Entries in sunset (51)
On a day filled with rain in St. Petersburg, I was able to dodge most of it by morning and by evening to first have a DSLR Photography Lesson with Cindy at The Pier in the A.M. and to close the day with another lesson at The Pier with Holly. Only poor Kiki got short changed today by having her dog park time cut short by a sudden downpour!
This was Holly's third lesson in a week's time, as she bought the discounted 4-pack of lessons. We met in downtown St. Petersburg then made our way to The Pier as the final few raindrops of the evening storm fell harmlessly onto our lenses. This was another lesson focusing on two things: how to knowingly change settings to get correct evening exposures and how to creatively compose for making photographs out of what others see as just nothing, or do not even see at all.
This brought us up, down and all around The Pier. The roof easily provided the best views and the rainstorm left behind a spectacular sunset. We still of course found some time to photograph the pelicans that like to hangout around there too. I am pretty sure I saw the same rust colored female as this morning!
By the end of the lesson Holly was starting to be able to understand how to adjust her aperture and shutter speed to create a better exposed twilight image, as in if the image is too dark for your liking, then increasing the shutter speed and/or the aperture is necessary to brighten it up. Want to create a silhouette shot? Then increase the shutter speed so only the sky has any color.
We ended the lesson with me convincing Holly that a tripod is certainly a worthwhile investment as I let her borrow mine to create some fantastic urban sunset shots of downtown St. Petersburg.
There are always challenges photographing a wedding, but for me personally this was the most difficult due to the news I got about the oldest member of my family when I first woke up that morning. I have a strong ability to compartmentalize so I rallied and once I first put the camera up to my eye, no one all the six and a half hours I was on site at the Bilmar Hotel on Treasure Island had any idea what I was really feeling inside.
The wedding rings were with the bride, Jessica, in her hotel room, which is unusual as the groom tends to keep them on hand. Looking for a good place to photograph the rings, I recalled what I did for a Christmas wedding last year, which was to hang the rings from a string type object. The bride took off a necklace she was wearing an assisted me in getting this shot. The cross was already on the necklace.
The bride had a very loyal wedding dress assistant her continued her job the entire afternoon and evening. For the above shot I had two volunteer assistants hold my speedlights as there was not much space at all to setup a pair of light stands. The weather looks great outside right? Well, to the east clouds were rolling in fast and within 20-minutes it was raining right at what was to be the start of the ceremony. There was only a 30-minute delay which was actually welcome, allowing the bride more time to get ready and the guests to cool off in the reception area.
I learned a new trick for shooting in hotel rooms: use one of the room lamps as a backlight in tight quarters. I had the groom, Justin, and the other groomsmen squeeze between two beds causing them to get into a fan-like pose and also allowing the table lamp to backlight them. This is definitely a type of shot I will be doing again in the future!
Once the rainstorm passed it was kind enough to leave behind all sorts of clouds decorating the sky. I much prefer clouds to a cloudless beach sky. Not only are day time photos much better, I think sunset shots with clouds are much more dramatic as well.
It was an emotional moment for the bride and especially the groom once the ceremony began. For me, it is nice to see as I like to see people express genuine emotion. It also of course helps the photographs.
The bride in a quiet moment faces the Sun and the Sea. This type of shot, where the subject is not looking into the lens but rather off into the distance is my favorite type of portrait. For me, I wonder what the subject is thinking about. I hope that some years down the line when the bride looks at this image, she, herself, will also wonder what she was thinking of at that moment.
After I took the final photograph of Jessica & Justin at sunset time, I had a few moments alone as I packed up my strobist gear and they started to walk back to the hotel for the reception. This gave me a few seconds to send my own thoughts out to the horizon, as I do every day, but even more so that time.
Time goes by fast. It has already been 7 months since my first DSLR Photography Lesson with Betty in downtown St. Petersburg. With a vacation coming up to Seattle and Vancouver, Betty wanted to brush up on her photography skills and get some long exposure shooting practice in, which requires a tripod of course. She hopes to photograph waterfalls that look like cotton candy with her Canon T1i on her trip as well as do some wildlife photography. Since the fountain in downtown was not running, we headed straight to The Pier which is a surprisingly good spot for bird photography in particular as well as great night landscape shots.
A few pelicans were kind enough to let us first get some closeup shots and then some bird-in-flight practice. Betty soon found out that capturing a bird in flight is no easy task even with all the correct camera settings. During our lesson she learned the skills to do it, now she will just need to go out and practice as much as possible in order to capture that ideal bird-in-flight shot she wants.
Once the sun started to get close to the horizon we went to the top of The Pier which offers the best urban view of the sunset around. I have had several late evening (early night) lessons at The Pier and I really enjoy them and will suggest them more to future students.
With her camera setup on a tripod, I instructed her to be sure and turn image stabilization (IS, VR) off as it actually hinders getting an in focus shot when using a tripod. Next I told her to always set her ISO to the lowest setting as camera shake is no longer an issue on a tripod. Finally I showed her how she had to use manual mode to get the best long exposure sunset and twilight shots. By the end of the lesson Betty realized how using a tripod can really allow one to capture an entirely different kind of shot and that tripods really are very useful. Plus, I think shooting with a tripod is much more relaxing and its own kind of fun.
I look forward to seeing how Betty puts all these new photography skills into action on her Pacific Northwest trip!
The most peaceful part of my entire day is when I take beloved puppy, Kiki, for our after dinner, sunset walk around the "big block." We start out on the very path pictured above and walk along Smacks Bayou aways often spotting dolphins and manatees. However, this evening just minutes before we were to set out on our evening stroll, a sudden heavy rain fell, then stopped, then started again. Our walk was, sadly, washed out.
However, this break in our routine created the chance for me to photograph the above scene. I still took Kiki out for a quick call of nature, saw the sunset, and thought to myself, "a real photographer would go back inside, grab his/her camera, then come back out and photograph this putting aside one's disappointment at not being able to go on a peaceful stroll.
So, an irritation produced an opportunity. If your usual schedule gets sidetracked, look for new photography chances because of it.
To state it simply, this was one of the best shoots I have ever done, in all aspects. Nathan (artist name Redd Sun) contacted me about making some photographs for use as his own promotional materials for his music as he liked the style of this vanishing point photograph. The photographs in this post are obviously not that style, rather these are my own favorites from the shoot. In post Part 2 I will put the shots Nathan chose edited in the grainy style he requested.
What made this shoot one of the best, if not the best, for me was how Nathan wanted to be photographed. He told me at the start that he did not want any poses or anything like that. Of course I specialize in candid style so this was perfect for me. He then said just photograph him as he changed his guitar strings and then as he played. This could not have been more ideal instructions for me. The bonus was I got to listen to his guitar playing while shooting, which I really believe helped me capture the types of shots he wanted. Normally I just shoot in silence. This gives me the idea to bring along a music source of some kind for future shoots.
I (we) was also lucky in that the Pass-A-Grille Beach was not that crowded, there was a great sunset and the natural light before sunset time was fantastic (see above natural light photograph). This natural light allowed me to roam freely with my preferred Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens on my Nikon D300.
Of course I also used my own personally developed two-strobe setup for proper sunset shots. Even in the above shot, however, the photograph remained a candid as Nathan seemed to not notice me setup my lights around him and just kept on playing.
Even though we were at basically the same location for the entire one-hour shoot due to the ability to make both natural light and strobist shots, as well as using three different lenses, I was able to provide Nathan with a wide variety of shot styles.
I really look forward to seeing how Nathan uses the photographs in his promotional materials. Part 2 of this photo shoot, to come soon.