I did another couple portrait shoot in DUMBO, Brooklyn in early November. It turned out to be a gorgeous day out after rescheduling the shoot a few times due to weather and scheduling issues. DUMBO is such a great location for getting that classy NY look to your portraits. Wether you are on Washington Street at the famous scene of Once Upon A Time In America, a movie starring Robert De Niro, or on Plymouth Street with the view of the impressive Brooklyn Bridge in the background, there is no doubt that DUMBO is one of the most spectacular locations for NYC portraits. On the day of our photo shoot there was a considerable amount of construction work going on in various streets, but by carefully framing the photos and using shallow depth of field to our advantage we were still able to get satisfying results. This is why I love my Canon telephoto zoom lens; it allows me quickly to zoom in and out to crop the shots to my liking without running back and forth. It also allows me to shoot from a comfortable distance relative to my clients, which encourages them to interact more freely by keeping my lens out of their personal space. There are moments though when I find the wide angle lens irreplaceable; like when I want to include that stunning Manhattan landscape in the shot with my clients. This kind of a shot really gives a sense of location and space. After all, if you only want to have stunning shots of your clients, you might as well be shooting in the studio. Wide angle lens gives you both, a sort of cityscape-portrait. But you do need to use extra caution when shooting portraits with the wide angle lens due to the fact that it distort the proportions at the edges of the lens. Ladies love it when a wide angle lens makes their feet look longer than they actually are, but not so much when the lens stretches their shoulders or face out of proportion. But when correctly handled, wide angle is a great gadget in a photographers box of tricks. In addition I used two off-camera Canon Speedlites, which my lighting assistant held in a extendable boom arm with an shoot-through umbrella, to give a little extra punch to the photos in the shady streets of DUMBO.
After about two hours of shooting in DUMBO we walked up to the Brooklyn Bridge and did another session up there. On any given day the Bridge can get crowded by tourists as well as local bicyclists who don’t look favorably on pedestrians wondering on the biker lane, so take extra precautions when walking and working in that environment. But if you and your clients can weather it, you will be rewarded with some stunning and uniquely NY portraits. In addition to the regular hassle, we got literally swarmed by about a hundred school students this time. At first it seemed it was a bit too crowded to get any decent shots but thanks to my Canon telephoto zoom lens I was able to frame the shots tightly so as not to have any unwanted distractions in them. Also my clients ended up loving the few shots that had some Jewish school students in them:) Shooting outdoors in NYC is always unpredictable and in my opinion the best strategy is to go with the flow and try to use any random distractions to your advantage. After all, its all a part of living in this wonderfully crazy city. Its like Taylor Swift sings in Welcome To New York, “Like any great love, it keeps you guessing. Like any real love, it’s ever changing. Like any true love, it drives you crazy. But you know you wouldn’t change anything, anything, anything… Welcome to New York.” And this is why we all love (and sometimes hate) this city so passionately.
I had a great time shooting the wedding of Andrew and Lymarie in Connecticut. The day before the wedding it was pouring rain all day, which made everyone a bit nervous since the reception was outdoors at the beautiful grounds of the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield, CT. But to everyone’s relief the wedding day turned out to be a perfectly beautiful, sunny day. As usual, I used my Canon 5D Mark iii for all of the shots and my assistant had a Canon 6D. Having an assistant is a great asset and allows us to capture the action from two angles simultaneously. This is especially helpful during the reception but also during the portrait session when the second camera man can also help out as a lighting assistant. I find that the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is wonderfully versatile and covers most of my needs for the fast moving and at times chaotic wedding photography. Its long range comes especially handy during wedding ceremony when you need to get those intimate close ups without getting in anyone’s way. The other lens that I find irreplaceable for weddings is my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. This wide angle is especially helpful for the “getting ready” shoots which often take place in a considerably restricted environment, such as hotel rooms etc. The wide angle is also priceless for the reception where you might want to get more of the action in your pictures.
Prior to the wedding we did a post-wedding portrait shoot with the wedding party in a nearby park. There were some large trees nearby that provided deep shadow for the wedding party which is normally a positive thing as you don’t want your wedding party standing in the hard midday light with a lot of shadows cast on their faces. The challenge we had in this particular scenario was that the beautiful, natural backdrop was completely exposed by the hard midday sun. As a photographer you have to be careful to not to allow your camera to set the exposure for the bright backlight as this would cause the wedding party to be underexposed. On the other hand if you expose for the shadows you risk overexposing and loosing all the detail of the beautiful background. To help compensate for the bright back light I had my assistant use a large, 6′ x 4′ Lastolite reflector to throw in some fill light for the wedding party. This can be tricky at times partly because of the large size of the reflector and partly because some people’s eyes can be very sensitive to the reflected sunlight. The trick is to do it fast and to break it up every minute or so. Also it can be a challenge to get even light for a group as large as I had here, a total of 16 persons. You can also have the couple look away from the reflector, as I did in this shot.
Often a lot of action takes place during the more relaxed atmosphere at the reception. This is an opportunity for some real fun, memorable, candid moments. At the same time, the reception can be a real challenge as far as good lighting goes. This is were those speedlites come in real handy. In this particular occasion the wedding party loved to rock the dance floor and I had fun capturing all of the fun. As I was shooting with the wide angle lens I needed to mix and mingle with the wedding party in order to really capture the joy and exuberance at this party. I used the second curtain sync option available in Canon’s speedlites to create fun light trails from the colorful lights illuminating the dance floor. I also use Canon’s Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT which allows me to hold the speedlite (with a dome diffuser) off camera in my left hand while holding the camera and shooting with my right hand.
After the ceremony I shot a few quick portraits in the golden light of the setting sun. The narrow time frame between the wedding ceremony and the reception can easily make for one hectic portrait shoot. My recommendation therefore is to take the portraits before the reception if possible, or even day before the wedding. However in this case the ceremony ended just before the “golden hour,” which left us less than 60 minutes to get some fantastic portraits before it was completely dark. With the help of my assistant I used a three Canon 600EX-RT speedlite setup to provide fill light for the couple while retaining the beautiful colors of the sunset in the background.
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