Artistic Anniversary Shoot

Check out the creative one year anniversary shoot I recently shot with Lynne and Lance Carsillo, who's wedding I shot one year ago on the same day. Click on the image below to be taken to the blog post on the Twisted Oaks site!

Shooting Between The Lines

This past Saturday, I shot my first wedding since moving into our new office/studio. I knew that bringing camera gear back and forth would eventually lead to me leaving something at the studio that I needed for a wedding. I just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. Low and behold, as I’m packing the truck to leave for our wedding, something was missing. Yep, I did it, I left one of my favorite cameras, my Leica M240, at the studio. Not only did I not have time to drive 15 minutes in the opposite direction to go pick it up, I really didn’t want to hear the “I told you so” speech this early into owning the studio. So, I sucked it up, and while I was pissed at first I quickly realized this could be a good thing.

I’ve found that anytime I’m using one camera/lens combo too much, its a bad thing for my creativity. I have been using the Leica M240 + 35 or 50 combo A LOT the past 10 weddings or so. Knowing that I wouldn’t have it, I decided to completely change up how I see things and use the Pentax645Z that I really haven’t used all that much because of the 90mm lens that I have for it. I don’t typically like shooting with long lenses, even my 85mm primes, it’s just not comfortable for me. My mind I guess doesn’t work that way. I also wanted to use the tilt-shift lens more since I haven’t been. Lastly, I wanted to really focus on using lines creatively. We were going to be walking around a small town for bride/groom portraits, so I knew there would be plenty to work with. Plus, we had an awesome bride and groom to work with who left everything in our hands as far as creativity goes and the shots we would take.

Below are a few images that I processed already, and wanted to share my thought process a little with three of them. I’m glad I left the Leica at the studio, cause I probably wouldn’t have gotten these shots, I would have been shooting my Leica instead. I really love the lines in these images, so I wanted to share them with you all, and really push you do pick something like this each wedding to get outside of your own box. Lines are something I use a lot in my shooting, but I really focused on them even more at this wedding.

1. The first shot below, I used a very tight ally leading up to their apartment. Normally, for a shot like this, I would go with the Sigma 24mm shot wide open at 1.4. For this shot though, I wanted switch it up and go with a very shallow DOF. In order to get the walls still in the shot, to make use of the lines from the bricks, I knew my best chance of getting the look I wanted was with a pano shot. I chose to take the risk and go with a Brenizer shot, 9 shots merged together in PS, to and luckily since I’ve been doing these more recently… it came out perfectly. I shot this with the Pentax645Z and 90mm f/2.8, which has a pretty large file size with one image let alone 9. Once the images were merged, I had to downsize it from 18k Pixels wide, ha. Theres another Brenizer shot below that I did as well, see if you can figure out which one it is :)

2. The 2nd shot, I used the 45mm tilt-shift on the Canon 5D Mark3 to change up the focal plane. Scoping out the area, I knew the lines from the overhead structure at this coffee shop would work for something creative. Since there were so many lines to work with, my eyes were drawn more to the empty spaces in between. I noticed the empty space you see in the image below, and knew I wanted to get their heads or upper bodies in there. The problem was that when I got down low to shoot it, it was a bad angle. It was an unflattering angle since I was using a 45mm focal length. Sandi and I looked at each other and immediately thought the same thing, see if they would hop up on the small tables. Sandi looked over at them and asked how risky they wanted to get, they smiled and said they were up for anything. So, that's what we did, and it worked perfectly. We had them climb up on two separate tables and hold hands. Once they were up there, I was able to get their upper bodies in the empty spaces without having a unflattering angle. (My favorite shot of the day)

3. This is an image that most would look at and not think of lines, but it was a very big part of how I shot it. The bride wanted a veil shot, and since I have been doing the same thing with them for a while, I wanted to do it a little different. I usually like to put the veil over their heads and try to get a clean shot of them from underneath of it myself. This time, the material was easy to see through, and she had such stunning eyes, I wanted to shoot through it. BUT, that alone wouldn't be enough, I needed to use lines. I wanted to have the angle of the vale opposite of the lines of their faces. I had her slightly tilt her head back, had him lean his head forward, and I had Sandi hold the vale so that it gave me a straight line. I was using Live View so she could see exactly what I was seeing and she held it at the perfect angle to get the shot we wanted. I took 2 shots, this was one... and we were done.

Hopefully you learned a little something and if nothing else, you'll pick something to work on at your next shoot or wedding. Below are a few more images I processed from the wedding. You can see how I used lines in some of them as well, a couple of them I just threw in here cause I liked how they came out :)

How To Calibrating Your Lenses - Focus Pyramid

I calibrate my lenses a few times a year using the focus pyramid, a cheap yet very useful $25 tool. If you're unsure of how to calibrate your lenses, I recently wrote an article on SLR Lounge detailing the process for both Nikon and Canon DSLR's. Don't assume your new lenses are going to focus accurately, most of the time they won't, you need to calibrate them. Click on the image above to purchase the pyramid, here is the link to the SLR Lounge article -

Why I Partnered Up With My Direct Competion

An SLR Lounge article on why I created Twisted Oaks Studio and how the partnership works. A good read on making bold move and taking risks to make it in an industry where the failure rate is one of the highest in small business. 

Click on the image below to be taken to the article

6 Shots - 6 Different Cameras

Thanks to my friends at Lumoid, there's a new addition to the family...the Leica M9. They lended me one a few weeks back to review and write something up on the kit they offer. I got to use it for an awesome wedding in Boston and not only did I really enjoy shooting with it, but it gave me some of my favorite images from the wedding. Before heading to Maine last week, I wanted to spend a little more time with it so I had Lumoid send me another one. Well, long story short, I couldn't bring myself to send this one back.

The M9 gives a unique look that fits my style of shooting and simply put...its made shooting a lot of fun again. I will be publishing an article on SLR Lounge in the coming weeks about my whole experience with it and how a loaner ended up staying here. 

I've spent the past year trying to slim down the amount of gear I own, only keeping what I use and saying goodbye to the rest. I am very lucky to get to test and review a lot of different gear and it's really given me an opportunity that a lot of other photographers don't get. I get to not only try all sorts of different cameras and lenses out, but really use them and put them through their paces. This is how I ended up owning both Nikon and Canon systems, they each have their strengths and weaknesses, which I am able to use to my advantage. When I got the chance to shoot the Leica M9, I had no intentions of ever adding another camera to my bag, and I honestly didn't expect to fall in love with it as much as I did. 

The M9 offers a new look to my work. Ok...maybe its not a new look, but it makes creating my look a lot easier. It offers a different and unique approach to both the process of taking the image and the end result. I use my Canon and Nikon systems differently, choosing the best tool for the job. Choosing which is the better option depends on a lot of different things, but I use them differently...completely differently. I'm an artist, and depending on what I have drawn up in my little head, I choose the camera and lens combo that I think will do the best at bringing that to life. The Leica offers another option in that decision. 

While on vacation last week up in Maine, I wanted to not only do a lot of personal shooting, but also get some killer maternity shots of Sandi. I've only scratched the surface with going through and editing them, but I randomly went through and grabbed a few of the maternity shots from each camera that I brought along. I can probably add more to these a little later, but it was cool to see the different images that I loved from each system.

Here is what I shot with:

Leica M9 - Nokton 35mm f/1.4 Classic

Nikon D800E - Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8

Nikon D4S - 85mm f/1.4G & 24-70mm f/2.8

Canon 5D MarkIII - 50mm f/1.2L

Canon 5D MarkII - 45mm ts-e

Below are 5 images all taken with different camera/lens combos. I will be putting together a full blog post on the Cass Imaging site with all of Sandi's maternity pics soon, but until then, I thought this was pretty cool. Take a look.

*you can click on each image to see it bigger*

Nikon D800E - Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 II

Nikon Df - Nikon 58mm f/1.4G

Nikon D4S - Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Canon 5D MarkII - Canon 45mm ts-e

Leica M9 - Nokton 35mm f/1.4 Classic

Canon 5D MarkIII - Canon 50mm f/1.2L

Mamiya RZ67 - Polaroid Back - FP3000B

A few more....

Leica M9 - Nokton 35mm f/1.4 Classic

Canon 5D MarkII - Canon 45mm ts-e 

Canon 5D MarkIII - Canon 50mm f/1.2L

Canon 5D MarkIII - Canon 50mm f/1.2L

Nikon D4S - Nikon 85mm f/1.4G

Leica M9 - Nokton 35mm f/1.4 Classic

Leica M9 - Nokton 35mm f/1.4 Classic

Canon 5D MarkII - 45mm ts-e