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Available for local and destination weddings and portrait sessions.  Each project is different, so contact me for an exact quote.  Portrait sessions start at $300 and wedding coverage begins at $3,000.  Typical wedding fees are about $5,000 - Send an email to me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Question About Which Camera to Use

Today, I received this question from a reader in Australia: (his name is Paul, also)

"Hi Paul
"In 1977 I visited Papua New Guinea while i was there i bought a camera a Soligor 35mm SLR with 50mm lense. I was 21years old. That was the start of my photography. Many years ago around twenty I think while i was riding my motor bike at 100 klm the camera fell off the back of my motor bike . To my horror the camera flew in the air a number of times hitting the ground, i pulled over my bike, thinking that my camera would be in bits and pieces, to my surprise the camera was intact and still working. I still have that camera today and works.  I have used a number of film based cameras, the last few years i have been using  pentax Z1 and a Pentax Z1P which i use for weddings with Fuji Film pro 160 colour and the black and white using ilford. I have been thinking going over to Digital but so many cameras, Since 2003 I went blind in my right eye and told that I would not get back my eye sight, since 1977 using my right eye to take photos , its been hard to use my left eye, the good news is that i have got back my eye sight to about 90% , I love my pentax cameras they are heavy and good to use. I like the Pentax K20 but with 14m.p. would this be good enough to do weddings or do you have any suggestions,   Many thanks,  Paul"


Hey Paul,

Thanks for writing.  My first SLR was a Pentax Spotmatic, in 1970.  I shot hundreds of weddings and other events with it, until I gave it to my son, about 2000.  In 2001, I switched to digital (Nikon D100).

While I doubt many of the pro-sumer level digital cameras would survive jumping off a moving vehicle, there are many excellent choices.  Certainly, Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Pentax -- they can all do a great job.  The decision is so personal -- I tell everyone, unless they have some specific technical requirements that only a few models offer, the best way to decide is to go to a good camera shop and hold them in your hands.  It's that simple -- what feels good to you - that is as good a way to choose as any.  The simple reason is that, as much as reviewers like to point out minor differences, or hype what they perceive as major flaws, one camera is pretty much as good as another, within specific price ranges....and, nearly any camera in the $1,000US price range, or above, can deliver creditable results in the hands of are competent photographer.

Are there major reasons to choose one camera over another?  Even for most pros, the answer is 'no'.   In most cases, it comes down to what you like.  It's more personal preference than any technical issue.

Would a K20 be suitable for weddings?  Certainly - with the right lens selection, even the K200 will do the job.  More than brand, or model, the following is the sequence that I RECOMMEND FOR ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS, if they are going to photograph people, and want to be able to control the light.  Follow this sequence, as budget allows:

Get a camera -- get a flash -- get a diffuser -- get the flash off the camera -- get multiple flashes, with diffusers.

Beyond this, get good lenses.  Get fast lenses.  I love 2.8 or faster, yet the main lens that I use for weddings is still a 24mm-120mm, 3.5-5.6.

These are all general statements, and opinions.  Are there specific cameras that are better suited for certain situations?   Certainly.  Are there advantages and features in the $3,000 or $5,000 cameras that are not available in the $1,000 models?  Yes, without a doubt.

But --- If the question is, can I do a good job shooting weddings with a K20, the answer is YES.

By the way, if you want to hook up with an online community of wedding photographers, check out the [b] school:

They are doing some maintenance, so you can't get in, right now, but if you go to:   you can get added to the waiting list.  It will be well worth it, in my opinion.

Well, Paul, I think I may just use your question on my blog -- thanks, again for writing.



Saturday, October 4, 2008

Shooting Weddings with Lightsphere

This week, I received a great email/photo of a wedding group, so I though I'd take some time to talk about shooting weddings with a Gary Fong Lightsphere.

The Lightsphere, currently, comes in two models -- the Lightsphere-2 and the Lightsphere-Universal. Both also come in Clear and Cloud versions. Previously, I've done videos showing the differences and giving my recommendations.

The differences between the Lightsphere-2 Cloud and Clear:

The Lightsphere-Universal:

First, I should say that the above videos reflect my opinion and are just guidelines -- your goals and shooting style may lead you to other opinions.

I'd like to share two group photos.

This image appears on Gary Fong's website and was shot by Anne Ruthmann. Here is a post that Anne made, in answer to how she captured the image.


Anne Ruthmann , Aug 07, 2006; 11:36 a.m.

I'm pretty sure my settings were manual mode, ISO 800, Shutter 1/60, f2.8 on a 5D with at 24mm.. handheld. The flash was pointed straight up with no dome on the Lightsphere and the flash on E-TTL. However, because I was leaning downward toward the guests, the flash was actually pointed at a spot on the ceiling over the guests (think: angle of trajectory). It really was fairly dim lighting and I believe I was slightly underexposed without the flash.

Why f2.8? Because of the lens angle of the subject distance, this was really all I needed... plus I wanted to allow the maximum breadth of light in order to reduce vignetting. ISO 800 with flash doesn't show any noise to speak of, and the shutter speed was for hand holding. Getting everyone into the aisle and taking the shots took about 5 minutes. :-)


The second photo comes from a really talented landscape shooter, making his first foray into wedding photography -- Tom Vadnais.

Hi, Paul –

I had never shot a wedding before, and was more nervous than the bride and groom. To make matters worse, I was faced with a large wedding party in dark church with can lights in a black ceiling on a rainy day. I used my Lightsphere II for every flash shot over two days. The attached image was made with the Clear Lightsphere II on my SB-900 on my D3 at ISO 2500. The only things I have done to the Raw file are a slight increase in contrast in the shadows and a little bit of sharpening. I have done no lightning or darkening of any portion of the image. I am blown away with the uncomplicated even lighting.

The D3 camera settings were: 1/40 sec at f/5 at ISO 2500. I used the
Clear Lightsphere II with the white dome, pointed straight up on a
hotshoe-mounted SB-900.

Tom Vadnais Photography

Finally, I'd like to share an album -- it was shot with a Lightsphere-Universal-Clear, on a Nikon SB-800 (some shots may have been with a SB-600), and a Chromedome -- the Chromedome was generally used when the light was about 10 fee, or more, from the subject -- on the indoor shots.

OK - you can buy Lightspheres directly from -- of course, I'd appreciate it if you bought from Adorama -- links are in the right margin :-)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Running Your Business in Today's Economy

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. If you are concerned about how to best run your business in today's financial environment, take a look at this video and then visit these sites:

Gary Fong

Dane Sanders

The [b] school

Also, check the archive on this blog - about April or May of 2007, for some ideas on how to get your photography business on line.