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Image of the Week - Eye Line


Today’s Image of the Week is from James & Jenny’s wedding at Loseley Park back in May 2011. Loseley is an absolutely stunning venue and the Great Hall is a particularly impressive room, steeped in heritage. It’s amazing to look at with the human eye, but it’s a challenging room to shoot in because it’s tremendously busy. It’s covered in paintings, ornaments, suits of armour and the walls themselves are a real mixture, featuring hard wood, stone and a variety of paint styles. In a room with these characteristics, finding a clean background isn’t possible, and so composition becomes especially important. Finding a strong composition helps focus the viewer’s eye and allows the subject to overpower distractions such as a cluttered background.

James was one of the most heartfelt Groom’s I’ve photographed and was pretty choked up as Jenny walked down the aisle. He held it together like a trooper, but the emotion was plain to see. I always try and be efficient with my movement during a wedding ceremony, limiting it to that which is absolutely necessary. As such, in some wedding venues, I stay put for most of the ceremony; selecting my spot based on a combination of factors including light, angle of view and scope for variety. As Jenny made her entrance, I’d decided that a shot I particularly wanted was her arrival at the end of the aisle and the connection that would pass between Bride and Groom as James first clapped eyes on his lovely wife to be. The anticipation was palpable, emotion running high and I wanted to show the electricity in that moment.

I shoot with my right eye to the viewfinder and this allows me to open my left eye and see the scene outside the frame. I don’t always shoot this way, preferring to switch between ‘off eye’ open and closed, but in this instance I opened my left eye just prior to Jenny reaching the end of the aisle. I’d been centrally composed on James, but seeing the entire front row craning round for a look, I locked my focus on James’ face and recomposed to include the full complement of ushers and onlookers in the front row. The 5DII is a tremendous camera, but it’s off-centre focus points are not one of it’s strengths. While I might rely on them in bright sunshine, I tend to avoid using them for critical indoor images like this as I find them hugely unreliable. Because of this, I prefer to focus recompose when possible, particularly when I’m in AI Servo mode - as I am for the majority of a wedding day.

When it came to post processing, the main thing was to crop the image down to a pano to further accentuate the linear effect of the turned heads. The black and white treatment is one of my standard b&w presets, tweaked as usual to best suit the image. The b&w helps to further simplify the scene, bringing the faces to greater prominence and stripping away the distraction of an extremely colour diverse frame.

For the photographers amongst you, the image was shot on the 5DII with the 35L @ f/2.8 1/1000th ISO3200. I could have got down to ISO1600 perfectly happily, but the aisle had been shot moments prior and was substantially darker than this scene which was relatively well lit by a high window to the rear right of camera.

It’s one of my favourite images from the day, I hope you enjoyed the story behind it.

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