Wednesday, March 30, 2011

13 for the Third Time

Top o' th' mornin' to yeh!

St Patrick's Day has come and gone with little ceremony at my house. It would seem that if one doesn't drink much any more, there really doesn't seem to be a satisfactory way of actually celebrating the day. I supposed we could have had a stew for dinner, but we opted for something... greener. Chow Mein. Apparently it is one of my all time favourite meals, and I can see why, it was delicious. DW was a little surprised that I'd forgotten it was my favourite. I don't think my mind was working properly at the time. My boss asked me what I'd done for the past two weeks and I couldn't think of anything. I think he took my blank stare as a demonstration. I have actually been quite busy but the harder I tried to think, the harder it was to think.

I have decided that this is symptomatic of my recent 39th birthday - or as the title to this blog suggests - my third 13th birthday. I had decided to take the day off work, as well as the following day, which led into the weekend, so four days off. It sounded like a good idea. The kids had other plans. I expressed my birthday wish to them to have a bit of a sleep in. They informed me at 5:30am that they had decided to give me something else. Apparently they decided to pre-enact World War III (yes, I said pre-enact). They were at each other from the get go. I got dragged into the fray when Little Man decided I mustn't really like him because I didn't get him a present for my birthday.

However, after we dropped them both at school, we found ourselves sitting down for a quiet cup of tea. It occurred to me that we hadn't been alone in the house without either kid since Amy was born, but for one day when both kids stayed at their grandparents a couple of years ago. It was bliss.

We decided that a movie was in order and off we went to watch "The Kings Speech", though I admit I was somewhat reluctant. I don't like to work on my birthday and I also don't like to think, so I was not really in the mood for a thought-provoking movie, but timing-wise there wasn't really anything else to go and see. I wanted something mindless with helicopters and explosions and cheesey one-liners. Where is Michael Bay when you need him? (OMG - did I just write that?) Anyway, I absolutely loved this movie. It was performed flawlessly, crafted exquisitely and written with such a gentle understatement that it really is a brilliant film. It turns out Michael Bay was exactly where I needed him. I was expecting the film to be good. I just wasn't expecting it to touch me in quite the way it did. What an excellent birthday present that turned out to be.

For reasons I won't go into, I've been delayed in publishing this post, so I'll finish now and get started on being late for the next one.


Thought for the Day: An optimist might say a crisis is an opportunity in disguise. A pessimist would point out that at least opportunity knocks.

Friday, March 04, 2011

The Joys of Wedding Photography


Last Saturday my brother-in-law was married. It was a festive day and much fun was had by all - or at least by most: Little Man wasn't hugely impressed until the dancing started. The bride was nervous but she is generally pretty laid back. The groom was pretty nervous but he is also laid back. The in-laws and out-laws, best man and best woman, the celebrant and the invited guests were all a bit nervous but mostly pretty laid back. I was the official photographer, so I was very nervous and not at all laid back.

I was asked to take on this role because my brother-in-law and his (now) wife had seen the results of my first foray into wedding photography at another brother-in-law's wedding. For that first one, I read lots of books and websites about how to be a wedding photographer, I ignored the recurring suggestion of those books and websites to never, under ANY circumstances, become a wedding photographer and plowed straight in. I have a barely decent Digital SLR (I say barely decent because DW wouldn't want me to call it crap) which is an excellent device to learn digital photography with but not at all up to scratch for an official wedding photography to shoot with. Luckily, my brother, who is learning digital photography, has exactly the same model, and isn't silly enough to try to shoot a wedding with it.

When it comes down to it, wedding photography is just like any other high pressure photography where you only have one shot at capturing the most important day of two other people's lives or risk sending them into a vicious spiral of blame and doubt and ultimately divorce. So its important to have a sense of humour. In cases like mine, it's also important to lock that sense of humour away and behave like a person. It is also important to take off the lens cap, but with a DLSR, that one turns out to be fairly easy to remember.

Using my own DLSR and my brothers equally wonderful DSLR, I set off to capture the perfect wedding. As I learned during my first attempt, even if the wedding is perfect, you still might not get the perfect photo. As it happens, not many weddings are perfect and even if they are, not many photographers are perfect. However, despite my relative naivety, I managed to capture that first wedding rather well. The problem with that was it put extra pressure on my second and most recent effort to be of equal standing.

Using the same kit, I tried valiantly not to let the pressure overwhelm me, not to let my inexperience underwhelm me and to remember to take the lens cap off. And looking at the final photos, I can safely say I now know what it is to be whelmed. To start with the photos aren't black - check lens cap removal. The photos aren't complete rubbish - check... don't take complete rubbish photos. The photos generally flatter the bride and make the groom look like Yosemite Sam - check, though the groom helped a lot on this one. The photos should include all the guests - check, though I don't really know for sure, but with 1500 photos if I didn't get everyone then I must have gotten someone twice.

So what of the 1500 photos I did end up with. Any perfect, shot of a lifetime images - not as such. Any brilliant capturing the essence of the moment shots - not really, though it was a drab day and there are plenty drab shots so one might argue I have captured the essence of the day. Do the photos cover the events of the day - yes they do, mostly. I managed to get a photo of nearly every event of note during the day - even the ones no one told me were about to happen, such as the bride and groom walking in to the reception. I must confess I also missed the bride's arrival at the gardens but the circumstances where beyond my control. However, overall my coverage was pretty good.

I joke about the lens cap but I did make a mistake that falls into a similar category. I forgot to ask the groom to remove his sunglasses during the formal photo shoot. I honestly don't know why I didn't think of it. I have plenty of shots during the ceremony of him without the shades. I have plenty of shots after without the shades. But all the formal shots make the bride look beautiful and the groom look like a cross between a big, black-eyed bug and Yosemite Sam. D'Oh! Now if they go and get divorced it will be all my fault! Unless they get divorced before they see the photos - but it would be wrong to wish that.

After the wedding, everyone relaxes - except the photographer, especially one who blames his tools. I am now in the process of checking all the photos, fixing blemishes, improving colour saturation, tweaking brightness and contrast, and blaming my tools. It will take some time but eventually I hope to have enough decent photos to fill a photobook, or at least a photo frame. Can you tell I'm not really looking forward to it?


Thought for the Day: Rejected Slogan:- "Do you know anyone who needs a wedding photographer? I could use the practice."