Friday, September 24, 2010

Before the storm...

How do you prepare yourself for 3 full days of non stop photoshoot with each day pulling in at least 10 hours / day? Well for starters you will need plenty of rest 3-4 days before hitting the 3 days stretch. Pack all your gears way earlier than the actual day itself so that you will not forget to bring anything in the last minute rush.

When it comes to the actual day shoot itself, remember to backup at least 2 copies of the photos after each day's shoot because you will not have the time to process the pics till the whole 3 days have been completed. Drink plenty of fluids, recharge those batteries, clean 'em lenses and reformat all your CF before starting off into the next day. Have the habit to reformat all your spare CF as well to facilitate for instant CF changes when required during the shoot. Pack your gears in the same manner everytime so that you know where each piece of equipment lies in your waist packs etc. No time to hunt for them later :)

All these sounds pretty straight forward but there are times when the schedule is so tight that we often forget them. And speaking of events, blocked your calendars next month for the Mean Machines 2010 event. We will be there to cover the event so hope to see you all there!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Chariot

The chariot of the day or rather the wedding car is one of the most important subject in a wedding and please please do not forget to shoot it! Believe me or not there are some wedding photographers who totally forgot about it. Some of the cars will be elaborately decorated so make sure you focus your energy on those details as well since a lot of $ went into decorating that.

There are many angles which you can take of the car - front, side, top down, bokeh shots etc etc and there is no one correct rule. All you need to do is to make sure that the shot works for you and your client so a few different angles will help. Do not I repeat do not forget to leave out the number plate in at least 1 of your photos.

You may also use the car as a prop for the group photo or as a foreground/background subject. I've included 2 photos here just to give you an example of the different ways to shoot a bridal car.

Hope this little tip helps.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Power cels!

Power cels or rather the mundane term - batteries :P How many do you need for a shoot? Well assuming you have your AI-servo turned off, not shooting any videos and do not have the habit of staring at the LCD screen for hours after every shot, then most likely a single batt will give you something between 500-1000 shots (if you're a machine gunner shooter then figure will be on the plus side).

So for me, for a half day shoot I'll normally take 2 batteries along and 95% of the time I won't need the 2nd battery unless I shoot videos then God help me, I'll need 10 batteries...LOL

What about batteries for the speedlites? Well 4 fully charged batteries normally will give me 400 shots at 1/4 or 1/8 power then I'll swap them for fresh ones even though they may still have charge in them simply because the recycle rate would have gone down and I don't want to be caught in a shot needing to change batts. Normally I'll carry 3 sets per speedlite.

For a full day shoot, if you have access to a charging point, then you can use the same number of batts since it takes about an hour plus minus to get the batteries recharged. I use Maha Power chargers for the AA batts which works like a dream with 8 slots for recharging.

Hope this serves as a useful guide to you :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Actual Day Shoots - Part 1 The Basics

In this series of Actual Day Wedding Shoot series, I'll talk about the do's and dont's of AD wedding photography.

There are a lot of beginners who wants to shoot actual day weddings without really knowing what lies ahead for them. They start off by offering free coverage for their friends weddings to build up a portfolio rather than tagging along with a more experience/full time photographer (I don't like to use the 'Pro' word) which should be a wiser way to go because if they screw up the shoot then there's a backup. Let's just go through what is required on an actual day shoot before we even start to disect the nitty gritty of it.

First off, its none other than skills. What level of photography know-how is required? An actual day shoot will typically involve fast changing situations, lighting, terrain/environment roadblocks, people (and there'll be lots of them), distractions etc to name a few. You must know how to change settings instantly when lighting conditions changes (eg moving in and out of a building, sudden spotlight focusing on your subjects etc) and when I'm talking about settings, I'm referring to ISO, Shutterspeed, Aperture, WB etc and if you're using AV, TV and god-forbid P mode then you will continue to have shots made for you by your camera and not by you. I'm going to get flamed for this but I'm full M mode fellow unless the lighting conditions never changes and everything in the shoot area is lit up in exactly the same way then I'll stick to AV else its M, period.

You will not have the luxury to pause any situation and there won't be a second chance or retake for the shot. During the shoot, you will also encounter lots of people who will talk to you in the course of your shoot so make sure you're not distracted and miss the shot while at the same time converse with the said person. Be always vigilant for spot shots or candid moments which cannot be repeated. And while your brain is processing all of the above, you will need to compose your photo, be aware of what is behind and in front of your subject and how the lighting in those 2 zones will influence your subject. Going one step further you need to know or at least forsee how you are going to post process that photo to get the right feel and mood for the total shot. All these are processed by your brain in less than 1 sec.

Next we come to the equipment. Technically you will need at least 2 bodies with 1 as backup with a set of fast lenses that can cover your wide to telephoto range. Again you need to know what each lens can do at what ISO and under what lighting etc etc. Then you will need speedlites, triggers etc. I carry 4-5 speedlites for a wedding dinner and set them up around strategic places in the wedding hall and 1 unit with me throughout the shoot. Batteries and CF cards are no brainers and you'll need spare batts for your triggers and receivers as well.

Wear super comfortable clothes and shoes unless the event calls for formal cloths/attire rules. I chew gum or eat sweets during the shoot to keep me "hydrated" or rather it helps me to focus and I need the sugar to keep my energy levels..lol

Till Part 2 - Composition On The Go

Coincidentally the photos you see here are shots from Keith & Carol's actual wedding day taken on 11/12 Sept. More pics : here

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More than a photo

For those who have been following my work, you would have noticed that most of the time I enhance the photos by using words or collages. It might not be everyone's piece of cake but to me a photo is not complete without some additional designs etc to further bring out the mood/feel of the photo.

Typesetting, color, design and the extra photos which you choose plays a very important part to make the completed photo "correct". For example if you choose a funky font for a moody shot, it will eventually spoil the shot rather than enhance it. Similarly funky colors does not go well with a moody / feel shot. It is just the way we've been brought up I guess which makes our brain reject these types of combination.

If that's the case then how do we know what to use? Well there are tons of books on typesetting, graphic design and even color coordination which are available and a good source of guide if you want to know more about this.

To put it simply, in today's highly competitive photography business, the ability to shoot photos alone is simply not enough and with so many emerging talents, you need to keep learning to stay competitive. Most importantly be humble and accept criticism which will help you to improve. I have a group of friends who I will consult to get their opinions on my work after every shoot and believe me, it has helped a lot! The best and most open critic of them all is none other than my dearest wife :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mr Instrument

When Adrien said he wanted to be strobed with his instrument, I nearly fell off my chair laughing non stop because it sounded so wrong. Moreover Cathy was in the chat window at that time. Anyway, Adrien came over in his Oakley long sleeve T and almost immediately started sweating the moment he came in the front door.

About 20 mins later we were done and had some pretty cool shots of Mr Instrument..hahaha.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

SPCA Calendar 2011 Photoshoot

As a company that believes in its corporate social responsiblity, nutmegstudio is humble once again to be allowed to shoot for SPCA Penang's 2011 calendar after a successful sold out sale last year.

For complete set of pics please go to this link

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