Should amateur photographers do wedding photography?

Occasionally friends will ask me to take their wedding photographs.  My standard response on these occasions is to say that I am not a wedding photographer and they might want to investigate what a specialist wedding photographer has to offer as they will provide a more specialised service than I would be able to offer.
 
Having make this point clearly I am sometimes still asked.  The question is should I? Obviously wedding photographers will say that I shouldn’t!  However I take the view that if you explain carefully the approach you will take on the basis of what the couple want then you can safely proceed provided both the couple and the photographer have a clear understanding.
 
Every couple will have their own particular idea of what they want.  The couples I have undertaken wedding photography for seem to prefer a low key approach with emphasis on informality.  It is a pleasure to participate in these occasions on what is an important landmark day for the couple and I suspect that if you provided wedding photography as a business service you would lose this level of intimacy.  
 bradley-6834All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission
 

Looking for that little detail!

I have been spending a little time in Belfast Cathedral compiling a body of work and on my last visit my attention was drawn to a small detail.  So often when you work to a brief you tend to overlook that little detail.  The lesson therefore is to slow down and take the time to look around properly, in so doing you can be richly rewarded.

Here is one example, the silver cross that sits on the communion table was photographed from behind showing the reflection of the stained glass window on the east wall.  I used a shallow depth of field to throw the background out of focus, but not too much as to render two of the three ‘great lights’ unrecognisable, the third ‘great light’ being hidden by the silver cross.  To emphasise the key subject the background was kept dark.

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission

A little bit of preplanning pays!

My last blog covered an exploratory visit to the Cathedral Church of St Anne’s Belfast for the purpose of deciding how I would undertake a photographic shoot of their choir.  This turned out to be a good move because when I returned the following day I already knew the shots I was going to take, the angle of each shot and the ISO rating that I would use.  

My test shots were shot at 1/80 second at f2.8, so I knew that to obtain better depth of field a slower shutter speed would be required.  I used a tripod mounted D700 fitted with a 14-24mm f2.8 lens and the live shots were taken at f9 with shutter speeds as slow as 1/10 second which required the choir to be very still.  A bit risky using such slow shutter speeds but it worked.  Here are a couple of the shots taken just after their service of evensong.

It was a most enjoyable shoot and the choir sang quite magnificently, thanks are due to the Dean and Chapter who made me most welcome.

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

 

Cathedrals and wide angle lenses

I have been asked to undertake a photographic shoot in St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast and thought it would be wise to make an advance visit to investigate what angles I might take on the day.  For the purpose of taking some test shots I took my lightweight mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm X Pro 1 which was ideal for the purpose, in fact its so good it would be great for the task ahead!

For places like cathedrals wide angle lenses come into their own.  Today I used a 14mm lens which is equivalent to a 21mm on a full frame camera.  The camera was set to 1600iso as I was depending on the ambient light.  The lens was wide open at f2.8 at a 1/60 second and the following were the results.

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Getting into restricted areas for the ariel shots was just fantastic, you get a really different perspective.  The final image is of the Chapel of Unity looking through the glass partition you can see the reflection of the stained glass window from the military chapel on the opposite side the cathedral. 

As always the colour rendition from the X Pro 1 is tremendous.  Very little post production work was required to obtain these test shots.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

 

 

Politicians at work!

Election campaigns can be an interesting period for the photographer with different opportunities presenting themselves.  Here Mike Nesbitt the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and former television news presenter chats with a prospective local government candidate at the opening of a new advice centre.  I wonder what they said to each other?

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

Sinclair’s Department Store

Sadly Sinclair’s Department Store closed in 1972, but the building still stands proud. Sinclair’s was once one of Belfast’s most prestigious department stores. The store on Royal Avenue as seen today was built in 1926 in the classical style. By 1935, Sinclair’s was extended with an Art Deco-style addition by Belfast-born architect James Scott, who had previously designed the 1926 building.

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Since January I have taken a great many images of Belfast buildings, in so doing I have been trying to depict them with open space surrounding them to show their locational setting and perspective.  Apart from the images taken at the very beginning all have been taken with a Nikon D700 fitted with a AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G lens.  Having taken well over 500 images with this lens since January I have come to value its qualities.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

Considerations for a portrait shot

Many photographers specialise in portraiture photography, I am not one of these but recently I was asked to take a portrait for a candidate who will be standing in Northern Ireland’s local government elections in May this year.

In agreeing to do this I set out to achieve several objectives.  As the image will be used in election literature which will be designed by a graphic designer I decided that a plain white backdrop would be desirable, allowing the designer to manipulate the image more easily. This led to the second decision for the shot; what type of lighting to set up.  High key lighting was the only sensible choice and to avoid shadows creating a sinister element even lighting was created with one speedlite shot through an umbrella slightly left of the camera and a second speedlite to illuminate the backdrop.

With the backdrop and lighting sorted we moved on to the posed shots.  Out of a series of images I have selected the one below.  Taken from a lower view point and with arms folded it makes the candidate look thoughtful and serious.  We will see which images his campaign managers select!

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

St Matthias; the iron church

Known locally as “the wee tin church”, St Matthias first opened in 1892 for the local British military garrison and originally the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. Its corrugated iron construction makes it extremely rare and it is one of only eight surviving churches of this type in Ireland. They were manufactured by Harland & Wolff and most were exported.

St Matthias is located on the Glen Road in west Belfast was reconsecrated as a Roman Catholic church in 1970 due to changing demographics.

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

 

 

Donegall St Congregational Church

Over the past number of weeks I have been steadily engaged in photographing various buildings in Belfast.  Today I came across Donegall Street Congregational Church which is worthy of mention.

The original church on this site was completed in 1860, with additions in 1871 on either side by Luke Macassey. There were extensive renovations in 1898 before it was largely destroyed by fire in 1931. Rebuilt in 1932, it was rebuilt yet again by Samuel Stevenson & Sons in 1955 following extensive bomb damage during the Belfast Blitz of World War II.

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There are numerous examples of older buildings sandwiched modern structures, maybe this is a theme I should run with!

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

Seductive Red!

Red is a seductive colour, it dominates the image and pulls the eye forcing you to perhaps miss other features in the image.  In the right circumstances it may be appropriate to desaturate the colour or to convert the image to monochrome.  This photograph is one I took of Brunswick Accordion Band from Annalong Co Down and they published it on their Facebook Page as a monochrome image.  It worked and gave me the idea for this blog!

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The monochrome image I my view helps you to see other features more clearly, such as the band members’ feet being bang on the beat; well they are a first class band! Notice how the red tunics have become a grey shade, which I think blends in very well with the sky and the sea in the background. Rather than colours clashing with one another the shades complement each other thereby providing a pleasing balance.

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The band are releasing a CD soon, you can look out for that!

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.