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The Next Canon 5D - 5DIII/5DX?

canon_eos_5dIII_5dx

Tis the season for camera releases. The Nikon D800/E’s have been announced, the Olympus OM-D has been unveiled and the Fuji X-Pro1 is just around the corner. As for Canon, the rumour mill is in overdrive. The 5DII is a three year old camera and despite still being a great body, it’s beginning to look a little long in the tooth as technology marches on. Things got kicked up a gear in late January when photographer Stephen Oachs posted some images, and accompanying story, of an unreleased Canon camera body in the wild. Based on the lack of an integrated grip this camera was clearly not a 1-Series so the next possibility was either a 7D or 5DII successor. Regardless of whatever camera it was that Stephen saw, it seems likely, given the weight of rumour, that a Canon 5D successor is around the corner in one guise or another.

Today, Canon Rumors posted a CR3 rumour with the below specs:

  • 22 Megapixel
  • 61pt Auto Focus
  • 100% Viewfinder
  • 3.2” LCD
  • Dual CF/SD Card Slots
  • $3500 Approx
  • Announcement on 27th or 28th February

A CR3 rumour is their highest level of certainty and although I’ll not personally call it a certainty until Canon officially launches a new camera, I thought I’d take a moment to weigh in on what I hope for from a 5DII successor and how I interpret the specs that are being reported. Consider this less a rumour piece, and more a discussion of what I want in a great wedding camera.

First off, let me say this. The Canon 5DII is a much maligned camera in some quarters, mainly when compared to other models, but I’ll go so far as to say this: It is the single best camera I have ever used. This may not be something that I can state definitively, but from my point of view it works tremendously well. It produces gorgeous images, I know how to get the best from it and in terms of ergonomics I find it works really well. I also have very few serious nits about working with the camera in a professional situation. That said, I look across the fence from time to time and I see Nikon users who have better AF, considerably better ISO performance and I know that while the 5DII rocks, the technology available today makes a better camera than the 5DII perfectly possible. To that end, here’s my analysis of the rumoured specs.

- 22 Megapixel is just fine for me. More would be nice but not MUCH more and certainly not at the expense of high ISO performance. The newly released D800 produces 36mp images at or above the 50MB mark. At a wedding where I might shoot upwards of 1500 frames, that has a huge impact on storage capacity. One card that Canon holds that Nikon doesn’t is their proprietary sRAW and mRAW formats. These allow for full sensor images but the camera saves a lower res image than the full resolution available. If Canon brought 36mp to the table, I’d be happy, providing the option is there to shoot at 22mp or so using an sRaw format. At the end of the day, 22mp is a sweet spot for me. It allows for full page Folio Album spreads at high res, provides plenty of cropability when needed but isn’t excessively large in terms of file size.

- The new AF is something people are going wild for. When I first started longing for a Nikon beating camera body from Canon, my main desire was more ISO performance. That has now changed somewhat and AF is at least of equal priority in my mind. The 5DII AF gets a really bad rep which is at times undeserved. The centre point works well and is perfectly up to the task of most work. Where the system falls down is the lack of decent off-centre focus points. This makes life really tricking when shooting things like a bride walking down an aisle because it ends up being central composition or nothing. The outer points on the 5DII simply do not offer the accuracy I require.

A lot of stock seems to be placed in the number of AF points available. Personally I am less bothered by the number than I am by their accuracy, and tenacity at holding on, and the spread of points available. Digital SLR’s all suffer from over-centralised focus points. I’d be overjoyed to be offered 9 high performance AF points. One centrally and then 8 forming a box around that centre point placed halfway between the sensor centre and the frame edge. Give me that. Make them work. I’d be in heaven.

Another area that gets a lot of press is which current Canon camera the 5DIII/X will steal it’s AF unit from. Frankly, I don’t care. Just make it modern, non-crippled and tenacious. And give me those outer points!

- ISO isn’t mentioned in the above specs and it has me slightly concerned. Improved AF I hanker after, but greater ISO performance I positively crave. I use my 5DII all the way up to ISO6400 and I use it up there all the time. The UK is a dark country at times and we’ve got a lot of old buildings with small windows. While the 5DII does a good job up to 6400 beyond that the 5DII falls apart. 12,800 is a mess and I try to avoid using it if I possibly can. Now, before we go any further, go check out these images over at Rob Galbraith’s site of the Nikon D3s at ISO12,800. Image 1. Image 2. IMHO these are seriously impressive displays of the lead Nikon has developed in this area. By comparison, at the same ISO level, my 5DII is banded and ugly. To be fair, it’s a much older camera, but nonetheless the difference is stark.

When the 5DII was released it was Canon’s best camera as far as ISO performance goes. Canon sells a lot of cameras to the wedding photography market and given that, I call for it to be the top performing camera in this area again. I fear that Canon will hold back on the 5DIII’s ISO performance to differentiate it from the 1DX but I consider this a real shame. High ISO performance is a crucial factor in a good wedding body and I’ll be gutted if I see a camera launched that’s intentionally crippled.

- Dual CF/SD slots are partly great, partly crap. Dual slots? Huzzah! Multiple formats? Boo. I don’t get why camera manufacturers insist on this approach. Multiple formats simply complicates things. It requires keeping track of two full vs empty card ‘pipelines’, forces me to go and buy a bunch more cards and also introduces a much smaller, much more fiddly card into my workflow. Annoying.

- Price. This seems a little high. Canon will make a killing either way, but bringing the price down beneath 3k US would be pretty special.

So, there’s my thoughts on the camera we’re likely to see. Now it’s time to play wishing-well and speculate on some things that I’d like to see but that probably won’t happen:

  • An option to allow for permanently illuminated AF points. While shooting a pitch black dance floor in AF Servo mode, sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly what your AF point is resting on. Frankly, when it’s that dark it’s improbable that the AF is going to lock on anyway, but it’d be great to be able to turn the red illumination on full-time to make it easier to spot the live AF point.
  • Proper Auto-ISO. An Auto ISO system that allowed for the setting of maximum/minimum shutter speed and aperture would be hugely welcome.
  • An integrated AF illuminator would be a blessing also. Often I want to shoot a dance floor by ambient light or using off camera strobes. The camera can handle the light conditions but the AF tracking is poor as the contrast available is limited/moving. I could pop a 580EXII on the hotshot but I’d rather have a radio trigger on there. Some sort of full-time tracking support for AF Servo as well as One Shot would seriously rock.
  • A more ergonomic grip. I shoot my 5DII’s with grips all the time, mostly because I prefer the balance and I can’t shoot straight verticals without them! As I said above, I really like the ergonomics of the 5DII - it’s one of the things that’s kept me with Canon over Nikon as it happens - but the grip/body integration could use improvement. At present, it’s a bit of a block, some sculpting here wouldn’t go amiss.
  • Integrated flash commander, preferably via some sort of radio. This is rumoured to be in a new 590EX speedlite, so hopefully we’ll see it in the 5D replacement as well.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity. This’ll never happen. Canon are far too entrenched in the business model of making shed loads of money selling overpriced WFT grips. Nonetheless it’d be nice!
  • Shorter mirror black out. Many people say that the 5DII can’t be used for sport photography. They’re wrong. I’ve used it very successfully, but the mirror blackout does make it tricky at times.
  • Faster fps. See above!
  • Locking Mode selector switch. This was added as a retrofitted upgrade for the 5DII, I hope it’ll be standard issue on the new model. Nothing worse than bringing the camera up to the eye only to find it’s entered green square mode.
  • Get rid of the stupid two-stage ‘on’ switch. I always want to use the thumbwheel. ALWAYS. Stop offering me the option to turn it off by mistake. This is probably my number one reason for poorly exposed shots.
  • Please don’t depart too heavily from the 5DII in terms of interface and usage. I don’t have to think when I pick up my 5DII, please don’t change that!

That’s all I can think of for now. Cameras are constantly evolving, but hopefully the next iteration of the 5D line will make me want to upgrade rather than jump ship/consider a 1DX/commit sepuku. Delete as appropriate.

Keep your fingers crossed, I’m ready to spend and I’m hoping the 5DIII isn’t too far away. I’ve been waiting long enough!

Comments

Thoughts on Image Editing & Lightroom 4 Wish-List

Lightroom2

*Warning. This post probably won’t appeal to anyone who isn’t a professional photographer or serious amateur!*


As chance had it, Adobe released Lightroom 1.0 right around the time I was getting serious about photography. I remember spending a long time switching backwards and forwards between demo versions of Lightroom and Apple's Aperture trying to come to a definitive conclusion about which was the one for me moving forward. It seemed like an important decision at the time. I didn't know that photography would become my profession but it felt like I was making a choice about something that I was going to be spending a considerable amount of time with over the coming years. I wasn't wrong.

I wanted Aperture to win through. I am a passionate Apple fan, my father owned an Apple II back in the day and I grew up surrounded by Mac IIvx's, Colour Classics, Performa's and the original iMac. I remember banging on about why the Mac was a superior platform as a school kid in the mid-nineties when Apple was FAR from the tech power house it is now. Given the option of Apple or else, I’d nearly always chosen Apple.

Over the years I've bought into the Apple ecosystem and infrastructure. One of the strengths of the Mac platform is its vertical integration and I've largely committed to this cause. Apple Mac's, Apple Routers, iPad's, iPhone's, MobileMe, iTunes Music Store you name it. However, when it came down to it, I had to concede that Lightroom proved a superior tool for me than Aperture. This isn't the case for everyone, but from my point of view Lightroom integrated more cleanly with my early workflow than Aperture did. First and foremost I saw Lightroom as an editor and it performed this job better than Aperture. It was a heck of a lot faster and never asked me to overlay palettes on top of the image itself. I know there are ways to avoid this gripe with Aperture, but the fact that I had to look for them really bothered me. The image is king and I don't want to have to move tools/palettes etc out of the way to see it. Also, the loupe, though very cool from an eye-candy perspective, was inferior to a simple full screen zoom.

Aperture is apparently a superior tool than Lightroom from a file management point of view, and as I'm less familiar with Aperture 3's file management I am in no position to present a complete argument on this point. That said, I get the Lightroom file system and know it very well and, with 160k odd images in my library, I've never found it wanting. I also like the modular system that Lightroom suggests. I work in a fairly ordered way and think in a standardised flow of import/develop/export. Finally, and above all, I know how to get the best out of Lightroom from an editing point of view. I'm very experienced with it and can quickly take an unedited image through to it's finished result. Aperture by comparison, while producing good images, takes me more time. I have to think a lot more when I use it. These days, after years of use, Lightroom feels extremely intuitive while Aperture is (unsurprisingly) less like common ground.

Lightroom 2 followed the original release by roughly 18 months with a 6 month odd beta phase. Lightroom 3 had an extended pre-release run of two distinct beta versions. By the v2 beta (released in March 2010) LR 3 was largely feature complete. It seems an awfully long time ago!

Lightroom 4 Wish List

Lightroom is a pretty mature programme and one with few flaws that seriously irk me. Nevertheless, I use it nearly every day and I can think of a few additions and refinements that would improve it. I thought I'd jot down a little wish-list of some of the things I'd like to see in Lightroom 4. These are in no particular order and simply represent my own personal views:

- Adjustment Brush. Soup up the adjustment brush to bring more global adjustments to local editing. Specifically I'd love to target HSL adjustments to help solve things like localised skin discolouration. It can be done already, of a fashion, using the colour additive adjustment and saturation but it's a poor alternative to true localised HSL adjustments.

- Match Total Exposure. This hugely useful tool is hidden in the 'Settings' menu of Lightroom's Develop module. It basically attempts to match the exposure values of two images which were shot differently. It's a great starting point for similar images with different exposures that for one reason or another you desire to be relatively uniform in the final edit. I use it relatively frequently and I'd like to see it implemented in a better manner rather than hidden away like it currently is.

- EXIF Editor. 95% of my images are shot on digital and the only original metadata that EVER needs to be edited is the capture time when a camera clock occasionally gets out of sync. The other 5% of images are film scans of one sort or another and it'd be great to be able to properly update this blank metadata from within Lightroom to allow the addition of camera and lens type and whatever other information you may find pertinent. At the moment I use IPTC fields for this but I'm much prefer to add this as EXIF data, perhaps with a tag to specify non-digital origin. From time to time I may want to view all images shot, say, at f/4. At present, film files have to be left out as this information isn’t present. I’d like to manual add it.

- Import/Culling Speed. I have moved my initial import and culling from Lightroom to Photo Mechanic. This is largely due to speed. Photo Mechanic imports snappily, but also allows for very quick culling as it displays embedded JPEGs in a pretty much instantaneous fashion without waiting for the RAW file to render. Lightroom is first and foremost a RAW editor, but surely an option to display just the embedded JPEG to allow for instantaneous review and culling of images would be a possibility? Perhaps a specialised culling mode?

- File Renaming. Sequential file renaming is essentially broken in any instance where virtual copies exist. In my editing workflow I tend to rely more upon snapshots than I do virtual copies. This is partly due to issues with file naming. Let me explain. When I edit a wedding, I go through the picked images one by one and apply the neccessary processing. Once this is done I 'sequence' the images into the order that I think helps best tell the story of the day. I rarely use virtual copies, but from time to time I do, most often when I need two versions of the same image, such as when I've cropped one frame into two distinct pictures. This causes all sorts of problems in the next step when I rename the images so that their filename matches the sequence I've decided upon.

As standard I use a filename followed by a three digit number such as "examplewedding-001.cr2". When implementing this renaming scheme with virtual copies present, Lightroom will proceed sequentially until it comes across a virtual copy, which it will skip renaming (as the image only exists as an instruction rather than a file in it’s own right). This is only part of the problem. The next issue is that when LR encounters a virtual copy it will skip a digit entirely. For example, a sequence such as the following (where VC indicates a virtual copy):

jackjill3789.cr2, jackjill3790.cr2, jackjill3791.cr2, jackjill3791.cr2 (VC), jackjill3792.cr2

will be renamed to this:

jj_edited-001.cr2, jj_edited-002.cr2, jj_edited-004.cr2, jj_edited-004.cr2 (VC), jj_edited-005.cr2

Effectively "jj_edited-003.cr2" has ceased to exist. It's downright stupid and a poor implementation. It makes it super easy to get confused when looking at cells in grid view when you expect the file numbering and cell number to correlate. A much better solution would be to firstly recognise VC's as special cases when undertaking renaming and offer the option of appending an additional VC title during the rename to keep things ordered sequentially. On exporting under the current system the absence of a "jj_edited-003.cr2" becomes all the more confusing. Perhaps this inspiring screenshot of RAM for an eBay auction can clarify an issue that is hard to explain in words alone. Note how the file naming, which is meant to be sequential makes very little sense.

Lightroom

- Panoramic tools. I don't do a huge number of pano shots but having to go elsewhere to work on these sorts of images is annoying. Photoshop does a superb job with most panorama's but keeping the function within Lightroom makes total sense. Panorama's are a classic photographic technique and therefore should be part of LR's bread and butter and by keeping the workflow contained within Lightroom it offers a number of possibilities for cross-referential metadata that keeps track of which images are used in which panoramas.

- HDR tools. HDR is no longer a new technology. It's been around for a while and although I don't use it all that often, it does have it's place. Sadly, Photoshop pales in comparison compared to dedicated solutions such as Photomatix. Adobe has been the image processing leader for decades and should be able to come up with something that'd push this area forward in LR.

- Slideshow improvements. I own Aperture 3 and use it primarily for slideshows. Lightroom has it's own slideshow features but they are far less potent than Aperture's. First off, there is no ability to 'construct a slideshow' and tailor music and blank/text slides within a design. In theory graphics can be imported into LR to accomplish this feat, but it's a bodge rather than a process intended by the software engineers. One of the earlier LR versions allowed for iTunes integration for accompanying music. This was removed in favour of a simple file browser. A better solution would have been to enhance the iTunes integration while adding the option of browsing for specific music files.

- Web Enhancements. One of the areas that I really like in Lightroom is the web module. I've used Lightroom's web options since the beginning along with additional galleries from the likes of The Turning Gate and Lightroom Galleries. To this day I still use the LRG One PayPal gallery for my print orders. It's straightforward and does a good job. That said, these days a more modern, more powerful solution is called for. Adobe would win the hearts of many by integrating more advanced web options and adding some level of e-commerce support.

- Album integration. From the start Lightroom set itself up as a one stop shop for the serious/professional photographer. It's modular system suggests a place for everything. Initially this was far from the truth, but as time has gone by it's become less and less necessary to leave Lightroom for supporting software. However one area that this tenet breaks down completely is album design. Wedding photographers spend countless hours working in album design software created by companies with a tenth of the scale and capability that Adobe might bring to the table. Add to this the fact that we have to export to get it all done and that Aperture offers this service as standard and you have one of Lightroom's most significant weaknesses.

- Expand Publish services to integrate with Apple products. I know. I'm a self-stated Apple fanboy and of late Adobe and Apple are far from bosom buddies. Nonetheless, Apple is a MAJOR player in the personal tech market and although they've never made it easy for others to integrate with their gadgets it's been proven time and time again that it is possible. On some level it'd be great if Adobe could simplify the process of transferring images to iPad's and iPhones and streaming them to an Apple TV.

- Folder Moves. Improve how Lightroom manages folder movement within the Lightroom file browser. Let me explain a situation I often encounter. I have the following local storage hierarchy:

- Internal 256GB SSD: Used for edits in progress
- Internal 2TB HDD: Once complete an edit lives here until it's no longer in regular use
- External 4TB Drobo: Once an edit, such as a wedding is complete, it is archived here.*

*These archived edits live here for local access but are also backed up via another, separate process.

These discs all appear within Lightroom and I simply drag and drop folders (a folder per shoot) from one storage disc to the next as they move down through the hierarchy from current to archive. What bugs me is that Lightroom prevents me from selecting more than one folder at once and dragging it to a different disk. I can overcome this because Lightroom allows you to move nested folders, so I place multiple folders into one container folder and move this. Still, it seems unnecessarily arbitrary and could use a fix.

- Clone/Heal Tool Bug. I use the clone/heal tool a heck of a lot. I am a big fan of its simplicity and power and use it for all but the most complex removal/edit jobs. It usually works fine, but for as long as I can remember it's been afflicted by a bug which causes its cursor to sporadically disappear. It happens rarely, but during day long wedding editing sessions it inevitably rears its ugly head at least once and forces a relaunch of the app. With every new LR point release I pray for it to be squashed but I have yet to get lucky!

- Faces and Places. Aperture has these tools and they help add genuinely useful metadata without the arduous job of exhaustive key-wording. Faces can be a bit hit and miss (though it's improving all the time) while places seems like an obvious and easy implementation. Many cameras have built in GPS functionality these days and for those cameras without such features a setting to import GPS data from an iPhone or other device could serve well.

- Nested Preset Folders. Pretty self explanatory. At present you can only place presets within one folder. I have a few folders dedicated to my personal presets. TH Sport, TH Wedding, TH General etc. I'd like to sub-nest these within TH Presets. It's a little thing but it'd help make the workspace tidier and allow for more screen real estate to be allocated to other things.


There are probably other things I’ll think of as time goes by, but these are some of the main issues I’d like to see addressed in any future Lightroom 4 release. Would love to hear your views, so feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think LR 4 is in need of!

Comments

X100 - Initial Review



I've been a Fuji X100 owner for shortly over 12 hours and to be honest, my opinion is still very much incomplete and somewhat unformed. I've been shooting sport today which doesn't really lend itself to putting the X100 through it's paces, and though I shot a few candids following the game, the team I was photographing had just suffered a semi-final cup loss so headed for the changing room almost immediately. Because of that, some of the images below are incredibly dry and unexciting. My apologies for that. I'll be shooting some more interesting subjects soon.

Before getting into the details of what I've discovered so far, a caveat. I knew going into the 'X100 Experiment' that as a very early adopter I would have to put up with a period during which Lightroom and the X100 would not want to talk to one another. What I hadn't banked on was just how spoilt I have been by Lightroom. The catchily named 'RAW FILE CONVERTER EX powered by Silkypix' - the simply appalling bundled software that is required to handle the X100's .RAF files - is not only abysmal, but to some extent stands between me and a true understanding of what the X100 can and can't do. I know how to edit a file in LR, I know how to get the best out of it. I haven't a clue in the bundled abomination mentioned above. I'm not sure anyone does. It's slow, unresponsive and Mac Paint on my Mac Plus is capable of doing more advanced work. Anyway, whinging and excuses aside, lets get on. It should be noted that the files shown were all shot in RAW (.RAF) mode, were then opened in RAW File Converter EX, given any minor adjustments that were required and then exported to 16bit TIFF and imported into Lightroom. The black and white image was created in LR from the resultant TIFF.

Ok. What's the dealio?

In the hand, the camera is a real joy. EV, aperture ring, focus ring, shutter etc, all fall neatly to hand. I'm a photographer someone ingrained in the Canon EOS system, and picking up the Fuji was an exercise not dissimilar to trying to speak a foreign language. Initially it all felt very unfamiliar and I did a lot of thinking and making noises of the sort that go 'um' and 'err'. That said, this is very much a function of my considerably familiarity with the 5DII and similar cameras. After a short amount of time spent with the X100, everything was beginning to feel much more normal and reasonably intuitive. It still feels like a first date, but that's to be expected.



Build quality seems really good and the primary controls have a great tactility to them. The camera feels pretty solid and I have real faith in the main controls (aperture ring/shutter dial/EV dial etc). The same can't be said for the secondary controls. They're not bad, but they don't inspire the same confidence as the primary controls. The menu/D-Pad controller on the back is a case in point. It's a bit plasticy and the tactile feedback is poor. Basically, you have a Menu/Ok button in the middle of the setup, then a circular directional pad around that and then a rotating control wheel a la Canon SLR's around that. To add to the complexity, surrounding all this, there is another plastic piece which holds the icons that tell the user what each directional press does. I tried pressing this a few times, but it's immovable and not a button itself. It all feels quite cluttered and I found myself mashing around a little bit with my fingers rather than pressing cleanly and accurately. The whole thing works, but it doesn't leave you smiling. A stark difference from the top plate controls which click through their increments in a manner that suggests Fuji probably hired a man named Klaus to design them.



There is a focus mode selector switch on the left hand side of the camera. This is also quite plasticy and the feedback when switching between modes isn't very definitive. That said, they all do a job and I haven't had any real problems yet.



As I've said, the camera feels pretty solid, but it doesn't have the heft I was hoping for. It doesn't feel lightweight, but it doesn't feel like a brick either. I kind of wish they'd found somewhere to put some lead in the thing to make it a little more weighty. I don't want to overemphasise this, it's not bad at all, but I was hoping for something that felt like a small ingot.

The focus ring is really great. Very nicely damped. It's electro-mechanical so you can choose your direction of focus, but it feels quite connected and extremely grounded.

As for the viewfinder, well it's both a thing of beauty and amazingly clever and such a departure from other cameras, that I'm used to, that I'm still getting my head round it. The optical viewfinder mode is very bright and presents you with all your primary shooting data. It allows you to see the frame lines and view beyond the frame. What it won't do is offer you any feedback during manual focus. This is pretty obvious, but it's worth pointing out. A well placed toggle on the front of the camera lets you change from the OVF to the EVF which by contrast appears very much like a screen. The resolution isn't bad, but you know you're looking at something 'projected' rather than something real. Here, when using MF mode, it's fairly easy to focus by eye. If you need to refine focus, a tap on the jog button on the top rear right of the camera zooms you in. I found it quite effective and intuitive.

That said, MF is slow! It's great for making fine adjustments, but changing focus from something close to something far away is a slow business and takes a lot of movement of the focus ring. Given that the ring is electro-mechanical, it'd be really nice to see a firmware update allow the user to change the speed of focus. I've not had time to pick the manual up yet, nor dig through the settings menu, so for all I know that feature might already be present.



One thing I'm not hugely taken with is the LCD screen. It's large, but I find it a bit washed out when reviewing images. This may be because I initially used it in quite bright, flat lighting, but compared to the screen on a 5DII it's simply not as good. I've just shot another image, while writing this, to review my viewpoint. Indoors, I'm quite liking the screen. Call me undecided on this point for now, time will tell.

So, what about the pictures? Well, as I said, it's hard to be truly objective at this point. I'm not going to draw any real conclusions here until I've shot some more pictures and I've bunged them through Lightroom. However, I do have some initial observations.


1/45th f/5.6 ISO 800

In strong/reasonably dramatic light the X100 shows quite a bit of potential. The picture of the fruit bowl may be dull and simple and far from a good image but it's done the job well and shows plenty of detail. This was shot at ISO 800, and from what I can make out, while the X100 isn't going to rival a full-frame SLR, the results are really really impressive in terms of high ISO. There's definitely detail lost at high ISO if you look at 100%, but viewed at normal res, the big picture is astonishing for this class of camera. The X100 destroys my 20D at ISO 3200. I know it's a similar size sensor, and a new camera vs. quite an old one, but I'm amazed nonetheless.

Colour and dynamic range in less than easy light I am currently somewhat unsure about. It's hard to tell when you're using such an atrocious piece of software to initially review files, but colours in flatter or brighter light seem to tend towards being somewhat muted and a little bit over vibrant, particularly in the blue channel. As someone who didn't really have experience shooting film prior to the digital age, I can't really comment on whether this is a Fuji look, but it's one that I want to stick into Lightroom and adjust a bit. It's by no means painful, but the results I am seeing at this stage, are ones I often want to tweak. They need a bit of a blacks punch and colour normalised a touch.


1/100th f/2.8 ISO 200

I should also note that the colour image of my Mum further down the page was shot under fairly torturous light conditions. Lots of mixed sources, including some fluorescents that are very yellowy indeed. I always struggle with the WB in my Mum's kitchen regardless of the camera, even a custom WB taken from a grey card only got me so close. I'd have gone elsewhere but it was dark and the options were limited by that stage in the day!

While shooting at the rugby today, I noticed the X100 do some faintly nasty things with highlights and highlight rolloff in the sky. The image looked a bit like a JPG that had been pushed too far in post and I have to say this is my biggest concern at this point. It may simply be an affect of a dodgy post-camera process, but it'd be reassuring to see a bright sky handled a little better. See the wider image of the team huddle further down the page for the effect I mentioned.

As for detail, there's plenty, certainly enough for what I'm looking for. Images come out of camera needing a bit of sharpening, but nothing that is unusual or out of the norm.


1/70th f/2 ISO 800

At this point, my feeling is quite mixed bag. It's got a lot to recommend it, and the design is mostly excellent. Will it take nice images? It's hard to know, but I'm hopeful that once I've learnt how to work the files, there's some real potential here. The big question surrounds colour and dynamic range. More testing is necessary in this department, at this stage it's really not fair to draw any hard conclusions - I've shot less than 50 images.

Those are my initial thoughts for the time being. I hope they were both interesting and useful, I'll be posting something more conclusive in coming weeks. I'm far more interested in real-world performance than photographs of walls, so only time will tell. As I use the X100 in the field I'm sure my opinion will crystallise. For now, I'm just glad to have the camera and to be able to tote it round easily. It's a helluva lot more convenient than a gripped 5DII and a stable of lenses.

Please feel free to ask any burning questions you may have in the comments. I will do my best to answer them if I possibly can. Please note that some of the images were shot with unusual exposure settings, simply to test ISO/shutter/aperture etc etc. Finally, I've uploaded full-res JPG's of the 9 samples shown here. If you'd like to download them, please do. They can be accessed here. They're uploading now and should all be available shortly.

Enjoy!





1/10th f/2 ISO 3200


1/320th f/2.8 ISO 800


1/600th f/2.8 ISO 800


1/60th f/2 ISO 800


1/20th f/2.0 ISO 800


1/50th f/2.0 ISO 800

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Fuji Finepix X100

Back in September 2010 a camera was announced at Photokina that I've hankered after ever since. It's not been released yet and there's still a month or two to go until it is, but the urge to shoot with it grows pretty much every day. The camera in question is the Fuji Finepix X100. People are oohing and ahhing about the looks, and don't get me wrong, I'm one of them, but the real reason I have such high hopes for this camera and already have a real love-at-first-sight complex for it is because it fills a hole in my camera arsenal that I identified long before the X100 was even a twinkle in the engineer's eye.


As a photographer I always like to be ready, with a camera to hand. You never know when a great image will present itself and sod's law pretty much states it's bound to be when you're farthest from your camera. I've tried many times to get into a routine of never leaving the house without my Canon 5DII. For work purposes I shoot the 5DII with the battery grip attached. It's not a small camera at the best of times, and with the grip secured, it's also quite heavy. I've tried keeping the grip off the camera, but with work commitments this inevitably creates lots of assembling and dismantling and the risk of mistakenly going to a job sans grip.

Next is the issue of lens selection. I mainly shoot primes and the 35L is an outstanding walk around lens, but it's also quite big. Much bigger than my 50 f/1.4 and similar in size to the more versatile but less capable 17-40L. Even when I get the combination right and have the 35L mated to an ungripped 5DII we're looking at a fairly big, heavy and unwieldy camera. Worst of all, I always fear the possibility of damaging key components of my professional kit. I've got a full selection of backup gear, but it's always a hassle having to send the gear that earns me a living to Canon for repair, and when I want to takeoff in a hurry, the 5DII + 35L combo is not the ideal solution. Truth be told, most of the time the 5DII + 35L stays put when I'm leaving in a hurry. There's too much fiddling, too much selecting components and too much decision making. When it does come with me I end up bringing 3 lenses 'just in case". Because I can.

What I've yearned for for some years now is a smallish, lightweight camera with a great lens and a great sensor that'll produce 90% of the image quality of the 5DII, without the hassle and with immediate ready-to-go-ness. Ideally I'd like a useable focal length, and, originally I thought, an interchangeable lens. Over the years there have been a range of 'nearly there' solutions. Those cameras that mostly fit the bill but are prohibitively expensive (Leica M8 & M9), those cameras that had potential but lacked usability (Sigma DP1, DP2 etc), those cameras that didn't offer high enough IQ (Canon G10/11/12 and Ricoh GRII) and those cameras that weren't different enough from an SLR setup (Panasonic GF1 & Olympus EP1) to justify the investment.

I began to wonder if maybe I just wanted a higher end point and shoot. Eventually however, I always conceded that a P&S didn't offer the IQ that I was looking for. I can deal with a step down from the 5DII, but every point and shoot I looked at offered a drastic reduction in image quality, particularly in low light - a condition I shoot in a lot. Above and beyond that I NEED a viewfinder. I can't compose properly holding the camera at arms length and viewfinders in the land of P&S are becoming a rarer and rarer commodity.

Step forward the Fuji X100. The moment I saw this camera I was excited from an aesthetic standpoint. The more I read, the more it started to sound like this mythic camera I'd envisaged for so long. Relatively small and lightweight, big sensor, single choice of lens with a great focal length, optical viewfinder, fast optics. I'd always thought I wanted a camera with interchangeable lenses. In reality I want one good focal length. I don't want to be changing lenses the whole time, indeed I don't even want to be given the option. The option means time making decisions, the option means slowing down, the option means leaving it behind to save having to make those decisions. The X100 takes the decision making process away from me. Either I like the focal length or I lump it. Oh... and I LOVE the focal length. 35mm is God's own FL in my view. Not too narrow, not too wide - incredibly versatile.



So what else do I love about the Fuji Finepix X100? Most things actually. It's got a viewfinder! Woohoo! It's optical. Cue double joy. Most people are banging on about the X100's innovative hybrid viewfinder which pairs a true optical viewfinder with a metadata enhanced EVF you can change to at the flick of a switch. This looks very cool, but is a bonus to me. Mostly I'm just happy with an optical viewfinder; something I can look through to compose properly. On the subject of the hybrid viewfinder, it reminds me a little of the hybrid EVF I had on my first ever digital camera, a Konica Minolta Z1. You could either compose on the back of the camera, or, flip a switch and the image would be projected into an EVF that you could raise your eye too. The X100 goes a few steps beyond this, but I find the parallel nostalgic if nothing else.


The X100 is a camera thought out and designed by photographers. Aperture, shutterspeed and EC will all be controlled by wheels on the camera. No digging through menu's to access these primary functions. The camera also includes an integrated neutral density filter within the lens assembly. Too much light? Just flick the ND filter into place for a 3-stop reduction in perceived light and keep shooting wide open at f/2. Good times. This is simply a genius feature and one I've wondered about many times in the past. It's great to see the X100 implement this technology. I'm sure I'm going to make a lot of use of it. My laundry list of X100 delights also includes the short physical length of the lens, the 9 blade aperture diaphragm and of course the drop dead gorgeous looks. My one gripe so far is a focus by wire system which decouples the user from the mechanics of the focus ring. Basically, you turn the focus ring, the camera will digitise this input and then use servos to relay your turning force to the actual mechanics that focus the lens. It remains to be seen why Fuji have done this - I suspect it's to avoid having to find a way to satisfactorily dampen the focus ring without adding bulk. In practice it may work out to be a non-issue. Only time will tell and for now it's a long long way from being a deal breaker.

The X100 holds the promise of a camera that will make me take more photos. I hope it'll become my constant companion and mean that I have a quality photographic tool on me at nearly all times. Technically it's potential is enormous, but for me personally, the real excitement will be in the using. I want to shoot more and in a greater variety of situations, A 'proper' go anywhere camera capable of producing a quality image at a price that doesn't require a house remortgage. An exciting prospect!

I'm not sure there's any item I've ever wanted more than the Fuji Finepix X100, and that includes all things made by Apple. For me, that's quite an admission. I hope the shipping product lives up to expectations. If Fuji get the lens and image quality right they'll have an instant classic on their hands. Safe to say, when it's launched, I'll be the first in line.

If you're interested in reading more about the X100, take a look at Fuji's X100 site here: http://www.finepix-x100.com/en

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What Goes Into A Wedding?

A while back, via Twitter, I came across an extremely contentious blog posting from a bride to be. It was contentious because the bride had asked the very relevant question "why does wedding photography cost so much?". She was asking a perfectly valid question but some, both those within the wedding industry along with some brides and grooms took exception to the tone in which she questioned, what she perceived to be, extravagant pricing. Her blog posting drew hundreds of responses and sadly in the end got quite ugly. I chose not to get involved, and in hindsight I'm glad I didn't.

Nonetheless the posting raised some legitimate questions and in the wake of that article I've been wanting to write a piece detailing what goes into shooting a wedding day to a professional standard. It's not my intention to further stir what became extremely volatile waters, and with that in mind I thought it was worth letting things calm down a touch before posting an article from the photographers point of view. I'd also like to make clear that this article should not be viewed as a 'response' to that article, but rather 'inspired' by. The original article made some extremely valid points and it clarified to me the understandable view of someone outside the industry looking in. To that end, I hope this article will go some way to explaining what goes into the job. My aim is to make it interesting and enlightening - a behind the scenes if you will.

Initial Consultation

The absolute first stage of booking a wedding is obviously the initial enquiry. Nine times out of ten this comes by way of email via the wedding enquiry form on my website. The form asks the prospective client for some basic contact details and includes a message box that gives them the opportunity to send through any other relevant information such as proposed date and venue. I generally respond to enquiries within the hour. I include a copy of my wedding brochure in PDF format which includes a breakdown of my pricing and options, and of course let the couple know my availability for the date in question.

Tony Hart Wedding Photography - Contact Form Screenshot

At this point, if the client likes my work, options and of course pricing (!) we arrange an initial consultation. It's an entirely obligation and pressure free event. An opportunity for me to get to know prospective clients and their forthcoming wedding and more importantly an opportunity for them to get to know me. It tends to last between 30 minutes and an hour and generally I conduct them in my clients homes. We're all busy people and all the more so with a wedding on the horizon, and I've found that it definately eases the pressure on the bride and groom if I can make the effort by going to them. From time to time an initial consultation doesn't translate into a booked wedding, but this is rare and the risk of a wasted journey is worth it in my eyes. I consider customer service to be a vital tenet of my business approach and I consider making the effort to visit clients for free, no-pressure consultations a big part of that.

The consultation consists of a number of things. First off we go through the shape of the wedding, the details that help flesh it out in my mind. What, where, who, when - that sort of thing. Next up I get the bride and groom to talk to me about which elements of my photographic style drew them to me and their vision for the wedding pictures. Likes/dislikes, particular images that grabbed their eye, all of these questions are important.

By the time we reach the initial consultation the couple have invariably seen my portfolio and generally have a good understanding of my style. Nonetheless this discussion helps me understand what they love and why. It's an important part of how I'll approach the day from a thinking perspective. From time to time I've come across clients who had something quite different in mind from the photojournalism I offer. It's rare, but occassionally there are times when I have to suggest other photographers to a prospective client because their vision and the way I shoot simply don't match. I consider it absolutely crucial that client and photographer see eye-to-eye, both on a personal level, and stylistically and it's important to me that I'm the right fit for my clients.

Tony-Hart.com Wedding Portfolio Screenshot

I always bring a range of albums to my consultations and generally get the couple to flick through them while we chat things over. Its a great way of letting the client see real weddings from beginning to end as well as the actual albums themselves. We wrap up the session with a discussion of the different levels of coverage, presentation options and cover any questions the couple may not have had answered. At the end of consultations, I always ask if the couple would like to go ahead and book but there is never any pressure to decide there and then. It's hugely important that people get a chance to digest what they've heard, consider and have a private chat together.

Booking

If the client then decides to go ahead and book, the contract is signed and a booking fee taken. The date is now deemed to be secure. At the time of booking I only require a commitment to the level of coverage the clients want, and not a decision on albums, photobooks and prints. All my packages include image discs and so it's my firm belief that forcing people into taking albums that at this stage they may not be sure they want or need is simply unfair and pushy. Both PhotoBooks and Jorgensen albums have been popular when booked after a wedding, so I see no need to make these an obligation. At the end of the day, many people choose not to have a traditional wedding album these days so it seems strange to me to make it de riguer by including it as part of a package.

Scouting & Research

Prior to the wedding day I make it my business to see a number of things and talk to a variety of people. First and foremost it's essential that I have a good understanding of the venue and know it well. I always scout out both the wedding venue and the church well ahead of the date and make sure to do so at a time of day similar to the time I expect to be shooting there. As available light is a central part of my photographic style, the direction and quality of light is a big part of my research. Understanding it on location is everything. I always make at least one pre-wedding visit, often returning more than once to view the setting in a variety of ambient light conditions.

Hampton Court House School Wedding Day

I also speak to venue staff and like to get acquainted with whoever will be in charge of events on the day. Wedding co-ordinators and venue managers have a lot to think about and I find it makes life easier for all involved if I can touch base with them and run through any relevant specifics with them. One of the most important conversations I have is with whoever is running the ceremony be they a priest, vicar or registrar. It's my experience that these people are usually hugely helpful, but I like to make sure they're happy with my role and intention as a photographer so there is no chance of misunderstanding.

Finally I always plan transport in considerable detail. This is particularly important for weddings where the ceremony and reception are taking place in seperate locations. If I am covering a brides preparations on one side of town, have to get to church on the other side of town and then onto a venue at a third location, timing can be critical. It's essential that I know the way and know where I can get quickly parked. It may sound obvious, but in the modern era of GPS and turn by turn directions, it's all to easy to forget to do these basic bits of preparation. I always make sure I know the way from A to B from memory, so if the sat nav decides not to play ball then it's not the end of the world. If the route involves places that can be severely affected by traffic congestion, I work out a route B. Come the wedding day, I carry plenty of cash so in a worst case scenario of a breakdown or a flat tyre I can always take a cab. This level of preparation helps to make sure that on the day I can focus on picture taking and not be distracted by trying to figure out how to be in the right place at the right time.

Pre-Wedding Meeting

About two to three weeks prior to the wedding date I arrange a pre-wedding meeting with the bride and groom. Like the initial consultation, this is usually conducted at the clients home. It is an opportunity to remember each other - it can be a long time between booking and the actual wedding - and to go over the forthcoming day. By this stage, schedules tend to be set, the wedding party is generally confirmed and the details much firmer in everyones mind. We go through all the specifics and nuances of the wedding day and confirm when the formals will take place and who will feature in each group. I take away a confirmed schedule and a confirmed list of formals, the bride and groom take away peace of mind.

The Day Before

In the week leading up to the wedding I keep a close eye on the weather outlook. Generally this only translates into minor adjustments in my mental approach to the day, but it does allow for forethought and contingency planning if torrential rain or other extreme weather conditions are on the cards. I also check to see what time sunset will be on the day of the wedding and where West is in relation to the venue. The day before, I check a variety of weather forecasts and make final decisions regarding where I intend to shoot the formal groups in the event of Plan A (where the weather does what I expect) and Plan B (when it doesn't).

Wedding Photography Relevant iPhone Apps

The day before the wedding I double check my clothes (suit trousers, belt, shirt) make sure they're ironed and crease-free and polish my shoes. I print backup Google map directions to and from all of the relevant locations, label them, and pop them in the car glove box. I check my iPhone has all the key contact details and then charge the battery overnight. I transfer all the formal shot details, including names and roles within the wedding party, along with any other useful details onto pocket sized index cards, hole-punch the corner and then fasten them together with a piece of twine. I've found this low-tech solution to be the most effective method of quickly prompting my memory during the process of shooting the formals. The hole punch/twine solution works better than a staple as it allows me to permanently 'turn the page' without the stack of cards wanting to snap back to where it was. If neccessary I pop out and make sure I have a full tank of fuel.

Next up, I take my three camera bodies (two primary, one backup) and clean all of the sensors using Visible Dust sensor brushes. I then shoot some test shots to confirm that there are no dust spots present on the sensor. I then clean my lenses so they are dust and smudge free using a blower, lens brush and microfibre cloth. Once this is done, I run all my memory cards through the cameras, formatting them and putting them into a flash card wallet. On all cameras I double check a number of options including RAW format, autofocus custom functions and the user definable presets. I load two clean cards into my primary cameras, confirm they're empty and then move the menu screen so it's not, due to last use, resting on the 'format card' option. I then check my speedlite batteries to confirm they've plenty of juice. Finally I remove all batteries from the cameras, put them on to charge and make sure I have the right straps on the right bodies.

Tony Hart's Wedding Photography Equipment

At this point I tend to go and eat dinner and switch off for a few hours. I find there's a lot of tension prior to a wedding day and it's worth taking the time to try and relax. I tend to watch some rugby or play a little XBox, but above all, I try not to think about the wedding for a bit. At about 9 I come back to the office, take the batteries off the charger, load them into the cameras, stick the spares into my Think Tank roller bag and the load the case up with all my bodies and lenses. I open up my lighting case and make sure everything is present and correct. I rarely use studio lights, but they do get used for some formal shots and they always get taken along. Everything is then zipped and locked and placed in the lobby ready for the morning along with other essentials like tripods and shoes. I like to get an early night prior to a wedding so at this point it's off to bed for a good sleep.

The Wedding Day!

On the day itself I wake up early, long before I have to be anywhere. I have as big a breakfast as I can manage. I'm not a big morning eater, but weddings are long events so experience has taught me that it's best to fuel up. After dressing, I head to the lobby, unzip my Think Tank bag and check two things in particular - that I have charged batteries and empty memory cards in my cameras and plenty of spares of each sitting ready in the bag. As mentioned, this was all checked the night before, but I like to check again - it gives me peace of mind.

The camera bag, the lighting roller case, tripods, power reels, a waterproof jacket and plenty of water is loaded into the boot of the car. Personal stuff like wallet and phone are collected and the formal index cards parked in my right pocket. At this point I do a final mental check, the sat nav is loaded and it's off to the first port of call.

If I'm running my automated PhotoBooth then I tend to head to the venue first and set this up if at all possible. It takes a while to prepare and if there is the opportunity to get this done in the morning before I am due elsewhere it's a half hour saved that pays dividends. On the way to the first location, generally either the church or wherever the bride is getting prepared I tend to listen to something energising on the iPod. I'm a big fan of film scores so that's often a favourite. At this point it's about getting your game face on and being in the right frame of mind. The preparation is done and it's a matter of being switched on and mentally sharp.

The wedding itself doesn't require half as much explanation as you might imagine. It's a matter of keeping the observational side of the brain working, 'seeing as the camera sees' and keeping an eye on the schedule so you're in the right place at the right time. I arrive to the ceremony location early and, prior to the arrival of anyone else, I'll walk around the church for a bit. I've already done my research for good shooting spots, but based on the prevailing light and expected position of bride and groom I now make some final loose plans about where I hope to be during which element of the marriage ceremony. I describe these plans as loose because you have to be prepared to go with the flow. Things change and not everything can be preplanned. When the unexpected occurs you have to react quickly and being too set on a certain course of events can cause the mind to freeze.

During the service itself I pay as much attention to the person conducting the wedding as anything else. The unintentional cues this person gives are integral to how I move around a wedding. Being unobtrusive is a major part of the way I shoot and so economising movement in a quiet church or ceremony room is very important.

Corinne walked down the aisle by Father

The formals typically take place at some point between the end of the ceremony and the wedding breakfast and, from my point of view, are the most structured part of the day. I limit formals to eight distinct groups. This is so that the formals don't become unwieldy and overtake the day. It's my view that if a bride and groom desire more formals, they should be considering a more traditional photographic approach entirely. By limiting the formals to eight groups, it gives time to do each one properly rather than having to rush through at a pace that doesn't do the images justice. Pageboys and flowergirls, not to mention adults, can be flighty things at weddings so I allocate five minutes to each shot to ensure that sufficient time is available. Typically each group takes no more than 3 minutes, but by doing things this way we acheive a great result without compromising a genuinely photojournalistic approach. During this period of the wedding I ask the best man and ushers to assist me in rounding up the relevant people and aim to work firmly and speedily. Guests rarely want to stand around being directed and so efficiency is crucial. Done well, the formal groups should be completed accurately and quickly.

If a PhotoBooth is in use at the reception I return to this every half hour or so to make sure it's still running smoothly and doesn't need a new memory card. I obviously stop for lunch, but try and eat reasonably quickly. As a photojournalist it's my job to shoot things as they happen and moments don't wait. During receptions I sometimes spend 5 or 10 minutes in one great, well appointed position, waiting for the right moment to occur to make the shot. Observation is everything.

Tony Hart Photobooth at Corinne & Felipe's Wedding

None of my wedding packages include a time limit so I tend to work through until the close of the wedding celebrations, typically at midnight or sometimes even later. By this stage I'm invariably knackered, but it's also one of the most enjoyable periods of the wedding from a photographic point of view. The light is always challenging by this point, but the timetable is loose and the opportunity to 'find' or 'make' shots is considerable. It's a very creative period and less pressurised than earlier parts of the day. It's a real chance to relax and enjoy the job.

Once everything winds down, I pack my gear, making a point of putting everything back in it's proper place and taking special care to file my memory cards. I load the car, say my goodbyes to the bride and groom and drive home.

No matter how tired I am, when I arrive, I download the memory cards to my computer and duplicate the files to an external disc. At this point I copy the files into Lightroom and set it to render previews. Once this operation - which takes some time, is underway - I'm happy to hit the hay safe in the knowledge that the precious files are safely in three places - the external disc, my Mac's internal disc and my Drobo which houses my Lightroom library. They are of course also still on the original memory cards. These are not wiped until the wedding has been fully edited and backed up. By this stage it's commonly 3 am.

Editing

The next morning, if I haven't already, I'm pretty keen to review the images from the wedding day. The first stage of editing is to simply bin the chaff. Most photographers refer to this as culling. Some images are immediately binned due to inaccurate focus, close eyed 'blinks', or the odd inadvertent shot of the ground. This first run through is about selecting the rejects. I shoot upwards of 2000 images at a standard wedding and culling the junk is the first stage. This usually brings the image count down by 15-20% or so.

An example of image selection in Lightroom

Next, I use Lightroom's 'Pick' functionality to flag a loose initial selection. This tends to be larger than the final selection, generally as with two very similar good frames I will select both initially and make a final call on which is the better at a later stage. At this stage I've normally reduced the selection down to somewhere between 300-500 images. I then take an enforced break. 2000+ photos is a lot to look through and after a while you end up going a little photo numb. After a certain point I lose track of what's a great image and what's merely a good image and by taking a break it gives the eyes time to recover and resets my judgement.

Post-Processing

Once this initial selection is done, I start working on the job of post-processing the images within Lightroom. At the most basic level every image is individually adjusted for colour and white balance, black and white conversions are done, excessive noise is managed, sharpening is applied, the image is selectively dodged and burned, minor imperfections removed and the image is cropped if neccessary. 90% of this work is done within Lightroom, but every now and again an image needs further work and this is then exported to Photoshop for additional processing.

Formal shots are left to the end as these require a slightly different approach and often require more work due to the presence of 'blinks' in larger groups. With a formal of more than ten people, no matter how many frames you take, it's often the case that someone somewhere is looking the wrong way or blinking. The solution is generally not difficult and involves cloning the offending set of eyes out and replacing them with the same set from another frame where the owner has their eyes open. With milliseconds between frames it is very easy to make it entirely imperceptible and always appeals to my slightly childish side because I can make the person open and close their eyes by simply toggling the visibilty of the eye layer in Photoshop!

Editing a wedding photo in Adobe Lightroom

Once all the images are processed a final set of editing is done. I run through all the edited images and where neccessary reject images that don't make the grade or are near-duplicates of others. I then look through all the unselected pictures to check there are no gems that have been missed, if there are, they are added and processed.

At this point I have the final selection ready, edited and processed. The photographs are generally pretty much fine in chronological order, but in seeking to tell the story of the wedding day it's normally worth rearranging a few images - often detail shots - to heighten the narrative sense. Once this is done, a final run through is done to confirm that the images flow well and they are then named and numbered. The editing and post-processing of a wedding typically takes me about three days. At this point, the final edit (in both RAW and JPEG format) is backed up to archive DVD, the rejected frames deleted and the entire wedding, including unflagged photos is archived on the Drobo. The unflagged frames are kept for two years and then deleted.

Web Previews, Albums & Prints

The final wedding edit is then exported from Lightroom and uploaded into Slideshow Pro Director, the software which runs the slideshow galleries on my website. The flash slideshow is prepared and embeded into a new webpage constructed in Adobe Dreamweaver and this too is then uploaded to my site.

Slideshow Pro Director dynamically drives albums on my website.

Via a Lightroom plugin, I build a second gallery, with identical content, setup to allow clients to purchase prints directly from me. The folder containing the two galleries is then password protected and a link added to my client area page. Everything is double checked and I then send the bride and groom an email telling them their photos are ready and available online.

Adobe Dreamweaver is used to edit gallery pages.

The next stage is to prepare the Slideshow DVD and Digital Negative Discs that I include with all of my packages. These two discs contain all the edited pictures and if the couple have selected the PhotoBooth option, all the PhotoBooth images as well. The Slideshow DVD is set to the music of the clients choice and is playable on a regular home DVD player. It's a great way for people to look through their pictures with family and friends. The Digital Negative Disc is akin to being handed the negatives in the days of film photography and consists of all the finished pictures, in full resolution, ready for printing or reproduction. These are prepared, the DVD discs printed with the wedding details and then packaged in a bespoke case.

My wedding albums are sourced from Jorgensen of Australia

Finally, if the bride and groom have chosen album or print options these are designed/prepared and sent to the printers. I do all album design and firmly believe that it's part of my job as the creator of the images to present them in the best way possible. Once the albums have been designed, they are sent to the relevant printing/finishing companies for final assembly. I always have albums delivered to me rather than direct to the client so that I can quality check the final product before passing it on to the couple.



At this point I would consider a wedding pretty much complete. It's been a long journey from initial consultation to album delivery but the time spent in preparation and planning, not to mention the attention to detail throughout, all has a part to play in ensuring a first class end result.

This article has spilled to a much greater length than I intended. I originally envisaged a simple look at the mechanics of being a professional wedding photographer, however, in discussing the process of shooting a wedding from beginning to end it's become rather detailed. Hopefully it still achieves it's original aim of looking at what goes into a wedding and challenging the oft held, rarely voiced, assumption that a wedding photographer only works on the wedding day. Above all, I hope it's been an interesting read. Well done for making it this far!

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