Cypress Point Park Tampa Sunset on the Beach Wedding

Cypress Point Park made for a surprisingly nice sunset beach wedding location.

Renata and Enrique told me they wanted to have a sunset beach wedding.  I thought, ok, great.  Those are one of my specialties.  Then they said it would be in Tampa at a place called Cypress Point Park.  I had to take to Google Maps to find it because even with ten years living in the area I had never even heard of it.  Turns out its nestled right next to the Howard Franklin Bridge facing Tampa Bay close to the airport.  In my mind I was skeptical about the location, even after first scouting it out a few days earlier.  However, on the actual day of the shoot, I became a fan of Cypress Point Park and a place I would recommend to future couples wanting an alternative to Pinellas County beaches.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/125th Strobist: SB-800 & SB-600 off camera to left & right respectively

Once we finished the portraits with the wedding party and guests, it was time for just the three of us to have some fun.  Renata was really into being photographed, which of course is a very nice for the photographer.  As you may guess, most people are rather shy in front of the lens.

Nikon D80 Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 @ f/4 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 and SB-600 off camera to left & right respectivelyOnce it was just Renata and I, she really was excited, and me too.  Getting enthusiastic body language back from the person being photographed definitely helps the photographer.  It is part of the photographer's job to coax such enthusiasm from a person if it is not immediately flowing on its own, but it is always better when the person brings some of their own energy into making the photograph.  

Tampa bride floating at twilight!Rentata was really up for anything and when I suggested a ballerina-like leap she said sure!  If I recall correctly, the above shot was only the second (and final) attempt.  It is a shot I had been wanting to try for awhile, and I finally had the right circumstances and bride to do it!  Thanks Renata!

Selective Focus Wedding Kiss Black & White

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/500th strobist: SB-600 hotshoe mounted TTL

What I wanted to make the focus of this image, was the kiss.  Yet I did not want to do this simply by cropping way in on the bride and groom.  My original idea was to just use a holga filter on the image, but I did not like the grain for this shot.  I wanted more of an ethereal look to the shot, rather than historic.  I also wanted to isolate the couple from the distracting background.  The way to achieve this look did not come to me all at once.  I tried one thing, which led to another, which ultimately lead to the final image you see above.

Here is the step-by-step editing workflow I followed: 

  • import RAW file into Aperture 3
  • increase the vibrancy slider
  • send image into Color Efex Pro 3, apply polarization, pro contrast, & remove color cast filters
  • send 16-bit TIFF version into Photoshop CS5 to remove blemishes & sharpen with unsharp mask (save & close)
  • via Aperture try holga filter in Silver Efex Pro 3 (do not like result)
  • send 16-bit TIFF back into PS CS5 and magic wand select the couple, reverse selection, apply gaussian blur to the selection (save & close)
  • via Aperture use Silver Efex Pro 3 to apply high structure filter, add vignette, burn bottom edge (finished!) 

It took me a good bit of time, like over 15 minutes, but I really like working on experimental processing projects like this, when I have the time.  The original (well, only did first three bullets to it) is below.  What do you think?  Which do you prefer, original or selective focus black & white, both or neither?  Why?

the "original" image

Engagement Session with Mary & Jason at University of Tampa

Matching the pose with the curve of the tree - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/250th strobist: SB-600 off camera to left

I met Mary & Jason early this Sunday morning four our engagement shoot hoping to beat the heat.  That worked for about 10 minutes before the heat starting beating us.  To keep things simple we met on the University of Tampa campus and then all rode in my Lexus to the Tampa Convention Center nearby before returning to UT, where all the photos in this post were taken.  I have photographed on the UT campus many times before, and each time I try to find a shot I never made before.  The above tree shot was the new find this time and gives, I think, the best PAN'S LABYRINTH type atmosphere possible in a city setting.

Did the tree WANT to be a seat? Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/250th strobist: SB-600 off camera to the left

I specialize in candid style photography, which means always being ready to take a photo, even in-between moments.  This was a spontaneous kiss that I luckily happened to be ready for (another recently photographed kiss).  As a photographer you may even want to pretend to be checking something else on your camera to see what the couple does in a more relaxed moment.  

Show the ring! Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/125th strobist: SB-600 off camera to left

New gear (Yongnuo radio triggers, review soon) that just arrived from Hong Kong yesterday, allowed me to make shots like the hand holding shot above and the curvy tree top image that I would not have been able to before.  Since radio triggers have a much greater effective distance for triggering an external flash, I could get far away and use my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8 lens to get in close for a distance and take advantage of that lens' great bokeh and sharpness.  

It was a fun engagement shoot that allowed me to explore new creative avenues, which is always a win for both myself from an artistic standpoint and for the client with regards to the images I can create for them.  I look forward to photographing their wedding in September of this year.

Grandmother's Kiss in Sepia

I would never have made this shot if not for attending a photography meeting

You never know where you will find photographic inspiration, but then sometimes, you do.  I attended a TAPPA (Tampa Area Professional Photographers) meeting late last year and the guest speaker for that night almost exclusively made square-shaped, burnt sepia portraits, on 3 foot x 3 foot canvas . . . for $3,000.  Though my skill level is not great enough to charge that much for a portrait session, I did learn a lot from that photographer that I can and have applied to my own photography business.  I am not ashamed to say that I have fallen in love with the burnt sepia look for portraits, and I do also crop in a more square-ish style now for some shots as well.  

Photographers inspire other photographers.

To make the portrait above it took my entire current skill set from shooting to processing.  Everything I have learned through intense self-study, through attending lectures by other photographers and even a free lighting workshop, I applied to this shot.  In light of all this, do I think it is perfect?  Not even close.  However, I am pleased from a personal level to know that I could not have made this shot this time last year.  As a photographer I first aim to please myself because I know know one has higher standards for my work than I do myself.  So if I am pleased with an image, I am pretty darn sure the client will be too. 

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