Pre-Wedding Pictures for Caroline and Scott

Last weekend I had the opportunity to take the pre-wedding pictures for Caroline and Scott.  They were getting married in Seattle the following day but got all dressed up for some pictures on The Island first.  We started the shoot on the beautiful grounds of the Tesoro de Luz retreat center.

The bride was beautiful, the groom was dashing, and both were a pleasure to work with.  They even brought refreshments for everyone and explained to me how to pronounce La Croix.  There were, of course, plenty of fairly formal posed portraits.  Gotta have those for the relatives.

But the couple’s personalities insisted on some improvisation as well.  This wasn’t the only sequence of the bride running to her groom.

We couldn’t help but take a few, somewhat cheesy, symbolic pictures as the couple walks down the path together.  Awww.

And this location provided endless possibilities for settings and backgrounds.  We easily could have spent several days on the property and still not taken full advantage of every available space to shoot.  Truly, we barely scratched the surface, and I hope to make it back there some time soon.

What made the day so enjoyable for me, as the photographer, was how naturally their love for each other came through in the pictures.  We went through countless poses and posing adjustments, but ultimately it was their relationship with each other that was on display, that and really made the images special.

The weather was also cooperative.  We’d had our typical gray and rainy skies the two days before this.  In fact, it was a little overcast and windy on this very morning.  It’s a very good thing I had an assistant to hold the lighting equipment down because that stuff sails in just a little bit of wind.  We did have a couple crashes, but fortunately my subjects were never under the light stand when it came down.

From the retreat center, we went to the Maury Island Marine Park.  For such a small island I live on, I’d never been to either of these places before this day.  I’ve got to get back to both.

We timed out arrival at the Marine Park for sunset. It was unusually busy, and there’s a little bit of a hike involved, but eventually we got to the shore during the hallowed golden hour.  My favorite series of images from the day came from a suggestion from our friend and assistant Liz.  I’d been behind the couple, taking pictures of them looking out to see, with the sunset light on their backs, when she suggested I walk around to the front.

I had to let go of the notion that, since we were at a Marine Park, there must be water in the pictures.  The Puget Sound may be to my back in these images, but I love the halo of light the low sun provided.

Even Mt. Rainier even came out for an appearance.

The two were married the following day and then whisked off to the next state over – Hawai’i – for their honeymoon.  I wish them all the success and happiness in the world and would love to have another photo shoot with them, just because.

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Getting Ready for Fireworks Pictures

It’s that time of the year again.  We’re getting closer to the 4th of July and my annual opportunity to take pictures of fireworks.  I’m getting excited!!!  Here is an updated version of my How-to-Shoot Fireworks tutorial that has also been reformatted as an Adobe Spark post.

How to Photograph Fireworks

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In Memoriam

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.
In Memoriam, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Some years ago my wife and I lost the pregnancy of what would have been our first child together. Since we were not insignificantly far along, it was a sad and somewhat traumatic time. We decided to hold a small funeral for the remains of the baby, and a family friend even made a tiny coffin.

It reminds me of a Hemingway story.  Our priest came over, and we had a little service in our backyard for the child we came to call Jude. After burying Jude, the ground looked like this.

But this is not meant to be a sad story. Several years later, we’ve had two glorious children, with a third on the way. At 22 months, the current youngest, Claire, is completely unaware of the passing of what could have been her older sibling.  At a recent family gathering, she wandered over to Jude’s resting place and sat down on the rock that is still there. What follows is a sequence of unposed pictures of Claire sitting over there. These are presented in the same order they unfolded.

We first noticed Claire when she was just sitting there, appearing to contemplate the ground.  There was a lot going on around the house at that moment, and she’d been sitting here for a while before we saw her.

Next, she felt and played with the ground.  It didn’t seem like much at the time, but in retrospect, it’s kind of strange.

Then she looked up at us, almost like she felt something she didn’t know how to articulate.

And then she . . . well, it looks to me like she’s discussing things with a higher, unseen power, but I could just be applying my own interpretation. Remember, this whole sequence happened without any prompting. Notice that she now has the dirt she was touching on her face and clothes.  And she seems fairly content.

And to top it off, all of this took place on . . . Memorial Day.

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Italy Trip Converted to Adobe Spark

I only recently discovered Adobe Spark, and so far I’m loving it.  For my first project, I decided to dust off the recollections of that time I took the family to Italy.  Personally, I think this presentation looks much better than on my own website.  Check it out if you have some time.

Epic Trip to Italy

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Springtime in Vegas

My company took us to Las Vegas this year for our annual conference.  We stayed at the Encore by Wynn.  The vibe was a little different because we’re normally at a resort that is somewhat off the beaten path, and our group tends to take over said resort.  Neither of those things was true as we stayed at a massive hotel/casino right on the strip.  There were some distractions, but most of us survived the week.

Las Vegas is, perhaps, not the best town to be in when trying to leave one’s vices at home. I’ve eliminated some significant bad habits in my life over the past few years, and those very habits were front-and-center all week.  I made it though.  It wasn’t always easy, but I made it.

On Tuesday, they bused us all out to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway so we could ride in cars that most of us could never afford to buy.  There were Aston Martins, Ferraris and some kind of a Nissan that people seemed to like because it was in The Fast and the Furious.  I guess I’m not a car guy, because I wasn’t going nuts over these things like some people were.  I was more excited for the challenge of taking some panning shots.

Anyone can take a sharp picture of a race car with a fast enough shutter speed, but then the car might as well be parked.  It won’t look like it’s moving.  The trick is to slow the shutter speed just a little bit and move the camera with the car.  This creates a motion blur with the background that implies movement (it also keeps the wheels spinning).  This is not easy to do while keeping the car in focus; you have to move the camera at the exact same speed as the car.  I took 110 shots that evening and deleted 850 right away.

There were some jets flying around the whole time we were there, but we didn’t get to ride in those.

Our concert this year was headlined by Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.  He was backed up by Matt Sorum, who is most famous as the drummer for Guns-n-Roses, and Mike Flanigin on the Hammond organ.  All three really rocked; they are solid performers.  Mike did double-duty with bass, playing an actual bass when he wasn’t at his keyboard and using foot pedals for the low end when he was.  He’s an understated, low-key guy who wore a windbreaker for the concert.  He looked like he should have been standing in the audience with us computer nerds instead of performing a rock concert.

Meanwhile, Billy wore two hats the entire time and even talked about that fact in between songs.

Perhaps you don’t need to, but if you look up Matt Sorum, you can see that he’s had quite a career that is still continuing to evolve.  I got to hang out with him a little bit backstage.  He’s kind of a strange guy (we’ll say quirky), but he was super friendly.  The whole band was totally laid-back and down-to-earth.  Really, these are all good guys.

Billy was the headliner though.  I have to admit that I didn’t realize just how good he is on the guitar.  He’s brilliant! His bluesy-rock style is among the best.  He may not jump around very much on stage, but he absolutely kills it with his performance.  We didn’t get to hear the cheesy hits like Tush  and Legs, but Jesus Just Left Chicago and  La Grange were off-the-charts good.

And I got to take the backstage pictures too.  The managers had me sitting, by myself, in the VIP room at the Las Vegas Brooklyn Bowl for about 20 minutes before anyone else came in.  I ended up being in there for about an hour with Billy and the band.

Without a doubt, Billy Gibbons is the friendliest, most personable performer I’ve ever met (and I’ve done a few of these backstage things).  The whole band was great, really.  If it wasn’t for the managers rushing everyone in the VIP room, we’d probably still be there talking to the band.

This is the kind of debauchery that goes on in the VIP room with the front man from ZZ Top and the drummer from Guns-n-Roses.

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