Photo of the Day: Seclusion Amid the Streets

From Ellen and Jeff’s engagement shoot, taken with the new Nikon 24mm f/1.4. Now that I have a couple thousand images under my belt with it, the review is coming very soon! Clients’ needs before gearheads’, though.

Remember you can always see previews from my weddings and engagement shoots at my Facebook page!

Photo of the Day: Through the Woods

I’ve been digging into my panorama archives to really try out AutoPano Pro, and liking the efficiency and quality overall. This one was from an engagement shoot in October, 15 shots with the 85mm f/1.4. As the technological whiz kids among you may have guessed, strobes were used to give even lighting and good contrast to Maureen’s face. As if shooting panoramas of people wasn’t counter-intuitive enough, you can through flash usage into it, too. It’s a bit tricky, but the key is to figure out ways to fire your flashes at low power settings. I’ll be going over advaced applications of panoramas and “the Brenizer method” in my workshop on April 16-17. There are still a few slots open!

The extreme selective focus can make some interesting changes to perspective — if you shoot things that have no immediate frame of size reference, they tend to look much smaller. In this case, it’s almost hard to guess — is that a small branch in the foreground or a huge one in the background? I know, of course.

It Pays to be Creepy, Part II

I’ve already discussed how my job makes me feel creepy because it’s good to take interest in the way romance plays out in the real world. But there’s more. I have always had a strange sort of photographic memory (pun not intended). If I’ve taken your photo, ever, I remember your face. I remember that I’ve taken a photo looks. I remember what that photo looked like and the expression you were making. But I often will have no recollection of the context, when or where the event was taken. The problem comes from what happens when you’ve taken photos of literally tens of thousands of people — for years I couldn’t walk around the Columbia University area without constant bouts of deja vu as people walked by me.

And, of course, the creepiness. I was in a coffeeshop waiting for the couple for today’s engagement shoot, and I sat next to a young woman. My brow furrowed. Do I say it?

“There’s really no way for this not to sound terrible, but I’ve taken your picture somewhere. Did you go to Columbia?”

No, it turned out, but she was in Rebekah and Jonah’s Korean/Jewish extravaganza.

So how does it pay to be creepy, other than remembering a great day (that has an album coming up soon)? This sort of memory has always been a huge advantage for me as an event photographer. I like to try to get photos of as many guests as possible, and even in gigantic events I can always remember at a glance which guests I’ve gotten good photos of and which I haven’t, giving clients as robust coverage as possible. So I guess I’ll have to live with the deja vu.

It also says something interesting about the profound cognitive effect the process of taking photos and reviewing them can have, at least for me, since I do not have a particularly good memory for your face if I haven’t taken your photo.

Photo of the Day: The iPad Makes All the Difference

I had an amazing time shooting Sameepa and Bareen’s over-the-top gorgeous wedding at espace on Saturday, and having what was (for me, Mr. Lone Wolf Photojournalist) just made it all the better. It’s a dramatic understatement to say that you tend not to get as much time to plan wedding portraits as, commercial portraits. Instead of meeting with art directors months in advance, you have to learn to handle “the schedule changed, and all we have available is three minutes and a parking lot.” But sometimes we do get a bit of time to prepare, and to take as little of the bride and groom’s time as possible, we do lighting tests before they even get there. These are generally an assistant standing emotionless on the mark, but given that it was iPad launch day, I got a bit creative with the lighting test to mark the occasion. Presenting “Dudes, With and Without iPad”

For the record, the iPad was a huge hit at the wedding. Since I had one of my assistants stand in line to get it first-thing, and since we already had a slideshow prepared for the bride from the Sangeet and Mehndi synced the minute she showed up with it, we may have pulled off the first iPad wedding slideshow, anywhere. Again, Mr. Jobs, I don’t frown at royalty checks.

Photo of the Day: Sameepa

I took this photo last night at Sameepa’s mehndi — the henna application party — and today I am photographing her wedding! I am very sneaky, so I scheduled this post to appear right when she and her soon-to-be husband see each other for the first time. Bareen probably has better things to do today than refresh my blog over and over, but it’s nice to be safe.

As Stevie said, “Isn’t She Lovely?”

I’m excited to shoot with my buddy Tim Herzog as a second-shooter again, and the awesome Isla as assistant — and a special surprise fourth team member. The ludicrously talented Kevin Shahinian of Pacific Pictures is heading the videography team. Should be a great day!

Photo of the Day: I Love Lamplight

I am clearly on an Ilana and Paul kick this week. I started thinking of them again when a new client discussed Russian Jewish weddings, and can’t believe I haven’t posted this. What an elegant, wild night it was!

(The lamp here is mostly for ambiance, video light did the heavy lifting).

New Camera!

On advice from my chirpractor and Ken Rockwell, I’m paring down and going smaller and lighter for the new season, taking it back to basics! Introducing my new flagship, the D70s!

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Hey, I heard that vintage cameras are in. Am I doing it right?

Or, the strobist angle: Who needs ISOs higher than 800 when you can sync at 1/1000th of a second?

OK, a paltry April Fool’s entry, but I thought you might want to see what a $2200 lens looks like on a $220 camera.

UPDATE: D70s owners shouldn’t take offense to this … after all, there’s a reason I had one in my studio. The flash sync is an incredible tool, and I shot gallery shows and Nobel prize-winners with one of these. But technology marches on quickly, and there’s a reason I keep re-investing in equipment, since I want the best for my clients. The D3s with a 24mm f/1.4 shoots with about 40 times the light sensitivity as a D70s and the f/2.8 lenses that are the fastest you can use for that frame-of-view on DX. Awfully handy in cavernous NYC venues.

Photo of the Day: Love, Uncloaked

Ilana and Paul‘s dramatic first kiss.

I suppose I should be talking about the secret camera I’m testing that adds the important sense of smell to your digital images, but I think that’s been played out.

Photo of the Day: Panorama Revisited

On a tip, I’ve tried reworking some old “Brenizer method” panoramas with AutoPano Pro. It’s not perfect, but it’s very good, and gets right some panoramas that Photoshop did not. But what I most like is that I can set up a batch to do a bunch of panoramas at once, and then go take a nap or answer e-mails or something. Anything that makes the stitching process easier will make me want to shoot these more and more, and one of my goals for 2010 is to really see what sorts of ways I can push the envelope on this ball I got rolling. Also, I want to mix new and exciting metaphors.

Original shoot here.

Photo of the Day: Sunset Lounging

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Here’s another shot from the Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica. What’s special about this shot? It was taken with my iPhone and minimally edited in Photoshop. Not a bad little camera on the 3Gs if you get the most you can out of it. More on this soon.

Nikon 24mm f/1.4: Initial impressions and RAW samples

Who loves ya, baby? I was supposed to be one of the first people in the world with the new Nikon 24mm f/1.4, but it came while I was on a work holiday in Jamaica. I’m still one of the first to sample its goodness, but instead of a sunny week in Jamaica, you get a rainy day in New York. Thanks to the people at Adorama for being so great, again and again.

I’m a nice guy, so to anyone who’s really curious about this new lens, I’m including some RAW samples. These are D3s RAW files, so make sure your RAW converter is updated so it can open them.

Initial impressions (full review after this weekend’s wedding): Sharper and more contrasty than it has any right to be. AF is not world-class in speed, like the 24-70 and 70-200, but still speedy and very accurate. If Nikon makes a 35mm like this, there will be nothing left in the Canon camp that makes my skin crawl with envy.

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Nikon has some new, hyper-shock resistant packaging, which I really appreciated given how pricey this darned lens is.

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Sharp, colorful, love it. RAW sample.

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f/1.4 isolation makes the buildings pop through the foreground in this puddle reflection.

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Can you say flare resistant? Heavily backlit statue. Still contrasty. RAW sample.

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Mmmmm isolation. Not generally a tight portrait lens, but this guy doesn’t mind. RAW sample.

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Water droplets in a cab window show the quality of foreground and background bokeh.

Also, you can see those qualities here, in a quick video. Also shows the focus throw and the sound of the manual focus, for video geeks. 720p version here. 1/50th, f/1.4 ISO 1600 on the D3s:

UPDATE: One from night-time:

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Wedding: Karen and Kamil at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, CA

Well, you knew from their engagement that I was excited to fly out to California to shoot Karen and Kamil’s wedding, but it topped even my lofty expectations. Any way you look at it, it was the epitome of “geek chic” (which is very much up my alley). Sure, you have an attractive couple getting married in the land of sand and sea, but instead of beaches and sandals we had Wall-E as a ring-bearer, XKCD-inspired table settings, and more Super-Mario-inspired details than I could ever imagine. When you start to get into an argument with your brother/assistant about whether one of the masks for the guests was a Mexican wrestler or Storm Shadow from the GI Joe movie, then you know the wedding has reached maximum, fabulous geekiness.

I had a great time at every moment, but the wedding party had even more fun, including singing the “Age of Aquarius” to mark the end of the ceremony (which is why the slideshow is set to it). And, with further thanks to my brother, we got a nearby merry-go-round working for them, and started having so much fun that they had to be reminded that somewhere out there, a reception was waiting for them.

Congratulations, you two!

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Photo of the Day: Wind in the Water…

A 30-second exposure of huge surf breaking against the waves at the Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, Jamaica. My season is about to explode, giving me all sorts of fun and excitement but not much rest for seven months, so I figured it would be nice to work casually down in the sun this week, processing a wedding that is the ultimate in geek chic.

I know there might be a number of readers of this blog who are considering, say, a honeymoon, and I can’t recommend the Rockhouse enough. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous at decent prices, but the practices of the ownership are fantastic. So many resorts have no connection to the community beyond their gates, but the Rockhouse has a foundation that invests in local education, opening a school and library. Heck, just the fact that the hotel room mini-bar prices aren’t inflated impresses me.