Monday, February 15, 2010

Aileen's Bridals

Our friend Aileen is back in the United States and will be getting married on March 27th. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to try shooting bridal portraits for the first time.

I primarily used my 24-105 f/4L IS USM on my 40D body. I also used a Canon 580EX II remotely triggered using Paul C Buff's CyberSyncs through a 45" Wescott umbrella.

Our original intention was to shoot at the Rock Canyon Amphitheater in Provo, but as Saturday got closer, the worse the weather forecast became, so Mushna made reservations at the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City.

You can see the full set here:

Here are a few I've selected:

Aileen's Bridals

Aileen's Bridals

Aileen's Bridals

Aileen's Bridals

Aileen's Bridals

Aileen's Bridals

A few things I learned from this experience:

- Never trust your LCD screen for sharpness. Shots that look like their in focus, will turn out blurry. I prepared for this inevitability by making sure I captured a lot of shots for each pose before moving on.

- Shoot a lot of shots. As mentioned above, if you're at least somewhat knowledgeable about what you're doing, then you should get at least one (or more) good shots from the bunch to work with.

- Don't delete anything on the camera. Wait until you can get a good look at the photos before you begin making deletions. If a pose or something wasn't perfect, you might still end up using it if it's the only one that's workable. To me, using something you may have disregarded on the LCD screen because it appeared to be not-quite-right is better than losing the entire set from that pose/location, etc...

- Have an assistant. Mushna was a big help during the shoot. I was focusing a lot on making sure shots turned out okay from a technical aspect while Mushna was making sure the dress and stuff was sitting just right for each shot. She was able to watch out for the little things I didn't notice. It also helps having a female assistant who's mindful of such things.

- Noise Ninja is an awesome product. My 40D handles noise pretty well, but Noise Ninja is a big help in smoothing out what is in there. The pro version is only $80, so having it as a Photoshop add-on for me is a no-brainer. If you're interested, here is a before and after photo using the 40D noise profile for 3200 ISO. I wanted to test the most extreme case my camera could produce, low light and the highest ISO possible. The JPEG was output from Adobe Camera RAW, and run through the Noise Ninja filter. No additional smoothing or edits were made besides loading and applying the filter. You can click on it to view the image in it's original size:

Before and After Noise Ninja Test

While this isn't the end-all, be-all test, I think it does a good job of showing what the product is capable of doing in a user-friendly format as well as a very small amount of time (this took about one minute to load and apply). I can edit/adjust further if needed by tweaking settings inside the program.

If I had it all over to do again, there are a few things I think I would have changed or done differently. Part of this was the fact that we only had an hour of time at the Capitol building reserved, so I didn't know how much we'd be able to shoot before we were intruding on another photographer's time and space. That left time for getting shots and little else.

- Pull out the second light and snoot it for a hair light. Aileen's hair is black and in a lot of cases, I didn't get as much detail. The shots still turned out well, but a hair light would have helped.

- More variety of the location of the flowers. There were only a couple shots where the flowers weren't in the same spot.

- More head shot type portraits with my 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM. Having my lights and such a good venue to shoot in could have provided some good portraits, but I was mainly focused on getting the dress.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and great experience. With experience comes knowledge and the ability to focus on more important things.

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