Thursday, November 29, 2007

Laura & Jonathan

Back in August I did a photo session with a young married couple from Long Island, Laura and Jonathan. We did most of the photo session in Cold Spring Harbor in the Town of Huntington. This was my first visit to Cold Spring Harbor. It's a beautiful area with interesting little shops along Main Street.

Laura and Jonathan were both amazing to work with.

Whatever Jonathan whispered to Laura made her crack up. It took her at least a minute to stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Maria & Louis - Part II

Last week I posted some pictures from my photo session with Maria and Louis in the Financial District and Battery Park City which are located at the southern tip of Manhattan. They were so enthusiastic about the experience that I have posted a few more.

This picture was taken on a walkway bridge that overlooks Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park and the Hudson River. This is a nice, quiet spot to enjoy the view of the water.

These last three pictures were taken near the South Cove which is another park area in Battery Park City. This is one of Battery Park City's most popular destinations because there are plenty of seating areas where you can enjoy the view of the harbor and the many ships that pass through.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium

My fiancee and I love going to baseball games. She is a die-hard New York Mets fan and still won't talk about their late season collapse of last year. Every year we plan a short trip where we go to see a Mets game at a stadium we have yet to visit. In the last few years we have been to Wrigley Field in Chicago, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Camden Yards in Baltimore, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and most recently, Turner Field in Atlanta.

One of the reasons we like to go on these baseball trips is because we get the opportunity to visit a U.S. city we might normally never go to see. Atlanta is a good example. It's a fine city, but I never really considered taking a trip there.

What I discovered is that Atlanta features the world's largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, which opened in 2005 and was funded mostly by a $250 million donation from the founder of Home Depot. Also, the Georgia Aquarium is one of the few aquariums in the world to feature whale sharks.

As a kid, I was fascinated by sharks and loved to visit the New York Aquarium in Coney Island to see them. The whale shark is interesting because it is the largest living fish species and can grow to 40 - 60 feet long. As we might never get the opportunity to see a whale shark up close, we decided to visit the Georgia Aquarium. They had about 4 whale sharks on exhibit, but none of them approached the 40-60 foot range. Nonetheless, they were very impressive.

I write about our trip to the Atlanta and their aquarium because yesterday was the first time I checked out my pictures from that trip and came across one I found interesting. Sitting in front of the huge shark tank was a father and his baby as a whale shark swam by.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Verrazano Bridge on a Cloudy Day

The Verrazano Bridge is a suspension bridge which connects the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York to Staten Island. When construction of the bridge was completed in 1964, it became the longest suspension bridge in the world. A few other suspension bridges have been built since which are longer, but it remains the longest in the United States. The second longest in the U.S. is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Many people today know the Verrazano Bridge as the starting point for the New York City Marathon.

I took this picture of the Verrazano Bridge on a cloudy day last January. This picture reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in Bay Ridge and spent many weekend afternoons bike riding with my father and brother along this bike path. Since this is Thanksgiving weekend and I am thankful for my family, I thought I would post this picture.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fun New Gadget

I've wanted to buy a fisheye lens for a while now and recently picked one up. I bought a Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG AF Circular Fisheye. This is the widest circular fisheye with autofocus. It is capable of capturing a 180 degree field of view. I love how it produces an exaggerated perspective and dramatic distortion especially along the edges of the frame.

On a full frame camera such as my Canon 5D, this lens can achieve full circle images. Except for the occasional dancing at the reception shot, I probably won't be using this lens much for my wedding photography business. However, this lens is great fun to play around with and can make mundane subjects visually interesting. This lens is not really meant for taking pictures of people close up as it will greatly exaggerate a person's features.

Here are a few test shots I took on Thanksgiving in my fiancee's sister's backyard:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Atlantic City trip

My fiancee and I go to Atlantic City often enough that we usually get a complimentary hotel stay and sometimes tickets to an event. Last weekend we received comp tickets to "Fashion on Ice" at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The theme of the show was that singer Sarah Brightman would perform while Olympic figure skating medalists Sasha Cohen, Evan Lysacek, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto and others would skate routines dressed in costumes designed by top fashion designers. When she first told me about this show, it was all I could do to keep from rolling my eyes.

First of all, I must say that my fiancee is a huge fan of the Olympics. She particularly loves gymnastics and figure skating. Particularly with gymnastics, she appreciates the skill and hard work necessary to be good as she was a terrific gymnast as a child. However, she doesn't particularly like gymnastics or figure skating exhibitions because usually the skill level displayed is lower than in competition and the routines are 10 times cheesier than normal.

Since the tickets were free, we decided to check out the show. As we made our way into the arena, both of us were shocked to learn that some of the tickets for the show were selling for over $100. Furthermore, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that our free seats were about 7 to 10 rows from the ice.

The show actually turned out to be pretty good. Sarah Brightman sang a good version of "Con Te Partiro", a song made famous a few years ago by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. The skaters were impressive. Seeing them skate in person was definitely more interesting than watching them on TV. Sasha Cohen and Evan Lysacek both skated very well.

I had a good time because it gave me the opportunity to take pictures of a sporting event under low light conditions. Shooting a fast moving sport under low light can be very challenging because your shutter speed has to be fast enough to spot the action and you need to use a lens that opens up to a very wide aperture. Since I was reasonably close to the ice, I decided to use the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens, an excellent, relatively inexpensive, medium length prime lens which excels in low light.

The first two pictures are of an Italian figure skater whose name I cannot recall. The last two pictures are of Sasha Cohen.

Sasha Cohen is one of my fiancee's favorite skaters. I did a quick google search and found out that she's known as one of the best, if not the best, artistic skater in a long, long time. Apparently, nobody beats her on artistry, but she sometimes has difficulty executing her jumps. She won a silver medal in the last Olympics. This next picture shows off her incredible flexibility.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Maria & Louis

Last month I had the pleasure of doing a photo session with Louis and his beautiful wife Maria. Louis is an avid photographer and loves to talk about photography. He mentioned to me that
he loves to take photos of his wife. However, other than their wedding day, they have very few pictures together.

As a photographer, Louis can appreciate the value of having interesting settings for pictures. In advance of our session, he scouted out some locations in the Financial District and Battery Park City. These are just a few samples from early on in the shoot. Over the next few days, I plan on posting more pictures.

The first two pictures were taken just off of Stone Street, a narrow, cobblestone, pedestrian-only alley in the midst of the tall buildings of the Financial District. It has a great Old New York feel. I remember reading in some history book about New York that Stone Street was one of the first paved streets in what is now known as New York City. During the spring and summer, the local restaurants set up tables in the street and serve lunch to the Wall Street crowd. Behind Louis and Maria you can see the sign for Ulysses', a popular bar.

Down in Battery Park City near the Ritz Carlton Hotel, there is an interesting seating area overlooking the Hudson River. There are these great wooden benches with high backs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Which image do you like better?

I find the first image compelling. It's not an amazing picture and not very creative. It's just a very basic, straight ahead, full face portrait. What I like is how her direct eye contact creates a connection between her and the viewer. Well, at least with me it does.

My style of wedding photography can best be described as "photojournalistic". Basically, I prefer to take candid pictures, as opposed to posed pictures. While I definitely take a decent amount of formal portraits at my weddings, I think that candid pictures tend to be better for capturing the emotion of a wedding day. In fact, I find that true for most photography settings, especially if the subject is uncomfortable in front of a lens.

However, the first image reminds me that portraits can be compelling. Out of the pictures I've taken in the last couple of weeks, for me, this is probably the one that I've spent the most time looking at. The image has flaws, but I still really like it. I showed it to a friend recently and he didn't particularly care for it. I guess that's part of what makes photography, or any art form for that matter, interesting. Different people see different things. Jackson Pollock is considered a master of abstract expressionism. I don't care for his work. I'm not saying that the first image is a great work of art. It's not, but you get the point.

The second image shows that she also has a less serious, playful side. My friend likes the second image better.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ode to Robert Palmer

Some of you out there may remember Robert Palmer's music videos from the early 90's. The two that come to mind are "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible". Basically Robert Palmer sang while a bunch models who were all dressed alike and wore bright red lipstick would pretend to play instruments and dance around him. The music was good, but those videos turned them into huge hits.

Earlier this week I worked with a model named Madeline. She came in wearing a red dress and BRIGHT red lipstick. She said she was going for the "Robert Palmer" look. I immediately flashed back to those music videos. Because of the vivid color of her lips and dress, I decided to try to get her skin as light as possible to create contrast.

Madeline was great to work with and she is eager to pursue a modeling career. I hope to work with her again some day.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Studio session

Most of my photo sessions involves shooting on location. Since I live in NYC there are so many interesting places where I can bring my clients. Last week I had the opportunity to do some studio work. Candice is an aspiring actress/model. Take a look: