Wedding: Robin and Sam at the Galapagos Art Space

I knew that Robin and Sam’s wedding at the Galapagos Art Space would be something special with just four words.

Catered. By. Dinosaur. Barbecue.

Now this isn’t just because Dinosaur Barbecue is amazing (it is). More important, it takes a special kind of fearlessness and focus for a bride to willingly surround herself with barbecue sauce on her wedding day.

Even having looked forward to this from the time I booked them, the day exceeded expectations. A thousand personalized touches, fantastic friends, great music, an unorthodox space used to the fullest, and a beautiful Brooklyn day made it a wedding to remember. Congratulations Robin and Sam!


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How I Spent My Weekend Vacation

Being a wedding photographer is a wonderful, amazing life, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. But it’s also not for the faint of heart — in the long run this profession requires endurance perhaps even more than talent. I had to look back at the calendar to realize that my last weekend off was March 13th and 14th. And, looking at my computer’s records, I spent a good part of that weekend doing my taxes.

But there is something harder than being a wedding photographer, and that’s being a wedding photographer’s significant other. They don’t get to temper the off-kilter work schedule with all of the incredible joys of sharing wedding days with amazing couples, or the honor of documenting so many amazing experiences. Poor Wendy did not need to look at her calendar to know that March was the last time we had spent a few consecutive days together. Does she sound patient and long-suffering? Well consider this — we started dating seriously in February. The woman is a saint.

So I blocked off this past weekend to bookings, and we headed up to the Hudson Valley to see the fall foliage and relax for a bit (even so, I processed an engagement shoot and ,ost of an amazing wedding you’ll see shortly). And it was incredible. First we stayed at the Mohonk Mountain House, an amazing resort that I knew from a wedding I shot there years ago. Absolutely gorgeous. We scrambled up a tricky mountain path called The Labyrinth to see a wide valley full of fiery foliage — and we liked it so much that we put the camera down and did it again for speed.

Next we stayed at the Cromwell Manor Inn, a charming bed and breakfast with an innkeeper filled with stories ranging from quaint to bawdy, and incredible, extravagant breakfasts. Certainly the first time I’ve had Basque cuisine at a B&B. With a hay ride, a trip to the Storm King Art Center, a few gallons of apple cider, and massages for the both of us, I’m renewed and ready to finish the season.

And I took some pictures.

This is really what our view from our window at Mohonk looked like. I felt like “Double Rainbow” guy.
Wendy indulges me as I do an 18-image “Brenizer method”
But she’s happy anyway.
“Regular-style” panorama
I did a 12-image Brenizer method of this to see if my software could handle it. It did much better than I expected.
Dancer+hay bale=instant fun.
We’re a power couple.

Workshop photos: 28,800,000 Percent

It’s been a week full of teaching for me. First I gave a lecture on flash composites at Adorama on Monday, where I also taught the additional, MacGyver-friendly lessons that yes, you can use an Adorama plastic bag as a flash modifier, and yes, you can use gaffer tape to mend a pair of jeans. It’s the photographer way.

Then came the big show, a day-and-a-half-long workshop aimed squarely at photographers knee-deep in the business of wedding photography. This was a more talking-heavy workshop than some of my previous ones, since I wanted to share any and every business trick I’ve learned along the way to building a successful photography business — and I left nothing out. I don’t have any secrets — if you want to be a successful photographer, work hard, capitalize on whatever luck you have, and don’t stop working hard. That’s about it. If your business model is based on not letting your competition find out your secrets, then, in the Information Age, you might be on shaky ground.

Still, we did some shooting, because we’re photographers after all, and I wanted to show both how I work with clients, and some of the things I do to solve problems in photography. The first is how I stopped being a slave to the sun. If you only like shooting outdoor portraits at golden hour, then you’re going to run into some interesting problems on hectic wedding days — or maybe even cause them. Sometimes you’re going to be forced to shoot at noon, and sometimes the best decision will be to shoot in the dark.

Since it was a night-and-day workshop, we got to tackle both. First, night:

We did a number of different night tricks; this one was based on the idea that sometimes your best friend at night is as weak a light source as possible. To get the tonality I wanted from the background, I had my Litepanel Micropro, which was my key light, just about set to “OFF.”

Next, day:

Wait … day?

Yes, I wanted to show that you don’t have to be afraid of daylight, that a speedlight can easily conquer the sun if you use it right, and that you can have the choice to have nice, blue skies even in a backlit, bright, cloudless mid-day sky, like we had.

But I really like to drive home a point, so I thought “Why stop at blue? Let’s take this glaringly bright sky and make it black!” So I went to 11 — f/11, ISO 200, 1/8000th of a second. Obliterating the sky. No dodging here — other than a bit of a crop, this is right out-of-camera. And it only took two SB-900s to light.

Here’s the really geeky part. A few back-of-the-napkin calculations showed me that in the first photo, my exposure settings are 288,000 times as light-sensitive as in the second photo. With the right techniques, we really can conquer any situation, day or night. More important is that they’re still compelling photos, thanks mostly to my wonderful subjects, Mae and Kelly.

Who said mixing linear and logarithmic math couldn’t be cool. Am I right?

Well, I think it’s cool.