Man, I love an adventure! I have had some incredible experiences in my lifetime, and this is right up there with the best of them. Ashley & Garrett, you guys are the coolest – way beyond anything I could have imagined; still not as cool as Rachel & Jeje though. It was an honour to spend the past week in Jamaica together with you, your kids, and your family & friends – we had fun! It is going to be very difficult to express such an awesome experience and my hope is that these photographs repay your trust and faith in me. This. Is. Just. A. Preview. And YES Ash, I will be your BFF, so long as Garrett is ok with it. Boom!
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There was a good response after last weeks post giving some examples of how I’ve used the Fuji X100S mirrorless camera whilst photographing a wedding, so I thought I’d post a few more pictures. Again, these are mainly from the preparation and drinks reception, points in the day when I can take my time to concentrate on the composition and not worry too much about being ‘reactionary’. One of the things I love about using this tiny camera is the fast f/2.0 fixed 23mm lens. Because the sensor is smaller than a traditional 35mm DSLR, the equivalent focal length is 35mm, and the images have slightly more depth of field than a f/2.0 lens would have on it’s larger cousin. But for a camera this small, the shallow depth of field is still almost unique. I use that feature a lot in my compositions, framing the subject with natural elements, the depth of field drawing the viewers attention to the subject with less distraction…..
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There are lots of benefits of using the tiny and silent Fuji X100S to photograph a wedding. Although I mainly use Canon cameras through the wedding day, there are many great opportunities when this little camera is a better option for me. That’s usually when I want to get in close to my subjects without affecting their behaviour. Its small size, and silence is what’s most important here. But there have been small and quiet compact cameras around for a while now – what makes the Fuji different is the amazing clarity and image quality. These images fit in perfectly with those shot on the larger Canon SLR’s, and it’s pretty hard to distinguish between them in the finished set. To prove this point, all of these images were shot on the Fuji X100S. I’ve used the camera during the preparations as well as when doing the portrait session with the bride and groom. Also over the last year, I’ve been trying to put my heavy DSLR’s in the bag for an hour or so, and just mingle with the guests. The camera and sensor are versatile enough to be able to use it in more or less any lighting conditions, so I can concentrate on recognising great moments and the composition……
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I rarely do wedding shoots as paid jobs. Most of my wedding assignments are for close friends who has seen my work and are willing to give free rein to my “artistic” interpretations. My typical gear for the wedding assignments used to be 2 Canon DSLR, one mounted with a prime (85mm 1.8) and a Tamron 17-50 zoom. With the launch of Fuji X-system “rangefinder” like cameras, I started using these lightweight, versatile and discreet camera to complement my normal wedding rigs. My very first forage in the use of Fuji “X” system for wedding shoots started with the X100 coupled with a Canon 5DMk2 mounted with a 16-25 2.8. It was a church wedding for an ex-colleague of mine in a packed hall filled with guests and lots of kids. I enjoyed moments when I just pack my 5DMk2 into the bag and walk around with just the X100. The X100, looking like a small discreet toy camera makes me look like one of the many guests when shooting. During the wedding ceremony, the X100 with barely audible shutter sound, is my choice for capturing many wonderful moments. Were there parts when the X100 struggled? Yes, there are. At the end of the 6 hours shoot, I down to the last bar of my second battery. I have to remind myself not to chimp so as to conserve the battery life. The auto-focus, compared to my 5DMK2, is not as fast, but this can be overcome with anticipation and careful positioning……
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The Xpro-1 was has been my go to camera for personal use for some time now. While I have used it at several weddings over this past year I have not made it my main camera until this past weekend on Friday (10/18/2013). In my previous post at a wedding earlier this year I captured some incredible images and processed lightly in photoshop to Black and White. This time was a little different – I knew the capabilities of the camera. It has this amazing ability to capture a wider dynamic range and this being a very sunny day I wanted to see how it would do capturing a white gown in such a contrasty situation. I also wanted to compare the white balance to my Canon 5DIII captures. My findings and now general assumptions are that the Xpro-1 is able to capture a more natural white balance, low chromatic aberration at low F-stops and the ability to capture a wider dynamic range. I have also found that my thought process during most photos with this camera are a little more planned rather than the spur of the moment capture I am usually doing with the Canon’s. Composition is also a little more accurate as I love the ability to level the camera in the viewfinder…….
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The second of my three weddings in three days was the wedding photography at Botleys Mansion of Liz and Iain. The day started for me at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Teddington where a piper welcomed the guests into this lovely big church. Ceremony and congratulations completed, we took the 30 minute drive up to Botleys Mansion where, it has to be said, the weather was truly splendid – all day. Botleys Mansion is one of my favourite wedding venues and a popular on in Surrey too. On this day, Iain and Liz’s guests could explore the grounds and gardens before heading inside for some dinner and dancing……
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I’m probably not your typical wedding photographer and I only shoot a maximum of ten weddings a year. Wedding photography jobs used to be a substantial part of my paid work when I started out. I found out that I absolutely loved this challenging type of photography (and I still do) but only if I don’t shoot a ton of weddings. Wedding photography doesn’t mix very well with the family agenda if the rest of the family is into a 5 days of school/work + 2 days of weekend rhythm. It’s not just the often 14+ hours days, it’s also that I’m usually in recovery mode, the day after, thus being unavailable for the family for the whole weekend. A wedding is too important to shoot on experience alone in my opinion. If I shoot a wedding I want to give it my all and tell the story of this day to my very best ability. That means that it requires a lot of energy, an amount of energy that I can’t bring up weekend after weekend. I have some friends that are able to do this for 30 weddings a year and I really admire them for it but I just can’t do it. So that’s another reason why I don’t shoot more than 10 weddings a year. The final reason for the limited amount of weddings is that I need to do it my way. I probably turn down more potential wedding clients than I accept. I know that this may sound pretentious and arrogant but it isn’t. I want to do the best job that I possibly can, but that’s something I can only do with the right clients. I don’t care how they look or how expensive their wedding is but there needs to be a connection and a high degree of trust. So again, I’m probably not a typical wedding photographer and I don’t consider nor aspire to be an expert in this genre. But as I shot a wedding last weekend I thought I’d share with you how I approach a wedding in a series of blogposts. Let’s start of with the gear…..
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One thing I have always had the back of my mind is shooting a full wedding with an XE1 / Xpro1, fuji haven’t quite got there with the lens selection for me to really try this just yet but I can see the future fast approaching [56mm!]. The other day i got the chance to take on a second shooting job at a wedding in monmouth, fuji in hand I set out for some experimentation. I’ve mentioned second shooting on here before, that is being the second photographer at the wedding, this has several advantages and is great for learning and pushing the bar. Being the primary photographer you have certain commitments, that is a commitment to deliver a service and product that reflects your abilities, this leaves little room for experiments as after all it’s someones wedding day. I would never be so bold as to try out a new technique or piece of equipment until I was sure I had enough quality images to complete the assignment. This is where second shooting comes in, there is very little pressure and as such you can experiment and try new techniques, that if they fail or look unimpressive you haven’t jeopardised someones wedding photography. I was working along side Richard Walton, a photographer that I have worked with before, as always his energy and creativity shone through which is great to see. With Rich taking the posed shots and main photographs for the day I could try out some new ideas, the main one for this wedding being shooting with the Fuji XE1 exclusively. Ever since I started using the XE1 and 35mm 1.4 lens for wedding photography I have been confident of shooting an entire wedding with it, but also dreading letting go of the reach and comfort of my DSLR thus the reason for usually using them both. But at this wedding it was fuji all the way, and I am really pleased with the results. There were times I wished for more reach, faster focus and an optical viewfinder but being limited to one focal length and travelling light allowed my creativity to come through, I have to move much closer to people to fill the frame and compensate for the slightly sluggish autofocus of the XE1……..
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These bad boys did not let me down once! No focus problems, or anything. Not only did I get a lot of great shots with these, my shoulders and arms were just fine when I got home after the wedding reception. Earlier on my body would be a mess after shooting for a couple of hours with a Canon 1ds mark III, but now I could run around shooting and not feel a thing. I love the dual strap (cheap Q double strap from ebay) and u bought some new connecters, more in Black Rapid style, because the plates that comes with the Q strap are way to massive for the X-Pro1.
I thought that I got a lot of attention from the guests, when shooting with a huge Canon camera and a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, but no! – Try walking around with two of these beauties and you will see what attention is. Before when guest were asking and talking to me about my gear, they were like: “Oh, yeah… I got a Canon as well” (note: I had a Canon 1ds mark III, not some Rebel). Now guests were like: “What is that camera?! IT IS SO COOL!” Here I am thinking a black X-Pro1 is a stealthy camera…. it’s not! ….
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