REPOST: Jill and David

(Most of my posts from March until August are only on the Amazon blog, but I have a few on local draft:)

I got the rare pleasure of second-shooting a wedding with Dave Robbins, the fantastic union of Jill and David. (And that’s Dav-eed, he’s French). I don’t get to second-shoot much for the best of possible reasons — I have too many of my own weddings to shoot — but it’s always fun when I can to try new things, feel my way through a different pace, and just see things from a different angle. There’s no slideshow this time, so I included slightly more photos than normal.

The wedding itself was a fantastic ceremony overlooking the city from the Hotel on Rivington, after which all of the guests marched through town behind a group of musicians, ending up at the stunning Angel Orensanz Foundation. From there it was a big, unending party, with a fantastic band, a musical interlude where the flower girls sang a song the groom’s father had written, and great speeches. In my favorite moment of the night, as one of the best men was giving a speech, his daughter crawled up the stage, tugged on his pants leg, and wouldn’t let go until she was picked up. I love the natural searching instinct of children, and am probably doomed when I have my own, since I spend so much time silently hoping they never do what they’re told.

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Mystery Must-Have Lens Arrived!

(testing out the post-via-iPhone goodness … it’s good to have a supported blog!)

I just got a package in with a Nikon lens i will review. At first glance, i’d have to say this might be the one lens I recommend to just about every last Nikon DSLR user. Any guesses?

Their Middle Name

Their Middle Name

Not only are they hot, not only are they world-travelers, but they’re getting married today! I can’t wait to spend the day with this fantastic couple.

Living in Art

You know you have a power couple when you take them to the celebrated scultpture on the Metropolitain Museum of Art’s rooftop and they say “Oh, that reminds me! We should invite the artist to the wedding!”

Nicole and John, 7/10/09

View the slideshow of this wedding here!

It POURED during our vendor meeting at New Rochelle’s Beckwith Pointe, like it did through most of June and July here. The skies were opened, the venue’s gorgeous view looked gray and muddy. “Don’t worry,” the manager said. “I promise there will be sun on the wedding day. I will make it so.”

Good job, guy. The wedding day was sunny and bright. Spirits were high, and only got higher as the night went on. Their families were incredibly close-knit — the very manly best man brother was nothing but sincere, open and emotional during his speech, no embarrassing stories in sight.

Congratulations!

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Amy and Mike: 7.25.09

View the slideshow of this wedding here!

Mike and Amy’s wedding was multifaceted. On the one hand you had the consummate planning, the beautiful Prince George Ballroom, the guests and wedding party looking gorgeous and dapper, a touching, deep-felt Catholic mass in a beautiful church … and on the other hand you had a room full of people with such intense energy and joy that there was no point in containing it. When I finally realized that nothing short of an Act of God would tame the wedding party for a group shot, and realized that Mike and Amy weren’t the type of people to want a tame shot anyway … I went with it.

“OK … you two kiss. The rest of you? Without causing injury, be as rowdy as possible.”

The floodgates opened, and from then on the wedding was more thrill ride than work (but they usually are … shhhh, don’t tell anyone I enjoy my job so much).

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Rules for Shooting Group Photos

The Ties that Bind

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Hard-tested lens review: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G

If you’re into photography, you’re probably familiar with the common format of lens reviews: Walk around with it for a few days, subject it to lab tests, shoot some brick walls to test distortion, and pass judgement.

Well, most of us don’t actually shoot brick walls for fun or profit, so I decided to be slightly more thorough with my testing of Nikon’s 24-70mm f/2.8G. Here was my method: Use it for 20 months on countless assignments, take nearly 200,000 photos with it, and grind it down from overuse until it began to fall apart in my hands, the rubber zoom ring falling off, and then the lens breaking entirely. So I know a few things about this lens.

When the 24-70 came out, it was overshadowed by the more shocking announcements of the Nikon D3 and the 14-24mm f/2.8. Whereas the 14-24 seemed to break the laws of physics, 24-70 is a fairly pedestrian range, and it may have seemed like catch-up to Canon’s, which was released in 2002.

This is unfortunate. The 14-24 is amazing, and helped win me a major award, but let’s face it — on a full-frame sensor, it’s a novelty lens with insane perspective distortion, and with a heavy, fragile front element. 24-70mm, though, is a range where the actual work gets done, where you can take photos that are more about the scene and less about wide-angle distortion or extreme telephoto compression. On a DX camera, it acts like a 36mm-105mm. That’s a range that lens-makers deliberately make anymore, but it makes for a fantastic range for portraits, from full-body to head-and-shoulders.

So, if the range is useful, how is the lens itself? Darned well one of the best lenses I have ever used, absolutely astonishing for a zoom. Let’s get into why.

For samples, here are hundreds of images I’ve taken with the 24-70.

The Bad:
(I’m listing this first, because the good list is way too long.)

•It’s a big, heavy beast. Slimmer and longer than the 28-70 it replaced, it’s still something that instantly will cause wrist strain if you hold a camera with one hand. It’s too big to be well-balanced on cameras like the D700 without an integrated vertical grip, so either a big camera or attaching a separate grip is recommended.

•Barrel distortion at 24mm, particularly when close-focusing. It’s not awful, but is definitely noticeable. If you’re shooting architecture or you really are into brick walls, you’ll need some software to straighten out your lines.

Also, I’m not the only person who’s had the rubber zoom-ring problem, though I’ve only heard of it from among seriously heavy users.

The Good:

Focus acquisition: Holy cow. This of course depends on the camera you’re using and your technique, but with the excellent system of the D3 as a baseline, this lens focuses more quickly and accurately than anything else I’ve used except exotic, extremely expensive telephotos like the 200mm f/2. The focus locks immediately and is deadly accurate. The error rate even in challenging conditions for me is well under one percent.

Color: I have never even given a serious thought to lens color transmission before using the 24-70. For me, either a lens was bad and turned your images muddy or yellow or it worked right. But right from the first picture, and across a number of different cameras, the color of photos taken with the 24-70 has been vibrant and accurate.

Build quality: Admittedly, began to stick on me — after I’d banged it into hundreds of walls, tossed it into my bag countless times, shot in the cold, in ludicrous humidity, on the beach, and done everything you’re never supposed to do with expensive gear. It’s a tank.

Sharpness: Very, very sharp, even wide-open. Certainly enough for the D3′s 12-megapixel sensor, and stopped down it should match even the megapixel monster that is the D3X

When you put lens sharpness and focus acquisition together, you get something that you can’t see in lab tests — your images of challenging scenes will tend to be sharper than any other similar lens I’ve used. The Nikon 17-55 is pretty good, but the 24-70 schools it in accuracy. Whether this lens will make your pictures better is up to you and your composition, but it will definitely make them sharper and more colorful.

The final word is this: I don’t like zooms. They’re too big, they’re not light-sensitive enough, and they don’t have the depth-of-field control I crave. But I cannot ever let this lens out of my bag.

Geeky, Part 1: Samsung 30-inch monitor unpacking

Based on what I shot last year, and that business is even higher this year, I figure I might shoot more than 200,000 photos in 2009. That’s a lot of photos to process. So I’ve put in some major upgrades to my computer system. My screaming fast Mac Pro is still being put together, but my new Samsung 305T 30-inch monitor is in! I know there’s a lot of debate about whether it’s better to have one giant screen or multiple monitors, but I’m not that much of a multitasker, and a lot of my most-used programs, like Lightroom, have singe-window interfaces. Now I can select, say. 25 images on a screen and still see enough detail to know which ones I want to keep and which are b-list.

Anyway, for my fellow geeks out there, here are some unboxing shots.

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Top of the box. Not too many cables — if you’re looking for an HDMI connection, you might want to try another model.

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The cables, together.

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I assure you that’s a normal-sized stove.

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I’ll be running it from my Macbook Pro until the new beast arrives.

For the photography-geeks out there, those last two are also a lesson in how wide-angle perspective distortion can make objects look bigger or smaller.

Now with video

Facebook apparently isn’t playing nice yet with easy embedding, and not everyone has or wants an account, so here is my “What’s in My Bag?” video, safely embedded:

What's in My Bag?

I get asked this question a lot, but there is no one answer — cameras and lenses are tools, made for particular jobs. So I put together a little video showing how I prepare for some very different jobs. Check it out here!

Timoria and Bob: 2/28/09, Battery Gardens, NYC

View the slideshow of this wedding here!

(Also scroll to previous posts for more portraits of the bride.)

I feel sorry for any photographer who had to spend February 28 not shooting Timoria and Bob’s wedding. I knew I was in for something special after our engagement session, but when you walk in and see a congratulatory note from Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City author, you know you’re in for a fabulous time. What I loved best was that the wedding managed to be classy and extravagant, using the fantastic Battery Gardens, but was not stuffy at all. From belly dancers to guests getting down to a gaggle of adorable children, the wedding was warm and joyful throughout. I’ve said before that one of the unique things about wedding photography is that it’s the one sort of job where it actually matters how good your 500th-best photo was that day. Well, so much was going on here that I wish I could share that 500 and more.

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Getting-ready photos are almost always light and airy, with a lot of ambient light. I took a lot like that too, but wanted something more dramatic here, so I actually killed all ambient by going to 1/8000th of a second and, with the blessing of the make-up artist, worked in extremely tight with a small softbox.

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The groom, through the best man’s glasses

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You. Better. Work.

Believe it or not, I can actually do this move, though it’s been a while.

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The Dreaming Tree

Shot with “The Brenizer Method.” 30ish shots with the 85mm f/1.4 wide-open.