Diana's Downtown Tucson Fashion Shoot

Tucson model Diana Acosta brought her sons downtown and we met up for a fashion shoot. It was fun to show off some of her handmade wares and shoot in front of some of the iconic architecture of downtown. Moreover, I'm always challenging myself to find ordinary locations and make extraordinary images, often by the creative use of lighting. The reflection shots towards the end of this post, for instance, were shot from the outside of a simple blacked out office window. Other challenges during the day include overpowering the harsh daylight by using powerful strobes. A commonly misunderstood principle of exposure is that the brighter the ambient lighting conditions are, the more (not less) flash power is needed to properly expose our subject. So thanks to her sons for helping us out by carrying the lighting equipment!

 

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A Sunset Glamour Shoot

Cara Marie contacted me through our network of photographers and models here in Tucson. She is an up and coming model while I have been watching desert cactus flowering left and right and been hard up for a reason to photograph some people in front of one! So next time you drive by a patch of desert in town, lookout for this one photographer tripping over thorny things to make a great image. Despite the challenges of wind and relentless spring pollen, we made a sunset shoot happen. Thank you Cara for being on time (early, in fact) and ready to make some great images!

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Mt. Lemmon Engagement Photography--featuring April and Chris

Many congratulations to April and Chris, who will be wed next March here in Tucson at the beautiful Westin La Paloma resort. Some clients just make a photographers job so easy, as do these school yard sweet hearts. We took a walk through the forested peaks of Mount Lemmon and watched another beautiful sunset here in southern Arizona from Windy Point. Thank you for the privilege of capturing your engagement story. Shout out to Lauren Chon for assisting with lighting!

Pastor Tim and Lyndol are Retired!

Many congratulations to Pastor Tim and his wife Lyndol after a long and storied career in full time ministry. I had the privilege of being called by their daughter Kim, a talented photographer in her own right, to photograph their festivities. As you can see, Kim and the rest of the church threw them quite the bash! Desert Son Community Church started in the humbled beginnings of an elementary school, like many others. In time it grew to not only its own campus but also planting new churches as well. All this in addition to supporting other great community service programs such as More Than A Bed, Angel Tree, and full time missionaries across the globe. One need only look at the size of the crowd in attendance to see the many lives they have touched over the years. 

In Pastor Tim, we gain an appreciation for how busy and hard working a ministers job can be. In addition to preparing sermons for weekend worship, they are officiating everything from weddings to funerals, as well as overseeing church administration. I wish them the best as they set out their life on a new adventure on the East Coast to spend time enjoying retirement, participate in new activities and hobbies, and watching their beautiful grand kids grow.

 

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Trash the Dress Shoot at an Abandoned Warehouse in Tucson

If I need any reminder what an active industry of creatives Tucson is blessed with, I need remember no further than this weekend when fellow photographer Shawna Cadwell invited Kalei Harmon and myself invited me to a trash the dress shoot.  Trash the dress shoots don't always have to involve actually destroying the dress: sometimes we can play around with paint, sometimes we make a mess at a waterfall, or just shoot more photos of a newly wed bride and groom as a couple that time limited on the day of a busy wedding, and you can preserve your dress for posterity.

Contrary to usual event sequence this particular shoot happened to precede a wedding as the beauteous Nini Pear Pear brought along her groom-to-be Julio. So in a sense, they enjoyed a most unique engagement shoot whilst three photographers played around with paint, smoke and even a little bit of broken glass.  What a fun break from the usual gig and the chance to collaborate on an artistic project with my colleagues. Other photographers in my market are not my competition--they are my colleagues.  I feel so blessed to work in an industry where we can share work referrals, help each other out, and come up with some bad ass images working together.

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International Wildlife Museum

I took a break from wedding photos this week to join a class field trip to the International Wildlife Museum, which "is dedicated to increasing knowledge and appreciation of the diverse wildlife of the world as well as explaining the role of wildlife management in conservation." The Museum boasts a large and diverse collection of taxidermy ranging from the Rocky Mountain elk to exotic African plains game. Students and young children will also enjoy the hands on exhibits and live presentations from wildlife biologists on a variety of reptiles and insects. Thank you to the Museum,  Safari Club International Foundation, as well as American outdoor enthusiasts such as anglers and hunters, whose recreational license fees and excise tax contributions have funded the North American model of conservation into the worldwide paragon of wildlife management.

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Flowers! How to Preserve Your Wedding Boquet

When planning and budgeting for a wedding photographer, you’ll often hear it said “the only thing you’ll have to remember your day by is your photography.” As a Tucson based wedding photographer that makes money off this sentiment, I cannot be mad when your friends preach this to you. However, there are other keepsakes you can and should plan ahead to save for memory sake. These include, but are certainly not limited to, your dress, a program, invitations, and of course, your bouquet.

“Wait a minute!” you say, “I’ve always loved the bouquet toss at a wedding, and I want to do that, too!” Well there’s a simple solution for that. Talk with your florist about ordering an extra ‘throwaway bouquet’ that is lesser in price and composition and you can still keep your bouquet from the day.

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There are several methods of preserving flowers, I’ll quickly walk through them from easiest to most complex. Naturally the progression of costs tends to follow the effort. Whichever you chose, its important to remember that the sooner you start on your preservation, the better the results will be. In other words, if you spend top dollar to mail off your bouquet after you get back from your honeymoon and they’re already rotten, you’ll likely have ended up with much better results if you started on them soon after the wedding with a more simple method of preservation. 

The easiest and cheapest method to preserving the flowers from your special wedding day is to press them in a book. This takes a few days, and can be done with materials you already have in your house. A phone book is probably best. In order to avoid imparting ink and toner from the pages onto your flowers, place a paper towel closest to the flowers on both sides, followed by wax paper. Then slam the book shut and dance on it with your new groom… or just place a few more books on top and leave it alone for a few weeks ;-)

As a photographer, pressing is my least favorite method. Sure, your pressed flowers can be neatly framed in a two-dimensional manner and presented on your wall for generations to come. But, what did you hire me for? Oh that’s right: two-dimensional presentations that can be framed for your wall for generations to come. I prefer to maintain the three dimensional nature of a bouquet.

Bouncing to the other end of the spectrum, we have professional freeze-drying. This will involve sending your bouquet off to a professional where it can be dried in a special oven. The preserving company will usually frame the flowers in an airtight box (thereby keeping out moisture) and returning it to you in a beautiful display box that can either be hung on the wall or placed in your closet. Expect to spend $500 or more for this process. Is it worth it? You must decide.

Moving back to the middle of the spectrum we have my two favorite methods. The better of the two is a method using silica gel that is comparatively tedious. Basically: buy a large, airtight plastic box. Gently place your bouquet in it, and gently pour the silica crystals around the flowers, inside their structure, and up over the top of them. Close off the box and in five to seven days you not only have dried flowers but less wilted ones than the next option below.

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Expect to spend about $50 on enough silica if you’re cutting the tops of your flowers off the stem, and maybe two to three times that much if you want to keep your flowers whole. You’re also going to invest in a very large plastic box if you want to keep your stems attached to the head of the flowers.  Its more common to cut the flower heads off the stem and use wires to attach them to a backing for presentation after the drying process is complete.  The good news is that the silica can be reconstituted in the oven and used again later.

 

Here is the other of the two middle options, which happens to be the method my dear wife and I used more than a decade ago. Its cheap and easy. Plus, here today you get to judge for yourself how well the method works. Its simply the hanging method. You’ve probably heard of it before. Simply unravel your bouquet, group small numbers of flowers together, and drop from a hanger. Pant hangers with clips work best, but you can finagle them up using a variety of household objects, such as twisty ties, clothespins, etc.

Let the flowers dry in a room without moisture, so a bathroom you shower in is not ideal. After the flowers are dry, regroup and spray it down with a lacquer or more simply: some hair spray. We purchased a cheap plastic box meant for storing a signed basketball from a sports memorabilia vendor. It is not vacuum sealed, but being that we live in an arid climate we are quite comfortable with how it looks after a decade.

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There are other methods that involve use of an oven, microwave, hot wax and dehydrator. Results can vary and the use of an active heating process makes me nervous. The more heat you apply, the more you should expect the flowers to shrink, and unpredictably so. Let me know if one of these methods has worked out for you!

Just like your wedding photography, you have several options, that range marginal in quality but very easy and cheap, to spending a few bucks and getting the very best. There are myriad expenses that will surround your wedding, and you must decide for yourself where to allocate your time and treasure.  Whatever you chose, make it a point to have a plan going into it before your wedding. Don’t come back from your honeymoon before even considering your options. Its best to hand your bouquet off to a responsible family member who will begin the preservation process while the flowers still look fresh for a beauty that will—forgive me—echo throughout eternity.

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Second Shooter at Tiffany and Josh's Outdoor Wedding

Here's a few from a beautiful outdoor Jewish wedding that I shot a few months ago. This was with industry veteran Jen Schrantz, who helped me get started in wedding photography. As a second shooter, my primary duties are to cover the groom and his groomsmen getting ready for the day, as well as cover a the wedding ceremony in a journalistic sense. Above all, that means nailing the first kiss. As is often the case when assisting a primary shooter, my duties with off camera lighting kept my hands a little too full to shoot the reception; I look forward to ways to continually improve my lighting skills. Here are just a few I added to their album. Congratulations, Tiffany and Josh and may your future together be as bright as your memories on the day you started out together.

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Family Christmas Photos at El Conquistador in Oro Valley

When Stacy called me to set up a big family shoot for Christmas photos at the last minute I only needed to ask two questions: 'where?' and 'when?' So shot their big get together at the Last Territory & Courtyard at the El Conquistador resort in Oro Valley, Arizona, and we had a blast doing it! This is about a 20 minute drive north of the Tucson area set in the shadow of the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains. What a beautiful family legacy that grandma and grandpa so proudly enjoy. All the best wishes from my family to yours for a joyous holiday season and warm family memories from these images we made. Thank you for your business.

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Tucson Christmas Family Photo Special!

If you're looking for a quick and easy family photo session for annual Christmas cards, look no further! I've received many inquiries for simple family shoots so I am offering a multi-family special. Bring at least three other families, and I'll deliver to you three high resolution digital images with a personal print release within 48 hours. Watermarked images optimized for social media will also be provided. Sitting fee will be $75.00 per family, payable in advance. All families must be ready at the same start time (non-negotiable). All photos to be shot at the same location. Minimum four families per session. Contact me today to schedule a time!

 

Baby Charlotte is here! -- Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby Photographer

I was delighted to hear from our good friends Mark and Nicole when their precious third child came into the world. Baby Charlotte is already a pro at doing what newborns do best: sleeping, crying, eating, soiling diapers, and of course, stealing our hearts with each little smile. Thank you for the privilege of documenting the first few days of your child's life.

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Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
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Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer
Tucson Arizona Newborn Baby and Family Photographer

Canon 5d Mark IV Dynamic Range and High ISO test

Canon's latest iteration of the 5d line brought many photographers to the edge of their seats as rumors and hopes that 30 megapixel sensor would boast an increased dynamic range. Cleaner high ISO capabilities have also been eagerly hoped for.

This month, with usual clock work precision, Canon released the 5d Mark IV, four years after the release of the Mark III. With my primary interest being wedding photography and portraiture, industry leading dynamic range and high ISO aren't at the top of my priorities for a camera, as I am often adding off camera illumination to creatively expose a subject within the composition, and for the purposes of sculpting flattering shadows across faces and figures. Canon suits my creative pursuits well thanks to their excellent array of high quality lenses as well as the beautiful color palette rendition, especially as far as skin tones are concerned, that I get right out of camera.

However, when the wedding season has ended and I'm out on my own time, there's nothing like getting away to capture some of the breathtaking landscapes of the Southwest United States that I call home. In high contrast lighting of landscapes, a lower dynamic range often forces the photographer to either use graduated neutral density filters or bracket shots and use complicated HDR software and techniques. Newer sensors that boast an increase in dynamic range can ameliorate this onerous burden by simply allowing shadows to be lifted in post production.

For a quick test I shot a high contrast scene behind a building.

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I underexposed the shot by -3.0 stops in camera, then lifted the exposure +5.0 stops in post. Sufficient to say: this is quite the torture test of shadow recovery.

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Using the same lens (Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM), I shot the same image with my Canon 5d Mark III. I underexposed by the same amount and then lifted the shadows back up in post. Here are some close ups of the bench and waste receptacle from the prior generation camera with no noise reduction editing applied.

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So here's how the new 5d4 fared under the same lighting conditions. Again: no noise reduction.

What an outstanding improvement. Landscape shooters rejoice! This could mean the end of complicated graduated filters and other post processing headaches! While these test shots rarely represent normal photographic expectations, its nice to see some improvement for challenging light in extreme conditions.

While the best test of high ISO capability is done under low light conditions, the best I could muster shooting on this afternoon was in the shadow under the glove compartment of my truck. Soon I'll get out for some low light shots to get a realistic idea of high ISOs in the quality of light they'd most likely be needed: handheld, no tripod, say some time after sunset, etc.

The new 5d Mark IV tops out at 32,000 ISO, which is 1/3 stop more than the 5d Mark III.

Canon 5d Mark 4 Dynamic Range and high ISO Test

Into the digitally expanded range we next arrive at ISO 51,200...

Canon 5d Mark 4 Dynamic Range and high ISO Test

Finally, and just being silly at this point, here's ISO 102,400:

Canon 5d Mark 4 Dynamic Range and high ISO Test

Bravo, Canon!!

Keith and Sarah's 1950s Themed Wedding! - Tucson Arizona Wedding Photographer

Keith and Sara said "I do" at scenic Oracle State Park, which is managed by the good folks at Arizona State Parks department. This was easily one of my most anticipated weddings of the year, being themed in 1950s style ceremony and decor. Its not every day that a photographer is treated to such a unique and authentic experience. Here is a small sneak preview of yesterdays festivities. A big thank you to Jessica Korff for assisting.

 

Class tomorrow!

Thank you to all who have signed up to attend my inaugural class tomorrow. Seating and handouts will be limited to those who signed up. We're going to have a great time and learn a ton about cameras, photography, and of course, light. Class begins at 2pm so please be on time and have your camera in hand. We'll be in the D building, which is the first building as you enter the parking lot. 

Sale at Vista Print.. again!

If you're planning on making your own wedding invitations, decorations, etc, now is a great time to stock up and save. Vista Print is a whopping 50% off site wide, plus a little rewards cash.

My bride and I were proud to make our own invitations and programs, but it sure did take a lot of work. More work than we expected. We saved some money in the process over hiring a pro, so the question to make or buy is largely dependent on whether you have more time or money at your disposal. Some day I'll surprise my wife with a big anniversary party and we'll definitely leave the stationary and decor to the pros. Needing a referral for a great planner? Contact me today!

 

Erin & Brian... The Rest of the Story!

Thank you to all who made Erin and Brian's 10 year wedding anniversary party such a special occasion. I am excited to announce the release of their photo gallery to all guests for viewing and ordering. Please visit my ordering site here. Contact Erin and Brian for the password to access the gallery. Those of you who signed up on my list at the event will be emailed a link and the pass code to enter the gallery yourself. Orders placed within the next 30 days will enjoy 20% off! Please do not hesitate to contact me for any special orders.