Ready for her close-up.
As a wedding photographer and photojournalist based in Manhattan, I have specific, and sometimes esoteric needs. So it’s not often that I see a product from a manufacturer that makes me wonder if they were living inside my head, catering to my secret desires. The last time I remember that shock was 2007, when Nikon released the D3 — going for speed and low noise at High ISO in their first full-frame camera instead of a billion megapixels.
Well, this time the welcome shock comes from Lumiquest and their new speedlight-mountable softbox, the Softbox LTP.
I love off-camera light, and I want to be as versatile with it as possible. But as a photojournalist, and specifically one who works with just the tools he can carry, I travel as light as I can. And so I loved the previous model, the Lumiquest Softbox III. It gave me some versatility in light-shaping, and a nice soft light when I was working close, such as this picture, when it was right outside the frame.
(This shot looks crazy-Photoshopped, but it’s not. The skies were insane that day, and the light from the Softbox III was always slightly pinkish. Combine that with Irish ruddiness on a cold day, and you get room for a hue shift into geen.)
It’s a great tool, and I’ve worked mine literally to death, but I always wanted it to be a bit bigger so I could have more working distance from my subjects and still get soft light — but of course, if it’s too big it’s not truly portable anymore.
And this is the genius part — Lumiquest said, “Hey, you know what photographers carry around a lot? 15-inch laptops. And even if they don’t, every large camera bag or even normal shoulder bag is sized to hold 15-inch laptops. So let’s make a softbox the exact size of a 15-inch laptop.”
Genius. If you use any bag that fits that size, the new LTP will give you 40 percent more area over the Softbox III without sacrificing a bit of portability.
Here it is in action, lighting yours truly, with a wider crop so you can see it work.
Here it is with kind of a funky headshot. (For these I used velcro to affix it to a video light, the Litepanel MicroPro)
Now in my professional work with these kinds of lights I will often use multi-frame composites to get interesting lighting options out of small lights. The LTP is perfect for these. Especially when shooting people, the rectangular shape of it makes it effectively even larger, since you generally want to light a vertical area. So here is a panel of my assistant lighting a bride:
and here is the finished shot
And one last composite: Here I used the softbox and gel to put a soft, warm light on the couple, and then took it off for cold, hard light on the steps:
As you can tell, I’ve fallen in love with it already. But it gets better. It’s not just bigger than the older model — it feels significantly sturdier, with extra velcro options to keep it from sagging despite its greater weight.
This is definitely a tool for off-camera light, not something to put on your camera-mounted flash and blast forward, but I’ve never been a fan of that anyway. If you feel any of the same tingle of shock that I did, I highly recommend picking one up — after all, it’s only 1 percent the cost of my last shock, the D3.
I don’t really have to tell you about Lauren and Chris. All I have to do is show you this:
Hilarious, fun, low-key, more than a little iPhone-obsessed … it all suits them. But I can tell you that their wedding day at the Meadow Wood Manor was a joy to document, that these two are so unbelievably nice that they wouldn’t even let me call a taxi after the wedding, driving me to the train themselves. That just shows a small part of the selfless nature that made the day such a pleasure. Congratulations!
I had a wonderful time at Allie and Vilas’ wedding, especially with the constant entertainment of Vilas’ adorable, energetic neice and nephews, so I was thrilled to get a call from his brother to do a family shoot. As I said in the preview, as someone who grew up in a forest essentially like Huck Finn, I’m always fascinated to see how excellent, personable well-adjusted kids can make the city their playground, from games of tag on cobblestone streets to energetically relating about the times they’ve seen a rat. Of course, there’s a bit more culture in TriBeCa than in the forest — my main exposure was trying to stay up late to watch Airwolf.
I had a great time shooting this family, and keeping up with them meant I didn’t have to go to the gym for about three days.
I don’t often work in extreme wide-angles, but sometimes it’s a great change in perspective. And there are few wide-angle lenses as crazy as taking a fisheye lens, in this case the Nikon 16mm, and “defishing” it in software. In terms of this lens, I’ve found that Lightroom 3 actually does a better job of getting it perfect than Nikon’s own software.
I’ve talked before about what an honor it is when a couple flies me into Southern California to shoot their wedding, because there are so many great photographers who are closer. But Singapore? You know who’s closer than me to Singapore? Pretty much everyone. So I knew going in that Sherlynn, Michael and I had a shared vision for how we could capture their wedding. What I didn’t know was that the wedding itself would be as great as Singapore is humid. (Did you know that Singapore is the city closest to the equator? It makes packing a lot easier when the suggested clothing is “as little as possible.”)
What can I say about these children of the world? People ask me if the couple is from Singapore or New York — honestly, I don’t know how to describe where they live, and neither do they. Singapore, New York, Melbourne, London — they have boxes all over the place. You might see the photos below differently when you hear that Michael’s brother is a vocal dead-ringer for Heath Ledger.
Three days in some of Singapore’s most fantastic locations, from a Four Seasons wedding reception to portraits in the National Museum to times that felt just like a jaunt around the city with friends, it sounds grueling but it actually gave everything a far more relaxed air than just doing a 20-hour-long traditional Asian wedding in one day. Never before have the wedding party and I stopped during a wedding-day portrait shoot to sit down and have some lunch. Fantastic style, including a Vera Wang wedding dress, doesn’t hurt either.
It was more than a pleasure to spend this time with Michael, Sherlynn and their families, it was an honor. And yes, we took a few pictures along the way.
PS: Michael, I’m sorry I never ate the durian.
In turns gorgeous and wild, classy and fun, Rachel and John had a fantastic wedding at the Garden City Hotel. The fashion was top-notch at this wedding, with a gorgeous wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses so nice that, when I saw the first bridesmaid, I thought she was just a guest with impeccable taste. And then I saw five more.
The reception was something else entirely. I’ve worked with this band before, and they are always fantastic, but I have never seen them respond and rock out with this much energy — and, after talking to them, neither have they. The father of the bride got up to sing, half the band ended up writhing on the floor, the lead singer started playing the guitar with the microphone — it was probably the best rock performance in the NYC area that night, and it just happened to be at a wedding. I credit Rachel and Jon’s incredible energy for the performance.
I work in so many wonderful venues all over the world that it’s hard to pick favorites. But when a couple tells me they’re having a wedding at Blue Hill Stone Barns, I get particularly excited. You see, I love food. Some people call this being a “foodie,” I call it being a functioning human being. But in any case, there is nowhere I’ve been so devoted to reverence for food — from a gorgeous, pastoral farm setting where the ingredients are grown and raised, to exquisite preparation, just writing about it makes me want to go back there. But I get even more excited when I get to photograph a wedding there with a couple as classy and as fun as Danielle and Andrew.
I could talk about how amazing and strong their family connections were, about how down-to-earth they were the whole day, about the gorgeous ceremony, the exquisite details of the reception, and the food … oh, the food … but mostly I’m excited about the photos, so I’m going to get out of the way and show them to you.
Julia and Seth had a gorgeous day for a seaside wedding at Battery Gardens. They both have incredible spirits — Julia didn’t stop going all night even though she had a flu on her own wedding day. And Seth was hilarious, and more than a bit of a ham — I’ve never had an image review session where I kept seeing the groom turn and wink at the camera.
The details were elegant and beautiful, and the light on the ceremony? Well, only the editor in me was able to stop from showing 100 or so photos. Congratulations, guys, it was a fantastic day.
Quick note: Photoplus Expo is in town, and, since I’m represented in some way by the three largest camera-sellers in the Western hemisphere, they’ve given me a shiny new press pass to check out the gear! I’ll be sending updates of my take on new gear to my Twitter account (I just can’t get used to saying I’ll be “tweeting”) — if you’re interested in new stuff, you can see that here! Or in the handy tab on the left-hand side of the blog.
I knew that I was going to have a great time documenting Kat and Tim’s wedding — after all, we’d already broken into a school. It only gets better from there. And of course, it was that and more. The Florentine Gardens are a great spot for daytime wedding like theirs because the venue can completely seal off the outside light when it wants to, creating a night-time feel conducive to the kind of crazy dancing and partying that was out in force.
And you know that the day was filled with adorable children in matching outfits when my girlfriend can’t stop looking over my shoulder when I’m editing, saying “Look at the MUNCHKINS!” And yes, they were insanely cute.
But you’ll see for yourself.
Phil told me that when they decided on their awesome chuppa with the reflective floor, they’d said “Ryan’s going to love this.”
And they were right. And with a couple and their families who were so much fun, I loved the whole day. The decor was fantastic — the ceremony was played to a round with the guests facing them, the reception was gorgeous, and the talk of the cocktail hour was a bartender who can best be described as a love child between Lady Gaga and a table — and the day was lively throughout.