When my nephew Lee announced the wedding date for himself and fiancée Keeley, I was delighted for them, yet a little sad that overseas travel commitments would mean that I would not be able to attend (or photograph) their wedding.
Instead, I offered to do an "Engagement" photoshoot, to which they happily agreed.
I wanted to produce a set of predominantly candid, lifestyle portraits that would reveal to the viewer images of a young happy couple very much in love.
With the weather forecast promising rare Autumnal warmth and sunshine we opted to do the photoshoot outdoors at a local Thorndon Country Park.
I knew the park would offer a range of stunning backdrops for the photos with its woodland, lake and open hilltop spaces.
Clothing and accessories were carefully selected so the couples' clothing would compliment one another, fit with the intended mood of the photos and also naturally fit with the glorious natural autumn colours of the location.
The photoshoot was timed so that we would begin around one and half hours before sunset to make use of the "golden hour" of soft natural light and cumlminate with some off camera flash at sunset.
The shots were taken with my excellent Canon 70-200 2.8L ISII lens mounted on a Canon 60D.
Notes on camera settings:
Care was taken to achieve optimum exposure and sharpness. I tended to opt for apertures around F4 to F4.5 as I have found this is within the sharpness "sweetspot" for the lens.
To control exposure - especially where the couple were backlit by the sunshine falling upon the lake and tree behind them I opted for the following wedding photographers exposure trick-
1) Have the subjects hold up a plain white t shirt in front of their faces
2) Zoon in until the t shirt fills the frame - select Manual exposure and set aperture chosen value (in this case F4)
3) Set ISO (in this case I used ISO 400 as the couple were in shade and I wanted to maintain shutter speeds over 1/125s to avoid blur due to camera shake
4) Adjust shutter speed until camera meter shows OVER EXPOSURE by 1 AND 2/3 STOPS - (you can do this by first adjusting shutter speed until meter is zeroed and then increasing by 5 "clicks"
This ensures that the tones of the white T shirt (which ought to be the brightest tones of the image THAT ARE IMPORTANT fall just inside the right hand side of the histogram. This can be confirmed by taking a test shot whilst zoomed in on the t shirt and checking the histogram on the LCD display. Further adjustments to shutter speed (or ISO ) can be then made to fine tune the exposure if necessary.
This technique ensures that skin tones are correctly exposed - even if (less important) background elements are "blown out" (overexposed)
As the shoot progressed and the light faded it became necessary to raise ISO levels to as high as ISO 1600 to maintain adequate shutter speeds.
Finally at sunset the I opted to use off camera flash so I could expose for with the setting sun on the background and still adequately light Lee and Keeley without them falling to silhouette.
The final shoot is presented as a slide-show set to romantic music which further compliments the "look and feel" of the images.
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