6 Questions You Must Ask Your Wedding Photographer

6 Questions You Must Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Choosing the right wedding photographer is important.  After your wedding the only thing you’ll have other than memories will be the photos.  With all the expenses of the day, this one is arguably the most important.

For my wedding, one of my tasks was to choose the photographer.  I mostly decided based on photos I found online and really liked.  There were several great photographers that had actually done weddings at our venue, so it was easy to see how ours might come out. After finding a few photographers that were available and within budget, I came up with the following list of questions:

1.  Can I see a full wedding’s photos?

Photographers post only their best work online.  A full set of wedding photos will not look exactly like the small set that were hand selected for a website or social sharing.  Asking to see the whole wedding will show the total quality of the photos for an event.  It may be that only two or three photos turned out well from the wedding.  This is also a great time to see their technique in different scenarios.  Will your wedding be at night?  Ask to see a night wedding.  Can this photographer handle low light situations?  Mastering off camera flash isn’t easy for someone that normally shoots in natural light.  Would you be happy if this set of wedding photos is what was delivered to you?

2.  Are you insured?

You are going to want to make sure you are dealing with a professional, and that the professional is insured.  Insurance covers a wide variety of scenarios that rarely occur, but do happen.  Ask them about their contingency plans.  What happens if they get sick, have car trouble, or get hit by a bus the day of the wedding?  Pick someone that has an answer to these what-if scenarios.

3.  How many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer?

Experience is important.  A photographer may claim to have shot over 20 weddings, but this could have been done as a second shooter.  This experience is good, but you want to make sure your photographer has a good sense of timing, knows the shots to take, has experienced some challenges, and can manage their own second shooter.  The primary photographer is also generally in charge of the editing and handling the business/contract side.  A person with greater experience will also likely be more expensive.  If you’re looking to save money, choosing someone with less experience may be the way to go.  I would make sure that they have done at least 15 weddings as the primary.

4.  What are your deliverables?

You want to know what you are paying for.  Are you going to receive physical prints or digital images or both?  Can you make your own prints or do you need to buy them from the photographer?  Will the package include an engagement session?  These deliverables generally drive the price.

5.  What is the turnaround time on a final product?

You want to know when you’re going to receive your wedding photos.  A busy photographer can take a long time to go through and edit photos.  Don’t be shocked if a busy photographer says it will take 30 days.  You may prefer someone that can deliver them sooner, and will commit to two weeks instead of 4-6 for example.  If you do not ask, the photographer may take their time, and deliver the photos months after the event.

6.  Do you have backup equipment?

Backup equipment is required.  Equipment fails all the time, you want to make sure your photographer and their secondary shooters are covered in these cases.  Make sure they are going to bring multiple cameras, batteries, flashes, and memory cards.  Are they prepared for bad weather if it occurs?

 

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Capture One Revisited

In a previous post, I made a comparison between Adobe Creative Cloud and Capture One. In this post, I came to the conclusion that Adobe is still a necessary evil. Recently, Capture One just announced a 50% price increase.

The one redeeming quality of Capture One was that the price point was slightly less than Adobe. This has now been taken away, and it’s clear that this is no longer a viable option. Let’s hope for a new challenger!

Castlewood Canyon Dam

Castlewood Canyon Dam

CRUMBLING AWAY IN A VERDANT state park, the ruins of the old Castlewood Canyon Dam hardly looks like the remains of a sturdy industrial water wall that released a torrential flood on the surrounding area when it finally broke. Built in 1890 and leaking for years after that, the Castlewood Canyon dam collapsed on August 3, 1933. A storm raged on that day, filling the dam’s reservoir to bursting. When the crumbling stone barrier finally failed, over a billion gallons of water were released, traveling over 40 miles of surrounding wilderness before eventually flooding Denver. Huge logs were floated through train stations, bridges were washed away, and by the end of the torrent, the whole city was sitting in four feet of water. Luckily (and tragically) only one person was killed, but the property damage of the catastrophe was immeasurable. While it was likely just age and a lack of maintenance that caused the dam to give way, some residents who still remember the disaster claim that it could have been the local muskrat population effecting the integrity of the dam. No matter the cause, the ruins of the dam remain in Castlewood Canyon State Park. Either side of the structure still remains and the track through which the water broke through is now a dry, grassy thoroughfare. Source: Atlas Obscura

Jupiter and Saturn Conjunction

Jupiter and Saturn Conjunction

Today is the day for the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. They will appear to be close together in the sky, the closest they’ve been in 397 years. Here are some tips to photograph it tonight (source: NASA):

General tips

  • Jupiter and Saturn will appear brighter than nearly every star. They can be seen easily from large cities, and dark sites.
  • Dark skies will allow you to see fainter stars, but Jupiter and Saturn are bright enough that you don’t necessarily need to go to a dark site to take compelling photos of them. If you have a clear view toward the southwest, you have the chance to take some great photos.
  • Think about composition. Jupiter and Saturn will just appear as points of light. To make your photo more interesting, try to frame the planets with something – the silhouette of a tree, an outdoor landscape, the arch of a building, or even a neon sign.
  • Experiment with both wide-angle and telephoto shots. In early December, the two planets will be about 2 degrees apart, and will get progressively close toward December 21. In order to show them clearly in your photos, you might use a wide-angle composition early in December, and zoom in later in the month as they get closer.
  • Be sure to go outside on a few different nights, and see how their separation changes.
  • Using a tripod will help you hold your camera steady while taking longer exposures. If you don’t have a tripod, brace your camera against something – a tree, a fence, or a car can all serve as a tripod for a several-second exposure.
  • These planets are visible in early evening, and you’ll have about 1-2 hours from when they are visible, to when they set. The color and intensity of the sky changes during that time. Stay out for an hour or more, and try to capture shots with both the bright colors of sunset, and the darkness of the oncoming night. A photo from the same location can look completely different just an hour later!
  • The crescent moon will pass near Jupiter and Saturn a few days before the conjunction. Take advantage of it in your composition!

Tips if using a cell phone camera

  • Jupiter and Saturn will be bright enough to detect in many cell phone cameras. You won’t see additional detail by zooming in, but you can frame Jupiter and Saturn creatively.
  • Some recent cell phones have a ‘night mode,’ which will automatically stabilize a long-exposure, even without using a tripod. This can be great for capturing the dark foreground of your photo. Some phones will let you use ‘night mode’ on exposures up to 30 seconds, if you also use a tripod.
  • Many cell phones have a wide-angle lens. Try using this to place a subject in the foreground, with Jupiter and Saturn above them.
  • At the time of conjunction on December 21, Jupiter and Saturn may be too close to separate clearly in your photos. Images taken a few days before or after the conjunction may show them more clearly.

Tips if using a DSLR camera

  • Set your focus to Infinity (Manual Focus mode), so the planets will be sharp. Set your aperture wide open, to let in the maximum amount of light.
  • If you have a tripod, it will help you take long exposures. If not, you can still take some great pictures with a short shutter speed (< 1/4 second). If your camera or lens has an image stabilizer, be sure it is turned on.
  • If your photos show that the camera is not steady, shorten your shutter speed. You can also use a photographers’ trick to get a sharp photo when hand-holding: set up your camera to take multiple exposures, then hold the shutter button to take a series of photos. While some will be blurry due to camera shake, you may find a few that are sharp.
  • If you use a 200 mm telephoto lens, you should be able to see Jupiter’s four bright moons in a short exposure. Saturn’s rings will usually need a longer lens or a telescope in order to resolve clearly.
  • To capture Jupiter and Saturn as sharp ‘points’ while using a tripod, use a shutter speed of up to a few seconds. More than this and the Earth’s rotation will smear out the planets and stars. If you are using a wide-angle lens, you can use a longer exposure.

The weather locally looks great, so I’m hoping to get out for some pictures or to at least see the event.

Portraits without Faces

Tommy and Mario

500px is running a quest this month with the theme of “Portraits without Faces”. This is an interesting quest, and I just happened to have this picture available from a recent photo shoot we did in Denver. The quest brief is described as, “Not all portraits need faces! Not focusing on the face can open up a new dimension of interpretation while still allowing the view to capture the personality or mood of the subject.” The quest goes until January 8, 2021. One winner will receive a prize of $200.

6 Questions You Must Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Choosing the right wedding photographer is important.  After your wedding the only thing you’ll have other than memories will be the photos.  With all the expenses of the day, this one is arguably the most important.

For my wedding, one of my tasks was to choose the photographer.  I mostly decided based on photos I found online and really liked.  There were several great photographers that had actually done weddings at our venue, so it was easy to see how ours might come out. After finding a few photographers that were available and within budget, I came up with the following list of questions:

1.  Can I see a full wedding’s photos?

Photographers post only their best work online.  A full set of wedding photos will not look exactly like the small set that were hand selected for a website or social sharing.  Asking to see the whole wedding will show the total quality of the photos for an event.  It may be that only two or three photos turned out well from the wedding.  This is also a great time to see their technique in different scenarios.  Will your wedding be at night?  Ask to see a night wedding.  Can this photographer handle low light situations?  Mastering off camera flash isn’t easy for someone that normally shoots in natural light.  Would you be happy if this set of wedding photos is what was delivered to you?

2.  Are you insured?

You are going to want to make sure you are dealing with a professional, and that the professional is insured.  Insurance covers a wide variety of scenarios that rarely occur, but do happen.  Ask them about their contingency plans.  What happens if they get sick, have car trouble, or get hit by a bus the day of the wedding?  Pick someone that has an answer to these what-if scenarios.

3.  How many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer?

Experience is important.  A photographer may claim to have shot over 20 weddings, but this could have been done as a second shooter.  This experience is good, but you want to make sure your photographer has a good sense of timing, knows the shots to take, has experienced some challenges, and can manage their own second shooter.  The primary photographer is also generally in charge of the editing and handling the business/contract side.  A person with greater experience will also likely be more expensive.  If you’re looking to save money, choosing someone with less experience may be the way to go.  I would make sure that they have done at least 15 weddings as the primary.

4.  What are your deliverables?

You want to know what you are paying for.  Are you going to receive physical prints or digital images or both?  Can you make your own prints or do you need to buy them from the photographer?  Will the package include an engagement session?  These deliverables generally drive the price.

5.  What is the turnaround time on a final product?

You want to know when you’re going to receive your wedding photos.  A busy photographer can take a long time to go through and edit photos.  Don’t be shocked if a busy photographer says it will take 30 days.  You may prefer someone that can deliver them sooner, and will commit to two weeks instead of 4-6 for example.  If you do not ask, the photographer may take their time, and deliver the photos months after the event.

6.  Do you have backup equipment?

Backup equipment is required.  Equipment fails all the time, you want to make sure your photographer and their secondary shooters are covered in these cases.  Make sure they are going to bring multiple cameras, batteries, flashes, and memory cards.  Are they prepared for bad weather if it occurs?

 

2016 – Year in Review with Photos

I originally had the idea to post my top 10 photos of the year after listening to an Improve Photography podcast about the subject.  The purpose is to post your top 10 photos each year, and see how you are progressing, or potentially regressing as a photographer.  Instead of a top 10, I will do a top 12 and provide my best photo that was taken in a given month.  I may go back and do previous years as well.

This year, due to the arrival of my son, I haven’t had as much time to go out and shoot.  Outside of a trip I was able to make over the summer, I haven’t really had any personal time.

January

Abandonded Building
Egli House — Commerce City, CO

Egli House is an interesting abandonded building at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  The Arsenal is a wildlife refuge just north of Denver.  The best part of the refuge is the free admission.  The visitor center is new and worth stopping in.  I took this photo on a cold cloudy January morning.

February

Welding
A Welder at the Colorado Railroad Museum — Golden, CO

This photo is of a volunteer worker welding something at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO.  My brother-in-law worked here for a while and was able to give a behind the scenes tour.  I really like all the different lines in this photo.

March

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Tommy — Littleton, CO

Tommy was born at the end of March.  I took this photo when he was 12-hours-old.  I have tons of other pictures/videos from this time.  These are some of the most backed up files I have.

April

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Overpriced Beer and Rockies Dog at Coors Field — Denver, CO

My parents flew out to meet Tommy in early April.  My dad and I were able to catch a baseball game between the Padres and Rockies on April 10.  The game was pretty good for the Rockies.  There were back to back home runs for Car Go and Arenado in the first inning.  This was also at the time where Trevor Story was hitting home runs at a ridiculous rate.  He hit a home run in this game well.  This was a rare Rockies game that was worth the price of admission.

May

overnight-1
Coke Ovens — Redstone, CO

In May, we attended a family wedding in Redstone, CO.  This whole area is my favorite in the state.  It is our go-to place for vacationing in the mountains.  This was also our first family vacation.  The photo shows coke ovens, which are alongside the major road that goes from Carbondale to McClure Pass.  These ovens were used in the production of coke fuel from the coal in the area.

June

Jefferson Vegetable Garden
The Vegetable Garden at Monticello — Charlottesville, VA

This was taken during a trip to the east coast at the end of June.  I have always wanted to take the tour of Monticello.  These gardens were the inspiration for my own “Jefferson Garden” at home.  There will be more on that in later blog posts.

July

Dark Hallow Falls
Dark Hallow Falls — Shenandoah National Park, VA

This was one of two hikes I was able to do with limited time in Shenandoah.  There were lots of pictures to choose from in July.  Hopefully the others make it on this site.

August

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13th Hole @ Arrowhead Golf Course — Littleton, CO

Arrowhead is easily the nicest course I have ever played.  I was able to play this course at a decent price as part of a work golf tournament.  I didn’t want to play this hole long, so my tee shot ended up short of the green.  In the past, this area was full of brush/rattlesnake habitat.  Recently, they decided to open up that area and make it into lower cut rough.

September

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Georgetown Loop Railroad — Georgetown, CO

In September, we took a trip up to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

October

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Tommy — Littleton, CO

This was Tommy’s halloween costume.

November

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Hot Air Balloon — Littleton, CO

This shot is of an unusual hot air balloon over Chatfield State park in Littleton, CO

December

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Tommy at Christmas — Littleton, CO

This is one of the photos I took of Tommy for the purpose of Christmas cards.

 

In 2016, I didn’t have the best photos, but had some of the best memories.  I hope that I’ll get some personal time to do some more landscape/nature photography in 2017.  There will definitely be lots of pictures of Tommy as he grows up.  Also, in 2017, I will be getting in to Aerial Photography/Videography.  More on that in later posts.  Happy New Year!

While writing this, I found a few photos that were just outside the month boundary.  If it was within a couple of days, I was ok placing them in the wrong month.

Going Mirrorless

The Reason(s)

I made the switch from mirrored to mirrorless one year ago.  As a non professional, the transition for me was based mostly on use of the system. I found that my camera bag was incredibly heavy and too bulky to use.  I had been looking into trying out a mirrorless system since more and more people had been converting.  I saw some amazing shots on the mirrorless system.  Finally, after a recent trip to Mexico, where I decided it was too much of a hassle to bring my gear… I knew it was time to make a change.

My canon gear consisted of the following:

  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon EF 40mm f/2.8

This represents a large, for me, investment in the Canon system.

This bag was heavy.  Very capable, but a pain to carry around hiking and traveling in general.  I was basically using my cell phone for taking pictures in both of these situations that I most likely found myself in.

I decided on keeping my older Cannon Rebel T2i body with 2 EF-S lenses (kit lens and the 55-250mm).  These are worth almost nothing in trade, but still have some capability if I want to use a DSLR in the future.  It will also work as a good spare or primary camera if I can convince my wife to go out shooting with me.  I have managed to do this twice in the last five years.

The Trade

I traded my cannon gear at my local brick and mortar for the Fujifilm XT-10 and comparable lenses.  I chose the brick and mortar, because its a good shop with good people, I feel good supporting small business, and I was able to get a good value in trade.  I could have done a bit better if sold things online, but I preferred to get things done quickly with a lot less hassle.

I chose the X-T10 since it had the same functionality of the X-T1, including the exact same sensor at a fraction of the price.  I do miss the weather sealing, but I rarely use electronics in the rain, even my IP68 Samsung Galaxy S7.  Over the summer I was caught in a very intense thunderstorm while hiking in Shenandoah.  The camera survived.

With the trade I was able to get a brand new camera and the lenses to cover me from 10-200mm. For the above cannon gear, I was able to trade for the following:

  • Fujifilm X-T10 (new)
  • Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4
  • Fujifilm 18-55mm f/2.8-4 (new)
  • Fujifilm 55-200mm f/3.5 – 4.8
  • Battery Charger (new)
  • 2x Batteries (new)
  • $300 credit towards a prime

Snip20151230_5

The Results

Since day one, I’ve been happy with the trade.  I have carried the camera around a lot more than my previous one.  My camera bag dropped it’s weight in roughly half.  It went from 8lbs 2oz (3680g) down to 3lb 11oz(4lb 60z (1693 g).  This is significant, and a lot easier to take around.  With the exception of the telephoto, which I only use rarely, any configuration of body/lens with the Fuji weighs less than my Cannon 5dm2 body alone.

I have also picked two additional lenses. The Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4 and Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 (effectively 35mm and 50mm primes).  One of the bonuses of switching to Fuji is the price of lenses.  The equivalent Cannon lens (35mm f/1.4) goes for around $1000.  This may be an apples and oranges scenario, but from my experience these Fuji lenses are sharp.  Here is an interesting comparison of the two.  In general Fuji gear (bodies/lenses) are roughly 65% of the price of the Cannon equivalent.  For someone like myself, a non-pro with a family on a budget, it’s nice having an option of purchasing high quality gear.

With the new camera, I have been able to take a lot shots that I have been proud of this year.  Here are just a few of them:

In short, I traded a very capable camera for another very capable camera that I will have on me more often.  As the technology changes, I feel like I’m in a system where the future cost of upgrade is a lot more comfortable.

Stop Apple Photos from auto launching

Stop Apple Photos from auto launching

Like many other people that use OS X, I have been annoyed by the auto launching of Apple Photos since the recent update.  I use Lightroom to manage my photos, and hate having to close down Apple Photos each time I insert a SD card into my computer.  I found a great workaround here.

Simply open a terminal and enter:

defaults -currentHost write com.apple.ImageCapture disableHotPlug -bool YES

Problem solved.

Connecticut Trip

I took a recent trip to Connecticut.  The main purpose was to visit with family and friends for the holidays, but I also ended up doing some exploring around New England. Most landscapes in New England are a lot more impressive during the Summer and Fall seasons.  There still are a few interesting locations to see during the winter.  Here are some photos from the trip.

I’m still trying to work out the overall theme of this site.  I think the majority of content will be related to photography.  I may also add a few posts at random that are off topic, but are things that interest me.

With 2015 coming to a close, I have had some interest in starting a 365 project in the new year.  I know I won’t have the discipline to last more than a week or two, so I may aim slightly lower, or to at least have the goal of shooting at least once a week.  I have a large backlog of topics I’d like to post about here, just need to find some time.  In between, I might post links to recent images and provide some back story on the location and the thought process to how the image was created.