB800 strobes, a Canon 500D Close-Up Diopter (more compact than my favorite macro lens), 10.5 mm fisheye, radio poppers, batteries, and cleaning supplies.

My light-kit, consisting of 3 - Bogen 3333 light stands & 2 - 43" Westcott umbrellas, packed in my long thin Bogen case, was my checked bag. Our suitcase was Cami's checked bag. That's it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Photoshop Magic

Here's a problem I encounter all the time! I photograph a number of corporate team photos. But it's an ever-evolving process...people leave the company, new employees are hired, etc. Here's a team photo I took for one of my favorite clients, Caldwell Commercial, last year.

Larry just joined the team this year. Instead of dragging everyone back down there, I met up with him at the same spot I had taken the team photo. I brought along the previous team photo on my iPhone so I could position him and light him as close as possible to the original group shot.
Finally, he gets merged in with the others. MAGIC! :-) The key is, by paying attention to details and photographing Larry's image with the same variables as the one I'm trying to fit him in to...the Photoshop work is a piece of cake!