So I shot my first wedding…

Wedding dress

I recently shot my first ever wedding.

I’ve refused to do a few weddings in the past for various reasons. Lack of interest. Not wishing to be placed under pressure. Not needing the cash. Not really being a ‘people person’. That sort of thing.

This changed when a friend of mine used all of his cunning and timed his request at that pivotal moment – which was the fine line between my being drunk enough to agree to such a thing, but also just about sober enough to still speak.

Well played, Groom…well played.

So suddenly I found myself in the position of having agreed to be the wedding photographer. Additional details, as they were dripfed through to me, made it better and better. Oh, it’s in Spain. It’s going to be outside during peak sun of the day. It’s going to be 30 degrees.

Anyone following my work will know that I’m not really someone who takes photos of people. Buildings, yes. Landscapes, yes. The occasional animal, yes. Portraits and events – hell no. Still, with 6 months to go I figured I had plenty of time to either practice or find a way to break my fingers.

Before I knew it I was packing my bags for the trip to Spain. I had done no real research or planning, and absolutely zero practice. I figured I had a few days out in the sun to see what the scene was and practice on people before the big day.

What followed was a fun week. Most of it was spent sat beside the pool and drinking beer in the sun. I took a few photos of folk enjoying themselves, but mostly sat in the shade scowling at the sun. I’m not good in high temperatures.

Villa

Swim

Cigars

As we were staying in a villa where the wedding was to take place it allowed me to understand where the ceremony was going to be and which angle the light was going to be coming from. I also had the chance to head out into the nearby old town and check out a few scenes where we could whisk the married couple off to in order to grab a few images once the ceremony itself was done and before the evening reception started. Most importanly I was there for the rehearsal, so I could see where the guests would be, where the bride would enter from, where people were going to be standing and – also very importantly – what the key parts of the ceremony were and when they were going to happen. It didn’t help me to capture every moment as I had wanted, but I was better prepared for it.

When the big day came, I still felt extremely underprepared. I woke up at 3am with my mind racing and didn’t get back to sleep until around 6am, but then was up shortly after 7am. I know I wasn’t the person getting married, but I was still quite nervous. Before I knew it the time had come…everyone was ready, and the ceremony began.

BFFs

Hat's off

Flower power

Sunlit wedding

Smooches

Newly wed

Cheers

Just Married!

As the day progressed I found myself quite enjoying it, especially after the ceremony when the happy couple could finally relax a little…indeed it was pretty visible in the photos that they had relaxed, leaving the venue and taking time out for a few images away from the guests was certainly a lot of fun.

Nice glasses

They're behind you!

...and relax

Work it...

...work it real good!

is this the isle?

Let loose...

I took the evening off so that I took could enjoy the celebration. During the ‘time off’ I set up a photo booth scenario and used Trigger Trap to allow people to take photos of themselves by making enough noise to trigger the shutter. Though drunk people moving around a lot meant they didn’t always obey the fact they had a line to stand on if they wanted images to be in focus, it turned out t be a lot of fun and resulted in some great shots.

All in all it was a good experience. I still don’t wish to do wedding photography, but in many ways I do wish I could repeat the day over. Not because I don’t think it went well, I feel that I got a few excellent images and handled the weather conditions quite well. However I do like to do things to the best of my ability so could obviously use my hindsight to make the whole day run a little better from my perspective, there are a few images I wanted that didn’t quite work, and I would also have written a list of things to shoot throughout the day, or indeed the week, that I was there. In the hustle and bustle of the day itself it’s pretty easy to forget the simplest thing.

Primary gear Used for the wedding:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens

Occasional use of the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens throughout the week, and the Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II USM Lens for the speeches.

Photo booth setup:
Canon 5D Mark II
3 Legged Thing X2.1 Eddie Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System with AirHed 2
Canon 580EX II Speedlite Flash Unit
TriggerTrap Mobile Kit MD3-E3
iPhone 5s
Gorillapod

Software:
Lightroom 5
Photoshop CC
OnOne Software Photo Suite
Nik Software Color Efex Pro

I set up a mini website for the wedding so you can see the other images over at nancyandmichael.wedding

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Petronas

Petronas

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of jaunting around Asia where I travelled from Singapore up to Thailand via Malaysia and Cambodia. A fantastic solo trip, even if it was a whirlwind tour.

What trip to Kuala Lumpur would be complete without a look at the iconic Petronas Towers?

An internet search showed me that one of the better views of these towers would be from the top of the Traders Hotel, which has the added benefit of being air conditioned and, even better, the viewpoint was located in a bar. I settled down prior to sunset, set up the camera against the window and attached my shutter release cable, and then proceeded to drink copious amounts of beer while occasionally firing off a shot or seven. I could tell that the nice couple opposite me who I got chatting to were impressed by both my camera set-up and my laziness.

Speaking of laziness, I have been very lazy at taking photos recently. It’s lovely to have a break though :)

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Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

This weekend I took a short trip up to Scotland, setting off on a 6am train to Glasgow on the Saturday and returning home the following evening. During that time, I managed to get quite a lot done though, which included 8 or so hours walking around Glasgow, and 6 hours zipping around Falkirk.

It was in the latter location with Jim and Steve that I managed to get this shot of the wonderful mechanical beast that is the Falkirk Wheel, an awesome rotating boat lift contraption. You don’t get the real view of the lift itself in this shot, but I liked the angle of this futuristic looking canal from here.

I enjoyed visiting the Kelpies even more, but will save those images for another day.

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Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

A few weeks ago I went to Siem Reap in Cambodia. After working in Singapore for a week it was one of the locations I wanted to visit as I moved up through Asia towards Bangkok where I was due to fly home from.

The Angkor Wat complex has fascinated me for some time (probably since my days of playing Tomb Raider as a kid), and I was excited to finally be able to go there and see this main temple – the largest religious monument in the world – for myself.

Unfortunately I was left somewhat disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an awe inspiring place. I am always interested to see ancient architecture, and give me any temple, church or cathedral and I’m pretty happy to walk around and admire them even without a religious bone in my body. However, no matter how impressive this complex was, I was overwhelmed and very much taken about by just how touristy it is.

There were times when I was wandering around that I felt like this was a Cambodian version of Disneyland, with an uncomfortable commercial side of things overriding the beauty and grandeur that should be prevalent.

My excitement and anticipation prior to this trip seemed to fade away the more time I spent there, and it was only by finding a driver who could take me to some of the smaller, lesser visited temples that I could really start to enjoy the location for what I felt it should be, and wander around in relative solitude.

Perhaps it was my naivety prior to visiting here that made me disappointed. I hadn’t really expected to be visiting a mystical place that was shrouded in secrecy and guarded by monks, but I hadn’t really been prepared for the level of tourism that I faced, with Tuk Tuk drivers all touting for rides, the perfect English of the majority, the US dollar as the main currency, and the Hard Rock cafe just around the corner from my hotel.

Either way, it was within the first few hours that I started to feel that something wouldn’t be quite as I had hoped, and then this was solidified the following morning.

Getting a Tuk Tuk from the airport, I felt awesome finally being in Cambodia. Riding around the streets and watching kids playing on the side of the road, motorbikes moving past us carrying 3 generations of a family (or 40 dead chickens), and the run down shop fronts that are a world away from what I’m used to I was looking forward to my adventure. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and grabbed another Tuk Tuk to head to the complex and buy my pass for the days ahead. The place selling the passes was pretty busy, but before my trip I had read that this was the case and didn’t worry about it. 10 minutes later I was on my way and setting off to watch the sunset at Phnom Bakheng. After hiking up the hill for 10 minutes I found myself…um…nowhere near the temple but at the back of a pretty long queue. Eventually the queue became shorter and shorter, and I found myself climbing the stairs to the viewpoint, where two or three hundred other people seemed to be waiting.

I put this down to it being a lovely day…and thought that the rest of the trip couldn’t possibly be like this, so resigned myself to simply sitting and watching the sunset, doing a little bit of people watching, and shortly after sunset I headed back down the hill to get back in to Siem Reap.

The following morning I rose early, found myself a Tuk Tuk driver and headed on up to Angkor Wat for sunrise. The sun was due to come up sometime shortly after 6.30, so I got there in good time at 5.50 in order to get my spot. I assumed there would be myself and 5 other photographers there for sunrise, but something felt amiss when I arrived at the location and found myself walking alongside a mass of other people. Odd, I thought, that there are so many people here – when generally a sunrise is left to the hardcore photographers and typical tourists don’t stray out until later in the day. I did not get a spot beside the reflecting pool that day, and luckily the sunrise was uneventful. I resolved to getting there earlier tomorrow.

Te next day I left earlier and arrived on location around 5.15 in the morning. Again, I couldn’t believe how many people were there already, and though I was able to get a spot beside the lake/pond/whatever it was at the left hand side and not the spot I wanted. I set the camera up, but there were a heck of a lot of people that were in the shot. I opted to simply put my tripod in the water, roughly compose the image, and then sit on the bank using a shutter release to trigger the camera. I also opted to arrive earlier the next day.

Angkor Wat - sunrise crowd

The next day I arrived at 4:45am. I was the only person there, apart from those checking tickets, and they waved me past so that I could wait by the doors of the temple for opening time. Being dark, I mustn’t have seen the sign that stood near the doorway stating entry was not until 5am, and I walked onwards through this and quietly, and alone, to the reflecting pond. I found the spot I wanted, without anyone else in sight, and set up my camera – I was very pleased to be the first, and so far only, person on site. At 5.05 I was joined by about 30 people, by 5.15 I couldn’t see much behind me other than bodies.

I witnessed a lovely pink sunrise….about a mile to the right of the temple and very much out of camera.

The shot above is therefore from my second morning, with lots of people cropped out of it. Here’s the original two images I used for this shot.

Angkor Wat One
Angkor Wat Two

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Cambodia. I did, in many ways, enjoy the temples at the Angkor Complex. I feel very fortunate to have visited such a location. However, I do feel like I’m missing something when so many people say so many nice things about it. Each to their own, but for me there was something missing here.

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Burnout

Burnout

Today is a special day.

First up, it’s the 4 year birthday of this photoblog. 4 years ago today I started posting images here, and after a month of daily posting I cut back to Monday thru Friday of posting a new image, so just 5 per week instead of 7. That has continued throughout. Through busy schedules, illness, travel and various other distractions, I have somehow managed to post an image without fail during the whole of that period.

I think that’s pretty awesome.

I’ve learnt a lot in the past 4 years, and improved greatly. I’ve met some amazing people, and made some great friends. I’ve also changed as a person. From someone who never used to like to travel, I’ve started to do a lot more of that. 4 years ago when I started this blog I had visited 5 foreign countries; by the time I finish the trip I’m currently on that total will be 34 countries…and that’s due to photography.

However, it’s now at an end. As the title of this post suggests, I will not…indeed I can not…continue to do the same. I’m not sure I’m learning anything through posting daily. I’m no longer finding that I am enjoying it in the same way as I used to either. Sure, I love being out there and taking photos, I love processing them, and I love to share them – however I can do all of that without having to post daily. There were too many times last year when I felt I had to post just for the sake of posting, and my heart wasn’t in those particular images. There’s one thing for creating something and sharing it because you want to, but it’s another thing when you are just going through the motions and creating something because you feel you have to. Quality suffers as a result.

I also want to free up more time to do other things. Work takes up a large portion of my life, and much of my ‘spare’ time in the past year has been travelling. In between those and trying to maintain some sort of social life I had tried to fit in photography and daily posting of images. That doesn’t leave time for much else, and there are lots of projects I wish to work on. If I can free up the hours I spend on processing and apply these elsewhere, I think that would be a great thing.

It’s not the end completely. I will still be posting images, they just won’t be daily anymore. Chances are, if you follow me on the social network sites instead of the blog itself, then you may not notice any difference as I don’t post all of my images on sites other than my blog. However, I can’t guarantee when I’m posting. It won’t be daily, it may not even be weekly or monthly. I guess it just depends on how I feel, what I’m up to, where I go, and those kinds of things.

In one way it will be sad to stop. Part of me thinks ‘give it another year’ as 5 years seems like a better number to end on. However, as I’m typing this I’m feeling pretty pleased by it.

For the next 10 days I’m going to be spending time in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand – so the chances are these will be the next images you see from me once I’ve returned.

See you soon.

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Cerulean

Cerulean

A final trip to Venice, for now. This spot is right next to where yesterday’s image was taken, by Constitution Bridge. I had some amazing light and the tail end of a sunset while I set up here – but two shots in I also had a family to contend with. After dawdling in and out of the scene several times, they all decided to stop in the middle of the frame taking photos of each other. That’s all fair and well…it’s their space as much as mine, but when they took 15 minutes to do so and blatantly kept looking over at me and the camera set up before they proceeded to change position and take more snaps it felt like they were starting to stick around on purpose to simply stand in my way.

On the plus side, I really quite like just standing around looking at beautiful sunsets and blue hours, so I may not have the shots of the best light, but I do have the memories.

You win some, you lose some. I think I’m winning.

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Walking Constitution

Walking Constitution

Another week, and another few images coming up from Venice.

Today we take a trip back to Constitution Bridge, the newest (and my favourite) to cross the Grand Canal. Immediately behind me is the train station, and on the opposite side of this bridge is the bus terminal – so two of the main entry points to Venice. From here, it’s a case of walking or boating your way around.

I’m working in Singapore for the duration of this week before doing a little sightseeing around Asia. Hope you had a great weekend.

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