Depth of field and light at a Wedding or Bar Mitzvah

Many wedding and Bar Mitzvah photographers find themselves in a bit of a pickle when they are first starting out.  You’ve looked at hundreds of websites and seen all these incredible, artistic wedding pictures and decided “I want to do that.”   So, you buy all the equipment, flashes and fast lenses that you can afford and set out to create beautiful, moving images.   You spend all this time and energy in pursuit of the artistic and then suddenly discover that you can’t shoot the mundane … and let me tell you, there is a lot of mundane to shoot at a 7-hour wedding.  

It’s not our fault that we don’t always learn how to take these shots.   They aren’t the sort of shots that get featured on the web or in the pages of a magazine.  It’s great to see those beautiful shots of an outdoor wedding and the incredible formals but  what about  the other 500 pictures  the photographer  took? You know, the ones in the dark hall with the dancing people? You don’t see many of those on the ol’ website because they aren’t quite as dynamic.  Still, being able to take a good table shot or dancing shot is every bit as important as the perfectly lit formal.  For some clients it may be more important, depending on who is sitting at the table or dancing on the floor.  

My first rule of photography is this: Get the shot. First, learn how to get the shot, any shot, in any situation.  Then, learn how to get it in an artistic and creative way (if needed). Don’t spend so much time learning the “hard” shots that you neglect to learn the “easy” ones.  You may find that the “easy” ones aren’t so easy after all.

Let’s take a look at  some pictures from a recent Bat Mitzvah that I photographed in Tampa.  I’ll start with a “hard” one:

tampa bat mitzvah photographer 18


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Tilting at Focus

Last week I wrote a bit about the reasons tilt-shift lenses were becoming more  popular in the DSLR world. This week I’d like to provide a simple example of using tilt in an image to increase effective depth-of-field, and offer a basic overview of how that’s done.

No tilt
No tilt, shot at f/3.5.

Tilt dialed in
Tilt dialed in, about three degrees. f/3.5. Focus is near the nearer of the two lens caps. If you look to the left of the table, you'll notice part of a cat tree, note that the upper parts of the cat tree are more in focus than the lower parts.

To demonstrate what a difference this can make, I ran a quick example with and without tilt using the older ::amazon(“B00009XVCD”,”Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L”)::. (To make the effect a little more apparent on these small screen samples I focused the image without tilt near the “near” lens cap. Of course, in that image I could have chosen to focus farther into the image–which would have blurred the near image somewhat to reduce the blurring in the far image, but both would have still been out of focus. Both images were taken at f/3.5 with a ::amazon(“B000V5LX00″,”Canon 1Ds Mark III.”):: (more…)

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Mix ’em Up, Part 2: Focus Blending in Photoshop CS4

This is the second of a series of posts on digital darkroom techniques describing digital darkroom techniques that “combine” groups of images towards various ends.

Focus blending is a technique for combining a series of images of the same scene to create a resulting image with a wider depth-of-field. Focus blending is best-known to aficionados of macro photography, as depth-of-field at close distances is almost always razor-thin even at the tiniest apertures. While best known in macro circles, it could benefit any type of photography where it’s impossible or pragmatic to get enough depth-of-field. (more…)

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