wedding photographers in New Jersey

manual on-camera bounce flash

With the response to the article on bounce flash photography at wedding receptions, it might be good to continue the topic. While I prefer TTL flash when I use bounce flash, there are times when I do use my on-camera flash in manual exposure mode when I bounce it.

Julie & Kenny’s wedding, at the Laurita Winery, NJ, proved to be a bit of a challenge with the reception. The reception area was in the winery which had a beautiful interior … but it wasn’t white. Bounce flash was a touch more difficult than usual here.

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wedding photography – when technique, style & choice of equipment converge

With Manhattan as a back-drop, I wanted a cinematic look for the photograph of Nima and Peter. A magnificent view behind them as they snuggle in. While I approach wedding photography with my eye on telling the story of the day, for me, where a photographer really reveals a specific style, is in the portraits of the bride and groom.

I wanted a romantic look to this sequence of images, so there were specific choices to be made in terms of equipment, camera settings and the lighting. So let’s run through the thought-process.

Since the out-of-focus city scene would be crucial to the mood of the photograph, my camera settings and lens choice had to be specific for this.

We were on the other side of the Hudson, so I needed a long focal length to compress the perspective. I used a 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens with image stabilization / vibration reduction. I used the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II (vendor), to be specific, but the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II (vendor), is just as beautiful a lens. The reason why Image Stabilization (IS) or Vibration Reduction (VR) is essential, is that I don’t like using a tripod. It’s too static. It allows me one composition. With a stabilized lens, I can move my position and change my perspective and background, without clumsily shifting a tripod around, and move the camera up and down.

It was cold outside, so I needed to do my homework before I took the couple outside. I had to have everything ready beforehand. A few test shots gave me my exposure that was necessary – 1/25 @ f3.2 @ 2000 ISO

These settings had very little wriggle room there. We’re at a very slow shutter speed. We’re (nearly) wide-open on the zoom lens. 2000 ISO is getting to be “up there” on the ISO scale.

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wedding photography – looking for those key moments

Wedding photography has become more modern in style over the past decade or so. Instead of overly posed images, the general trend is now more of a story-telling (or photo-journalistic) style. It’s now as important to capture the day’s events as it unfolds, as it is to get beautiful portraits of the couple and families.  As photographers we’re now much more focused on the moments and the gestures that tell the story.

With this intent, I really try and observe the day as closely as I can, capturing what I hope are the key moments. With experience, this anticipation and timing becomes second nature. (And as an aside, you can’t do this if you are constantly checking your camera’s preview.)

What we can’t always foresee, is the specific value that some photographs might hold …

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wedding photography – the romantic portraits – more than just, “and now, kiss”

More frequently than not, when looking at the work of other photographers, I see that the romantic portraits of the couple are just of them kissing. Having worked with a number of photographers over the years, I’ve also seen how the instruction “and now, kiss”, becomes reflexive. Pose the couple; have them look at each other … *snap* … and now kiss … *snap*. And then the photographer takes no other photos of the couple at that specific place. Yet, there are more (and perhaps even better) ways to show intimacy in the romantic portraits than just having the couple kiss …

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NJ wedding photography

Video & photo fusion is something I’ve started working with recently. The idea with fusion is to create a vibrant blend of selected photographs with short video sections, to give a 5 or 6 minute overview of the wedding day.

As with the previous fusion clips, the HD video sections were shot with the Canon 5D mk II (B&H). It’s a lot of work putting this together, for I think that adding stills and video is more involved than just doing either. But I like the result, and hopefully clients and prospective clients will also be taken with it.


wedding photography – a photo-journalistic style … or more posed?

A photographer who attended the recent flash photography workshop here in New York, asked me an interesting question regarding my wedding photography style. His observation was about how I seemed to consistently get such well-timed un-posed and natural looking images with my wedding photography. Since my explanation seemed to surprise him, and even bordered on being a real aha! moment for him, I thought it could serve as an article here which might interest other wedding photographers.

When asked by photographers about my style of wedding photography, I like to reply that I don’t quite subscribe to the purist photojournalism, nor the traditionalist style. I think my approach is more along the lines of get-the-job-done-alism.

Instead of subscribing rigidly to a defined style, I’m there to give the bride and groom the best photographs I can on the day. And for this, my approach has to be flexible …

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wedding photography, The Grove, New Jersey

overview: Cherryl & Jim’s wedding at The Grove, NJ

A little bit of info about the video and stills photography …

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wedding photography – how to work with the videographer’s light

With wedding receptions, we’re most often working within a very warm spectrum. There are tungsten (incandescent) lights all around. (**) There is candle light. There might be twinkling lights as decoration … and there is the videographer’s light. The videographer’s light will be Tungsten balanced, even if it is an LED video light that they are using. (***)

So while a wedding photographer might be using a lot of flash to dominate the lighting .. and settle for Cloudy or Flash WB, there is often a conflict of interest when the videographer joins in with his video light. The video light obviously has a much warmer white balance than flash. So how do we best deal with this?
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using flash during the wedding ceremony in church

Whether or not to use flash during a wedding ceremony in a church, is a tricky decision to make. You have to weigh the solemnity of the occasion, with the contractual and artistic requirements to create awesomely awesome images.

When to use flash during the church ceremony?

– when there aren’t specific church rules against using flash, and
– the light levels are too low to give correct exposure for the shutter speed, aperture and ISO combination we need.

The decision to use flash, and how to use flash, strongly depends on technology. Before high-ISO capable cameras, it was customary for medium-format film shooters to set up additional lighting. There would be at least one other off-camera flash to “double light” the scene along with the flash on the camera’s bracket.

The modern trend of a more natural look has been made possible by high-ISO capable cameras, along with fast lenses.

For me, this is the way to go .. high ISO settings and wider apertures. Ideally, I’d rather just use the available light, and not use flash at all. However, the lighting in churches is sometimes less than ideal with top-heavy incandescent lights. Then I will use flash to augment the available light …

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Melissa & Dennis – their wedding day from Neil van Niekerk on Vimeo.

review of the Nikon D3100 video capability

Nikon recently released two very interesting D-SLRs – the Nikon D3100 (B&H) and the Nikon D7000 (B&H). Improving on several of the entry-level Nikon D-SLRs, they also offer HD video capability (1080p at 24 fps), and even does so with full-time auto-focus capability.

So when B&H sent me a Nikon D3100 for review, I thought what better test than to start in the deep end, and use it during a wedding to shoot HD video. The intention was to use the HD video from the D3100 along with the still photographs from my usual set of Nikon D3 bodies … and compile this as a stills & video Fusion clip, shown at the top here. I shot the stills, and Jessica, my assistant with an attitude, shot & edited the D3100 video clips. A first attempt at stills/video Fusion for us.

So how did the Nikon D3100 fare? Quite impressively actually …

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