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Archive for August, 2010

What the bouquet!?!

August 25th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Style

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A bit ago, Andree & I were driving to a wedding we were shooting together, discussing some of the traditions we tend to see at our weddings. The white gown, the cake, the first dance, where did they originate, why do they continue to exist & stand the test of time?
One of the traditions we spoke about were the flowers, more specifically, the bouquet.

Why the bundles of colorful flowers for the bride & her gals, what’s the reasoning behind it?
Well, I did a little reading to find out the why.

The history of the bouquet began many moons ago, like set your way back machine to way way way back.

In ancient Greece & Rome, the couple would wear a garland about their necks as a symbol of new life, fertility and hope. Celtic tradition (rah rah!) found use of thistle, ivy & heather in their arrangements. The garlands were a combination of strong smelling herbs & spices, meant to ward off evil spirits & thought to contain mystical powers.

Eventually the tradition of using only herbs & spices transitioned into incorporating other flowers, especially those of the edible variety. Dill, known as the herb of lust, was to be eaten by the couple and their wedding guests at the reception, the herb was meant to increase sexual desire. Me-yow.

Around the Victorian time, flowers were being used based on their significant meanings, creating bouquets of secret messages. Back in the day, it wasn’t proper to blurt out how you felt about Candy, the lovely lass that volunteered at your local library. Sure, you might want to say ‘Candy, you look so sweet you’re giving me a toothache!‘, yet in those days, that would be frowned upon.

In come the flowers, let them do the flirting .. I mean, talking!

Roses are quite well known to be a great symbol for love, it was said that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, presented a rose to Eros, the god of love. Roses aren’t the only flowers infused with that lovin’ feelin’. Sunflowers (one of my favorites) their faces always to the sun, symbolize longevity and pure love. Where as the Daisy is seen by Roman Catholics as a symbol for the Virgin Mary and a love that conquers all. Sprigs of ivy can be translated as a lifetime of wedded love ahead. The four leaf clover, the elusive little flower, represents faith, hope, love and luck. Passing it onto a beloved tells them that good luck abounds and if accepted, means you belong together. (Silly side note about me: I have found handfuls of four leaf clovers since childhood. I have a knack for finding them.)

Current trends now lean more towards flower combinations that fit within a couple’s theme, using flowers to bring that pop of bright color into the wedding. Some couples may have given their own personal meaning to a particular flower, maybe it was the one presented on the first date, maybe it was in the garden where they first kissed. I adore knowing the meanings behind traditions, yet I also love infusing traditions with your own unique personal spin.

Whatever your choice, it’s fun knowing where & how some of these traditions came about. Do you have anything to add? Feel free to comment away!

Flower on

Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you” ~ Richard Brinsely Sheridan

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Cat in the Box

August 21st, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Play

More proof that cat toys are a waste of money.

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Fire it Up! (or the art of shooting fireworks at weddings)

August 17th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

I LOVE fireworks.  My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July and a good fireworks display can stop me dead in my tracks.  So I find it incredibly fortuitous that approximately half of my forty weddings per year involve pyrotechnics!  I guess my clients love fireworks just as much as I do, and it’s just another reason that I absolutely adore my couples!

One of the questions I am often asked is how to photograph fireworks when you are trying to include the couple in the frame.  Now, there is more than one way to skin a cat and there are certainly a lot of ways that you can capture great photographs of fireworks at a wedding, but this week I am going to tell you how I do it.

First, it is important to understand that not all fireworks displays are created equal.  When you find out that there are going to be fireworks at your wedding, there are some very important questions that you need to ask.  Where are they lighting the fireworks and in what direction are they planning to shoot them?  How long will the show last, or (even better) how many are they planning to light?   Where is the closest spot that the couple can stand?  Maine, like many states, has very strict laws governing the use of fireworks and there will be a clear line that may not be crossed legally.

Next, you will need to make some observations.  Which way is the wind blowing and how hard?  If it is really windy, this may affect the accuracy of the placement.  In that case, you may need to choose a spot for your couple that gives you more flexibility to move and frame them.  How much moisture is in the air?  If it is humid or foggy, the light will bounce off of the moisture in the air creating an interesting effect and giving you more available light to play with.  How close will the couple be standing to a light source?  If they are near a building, lamp, or a video light it will affect your exposure and how you balance the light on the couple with the light from the fireworks.

Finally, I prepare my couple for the display.  I tell them that I will be shooting at a low shutter speed and I ask them to remain still (hugging each other, of course) for at least a few moments during the display.

Okay- now for some of my favorite fireworks photographs from this year (I will follow it up with an explanation of the camera settings and camera/lenses used):

Fireworks in Maine

Most of the time my favorite fireworks photographs include no additional lighting.  I love shooting fireworks with the light given off from the fireworks themselves and from any additional light sources that are close to the couple (the venue, for example).  However, because the fireworks may end up (due to wind or poor placement) farther away from the couple than is ideal for providing the right amount of light, I always have my flash mounted on my camera and I will take at least half with my flash as well.  I have enabled one of the function buttons on the front of my camera to disable my flash so that I don’t have to bother turning my flash on and off- I just hold the button down and the flash will not fire.  The photographs in the top two rows were taken with existing/available light while the photographs in the bottom row were taken with a flash firing.  They provide very different looks, so it all comes down to preference.  I prefer the photographs in the top two rows, but I like to provide my couples with a variety (and occasionally I will surprise myself and like one of the flash photographs better, too).

I shoot with the Nikon D3s, so I am very happy with the camera’s files at 6400 and I set my camera’s ISO to 6400 for the fireworks display.  I use my 14-24 2.8 because I usually shoot fireworks in the 18mm range and I like the flexibility that the zoom offers.  (This is actually the only zoom I use, and I bought it specifically to use for fireworks and sparkler displays although it has crept into regular reception use now as well.)

When I am photographing the fireworks without a flash, I generally shoot at 1/8 of a second at 2.8.  I’m comfortable holding my camera steady at 1/8 of a second at 18mm, but you will definitely want to test yourself before you try it out on a job.  When I am photographing the fireworks with a flash I try to bounce it behind me (onto a building or tent or even a person standing there) to provide some directional light.  Occasionally nothing with be available and I will point the flash up with a white card (to provide a tiny amount of light bouncing forward).  With the flash on I often photograph at 1/25 of a second at 2.8 with my flash on manual.

Obviously those settings are where I start and I take some test shots prior to the start of the display and adjust once the fireworks start if need be.

Post by Maine Wedding Photographer Michelle Turner.

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Build a Better Mousetrap?

August 14th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Play

Naw, just use better cheese as bait!

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Get Your Color Right with the ColorRight Tool!

August 11th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

Back in the day you would shoot your event, drop off your film, and pick it up from the pro lab.  The lab would individually correct each photo to ensure accurate and consistent color.  Or so I’ve been told…

I began with digital, and one of the things that I have struggled with is how to get accurate and consistent color in the digital “darkroom”.  With the auto white balance settings of most modern cameras easily fooled by scenes with artificial light, I spent hours fiddling with the white balance sliders trying to correct for the camera’s skewed vision.  I needed something that would make color correction quick and easy.

That’s when I found the ColorRight Max tool.  The ColorRight Max disc is two tools in one.  The first tool allows you to take the white balance from a scene the way that traditional white balance tools work.  Simply take a shot with the disc held up to your camera lens, and use the shot to set the custom white balance on your camera.  Flip the ColorRight over, however, and you find a white balance target a variety of colors that allow you to choose from 8 different white balance zones to suit your preferences.

I use the ColorRight as a white balance target.  During a shoot, I leave the camera on the Auto White Balance setting.  Whenever I move into an area with different lighting, I shoot the ColorRight target.  With its quick release lanyard, it’s a cinch to take it from around my neck and move it into the frame.  It takes 5 seconds.  Then, when I’m processing the photos, I use the eyedropper tool in my RAW  processing software to select the zone in the target frame that gives me the color that I want.  Unlike other white balance tools, the different zones of the ColorRight tool allow me to process the photos with a slightly warmer than neutral skintone that I prefer.  It’s that easy!

On a portrait shoot, I ask the client to hold the ColorRight while I shoot a test frame.

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Then, in my RAW processing software, I use the eyedropper tool to select from the 8 different white balance zones:

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Compared to the Auto White Balance setting of my Canon camera:

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At a wedding, I have to deal with multiple types of light throughout the day.  Five seconds with the ColorRight in each of these settings yields accurate, consistent color that is easy to achieve.  Where the ColorRight really shines for me is in the too-warm artificial light that you find in most household lamps.

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I’m a big fan of tools that help me spend less time in front of my computer.  That means I’m a big fan of the ColoRight tool.  The one small knock I have against the tool is that it is made of thin glass, as I found out when mine shattered in my camera bag.

Despite the early demise of mine, I still wholeheartedly recommend the ColoRight Max.  I bought mine from the ColorRight website: http://www.colorright.com/

–Jamison Wexler

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What up dog?

August 7th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Play

Sadly, this dog is a better dancer than I.

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City Wedding Style

August 3rd, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Style

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No words, just a collection of photographs that convey the style of a city wedding to me.

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