Friday, October 20, 2017

Capturing Your Wedding On Film – How To Tell A Story With A Photograph

Capturing Your Wedding On Film – How To Tell A Story With A Photograph


When you commission a photographer to capture images at your wedding, there are a number of criteria that it’s important for you and them to meet. On the one hand of course they need to make everyone look their best and they need to capture the memories that you are going to want to relive for years to come. At the same time though, they should also aim to take photos that are interesting to look through and that don’t all look the same, and they should make sure that they don’t miss any particular events.

capturing wedding photograph Capturing Your Wedding On Film   How To Tell A Story With A Photograph

One tip that anyone can benefit from when trying to accomplish all this with their photography, is to aim to ‘tell a story’ with their photographs.In other words, they should try to ensure that each of their pictures ‘communicates’ something about the day and maybe even makes some kind of comment. These are the pictures that are the most interesting to look at, but also the ones that are the most artistic and often that will best capture the day. Not sure how a picture can really tell a story? Read on for some examples…

Gazing Whimsically

capturing wedding photograph1 Capturing Your Wedding On Film   How To Tell A Story With A Photograph

If a photographer can catch someone while they’re not looking, but are just gazing into the distance, then this can be a very interesting and very telling picture. On the one hand, our facial expressions don’t always accurately reflect our moods, but on the other it can make for an interesting puzzle letting people attempt to work out what someone is thinking in a picture – almost like the Mona Lisa. Best of all is a picture of a proud Father or Mother looking on and smiling – it’s beautiful and poetic and says a lot more than a photo of someone smiling at the camera.

Likewise though, don’t be afraid to pose for photos by looking off into middle distance or even looking away at the view. It might be a construction, but it can still make for an interesting and dramatic shot that will be a little different from all the pictures of people staring at the camera smiling gormlessly.


capturing wedding photograph2 Capturing Your Wedding On Film   How To Tell A Story With A Photograph

Another way to tell a story with a photo is to get the moments jut after the big event when things are going quiet. The venue after everyone has left for instance, can show all kinds of traces on what went on earlier. This then creates a great puzzle for people to try and work out as they attempt to put together the crime scene and work out what happened at the wedding. A very romantic image is just a lone champagne glass in the foreground.

Another great aftermath shot is to get the bride and groom walking into the distance. This one is interesting because it can represent their new future together and leave the viewer to come up with ‘their own ending’. As mentioned, moments ‘just before’ can also be as interesting – such as a photo of someone stretching out a hand to invite their partner onto the dance floor.

capturing wedding photograph3 Capturing Your Wedding On Film   How To Tell A Story With A Photograph

All these pictures can be highly informative of the wedding and in many cases communicate as much through what they leave out as what they include. If you like the sounds of these kinds of pictures,make sure to hire a great wedding photographer and to speak with them about what you want for your pictures.

Today’s guest author, Riley Peters, is a professional photographer based in Toronto, Canada. She specializes in nature photography and takes frequent trips in order to find new sceneries and landscapes.

Photo Credits: image 1 image 2 image 3 image 4

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Long Exposures

Long Exposures



People often associate long exposures with night photography. What is overlooked are the amazing photos you can get with longer shutter speeds, ranging from 1/15 of a second up to many hours. What’s more, these aren’t tricky, and don’t require sophisticated cameras and lenses. Because of the techniques associated with shooting at varying lengths of shutter speeds, I break them down into three categories: Shorter exposures, which go from about 1/20th of a second to several seconds, medium exposures, which go up to about a minute, and long exposures, which can be indefinitely long.

Shorter Length Exposures

speed ride 1 Long Exposures

“Shorter” versions of extended exposures are those where you typically want to capture motion blur of an object or action. You may either be shooting from a moving object, or you may be in a stationary position taking a picture of a moving object. What each of these cases have in common is the fact that they take place during the day. This means you have a lot of light available, and when there’s a lot of light, your camera’s shutter speed tends to be pretty fast. One way to slow down the shutter speed while maintaining the overall exposure balance is to use a very small aperture, also called “stopping down.” The smaller the hole, the less the light, the longer the shutter speed to get the light.


Technically, this isn’t rocket science. The challenge is the composition. Because things are in motion, it’s hard to frame your picture in real-time conditions that change so quickly, and deciding when to release the shutter. Expect to shoot many pictures of the same thing, hoping that one great shot will appear. One hint about composition is to pay attention to the direction of motion, since that will be the theme of the picture. Straight lines, curved motion, forward, backward. It’s all about leading the viewer’s eye from a starting point to an endpoint. It may be subtly implied, or very direct, but it’s the motion itself that you want to convey.

luge 02 Long Exposures

When shooting from a stationery position, something else in the scene must also be stationary, or the effect is lost. Hence, it is necessary to keep the lens stable during the exposure to keep those stationary objects still. For 1/8 of a second or so, one “can”, with enough practice, learn to be relatively still, but even then, it still requires repeated shooting. If you’re on a train, for example, you can use a tripod.

Moving clouds are also excellent subjects for extended exposures. For example, this photo of Mount Veronica, Peru, shows how clouds appear when they move over mountains. Shooting just about any night scene with moving clouds can produce interesting effects, but be careful not to expose for too long. Given enough time, the whites of the clouds will eventually pass by all the open spaces in the sky (even if it’s never entirely overcast), losing the “swoosh” effect.

Medium Length Exposures

Medium length exposures include those up to a minute or so, and are therefore the most common type of long-exposure work. The only thing required is a tripod or other sturdy object. Dusk, dawn and many nite scenes in cities (or traffic) are excellent candidates for these types images, because there is ambient light to fill in the shadows, which balance out the highlights.

As these photos illustrate, streaking lights from cars show a sense of motion, and are immediately appealing. The longer the exposure, the longer the car headlights streak. There are many ways you can play with this effect, and as you get more familiar with the process, you can experiment with the timing; when you start and stop such exposures has a great impact on the final result.

For example, consider the pair of images of the stopped bus. Both were exposed the same amount of time: 30 seconds. However, the headlights for the bus on right-hand image appear to “beam” forward. This is because the bus was stationary for the first 25 seconds before it began to move in the last five seconds. The brightness of the headlights were captured, but the bus’ movement isn’t captured because it doesn’t emit enough light itself (other than its headlights) to affect the longer-term imprint that already took place. A shorter exposure might not have provided enough time to imprint the stationary bus, and would have also allowed the brief time it was moving to have a more pronounced imprint. To successfully capture this effect, experimentation is critical. (It took about an hour to experiment with this—mostly involving having to wait for another bus to come by.)


coit tower fireworks 7 Long Exposures

A favorite subject among amateurs is fireworks. While beautiful, they can be highly unpredictable, so again, prepare to shoot many frames with more bad pictures than good ones. The main problem is figuring out what exposure to use. If it’s too long, the fireworks themselves overexpose, and if it’s too short, all you get is fireworks, and no background. The only solution to this is shoot for the background—that is, expose as if it’s a nite shot—and try to time your shutter releases so that the fireworks are either at the beginning, or the very end of the exposure. You’ll have to shoot at least one picture of the scene without any fireworks, just to

gauge what your base-line “nite” exposure is. Once you have that, you can time the fireworks accordingly. This way, the basic scene will come out right, and the amount of light from the burst won’t be over-exposed. You want at least a second of it to get the “motion” of the sparks, or the photo probably won’t come out pleasing. Again, experiment to taste.

Clearly, it’s a lottery game to determine when the operator is going to let off the next one, and it’s not even worth shooting when he lets them off back to back. Except for those situations, I’ll shoot every moment of a one hour fireworks display and be lucky if I come up with five good shots. And if there’s a strong wind, forget it. Similarly, the smoke can become a visual eyesore if there isn’t enough circulation to cycle it out during the performance.

I always try to compose fireworks to have some sort of foreground. As you know, fireworks involve bursts, flashes, and streaks, which are all over the map for making good exposures. Getting an “even” look involves timing. And that is governed by your noticing how the fireworks are spaced apart from one another.

Shooting During the Day

people swimming waterfalls 4 Long Exposures

The challenge for obtaining long exposures in the daytime is how to reduce the amount of bright daylight to allow for a longer exposure. Stopping down your aperture won’t be enough for these, because you need to block even more light. The solution is to use a neutral density filter. These filters are tinted with a “neutral” color, serving no other purpose than to reduce the total amount of light into the camera. ND Filters come in many configurations, from one stop of light, up to thirteen stops, where each “stop” doubles the amount of time of your exposure because it blocks twice as much light as the previous stop. So, a picture that would normally taken at f16 @ 1/30 second can turn into a 30-second exposure with a 10-stop ND filter. People have been known to photograph the sun traveling across the sky all day using two 13-stop ND filters stacked on top of each other.

I usually carry with me a 5-stop and a 10-stop ND filter. And that’s where the fun begins for things like waterfalls or fog, to name two examples. Fog is rarely motionless, so it is often a great subject for extended exposures because its movement often appears as “flowing cream” when low to the ground. (You tend not to get this effect if the fog is hovering; this type of photo is best shot when you’re away from the fog.)
Flowing water has a similar effect as fog, and it’s much easier to find. Whether a river, or crashing waves, any type of liquid movement is a good candidate for longer exposures.

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