Category: Photographers     View all recent posts

Nov 5 2014 Nikon Behind the Scenes Video #1-Philadelphia Wedding Photographer

I've been a professional photographer now for 33 years. Yeah, it's a long time. Insert age joke here(I'm still kickin it out week after week). One of the things I'm most proud of in my career is my relationship with the Nikon corporation and my involvement with the Nikon Ambassador program. Recently, I had the honor of being featured by Nikon USA in their latest Nikon Behind the Scenes video series. This particular video deals with what ALL wedding photographers deal with.... shooting in harsh light. We can't choose the time of day, we often can't choose our locations. It's a very common thing for the portrait session to take place at 2 or 3pm in the summertime when the light is extremely unforgiving, and unflattering. I'm often asked by brides and photographers alike "how do you deal with this". 
This video will demonstrate a very simple way to turn "bad" light into "good" light. A HUGE thanks to fellow Nikon Ambassador Corey Rich and his team for the production of the series, and to my buddy, Mike Corrado for his levity and advice. I'd also like to give a shout to our models, Dean Gravinese, Sara LaPrincesa Viteri, and especially Veronica Lane who worked their butts off on these videos. Also, a huge thank you to B├ęke Beau for making the models look great, and for making me look, well, as good as I can look! I hope this video helps some people deal with this common issue!  
To future brides viewing this, it's important to understand what challenges your photographer will face, and then how those challenges will be overcome. There will be 4 more videos dealing with some common issues we face as wedding photographers released in the coming months. I hope they give you an idea of how I'd deal with them.  

Oct 20 2014 Alien Skin's Exposure 6 software Discount Code

Many people know that I have a tendency to shy away from heavily photoshopped, over processed images. This is completely true. I'm not a fan of going beyond what the image actually looked like. Sure, we'll tweak it here and there, retouch a few things, and even add a vignette to an image to bring the eye to the subject. Every once in a while, my studio manager, or I, will take a bit of creative license and enhance a portrait when it makes sense to do so.  
We've been using Alien Skin's Exposure 6 software for a while now, and we find it to be a tremendous complement to our workflow. It doesn't promise to "save" an image. I've been quoted as saying "there is no un-suck filter in photoshop". The same holds true or Alien Skin's exposure 6. It will empower you with the ability to creatively tweak an already good photograph by implementing your customized enhancement through a simple to use- STAND ALONE- interface. It's also one of the very best pieces of software for Black and White conversions as well.  
Through midnight on Halloween, you can receive 30% off on ANY of Alien Skin's products. Just click on the Alient Skin Software Link use promotion code CMP1410 to apply the discount.  
Below, you'll see an image I created a few weeks ago. It was a rather rainy day, and for a few moments, the sun broke through. Streaks of light gave the image a dreamy feel, and I was really pleased with what we were able to produce in such weather. With Exposure 6, we bumped up the contrast, and enhanced the streaks of light- but not in a way that looks un-natural.  
This image is BEFORE Exposure 6. A little contrast tweak, a slight clarity adjustment, and we enhanced the streaks of light slightly.

After applying Exposure 6-A little contrast tweak, a slight clarity adjustment, and we enhanced the streaks of light slightly.


Sep 29 2014 Nikkor 24-120mm F4G-Lightweight and SHARP

Ok, I admit it. I'm a bit of a lens snob. I love quality glass, and I carry a slew of lenses to each wedding. I don't pack a ton of lenses with for no reason. I use them ALL. One day I'll post a blog about each, but today I want to give a shout out to my F4 Nikkor lenses that allow me to shed some weight for SOME parts of the wedding day without sacrificing performance or sharpness. I NEVER thought I'd own any F4 lenses. I begin each day with my Nikkor 85mm F1.4G on one D4S, and my Nikkor 35mm F1.4G on another D4S. I also carry a Nikkor 28mm 1.4D, and an assortment of other goodies as well. It's a large kit, and I use everything in the bag. 
The wedding day is long. I mean, really long at times. I bust my ass for my clients, and I can't ever let a moment pass without making sure I've done everything I can to capture those moments in the most creative way possible. I've been shooting professionally now for 33 years. Yeah, insert age joke here..... At 52, or heck, at any age, it's physically draining to carry any amount of equipment all day long, let alone flagship cameras with fast glass. While I tend to shoot with the most shallow depth of field possible for much of a wedding day, I also recognize when I need a bit more depth as well. Enter my Nikkor F4G lenses. The Nikkor 70-200 F4G, Nikkor 24-120mm F4G, and the Nikkor 16-35mm F4G have been in my bag now for a few months. My neck, shoulders, arms, and my entire body thank them. These lightweight tools have allowed me to shed weight without giving up a thing. I shoot the first dance, parent dances, and many other elements of the reception at F4 to allow some room for error, so why not shoot them with lighter gear? They focus well in low light, and unless I need to open up wider than F4, they're ideal for wedding receptions, family formals, and anything else I don't need a shallow depth of field for.  
If you'd asked me a few years ago if I'd use F4 glass- I'd have said "no way". To me, they were generally considered "amateur" lenses. Today, there's no way I'd do without them given how much fresher I feel after a grueling wedding day shoot. These lenses are built to last, focus fast, and they're as sharp as anything Nikkor produces. Many may say, "why in the world does anyone carry that much gear to a wedding?" Fortunately, I don't. I have amazing assistants who help me with all of my gear, and we pack everything in a tidy Tamrac rolling strongbox. My assistants and I are symbiotic on the wedding day, and they often know what I need before I need it. All of my gear is incorporated into my workflow seamlessly.  
I'm often asked what I bring to a wedding. Here's a fairly comprehensive list of what's in my bag.  
2- Nikon D4S's 
1-Nikon D810 
1- Nikon D4 
Nikkor 28mm F1.4D 
AF-S Nikkor 35mm F1.4G 
AF-S Nikkor 85mm F1.4G 
AF-S-Micro Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED 
AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8G ED 
AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR 
AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8G 
AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8G ED VRII 
AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR 
AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR 
3 SB910's 
1 SB900 
Battery packs: 
3 Nikon SD-9's (incredibly efficient) 
2-TT1 Mini's 
3-TT5 Flex's 
2-AC3 zone controllers 
The handy power cable that attaches to the camera body(really cool) 
Rogue Flash Benders-modifiers 
Small, medium and large for various needs 
Bogen carbon fiber monopod 
GL-1 gunlight 
wescott Ice Light 
Granola bars.... chocolate.... valium...(kidding!} 
I also have A Nikon D3S and a Nikkor 70-200 VRI in my car for backup.  
This was shot with the AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G VR and was racked at 30mm 
The next shot was with the same lens at 100mm. The versatility is really stellar.  


May 19 2014 Ruben and Sally-Liberty House Wedding with the Nikon D4S

Not too long ago, shooting something like a bridal party with sparklers was a real challenge. Cranking up the ISO wasn't an option years ago, and the use of fill flash sort of washed out the sparklers. Today, with the Nikon D4S, not only can I shoot an image like this at ISO 6400 without even thinking about it, but the focus system in low light kicks serious butt. I'll be posting more images from this wedding of Sally and Ruben at the Liberty House soon, but I wanted to share this. For the pixel peepers, I've also included a 100% crop of the image as well.  
Nikon D4S Nikkor 24-70 F2.8G, 1/125th @ 2.8 @ ISO 6400.

100% crop of the Nikon D4S @ ISO 6400