Not much to say. Shot another wedding today. This one was different in its free-flowing, laid-back vibe. Most weddings I've shot have been heavily regimented and planned to oblivion, but this one just sort of floated along. It was a Buddhist ceremony(!), so I suppose the lack of rigid structure was appropriate. Actually, I don't really know if that's true. Still, it was a lovely ceremony with kind people. The reception was at the park where my high school cross country team practiced, but I'd never been to the lake/pond where we ended up. It was pretty neat.
Weddings. I'm photographing them. I've got a bunch this summer, but here's a few shots from the first two of the season. First up was the Niezgoda/Detinger ceremony. This one was different from any I've done before since I've known the groom, Steve, for over a decade now. The day was fantastic, and culminated in me drinking for hours with old friends after the reception had slowed down.
Then, a week later, I photographed the wedding of Kaitlyn and Nick. It was about a million degrees in the mid-day, but we soldiered on and got some beautiful shots. I haven't nearly finished working my way through these, so here's some early samples.
I cured my hangover with 4 beers and trudged out to the Buffalo Pride parade with my mother. I'm not gay or particularly proud of myself, but I enjoyed the parade.
Luckily, one of my mother's degenerate friends bought a case of Corona, and I was able to multiply my four beers into many more. I took my 70-200 2.8 along and took a bunch of photos.
And here they are, in all their glory.
Well, not all of them, obviously. I think I took something like 700, edited 100, and am posting like 8. So there's that.
So there you have it. The Gay Pride Parade in America's most underrated city. Maybe I'll post more later, but more likely I'll end up drunk with no interest in internet photography.
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to photograph the wedding of Jennifer and Pete Delmonte.
This ceremony was great, as the locations really showed off the beauty of this underrated city. The reception may have been in the suburbs, but the ceremony and portrait sessions were in the Elmwood area of Buffalo.
The weather cooperated with a beautiful, sunny June day. I did have some issues with my flash, but got things fixed and the ceremony went off without a hitch.
Knocked out my first wedding of the summer on Saturday. The rest should be interesting (brutal) since I'm starting a full-time job with a software company in a week. I ran into some relatively taxing difficulty with my gear, but managed to soldier through and create some pretty nice images. You can see a bigger selection on my Facebook page.
So a friend of mine was in a position to hook me up with a trip to the top of Statler City. If you aren't from Buffalo, that's this place right der. I invited Old Father Wahlstrom, and we trekked up to the roof to photograph the Rust Belt Utopia I call home as the sun set.
The tall walls were a real issue, especially since the 5d Mark ii (unmodified with Magic Lantern) can't do long exposures in live view mode. I did the best I could with the circumstances.
The view was pretty incredible. It was a clear day, and Niagara Falls was clearly visible. Joe, the kindly man who took us up to the roof, told us that we should be able to see Toronto too, but I have no idea if that was true.
If nothing else, it showed me how fucking hideous the Buffalo Convention Center is. A fairly new build, that horrible cube of gray concrete stood out like a sore thumb in the field of beautiful art deco and neoclassical buildings.
It's on the bottom-left below. Look at that fucking thing.
So now I just need to figure out how to get on some more buildings. If you have any suggestions, I'll buy you a six pack of Southern Tier.
Fun fact: I've never shot slide. Not even a little bit. I've heard Velvia is really tough to work with, especially in high-contrast settings, so I was a little bit nervous as I packed up all my film gear and headed down to beautiful Lackawanna, New York.
Yes, I'm still shooting on the rickety Crown Graphic. Yes, I would like to upgrade. No, I don't have enough money to do that.
To be honest, it probably looks a lot like this image. I really just wanted to see how the Velvia rendered the scene. I feel fairly confident that I nailed the exposure, so I'm excited to see.
The second image was a variation on this:
This one's a little less representative, since it was shot hand-held in an effort to gauge the light. I was using my 5d to confirm my meter readings, and I just snapped a shot because it was pretty. I shot it at ISO800, at something like 1/100th of a second, so it represents the Velvia 100 at 1/4 of a second poorly, to say the least. It actually came out pretty overexposed before Photoshopping. What impact that will have on the Velvia is up in the air. The actual shot was tripod-mounted and composed more carefully. I'm curious to see how the exposure looks on that one. If all goes well I'll shoot a few more exposures this weekend. I may send them in right away to get an idea of how they look before I burn anymore film. Of course, they'll all be posted here.
Until next time.
So the polar vortex decided it liked upstate New York and has rolled back in for another week or two. In the event that winter never ends, that I die in this frozen hellhole, or that I lose interest and never post again, I felt I should offer an update on film photo land, for the 3 people who might be interested. In short, I've been holed up in my apartment, trying not to die of hypothermia, lens shopping.
In case you're interested, the Crown Graphic is currently listed on Ebay for a slightly exorbitant price: http://www.ebay.com/itm/231169783025?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649
I'm willing to move on that price. You know what they say: Aim for the moon. If you fall short, you'll end up suffocating in the frozen void of outer space.
In other news, I'm considering purchasing any and all of the following: the 16-35 L lens for the 5dmii, a Bronica or Mamiya 6x7 medium format film camera, a wooden folding 4x5 field camera from Zone VI or Wista. Any suggestions? Any gear to sell? Let me know!
Stephen King once said that to be a writer, you have to be paid for something you've written. I think that's a fair criteria for a "professional" photographer. The dividing line between enthusiast and professional is the ability to earn a living from it and, while that qualifies me both as a writer and a professional photographer, it relegates my landscape photography to the realm of the amateur. I've never been paid for a landscape. I've given them to people as gifts, and been asked for signed copies by friends, but I've never made a penny on them. They remain a hobby, albeit one to which I dedicate most of my energy.
Taking pictures of people certainly isn't easy. It takes effort, charisma, timing. I get it. But landscape photography, in the right hands, is transformative. Look at Mitch Dobrowner, for example. He takes storms and southwestern landscapes and shapes them into postcards from hell, or venus, or somewhere. The potential of photography is to both record a moment, and mutate that moment into something entirely new. To freeze an image in time, and also create something totally unique. At its best, landscape photography exemplifies what's best about photography as an artform. You are recording, and you are creating.
I am no Mitch Dobrowner, or Ansel Adams, or anyone for that matter. I started landscape photography in earnest about a year ago and, while I get better every day, I'm hardly what anyone would call an expert. I do it because I love being outside. Landscape photography conditions you to see the world in ways you never had before. Where you might once have just driven to work, you now notice the clouds, and the light, and the sky. It forces you to really look at the world, to wring the beauty out of every frame.
Large format has proven to be the most extreme example of this, (a single large format exposure might take an hour to capture) but digital photography forces the same instincts to awaken. When my lady and I recently attended a wedding outside Ithaca, we stayed at a small bed and breakfast. Our first morning there, I climbed down to a small creek behind the house with my camera and a cup of coffee and took this picture.
Is it a perfect photo? Of course not. I stopped down too far, so it's soft, would rather have had fall foliage, etc etc etc, but who cares? It reminds me of something lovely, and is a lovely image on its own. This is, to me, the gift of photography.
Last summer, my father and I took a trip to British Columbia to visit friends and hike the trails north of Vancouver. While I captured plenty of beautiful images there, I'm struck by how many people prefer the photos I've taken of my own home town, Buffalo. The places I visited in Vancouver took my breath away, but I think my photographs of Western New York have a certain intimacy that maybe got lost in the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest.
I try to photograph my rust belt home like I would any beautiful scene. To wring the elegance from the decay. Buffalo may be getting nicer every day (it's true. I swear it is,) but the past still provides a powerful canvas for a motivated photographer.
Last summer, a friend and I drove down to South Buffalo's decaying grain elevators to take pictures. We spent some time outside shooting, until it looked like the sun was about cooked. "Guess that was the show," I said, and we headed into the silo. It smelled terrible, but I got some decent pictures. As the light faded, we decided to head outside, where we were greeted by a glorious sunset. I took a few photos that night but when we looked them over, my friend pointed and said "that's the one." I think I might like this photo more than other people do, and that's fine, but when I look at it, I see everything I love about photography. Here's a moment, frozen in, and somehow beyond, time.
This post will differ in that I'd like to discuss digital photography, specifically... gasp... wedding photography. Wedding photography may be the most maligned form of the art in existence. This hasn't been helped by the recent influx of folks, fresh off their recent DSLR purchase, who figure "why not? Easy money, right?"
Wedding photography may be many things, but easy is not one of them. The biggest challenge I find when I shoot weddings, outside the obvious difficulty of juggling personal interaction and technical challenges, is the delicate balancing act between commerce and art. In some circles, wedding photography is viewed as a sort of artlessly commercial endeavor - a chance to bang out a collection of predetermined shots and go home with a check. I feel that, while many who pursue that line of work does so for the perceived easy money, weddings offer a fascinating and challenging opportunity for artistic expression.
Where else do spend a day with complete strangers, totally immersed in one of the most important days in their personal lives? After the toasts and the dances, I always find myself driving home having connected on at least some level with the people I've worked with.
There's definitely something to be said for sharing in one of the most important days in the lives of a couple. You take on an enormous amount of responsibility in exchange for a chance to create something really beautiful.
So wedding photographers will continue to give wedding photography a bad name. Let em. Those of us who care will continue striving to improve, and working to never let anyone down when they're willing to put their faith in us. It's not something to take lightly, but it can be incredibly rewarding.